BSc Molecular Biology and Genetics


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Key facts

(2014 Research Excellence Framework)


The School of Biological Sciences is a vibrant and friendly academic community firmly embedded in the internationally renowned Norwich Research Park. It boasts extensive state-of-the-art research facilities as well as modern teaching laboratories.

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Key facts


Knowing how tumours form helps us to break them down. Biologists at UEA have shown how cooperating cancer cells help each other survive by sharing growth factors; understanding this process could lead to new forms of cell therapy that would make breaking down tumours easier.

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Join our internationally renowned School of Biological Science based at the heart of the Norwich Research Park, with very close links to partner institutions including The Genome Analysis Centre, Institute for Food Research and John Innes Centre. 100% of our biological research was recognised as ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014). This course gives you plenty of optional modules, giving you the opportunity to study many aspects of molecular biology and genetics.

Our school has world class academics and some of the best facilities in the country including our undergraduate practical laboratories. The majority of learning will take place in lectures, seminars and practical laboratory classes providing you with invaluable contact time with lecturers, while learning through first-hand experience.


This degree programme enables you to discover and understand the molecular processes and genetics that lie at the very heart of biology. You will discover what underpins a range of fields as diverse as evolution, the molecular basis of cancer, and microbial genetics.

We are extremely well placed, with close links to the John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research, and scientists from these institutes contribute to the teaching of many of the advanced modules. You will be taught by leading practitioners through our partner institutions on the Norwich Research Park, contributing to our wide range of subjects and modules available to study. A number of our students carry out their final year projects within these institutes, benefitting from the excellent facilities and expertise in numerous aspects of molecular biology.

These features, together with the regular visits and seminar talks given by leading scientists, make UEA one of the best centres in the country in which to study molecular biology and genetics.

Course Structure

This three year degree programme allows you to develop your knowledge of biology in the first year, alongside training you in essential scientific methods and techniques. In your second year you will have the chance to specialise, selecting optional modules according to your own interests, and in the final year you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial independent research project.

First Year
Your first year of study gives you a thorough introduction to areas which are essential for all biologists and are fundamental to the study of life processes. You will also receive training in essential scientific methods and techniques, including applied maths and statistics.

Second Year
In your second year you will study core modules on molecular biology and genetics, however the majority of your subject choices are optional, with up to seven modules to choose from. They cover a variety of subjects, from biochemistry to plant biology, allowing you to begin tailoring your degree according to your own interests.

Final Year
In your final year of study you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial independent research project, as well as continuing to study a number of core modules. There is also a greater range of optional modules, allowing you to specialise further in subjects of particular interest to you.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


An introduction to the evolution of the major groups of microorganisms, plants and animals. The module considers structural, physiological and life-cycle characteristics of these organisms. It charts the development of life on land and interprets evolutionary responses to changing environments.




Why do trees grow tall? Why do male birds have long bright feathers? Why do people cooperate? Why does sex exist? Why do we grow old and die? These and other questions in biology can be understood if we learn how to think in terms of natural selection and adaptation. This module introduces the main concepts in evolutionary theory, from the original ideas introduced by Darwin to the modern developments, and uses these concepts to understand a wide range of topics in behaviour and ecology. We start from evolution and discuss how Darwin arrived at the idea of natural selection, its critiques and how to address them; we then study the basics of Mendelian genetics and population genetics and learn how to check if a population is evolving' we discuss adaptation and optimization in biology; then we move to specific issues like the evolution of reproductive systems and life cycles, the evolution of stable sex-ratios and coevolution between species; we discuss the concept of selfish genes and how it helps us think in terms of adaptation; we study the methods used to understand long-term evolution and speciation; and we conclude the first part with ideas from evolutionary medicine to understand why we get sick, and human evolution and social behaviour. In the second part of the module we focus to ecology: we discuss the general concepts of abiotic limits, resources and models of intraspecific competition and logistic growth; we learn the basic concepts of demography and population growth, interspecific competition, predation, predator-prey dynamics, and we discuss at length mutualism and cooperation in nature; finally we talk about the nature of the English countryside and issues in conservation biology and ecosystem services. In the third part we focus on behaviour: after a general introduction on the key concepts in the study of animal behaviour we discuss cooperation among non-kin and the concept of kin selection and kin conflict; we review animal communication and models of sexual selection and sexual conflict.




You will explore the principles of how information is stored in DNA, how it is expressed, copied and repaired, and how DNA is transmitted between generations. You will gain an introduction to fundamental aspects of biochemistry and cell biology. The essential roles played by proteins and enzymes in signalling, transport and metabolism will be considered in terms of their structures. You will discover how living cells are visualised and the nature of the cell's component membranes and organelles.




You will gain an understanding of the key aspects of physical and biological chemistry that underpin the physiology of living systems. You will also gain a basic understanding of a number of physiological processes and functioning of major organ systems of the human body.




The aim of the module is to provide you with a broad range of skills that you will need as biologists and in future employment. You will develop a working knowledge of mathematics and statistics, and skills relating to information retrieval, structuring writing and arguments, data analysis, team work, presenting work verbally and visually and an appreciation of the role of ethics in science.



Students must study the following modules for 40 credits:

Name Code Credits


The aim is to provide you with an appreciation of genetics at a fundamental and molecular level and to demonstrate the importance and utility of genetic studies. Genetics and molecular biology lie at the heart of biological processes, ranging from cancer biology to evolution.




You will be given a background to the fundamental principles of molecular biology, in particular the nature of the relationship between genetic information and the synthesis, and three dimensional structures, of macromolecules. You will also gain practical experience of some of the techniques used for the experimental manipulation of genetic material, and the necessary theoretical framework. The module also includes an introduction to bioinformatics, the computer-assisted analysis of DNA and protein sequence information.



Students will select 80 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


You will develop further understanding of contemporary biochemistry, especially in relation to mammalian physiology and metabolism. With a particular focus on proteins and their biochemical activities, you will examine their involvement in cellular reactions, bioenergetics and signalling processes.




Discuss a variety of aspects of Biology in society - ranging from ethical considerations of GM crops and designer babies to the portrayal of biological science in the media and science fiction. This module will provide you with an opportunity to explore various aspects of biology in society. Specific topics covered will involve aspects of contemporary biological science that have important ethical considerations for society, such as GM crops, DNA databases, designer babies and stem cell research. You will critically analyse the way biological sciences issues are represented in popular literature and the media. What was once viewed as science fiction has sometimes become scientific reality. Conversely, science fiction can often portray science inaccurately. You will also research relevant scientific literature and discover the degree of scientific accuracy represented within examples of science fiction.




This module explores the molecular organisation of cells and the regulation of cellular changes, with some emphasis on medical cell biology. Dynamic properties of cell signalling, growth factor function and aspects of cancer biology and immunology. Regulation of the internal cell environment (information flow, cell growth, division and motility), the relationship of the cell to its extracellular matrix and the determination of cell phenotype. Aspects of cell death, developmental biology, mechanisms of tissue renewal and repair. It is suggested that students taking this module should also take Molecular Biology (BIO-5003B) and/or Genetics (BIO-5009A).




This module investigates the principles of evolutionary biology, covering various sub-disciplines, i.e. adaptive evolution, population ecology, molecular and population genetics, speciation, biogeography, systematics, and finishing with an overview of Biodiversity. This module will enable you to understand, analyse and evaluate the fundamentals of evolutionary biology and be able to synthesise the various components into an overall appreciation of how evolution works. Key topics and recent research will be used to highlight advances in the field and inspire thought. Weekly interactive workshops will explore a number of the conceptual issues in depth through discussions, modelling and problem solving. Although there are no pre-requisites in terms of specific modules, students without a basic understanding of Evolution and Genetics will have difficulties undertaking this module.




This module will provide you with an understanding of the themes and principles of physiology and a detailed knowledge of the major human organ systems. An understanding of how disease affects the ability of organ systems to maintain the status quo will be an important part of this course.




A broad module covering all aspects of the biology of microorganisms, providing key knowledge for specialist modules. Detailed description is given about the cell biology of bacteria, fungi and protists together with microbial physiology, genetics and environmental and applied microbiology. The biology of disease-causing microorganisms (bacteria, viruses) and prions is also covered. Practical work provides hands-on experience of important microbiological techniques, and expands on concepts introduced in lectures. The module should appeal to biology students across a wide range of disciplines and interests.




The module studies the biochemical, physiological and developmental processes of plants.



Students must study the following modules for 60 credits:

Name Code Credits


Primarily an alternative to the 'Research Project' module, this module provides you with an introduction to biological research. It provides you an insight into the development of a hypothesis or questions to test, experimental design, and critical analysis. You will develop crucial research and work skills, including group work.




This module will provide you with knowledge of the biological analysis of genomes. This will focus on our understanding of genome composition, organisation and evolution, and the global regulation of gene expression. When you have completed this module you will understand contemporary methods that inform us about the biology of genomes.




This module will provide an understanding of how to conduct an independent, hypothesis driven research project. Projects involve extensive data collection, either in the laboratory or field, of a particular topic supervised by a member of staff of Biological Sciences or an affiliated institute. Topics are chosen in consultation with the supervisor. The project report is submitted at the end of the Spring Semester. Projects may also be available for suitably qualified year long visiting students registered in Biological Sciences. Students may be moved to BIO-6023Y Biology Research Skills based on Stage 2 results. Some supervisors require particular module enrolment for placement in their laboratory.




You will build on your understanding of the theory and practice of science communication research. The first half of the module will lead you through a variety of research techniques and frameworks which can be applied to social science research, and in particular the discipline of Science Communication. The second half of the module will enable you to develop your own research project. If you wish to take this module, you will be required to write a statement of selection. These statements will be assessed and students will be allocated to the module accordingly.



Students will select 0 - 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Do you want to learn about the concepts and principles of genetic analysis of cancer? On this module you will learn about the various roles of genes in development, apoptosis, the cell cycle, metastasis and angiogenesis, for example, and discuss the potential for novel therapies. We work closely with experts at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital wherever possible, enabling you to gain an in-depth appreciation of cancer as a disease process from both the scientific and clinical viewpoints.




Do you want to learn about the key topics within cell biology and understand how these relate to human diseases? You will learn about the structure and function of cells in health and disease through a combination of practical demonstrations, where you will experience some of the imaging techniques used in the study of Cell Biology. You will also participate in a workshop, where you will learn how to design experiments. This module will provide you with a solid understanding of aspects of cell structure, function and related diseases concerning: ubiquitination; the cytoskeleton; cell division; cell signalling in motility and wound healing; the extracellular matrix; growth factors and proliferation; cell differentiation and adult stem cells and apoptosis.




How do cells receive and react to information from their external environment? What is the molecular basis for how cells respond to external signalling cues and how does this relate to physiological processes? Topics included in this module include cellular signalling by ion channels, G protein-coupled receptors, enzyme-linked receptors; the associated signal transduction mechanisms and relevance to human physiology and disease. The module includes aspects of the molecular basis of cellular signalling, structure-function relationships and pharmacology. You will study the molecular basis of cellular signalling by three principle receptor families, namely ion channels, G protein-coupled receptors and enzyme-linked receptors. You will build on your knowledge of cell biology and human physiology to deepen your understanding of cellular signalling. You will learn through lectures and independent study.




The module provides up-to-date learning in evolutionary medicine and the evolution of disease. The module examines how evolutionary principles illuminate and provide fresh insight into a broad range of contemporary health problems including infectious, chronic and nutritional diseases and disorders. Topics are introduced in a multidisciplinary approach that takes into account the relationship between biology and society. The module covers 4 areas: (i) principles of evolutionary medicine - humans in their evolutionary context; (ii) evolution and non-infectious diseases (cancer, lifestyles, ageing); (iii) evolution and infection (vaccines, antibiotics, pathogens, emerging diseases); (iv) personalised medicine and social context of evolutionary medicine.




This module provides a detailed coverage of the biology of selected infectious microorganisms, in the context of host and responses to pathogens. The properties of organs, cells and molecules of the immune system are described, along with the mechanism of antibody diversity generation, and the exploitation of the immune response for vaccine development. Examples of pathogens are used to illustrate major virulence strategies.




This module will provide you with a detailed understanding of cutting-edge developments in microbial cell biology. You will cover essential techniques used to carry out modern day molecular microbiology. These techniques will be further explained to you in the context of work done on model microbial systems in research conducted on the Norwich Research Park (NRP). The module is taught to you by world-leading research scientists from the NRP and focuses on the structure and analysis of bacterial genomes, the bacterial cytoskeleton, sub-cellular localisation, cell shape and cell division and intercellular communication between bacteria and higher organisms. You will also have research-led seminars delivered by NRP PhD students.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


The module sets out to explain the molecular basis of the often complex catalytic mechanisms of enzymes concentrating particularly on their relevance to and applications in biotechnology and medicine. An extended practical based on the kinetics of a model enzyme, chymotrypsin, helps underpin concepts learnt in the module.




You will gain an understanding of how science is disseminated to the public and explore the theories surrounding learning and communication. You will investigate science as a culture and how this culture interfaces with the public. Examining case studies in a variety of different scientific areas, looking at how information is released in scientific literature and how this is subsequently picked up by the public press will provide you with an understanding of the importance of science communication. You will gain an appreciation of how science information can be used to change public perception and how it can sometimes be misinterpreted. You will also learn practical skills by designing, running and evaluating a public outreach event at a school or in a public area. If you wish to take this module, you will be required to write a statement of selection. These statements will be assessed and students will be allocated to the module accordingly.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


You will study the mechanisms that drive embryonic development, including the signals and signalling pathways that lead to the establishment of the body plan, pattern formation, differentiation and organogenesis. Your lectures will cover different model organisms used in the study of development with a focus on vertebrate systems. The relevance of embryonic development to our understanding of human development and disease is a recurring theme throughout the module, which also covers stem cells and organoids and their role in enhancing our understanding of development and disease, healthy tissue maintenance and drug discovery.




This module provides an overview of the uses of microorganisms in biotechnological principles. It provides training in the basic principles that control microbiological culture growth, the microbial physiology and genetics that underpin the production of bioproducts such as biofuels, bioplastics, antibiotics and food products, as well as the use of micro-organisms in wastewater treatment and bioremediation.



Students will select 0 - 20 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


You will gain a deep understanding about conservation genetics / genomics based on an evolutionary / population-genetic framework, thereby covering contemporary issues in conservation biology, evolution, population biology, genetics, organismal phylogeny, Next Generation Sequencing, and molecular ecology. This is an advanced course in evolutionary biology / conservation genetics that will benefit you if you plan to continue with a postgraduate degree in ecology, genetics, conservation, or evolution. It is also ideal if you are wishing to deepen your knowledge in 1st and 2nd year conservation / evolution / genetics modules. A background in evolution, genetics, and/or molecular biology is highly recommended.




Plants interact with a range of microbes with consequences that are both beneficial (e.g. nitrogen-fixing symbioses between legumes and Rhizobium, and the wide ranging mycorrhizal interactions between plants and fungi) and harmful (with many diseases being caused by viruses, fungi and oomycetes). You will explore the ways in which the microbes recognise and invade host plants and the responses of plants to symbiotic and pathogenic microbes. The module is taught by scientists from the John Innes Centre, Sainsbury Laboratory, and UEA.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • A Level ABB to include Biology/Human Biology. Science A-levels must include a pass in the practical element.
  • International Baccalaureate 32 points with HL 5 in two subjects including Biology. If no GCSE equivalent is held, offer will include Mathematics and English requirements.
  • Scottish Highers Only accepted in combination with Scottish Advanced Highers.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers BCC to include Biology. A combination of Advanced Highers and Highers may be acceptable.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate AABBBB or 2 subjects at H1 and 4 at H2, to include Higher Level Biology.
  • Access Course Pass the Access to HE Diploma with Distinction in 30 credits at Level 3 and Merit in 15 credits at Level 3, including 12 Level 3 credits in Biology
  • BTEC DDM in a relevant subject. Excluding Public Services and Forensic Science. Applied Science and Applied Science (Medical Science) preferred. BTEC and A-level combinations are considered - please contact us.
  • European Baccalaureate 75% overall, including 70% in Biology

Entry Requirement

GCSE Requirements:  GCSE English Language grade 4 and GCSE Mathematics grade 5 or GCSE English Language grade C and GCSE Mathematics grade B. 

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.  

UEA recognises that some students take a mixture of International Baccalaureate IB or International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme IBCP study rather than the full diploma, taking Higher levels in addition to A levels and/or BTEC qualifications. At UEA we do consider a combination of qualifications for entry, provided a minimum of three qualifications are taken at a higher Level. In addition some degree programmes require specific subjects at a higher level.


Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students from all academic backgrounds. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including speaking, listening, reading and writing) at the following level:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in any component)

We will also accept a number of other English language qualifications. Please click here for further information.

INTO University of East Anglia 

If you do not meet the academic and/or English language requirements for this course, our partner INTO UEA offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a foundation programme:

INTO UEA also offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study:



The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview. However, for some students an interview will be requested. These are normally quite informal and generally cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year, believing that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry and may wish to contact the appropriate Admissions Office directly to discuss this further.


The School's annual intake is in September of each year.

Alternative Qualifications

We encourage you to apply if you have alternative qualifications equivalent to our stated entry requirement. Please contact us for further information.

Fees and Funding

Undergraduate University Fees and Financial Support

Tuition Fees

Information on tuition fees can be found here:

UK students

EU Students

Overseas Students

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.

How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.

UCAS Apply is a secure online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The system allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it must be sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The UCAS code name and number for the University of East Anglia is EANGL E14.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances with the Admissions Office prior to applying please do contact us:

Undergraduate Admissions Office (Biological Sciences)
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

Please click here to register your details online via our Online Enquiry Form.

International candidates are also actively encouraged to access the University's International section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515