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

After the enormous advances made in the last few years, this is the perfect time to study molecular biology and genetics. Studying this programme will give you a fundamental grounding in the study of biology whilst enabling you to decide which area of molecular biology or genetics best fits with your interests.

You’ll study alongside students from our other biology courses and will have the opportunity to decide how to shape your own degree to reflect the areas of biology you want to explore. This may include specialising in genes in medicine, biotechnology or agriculture as well as their application in fields such as microbial or plant molecular biology, cellular signalling and evolutionary biology.

Whichever route you decide to pursue, this flexible programme of study will give you the chance to enjoy modules from across our diverse range of topics, taught by staff who are experts in their field.


The School of Biological Sciences brings a strong research-led ethos to every course we offer. More than 220 people within the School are actively involved in current research, with subjects ranging from the biochemical, molecular and cellular levels to ecological interactions and evolutionary processes. Some of our research focuses on understanding fundamental biological principles and some is applied research such as protein structure and microbial energetics, the study of human and plant diseases, and conservation biology.

UEA are recognised for providing a high-quality student experience and in the National Student Survey 2019, we were ranked 1st for Overall Satisfaction in Genetics and 8th for overall satisfaction in Microbiology and Cell Science. Our students benefit from our enviable position as an integral partner of the Norwich Research Park, which is also home to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and independent, world-renowned research institutes: the John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, the Earlham Institute and the new £75-million Quadram Institute.

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.

Year 1

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 appliedmathsand statistics.

Year 2

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.

Year 3

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.

Teaching and Learning

Our School is home to world-class academics and internationally recognised researchers in their disciplines. And we’re proud to say we have some of the best facilities in the country, including our fantastic undergraduate practical laboratories.

The majority of your learning will take place in lectures, seminars, practical laboratory sessions and fieldwork, which will provide you with hands-on experience as well as invaluable contact time with lecturers.

Our programme modules involve applied work in collecting, analysing and reviewing data, plus observations on biological processes, with a particular emphasis on the critical assessment of existing knowledge. Problem posing and solving skills are promoted through seminars and group discussions. And mathematical and statistical skills are a major focus of both semesters in the first year.

Research design and analysis are brought together in your third year undergraduate dissertation project, which we encourage you to deliver as independently as possible.

Independent study

You’ll have plenty of opportunities for independent study using our state-of-the-art University library facility, and you’ll be assigned an Academic Advisor who will provide you with guidance throughout.


We use a range of assessment methods throughout the course to best reflect the subject matter in hand. These include formal examinations, project reports, course tests, practical and fieldwork reports, poster and oral presentations, essays and worksheets.

The balance of coursework and examinations will vary in accordance with your module choices. For example, many of our modules are split 40% coursework, 60% examination, but a small number are 100% coursework.

After the course

Our courses not only provide you with scientific knowledge, but also develops your skills in areas of research and communication, IT, data collection, analytics and critical thinking. Our graduates have entered careers in pharmaceuticals, food and brewing industries, medical laboratories, forensic sciences, conservation management, environmental assessment, teaching, science media and more.

The School of Biological Sciences works together with UEA’s Careers Service to offer you support at every stage of your course, from choosing a career through to applying for graduate jobs and further study.

Career destinations

Example of careers that you could enter include:

  • Medical laboratories
  • Genetics
  • Teaching
  • Further study

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.

Course Modules 2019/0

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


This module explores life on Earth. You will be introduced to the major groups of microorganisms, plants and animals. You will explore the evolutionary relationships that link the major groups and discover the immense biodiversity of living organisms. Central to this evolutionary path is how microorganisms, plants and animal invaded the land and coped with limited water. You will study this subject through lectures, workshops, laboratory-based practical classes and field trips. You will gain practical experience handling a wide range of organisms and learn how to report experimental work that you carry out. A key part of this module is the production of a learning portfolio which will help you to develop independent study skills in relation to the topic of the module.




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. You will be introduced to the main concepts in evolutionary theory, from the original ideas introduced by Darwin to the modern developments, and use 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 a 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, as well as gain 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


This module aims to develop your understanding of contemporary biochemistry, especially in relation to mammalian physiology and metabolism. There will be a particular focus on proteins and 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.




You will explore 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 if you are taking this module, you should also take Molecular Biology (BIO-5003B) 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 will need a basic understanding of Evolution and Genetics to undertake this module.




We 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


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.




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 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 'Integrated Laboratory Research Project' 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? In this module you will study 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. You will examine 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.




You will explore 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, alongside looking at how information is released in scientific literature and subsequently picked up by the public press, will give you an understanding 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. You will receive 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

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  • Ask a Student

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Entry Requirements

  • A Level BBB or ABC including Biology or Human Biology or BBC including grade B in Biology or Human Biology with an A in the Extended Project. Science A-levels must include a pass in the practical element.
  • International Baccalaureate 31 points with HL 5 in Biology.
  • Scottish Highers AABBB including grade B in Biology.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers CCC including Biology.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate Pass the Access to HE Diploma with Merit in 45 credits at Level 3 including 12 Level 3 credits in Biology.
  • Access Course Pass the Access to HE Diploma with Merit in 45 credits at Level 3 including 12 Level 3 credits in Biology.
  • BTEC DDM in Applied Science or Applied Science (Medical Science). Excluding Public Services, Uniformed Services and Forensic Science.
  • European Baccalaureate 70% overall, including 70% in Biology.

Entry Requirement

A-Level General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.

Science A-levels must include a pass in the practical element.

You are required to have English Language at a minimum of Grade C/4 or above and Mathematics at Grade C/4 or above at GCSE.

If you do not meet the academic requirements for direct entry, you may be interested in one of our Foundation Year programmes.


Biological Sciences with a Foundation Year


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 5.5 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 yet meet the English language requirements for this course, INTO UEA offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study: 




If you do not meet the academic and or English requirements for direct entry our partner, INTO University of East Anglia offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a preparation programme. Depending on your interests, and your qualifications you can take a variety of routes to this degree: 





The majority of candidates will not be called for an interview and a decision will be made via UCAS Track. However, for some students an interview will be requested. You may be called for an interview to help the School of Study, and you, understand if the course is the right choice for you.  The interview will cover topics such as your current studies, reasons for choosing the course and your personal interests and extra-curricular activities.  Where an interview is required the Admissions Service will contact you directly to arrange a convenient time.

Gap Year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year.  We believe that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry on your UCAS application.


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

Alternative Qualifications

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.

GCSE Offer

You are required to have Mathematics and English Language at a minimum of Grade C or Grade 4 or above at GCSE.

Course Open To

UK and Overseas applicants.

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.


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 application 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 is sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.

The Institution code for the University of East Anglia is E14.


Please complete our Online Enquiry Form to request a prospectus and to be kept up to date with news and events at the University. 

Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515 


    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