It is the express policy of the University that all applications are considered on academic grounds first. Needs associated with disabilities are taken into consideration only as a secondary matter and then it is a case of trying to ensure that the University can meet any such needs.
We consider all students' support requirements on an individual basis. If you have flagged a disability on your UCAS form, other than relatively minor or straightforward ones that don't require any special action, we will probably invite you for an interview, or at least invite you to come and discuss with us the nature of your disability, how you cope, and any special facilities that we might need to arrange for you at York. Usually, the University's Adviser on Disability joins us for this meeting, and if you have a physical disability, we might also arrange for you to meet the technical staff in our Teaching Laboratories to discuss any special arrangements that you might need. This should ensure that if you accept our offer of a place we will have put in place any special arrangements that may be needed before you arrive to start your course.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss your situation with the admissions tutor or the University Adviser on Disability at any stage either before or after you apply to us.
This web page provides you with more detailed information about the layout of the departments you will be working in, the structure of the course, and some information about the teaching methods used. Under each heading we have given a few pointers as to questions that students with disabilities may be considering. These questions are not exhaustive; however, this information may help you to determine any issues that we may need to discuss should you decide to study Biology or Biochemistry at the University of York.
If you feel that you need further information, or wish to discuss your situation further, please email the admissions tutor, or for more campus wide issues please contact the University Adviser on Disability.
The department of Biology occupies a single set of purpose-built teaching and research laboratories at the west end of the University campus. It is divided into several "blocks" which are labelled A-M. Most teaching in occurs in either A or B blocks. These are all on the ground floor and in close proximity to each other (less then 50m). Students will also need to reach other parts of the department in order to visit academic members of staff. Access is possible to all floors via both stairs, or a number of lifts. The total distance from one end of the Department to the other is approximately 400m. Due to the fire risk associated with laboratory work there are a lot of fire doors within the department. "Key card" locks also control some doors.
The department of Chemistry is located five to ten minutes walk from the Biology building. The route is entirely covered and consists of a walkway that proceeds through three college buildings, each of which has automatic doors. There is a bridge over University Road just before the Chemistry department, which can be accessed by either stairs or a lift. Access to Chemistry building facilities is also controlled by key cards.
The Biology and Biochemistry courses use a variety of teaching methods. The following is intended as a brief summary of the different teaching methods that are used within the departments.
Tutorials are usually groups of four or five students with an individual member of staff. They are usually held in individual member of staff’s offices, which can often be quite small and cluttered. The tutorials typically last about one hour and can involve problem-solving on a whiteboard, group discussions and presentations. Biology tutors sometimes set essays that need to be handed in the following week.
Possible questions to consider
- Do the other members of the tutorial group need to know about my disability?
- Does the tutor need to know of my disability? If so will they need to change the tutorial in any way?
- Will essays, presentations and boardwork cause me any difficulty?
Most first and second year lectures in Biology are carried out in the main lecture theatres B002 and B006, which are situated on the ground floor just off the central concourse of the department. These are the traditional banked seating arrangement and hold up to 140 people. There is a level access at the front of the lecture theatres. Induction loops are fitted in both lecture theatres. In the second and third year lectures can be held in any suitable room on campus. A typical lecture lasts approximately 50 minutes. Most lecturers use either overhead transparencies (OHP's) or data projection using a presentation package such as PowerPoint. A few write on the blackboard. Students will typically be given some handouts, but will be expected to make their own notes of lecture material.
Chemistry lectures in Years 1 and 2 are held mostly in A101 in the Chemistry building. This lecture theatre is a short distance from the entrance to the Chemistry building, in a recently refurbished lecture theatre of approximately 180 capacity, which has space for wheelchairs and is fitted with an induction loop.
Possible questions to consider
- Can I access the venue?
- Does the lecturer need to know of my disability? If so will they need to change the lectures in any way?
- Are any extra provisions required e.g. audio-visual aids or portable hearing loops?
- Will I require notes in a different format or in advance?
Practical work in the Biology department that is related to the lecture courses is carried out in two large purpose built teaching laboratory suites and a computer suite. These are located on the ground floor. All the facilities are well lit with both overhead and natural light. The suites have fixed benches that are 90 cm above the ground. A movable, height adjustable, bench, is also available. The computer suite has a designated computer bench with plenty of room for access.
Students carry out work either sitting at the bench (on stools) or standing. In the laboratories there is plenty of space around the benches to allow access. Practicals typically last around 3-5 hours (students can leave the lab during practicals if they need to). Students work in groups of 2-4 for most practicals. A wide range of practical skills are used, which can involve relatively complex physical manipulations such as handling biological materials, and microscopy. There are also some computer-based practicals. Safety equipment such as lab coats, gloves and safety glasses may have to be worn in Biology practical classes.
Chemistry practicals are carried out in the teaching labs on the ground floor of the Chemistry building, where a dedicated area with a height-adjustable lab bench available. Students usual work in pairs. Handling of chemical substances such as acids and organic solvents is required. The wearing of lab coats and safety spectacles are compulsory in Chemistry practicals.
Possible questions to consider
- Would the laboratories be OK, or would I need any adaptations/changes to be made?
- Can I carry out the practical work unaided or will I need assistance?
There are several field trips on the course (some of which are optional depending upon your specialisation). This includes half-day fieldwork both on campus and off site locally. For example first year students visit Pocklington Canal to look at invertebrate life in fresh water. At the end of the first year there is an optional 10-day marine field course based at the Marine Field station on the Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland, and at the end of the second year an optional ecology field course based at Scarborough College. Students go to the field sites by coach. Facilities at some of the field sites are limited.
Possible questions to consider
- If I was accommodated away from the University what facilities would I need?
In the final year, students carry out a research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff. These research projects are expected to take approximately half your time each week during the autumn and spring terms and may or may not require laboratory or field work. Projects can be carried out in either the teaching laboratories, the laboratory of a project supervisor in a department, or at a field site. In all cases the issues considered in the sections above will need to be addressed.
A wide range of assessment methods are used in order to get a full picture of a student's academic ability. The following is a list of all the types of examination methods that the departments currently use.
Certain types of examination may not be suitable for your disability and alternative assessment methods may have to be considered.
The following are things that you may wish to consider as optional parts of the course. If you choose these options there may well be further issues that relate to your disability that need to be considered.
If you are considering these options you need to discuss this with members of the department and the University Disability Services.