The Department of Biology at York accepted its first undergraduates in 1965 and moved to its present site in 1968. Over the years it has grown enormously, both in terms of people and infrastructure. As of 2020, we are over 1000 students and more than 300 staff, including around 70 academic staff. We have received considerable investment in infrastructure and facilities to support excellence in Research and Teaching. This includes our innovative Bioscience Technology Facility and the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP). The Queen’s Award-winning York Structural Biology Laboratory (YSBL) is part of the Department of Chemistry but located on the Biology site.
Recent developments include establishment of the York Biomedical Research Institute and the prestigious Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB). Investment in infrastructure suitable for University teaching and learning in the 21st century has been enabled by the establishment of programmes in Biomedical Sciences, Natural Sciences and the introduction of highly successful Integrated Masters and stand-alone MSc programmes.
We research and teach across the whole spectrum of biological sciences – from molecular analysis of human diseases to understanding the global environment. This wide range facilitates an array of novel research collaborations within the Department and externally, and gives our teaching breadth, depth and immediacy.
Our status as one of the UK’s elite university biological sciences departments is supported by established metrics that relate to both research and teaching. In Times Higher Education's ranking of the Research Excellence Framework 2021, Biological Sciences at York are ranked in the top 10 overall in the UK, and over 55 per cent of our research outputs and 75 per cent of our research environment - the support we give to our researchers - is classed as “world-leading” with 4* - the REF's highest rating.
In teaching, we retain a position in the top ten biological sciences programmes in the UK (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024). Our most recent ranking by the Complete University Guide (2024) placed us as the 8th strongest Biology department in the UK. These results, together with those of the REF, place the Department in a leading position in the UK offering excellence in teaching inspired by world-class research with impact.
We have major interdisciplinary collaborations with the Department of Chemistry (YSBL is located in Biology, we run a joint Biochemistry degree programme), with the Hull York Medical School (with which we have established the York Biomedical Research Institute and a joint Biomedical Sciences programme), and with other departments on campus to establish the Biological Physical Sciences Institute (BPSI), the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA), the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI), the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (LCAB) and the Centre for Human Palaeoecology & Evolutionary Origins (PALAEO).
“I love working in Biology at York. There is a strong sense of community amongst the staff and
students. We work collaboratively, encourage innovation and curiosity in Research and in Teaching, and have a strong sense of responsibility to do what we all can to tackle the grand challenges that
the world faces.”
Professor James Moir
Head of Department
Awards and Accolades
Associated Centres and Units