National Student Survey reveals the strengths of Biology at York

News | Posted on Wednesday 16 August 2023

The results of a nationwide survey have revealed that the Department of Biology is home to some of the happiest bioscience, microbiology and cell science, and molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry students in the UK.

1st in the Russell Group for ‘Learning resources’ in National Student Survey

We placed 1st for ‘Learning resources’ among the Russell Group universities included for biosciences (non-specific) in the 2023 National Student Survey (NSS), with a score of 93%. We received 97 per cent for Q19. “How well have the IT resources and facilities supported your learning?”, 89 per cent for Q20. “How well have the library resources (e.g. books, online services and learning spaces) supported your learning?”, and 92 per cent for Q21. “How easy is it to access subject specific resources (e.g. equipment, facilities, software) when you need them?”

We also ranked highly within the Russell Group in the following areas:

1st for ‘Assessment and feedback’ in microbiology and cell science


  • Q10. “How clear were the marking criteria used to assess your work?” 70 per cent
  • Q11. “How fair has the marking and assessment been on your course?” 90 per cent
  • Q12. “How well have assessments allowed you to demonstrate what you have learned?” 80 per cent
  • Q13. “How often have you received assessment feedback on time?” 80 per cent
  • Q14. “How often does feedback help you to improve your work?” 75 per cent

2nd for ’Teaching on my course’ in molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry


  • Q1. “How good are teaching staff at explaining things?” 94 per cent
  • Q2. “How often do teaching staff make the subject engaging?” 93 per cent
  • Q3. “How often is the course intellectually stimulating?” 96 per cent
  • Q4. “How often does your course challenge you to achieve your best work?” 86 per cent

Professor Richard Waites, Director for Students in the Biosciences said “We are delighted to see these results and our continued success across all our degree programmes in the Biosciences. Our recent graduates have experienced difficult times during their degrees through no fault of their own. We have listened carefully to their open and honest feedback about what matters most to them. It is pleasing to see how much our students value the excellent education and support we have provided as part of their successful university experience.

What is the National Student Survey?

The NSS is a nationwide survey of final-year students in higher and further education. They answer questions on a variety of aspects of their university experience, including their department and course.

Over 339,000 took part in the 2023 survey, helping prospective students to compare courses and make informed decisions about where to study. The survey empowers those taking part to shape the future of their course, giving universities honest feedback on what they are doing well and where they can improve. 

York's overall position

York performed strongly in this year’s National Student Survey, featuring in the top 10 for multiple categories among Russell Group universities.

The University as a whole placed 5th in the Russell Group for Learning Resources, 6th for Academic Support and 6th for Organisation and Management. 

Ten subjects featured in the top three in the Russell Group for Academic Support, while a further eleven were placed in the top three for Teaching On My Course.

Read more about York’s excellent NSS results.