The information on this page is meant as a guide if you feel you want more information before starting your course. The suggested reading is there to give you a taste of what you will be learning, it's not a requirement, just a way for you to get a head start and explore your interests in biology.
Free online course
Get a taste of studying biology at university level with our 'Bugs, Brains and Beasts' online course.
You'll study topics including:
- Microorganisms and the biochemistry of life
- Neuroscience, learning and memory
- Interaction of animals with the environment, ecology and conservation).
The course is free, has no entry requirements and is ideal for anyone considering applying to study biology at university.
The Bugs, Brains and Beasts MOOC is a great opportunity to refresh your A level knowledge in short, digestible chunks. Using research-based examples from our lecturers, it helps builds your understanding of how key concepts across microbiology, neuroscience and ecology connect to current global challenges, taking a first step in introducing the kinds of topics you might see in university learning.
Dr Rachel Hope, MOOC Coordinator and Lecturer
Online escape room
Why not try the Department of Biology’s escape room game? It has been created by our students and is a great way to find out more about the department.
It’s free to complete online so you can take it at your own pace.
Optional transitional reading
Open access journals
There are some great online biology journals that allow you to access peer-reviewed papers for free. These papers give you an idea of the sort of reading involved in studying at university level:
Don't worry if a lot of the information in the full papers doesn't make much sense - they are new and at a higher level. You can find papers in all sorts of areas including biotechnology, microbiology, and cell biology.
You can also find lots of resources in the library.
Online articles and resources
There are brilliant articles, blog posts and websites which give you a great insight into the latest biological findings and research. See what interests you and get excited to start studying biology!
We would advise you to wait until you arrive for the start of semester before buying any books. We provide an introductory ebook to each of our students and the University library is also well stocked so it may not be necessary to spend money buying books.
- The Biology department’s research webpages.
- National Geographic's biology section.
- The Wellcome Collection website.
- Natural History Museum's news page.
- Scitable has a wide range of resources including ‘Topic Rooms’, blog posts, glossaries and eBooks.
- LibreTexts has a variety of open-access texts in their Biology Library.
- Check out our BioMed lecturer Dr Dave Boucher’s Books for Thought episode as he discusses must-reads for people curious about biology.
- The Royal Society of Biology has recommended 12 of the best podcasts for Biologists.
- BBC iPlayer offers a wide range of science and nature programmes. Netflix has some really interesting watches too such as ‘Fantastic Fungi’.
Volunteering can help you to develop a wide range of transferable skills that may benefit you on your course such as teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem solving. There are many volunteering opportunities out there, and remember not all are advertised so don't be scared to contact organisations directly!
Some examples of volunteering opportunities for prospective biology students include:
- Natural History Museum
- Science Museum
- The Conservation Volunteers
- The Wildlife Trusts
- The Woodland Trust
As a student, you will also find lots of great opportunities via the Careers and Placements team.