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Frequently asked questions

This page lists questions that are typical of those asked by prospective applicants in the recent past, together with our answers. If you can’t find the answer to your question, or require further information, please email us at biol-admissions@york.ac.uk.

The admissions process

What happens if I do not achieve the offer grades required in my exam results?

At confirmation when your exam results are available, there may be flexibility to accept applicants who miss our offer, but in some years this isn’t always possible. We guarantee to take onto the course all applicants who make the grades of their offer. We may have several applicants who miss our offer, but we can still take them if there are places available and we have space.

We hope you have a smooth and trouble-free time whilst preparing for and taking your exams, but we understand this is not always the case. There are a number of things that can go wrong, such as long-term illness of one of your teachers, medical conditions that affect you or a close family member, or some other personal situation, etc. This is generally known as "mitigating circumstances" as it can affect your exam performance and result in you getting a lower grade than would otherwise be the case. If this happens, then you should let us know! You can upload appropriate documentation via You@York, or you can email biol-admissions@york.ac.uk directly.This information will then be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not to accept you onto the course at results time.

Once I have received an offer, can I defer for a year?

We are happy to accept applications from students who want to defer for a year. Applicants applying for deferred entry are not disadvantaged in any way. Depending on what you do in your deferred year, it can allow students to enhance their communication, problem solving, team building and leadership skills, and many students benefit enormously from this experience, which is sometimes - but not always - in an area connected with their future studies.

If you wish to defer, you will not have to reapply. Simply let us know via email that you would like to defer, and we will inform UCAS to change your application to a deferred application. Your email needs to be sent to biol-admissions@york.ac.uk and must include your full name, UCAS number and the instructions to defer for the following year.

What if I exceed the BSc offer, can I switch onto the integrated Masters?

We offer students who choose to firm accept our BSc offer the chance to switch to the integrated Masters programme if they exceed their offer (and achieve an equivalent of AAA). This would happen after the A level results come out in August. This is optional and it is your choice as to whether you accept this offer or remain registered for the BSc. If you chose to do this we would change your registration guaranteeing a place on the integrated Masters programme. To do this we would not need to involve UCAS as it is after registration with the University. We will only guarantee this offer to students who choose to firm accept our offer of a place, not students that accept us as insurance.

If you meet the conditions of our BSc offer, but don't exceed it, there would still be a second opportunity to switch into an integrated Masters programme at the end of Year 2. However, this would be dependent on you meeting the University’s Year 2 progression criteria, assessment average of 55% at the end of stage 2 (second year), AND that we still had space. We have capacity for about 120 Integrated Masters and in most years we do have space available. Your place on the integrated Masters would not be dependent on firm or insurance choice if space is available at the end of Year 2.

If I apply for the integrated Masters but don’t achieve the required grades, would I automatically be put onto the BSc? Do I need to apply for both the integrated Masters and BSc separately?

If you apply for our four year integrated Masters degree programme and don't meet the entry requirements, you will be considered for the BSc degree programme provided you meet the entry criteria and we have spaces available. A decision would be made on a competitive basis. There is no need to apply for both the integrated Masters and BSc separately if you are confident that you can obtain grades AAA.

Do you accept resits?

We are happy to consider applicants who have results obtained by resitting one or more of their A Levels.

I’m applying for Medicine – will you still consider me?

We consider all applications without knowing what other choices you have made. However, in the case of Medicine (and other similar courses), applicants need to write personal statements that focus on their relevant experience and motivation for that course, and so it will be obvious to us that Biology is not your first choice degree subject. We realise that you can only make four applications for Medicine on your UCAS form, leaving one place that can be filled by another subject, which may be Biology, Biochemistry or Biomedical Sciences at York. We are happy to consider such applications without prejudice, as we know that some students may later decide that Medicine is not for them, or may be unsuccessful and need to consider alternative courses. Over the years, we have, in fact, accepted a good number of such students on to our courses in Biology, Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences who have gone on to enjoy the course, and to be happy and successful here.

Do we interview?

No - we do not interview applicants. If we receive your application form and are impressed by your grades, personal statement and references, we will recommend that the University makes you an offer.

Does it matter what school I have attended?

No, not at all. All applications receive equal treatment, irrespective of educational background. We welcome students from all sorts of backgrounds and with a wide range of experience, and consider every application on its own merits.

Students may qualify for an alternative offer if they meet certain criteria, including completing Widening Participation programmes, studying core maths, completing an EPQ, have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low rates of progression to University. Visit the alternative offer entry requirements on our individual undergraduate programmes pages for more information.

I have heard that some universities treat applications received earlier differently to ones received later on. Is this true for the Department of Biology at York?

We treat all applications received before the 15 January deadline equally. Our offer criteria are decided in advance of the application cycle, and we monitor offers throughout to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly and equally. There is therefore no disadvantage to students who apply to us closer to the 15 January deadline.

What should I include in my personal statement?

We like to see personal statements where applicants show how keen and enthusiastic they are about the subject they are applying to. Being interested in the subject is something we think is very important as we are all really passionate about the subjects we teach and research! For more information read our writing your personal statement webpage.

International, mature and non-standard applications

Do you accept applications from international students with other qualifications?

Yes, applications from international students are very welcome, whether from the EU or from overseas, and we consider all applications on their own merits. Generally, we are looking for evidence of advanced study and appropriate qualifications in our essential subjects. Please see our International Students page for more information on International qualifications.

English is not my first language. What English qualifications do you accept?

If you're a non-native English speaking applicant you must provide evidence of your English language ability. We normally ask for a score of 6.5 in the IELTS test, with at least 6.0 in each component. Alternative qualifications are accepted, please visit our Undergraduate English language requirements pages for more information.

Is there any English language support for international students?

The International Pathway College (IPC) offers a range of pre-sessional courses that you can apply for. These language courses take place in the summer before the start of taught programmes for students who need to improve their English slightly before admission.

There are also excellent academic English courses taking place during the academic year through the Writing and Language Skills Centre.

Do you accept the BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management or Countryside Management or Arboriculture & Forestry as suitable qualifications on their own?

No, we do not accept land-based BTEC Level 3 Extended Diplomas in subjects such as Animal Management or Countryside Management or Arboriculture and Forestry as they do not provide sufficient background knowledge of Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics to meet our entry requirements.

I am a mature student – will you consider my application?

Yes, we welcome applications from mature students whose skills and experience are valued by staff and other students. Your application will be considered individually and on its own merit. You may wish to contact biol-admissions@york.ac.uk about your situation, and in any case if you are in any doubt about the suitability of your qualifications, we suggest that you contact us before making a formal application through UCAS. We are happy to consider applications from mature students offering Access to Higher Education courses. However, it is our policy to only consider applications where there is evidence of Biology and/or Chemistry, Maths or Physics being studied to a sufficient high level (equivalent to A level). Please see our undergraduate course pages for more information on typical entry requirements.

I already have my A levels – how will this affect my offer of a place?

Students who apply with A Level grades (or other qualifications) that match or exceed our typical offer are likely to be made an unconditional offer. 

While we prioritise applications from students who have obtained or are predicted our typical offer, we do consider students who have obtained lower grades, particularly if they have studied four or more A levels or have other experience. We would decide whether to make you an offer based on a combination of obtained/predicted grades and subjects, personal statement and school reference.

Do you accept transfers into 2nd or 3rd year?

We only consider transfers into the 2nd year of our three year courses. We cannot consider transfer into the 3rd year of any of our courses.

In order to be considered the following criteria need to be met:

  • Your A Level results should match our typical offer both in terms of grades and subjects.
  • The modules that you have taken during the first year at your current university should be broadly similar to our first year syllabus.
  • Your overall results at the end of your first year should be (or predicted to be) at least 60% (2:1).
  • You should have reasonable grounds for requesting the transfer and provide evidence related to them.

If you meet all the criteria above, please send us the necessary information to biol-admissions@york.ac.uk for us to consider your request.

Do you offer a foundation year?

We do not offer a foundation year with any of our degree courses. We do consider foundation programmes when applying to our courses, but in most instances we cannot evaluate whether these will meet our entry requirements until the point of application. Please contact us at biol-admissions@york.ac.uk if you would like to enquire further. 

Our courses

I’m not sure which area of biological sciences interests me most - can I transfer between degree programmes when I get there?

For Biology students, our degree programmes have a common first year so you can easily change between the various Biology and specialist degree programmes. This flexibility gives you a chance to change your mind as your knowledge, interests and skills develop.

However, it may not be possible to transfer from Biology to Biochemistry or Biomedical Sciences and vice-versa, especially once you get here. This will depend on your achieved subjects and grades, whether there is any space on the course and how much teaching you might have missed.

What is the difference between the Biology and Biochemistry degrees?

The Biochemistry programme is run jointly by the Chemistry and Biology departments. Staff from the York Structural Biology Laboratory teach on this programme. There are many common elements in the first year course, but Biochemistry students study foundation Chemistry, whereas Biology students study modules in Animal and Plant Biology and Genetics and Evolution. The Biochemistry degree has a greater focus on the "chemistry of biology" and the Biology degree begins much more broadly than this, covering the range of bioscience from ecosystem ecology to molecular and cell biology at the start, and allowing students to specialise in years 2 and 3. There is, therefore, a lot of overlap, but very few students are able to switch between Biology and Biochemistry once the course has begun (usually due to space constraints on the labs in Chemistry).

What is the difference between the Biology and Biomedical Sciences degrees?

Our Biomedical Sciences programme is run jointly with the Hull York Medical School. Many of the staff that teach on the programme are part of the York Biomedical Research Institute. Both the Biology and Biomedical Sciences programmes provide the opportunity to study modules in Neuroscience, Immunology and Infection, Cell Biology and other topics in Biomedicine. A degree in Biomedical Sciences allows you to specialise in those topics and become very familiar with the research in that area. In the Biomedical Sciences programme, about one quarter of your time in first and second year is spent studying just Biomedical topics in modules only available to Biomedical Science students.

What is the difference between the Biochemistry and the Biomedical Sciences degrees?

Both these programmes are designed so that you can study the subjects in depth and become very familiar with the relevant research. There is some overlap in the modules you can choose. Both Biochemists and Biomedical Scientists can study modules in Neuroscience, Immunology and Infection, Cell Biology and other topics in Biomedicine. Biochemistry allows you to study in depth the topics covered in both Biology and Chemistry departments and at the interface between the two. Biomedical Sciences allows you to study many of the topics covered by the York Biomedical Research Institute. There is also strength in Biochemistry elsewhere in the Biology department as well in the York Biomedical Research Institute and the York Structural Biology Laboratory.

Should I apply for an integrated Masters or a BSc degree course?

In making the choice between a standard BSc (three Year) and integrated Masters (four Year), you need to consider how useful the additional integrated Masters year will be in preparing you for your likely career, and whether it provides experiences and challenges that will be interesting and worthwhile.

It is better to apply to the integrated Masters and switch to the BSc later, if you change your mind. We may only allow transfer the other way to a limited number of students on a competitive basis and if we have space (we have capacity for 120 students on the integrated Masters and most years we do have space).

Can I move onto the integrated Masters course from a BSc once I have already started my course?

It is possible to transfer from the BSc to the integrated Masters once students are here in York. Students need to exceed the University requirement of an assessment average of 55% at the end of stage 2 (second year). The only other condition is that there is space available on the integrated Masters programme.

What accreditation does the Biomedical Sciences degree have?

Our Biomedical Sciences degree courses are accredited by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), not the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). Our RSB accreditation covers all of our programmes and is more focused on research, experimental design and a much wider range of skills for a diverse set of careers. IBMS accreditation is focussed towards the Health Care Profession Council and how it expects Biomedical Scientists to operate, for example in hospital and government labs; however many of our students go on to work in these areas without this accreditation. Students who study on our Biomedical Sciences degree courses have a wide range of options upon graduation and have not limited their opportunities by studying this degree at York.

Are there any recommended books or a reading list?

We normally advise our new students to wait until they arrive here at the end of September before buying any books. This is because we give an introductory textbook to each of our students. Our University library is also well stocked so it may not be necessary to spend money buying books. 

A good way of preparing yourself for lectures and tutorials is to read science magazines and websites like New Scientist, National Geographic and Wellcome Collection. There are articles freely available which discuss recent developments in biological sciences, read whatever you find interesting! You could also have a look at our Bugs, brains and beasts MOOC which runs during the year and our research webpages.

Can I take modules from other departments?

An elective module is a module offered by a department to students outside that department. You may replace any non-compulsory module with an elective module but you may not take more than 40 credits worth of electives across your degree programme. 

Read more information about electives here.

You can also take Languages for All (LFA) modules. As with electives, the marks achieved in LFA modules may or may not count towards your stage average and degree mark depending on the level of the module compared with the stage in which you take it. 

If you have any questions about LFA or elective modules then please contact biol-student-services@york.ac.uk

When will I find out my timetable?

The University offers every student their own personalised on-line timetable, which you can either view in a web browser or link to an online calendar service on a smartphone, etc. This will be automatically updated whenever there are any changes. Your timetable will begin to populate once you have a confirmed place. More information is on the student timetable page.

Year away

I’m not sure yet whether I want to spend a year away - in industry or abroad – can I decide later?

Yes. This can be a big decision to make when you apply, so we do not ask you to make a decision until towards the end of your first year. At that stage, the year in industry and year abroad coordinators talk to all first year students about what would be involved in spending a year away, and provide plenty of advice to help you decide.

Support

Do you provide advice and support for students with disabilities?

Yes, certainly. We believe that students with disabilities should have access to the full range of opportunities, whether academic, cultural or social, and the University will do its best to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Please be assured that disability will not be a factor in making an academic decision on your application, and you are encouraged to discuss any practical problems either before or after you apply to us. You may wish to contact biol-admissions@york.ac.uk to arrange a special visit to the department.

If you need any general advice we suggest you contact Disability Services at York, on 01904 324785 or email disabilityservices@york.ac.uk.

Finance

What bursaries and scholarships does the University offer?

The University offers a range of scholarships and/or bursaries to UK, EU and Overseas undergraduate students, for more details please visit the undergraduate scholarships and bursaries page.

Contact us

If you have any questions about applying for our courses, or you would like to discuss your own personal circumstances, please feel free to contact the Biology Undergraduate Admissions team.

Student & Academic Services
Department of Biology (B/T/008)
University of York
York, YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 328548

biol-admissions@york.ac.uk

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