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BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences specialising in Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry or Environment

Develop a broad scientific grounding and specialise to explore your chosen field in depth

Year of entry: 2022/23

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

A*AA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2022(term dates)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£24,000 per year

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out of UK universities included in the 2021 National Student Survey

Build a versatile toolkit of knowledge, experience and techniques. Develop intellectual and practical skills that explore the interplay across disciplinary boundaries.

Studying Natural Sciences will give you a more complete overview of these interconnected disciplines than a single-subject course. You'll be able to use the skills gained in one area to more thoroughly explore another, building your intellectual independence and enabling you to investigate your specialism from fresh and exciting angles.

With the option to specialise in Archaeology, Environment, Biology or Chemistry, you'll have the chance to bridge the diverse cultures of the sciences and the humanities. Whether you're using your understanding of chemistry to investigate airborne pollutants or applying cutting-edge technology to learn more about our past, this course encourages you to extend your intellectual and scientific horizons.

All our Natural Sciences BSc degrees have the same course code for your UCAS application. To select the Natural Sciences specialising in Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry or Environment pathway, enter the subject option code "Arch-Bio-Ch-En".

Interdisciplinary programmes

Natural Sciences offers a range of well-structured pathways built upon the natural synergies that exist across scientific disciplines.

Natural Sciences Hour

Our weekly Natural Sciences Hour brings students together to hear from researchers and employers and to build transferable skills.

Research facilities

Study in world-leading research institutes and hi-tech learning spaces dedicated to interdisciplinary science.

University of the Year shortlisted

We're proud to announce that we've been shortlisted for two prestigious University of the Year awards.

  • Times Higher Education Awards 2021
  • The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022

Find out more about our nominations

Course content

Enrol now and choose your specialism later: Natural Science specialisation courses are designed to give you a greater breadth of knowledge at the start of your degree and a greater depth of knowledge at the end. You'll study all four subjects in your first year, choose two to take on to your second year, and then specialise in a single subject in your third year. You will take modules totalling 360 credits over the duration of your course.

Year in industry and year abroad

You'll also have the opportunity to take a year in industry or a year abroad if you specialise in Biology or Environment. Students taking any specialism will be able to apply for a placement year if they are not taking a year abroad.

A work placement or year abroad can enable you to develop valuable skills that increase your employability, and studying abroad is a great way to increase your confidence and cultural awareness.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

Year 1

The first year will give you a broad understanding across all four subjects.

Core modules

You will take core modules which may include:

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

In your second year, you will focus on two subjects, one of which you will take forward to your third year as your specialisation.

Archaeology and Biology

Core modules

You will take Biology core modules which may include:

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Archaeology option modules, examples of which may include:

Archaeology and Chemistry

Core modules

You will take Chemistry core modules which may include:

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Archaeology option modules, examples of which may include:

Archaeology and Environment

Core modules

You will take Environment core modules which may include:

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Archaeology and Environment option modules, examples of which may include:

Biology and Chemistry

Core modules

You will take Biology and Chemistry core modules which may include:

Biology and Environment

Core modules

You will take Biology and Environment core modules which may include:

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Environment option modules, examples of which may include:

Environment and Chemistry

Core modules

You will take Environment and Chemistry core modules which may include:

Year 3

In your third year, you will focus on a single subject, choosing one of the disciplines from your second year pathway as your specialisation.



You’ll conduct research and present your results in an extended essay. You can choose a topic which interests you to investigate further. You’ll work closely with a personal academic supervisor who will help to guide your research and keep your project on track.

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Archaeology option modules, examples of which may include:

You will choose from a selection of Assessed Seminars, examples of which may include:


Core module
Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Biology option modules, examples of which may include:


Core modules

You will take Chemistry core modules which may include: 

Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Chemistry option modules, examples of which may include:


Core modules
Option modules

You will choose from a selection of Environment option modules, examples of which may include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

Archaeology specialism

  • Engage critically in debates around scholarship that inform current archaeological and heritage issues applicable to multiple periods of human society, using evidence from the UK and elsewhere in the world
  • Design, execute and evaluate archaeological and scientific research projects to a standard informed by key scientific and theoretical knowledge and legal and professional principles and methodologies in an international context
  • Generate, document and manage primary archaeological data from diverse sources of evidence and contexts and conduct analysis using a range of digital technology, and be able to apply these skills across disciplines
  • Operate effectively as constructive and inclusive leaders and confident participants in teamwork using data from multidisciplinary field and/or laboratory projects
  • Apply critical and creative approaches to problem-solving in complex situations with diverse, fragmentary datasets that reflect biases in their generation, survival, identification and documentation of biological material
  • Exploit the synergies between Archaeological science and other science based disciplines by using the principles themes, concepts and methodologies of Archaeology as appropriate to a Natural Scientist.
  • Confidently explain, communicate and debate ideas through written, visual, and oral forms of presentation to a wide range of public and professional audiences using print and digital media
  • Contribute as independent scholars to the field of bioarchaeology and science in general through rigorous and imaginative inquiry in multidisciplinary contexts
  • Engage critically in debates around scholarship that inform current archaeological and heritage issues applicable to multiple periods of human society, using evidence from the UK and elsewhere in the world

Biology specialism

  • Provide thorough explanations that demonstrate a deep understanding of the principles, concepts and theories on the origin, evolution, structure, function, development, and distribution of living organisms, through critical evaluations of the primary scientific literature in Biology
  • Formulate hypotheses, design and execute experiments for the collection, analysis and modelling of biological data, that tests biological systems and produce figures, graphs and tables that are explained in comprehensive laboratory report
  • Thoroughly evaluate experimental, analytical and quantitative techniques and methodologies, and first-hand practical experience and training in laboratories or the field, to demonstrate an awareness and appreciation of the application of these approaches in tackling the major global challenges in Biology of the 21st century
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your work systematically, as an individual, in teams and in collaborative groups, by applying logical reasoning and lateral thinking to solve biological problems, and develop and deploy safe, ethical, sustainable and socially responsible solutions that would benefit humankind 
  • Communicate and interpret complex information with clarity and precision through critical reviews in written, oral and other explanations, questioning dogma and demonstrating impact at the forefront of Biology in real-world and global issues to expert, professional, business, industrial and lay audiences
  • Demonstrating independence, originality, and a deep understanding of cutting-edge practice and technology in Biology, apply numerical, quantitative, and computer-based transferable skills to a range of working environments including laboratories, fieldwork, education, industry, business, health services, policy, government, and media
  • Exploit the synergies between biological science and other science-based disciplines by using the principles themes, concepts and methodologies of Biology as appropriate to a Natural Scientist

Chemistry specialism

  • Demonstrate learning and problem solving skills through the acquisition and application of a broad range of fundamental chemical principles and knowledge as appropriate to the interdisciplinary ethos of a Natural Scientist
  • Apply fundamental chemical principles and knowledge, as appropriate to the interdisciplinary ethos of a Natural Scientist, to the in-depth study of chemical science specialisms and the solution of problems therein
  • Design and safely conduct experiments. Accurately document and record experiments including analysis of physical measurements, of both a quantitative and qualitative nature
  • Interpret experimental data by using mathematical skills, discipline based knowledge, information technology and scientific conventions
  • Effectively articulate scientific principles, experimental results and research findings in a way that is accessible to a variety of audiences through written, oral and other formats
  • Independently, or as part of a group, plan, design and conduct an open-ended investigative research project to consolidate and extend knowledge and understanding of science with particular emphasis on chemistry
  • Demonstrate employability skills such as teamworking, commercial awareness, self-management and creativity and be equipped to work in a professional manner in their future careers in a range of areas
  • Use chemistry principles, themes, concepts and methodologies as appropriate to a Natural Scientist with a view to exploit the synergies between chemistry and other science based disciplines underpinned by experience and exposure to different scientific disciplines

Environment specialism

  • Debate, interpret and explain current and emerging issues in environmental science occurring at a range of scales using appropriate methods and norms, and engage critically with best evidence on the impacts and management of climate, environmental and land use change, pollution and development
  • Obtain, synthesise and critically evaluate complex information on environmental science and related areas from a wide range of reliable sources
  • Cut across disciplinary boundaries to link knowledge and experience from a wide range of natural, physical and social sciences to understand the complex interactions occurring within and between natural and human environments 
  • Plan, design and execute research as an individual or as part of a team to address environmental questions and problems using critically-selected field, survey and laboratory methods at appropriate temporal and spatial scales 
  • Critically analyse and interpret quantitative data using appropriate scientific and technological information and tools such as geographical information systems (GIS) and statistical packages to draw meaningful conclusions from research in the field of environmental science
  • Effectively communicate knowledge, complex ideas and persuasive arguments to professional and non-specialist audiences using verbal, written, visual and digital media
  • Recommend sustainable solutions to environmental problems that consider the broader social, political and environmental contexts, and the ethical implications of their application by applying knowledge, theories and approaches from environmental science and related disciplines
  • Work responsibly as part of a team or as a team leader to set challenging yet attainable goals and make an important contribution to defining the way in which our environment functions, understanding how it will respond to human activities and developing sustainable solutions
"I've really enjoyed being on the Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry or Environment pathway, it's allowed me to discover new interests and given me a bit more time to figure out what I enjoy most. Being a part of Natural Sciences has been great, it has the benefits of studying science subjects with other students while being part of a smaller, tight-knit group - something I will definitely miss!"
Ella, Natural Sciences specialising in Archaeology, Biology, Chemistry or Environment (Year 3)

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2022/23 entry. If you take a placement year - for example a year abroad or a year in industry - you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £24,000

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK (home): further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international and EU students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at two per cent each year.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.

Additional costs

Text books and course books are all available in the library or online. We do recommend books you might find useful, but it is not compulsory for you to buy them.​ ​For Chemistry and Biology your first year textbook will be provided to you at no additional cost and Chemistry will provide you with a lab coat. Any core field trips taken as part of Environment modules are paid for by the Environment Department, including transport, food and accommodation.

There may be additional costs relating to going abroad or into industry, depending on what sort of placement it is. These opportunities are run through​ either​ ​​the Department in which you are studying (ie Biology or Environment) or they may be run by the Centre for Global Programmes. Please check with them to see what sort of assistance is available.​

Type Amount
Textbooks Included in course fees £0
Field trips Included in course fees £0
Year in industry Optional additional expense £0
Specialist clothing, uniforms, lab coats, laundry... Included in course fees £0


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 throughout the year.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

The interdisciplinary nature of the Natural Sciences programme means that you will experience a wide variety of approaches to teaching, from formal lectures and practical experiments in the lab, to small group tutorials and close, supportive mentoring, as well as Virtual Learning Environments. This course has a strong element of experimental and field based studies.

You'll receive lectures from leading figures in the field, along with smaller group sessions. In tutorials and seminars you will be encouraged to debate and discuss the lecture material, drawing out important principles, highlighting connections between ideas and applying methods to example problems.

Natural Sciences teaching groups

You will share lectures and seminars with students from other departments, but your tutorials and some smaller seminar groups will be with other Natural Sciences students only, and these will help you understand the material in an interdisciplinary context.

Hands on experimental experience

For the natural scientist, conducting rigorous experiments and understanding the experimental method underpins the very nature of scientific inquiry and discovery.

Laboratory work may be done in groups or pairs, or sometimes individually, but always with the support of experienced mentors. Sometimes laboratory work will be interwoven with lectures and tutorials, sometimes it may be a stand-alone module. The importance of experimentation to the learning process is recognised by the fact that Projects form the pinnacle of every natural scientist’s time at York: every Natural Sciences programme includes a major project during the final year.

Some subjects, including Archaeology and Environment, have field trips which involve experimental work outside the laboratory.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures10-13 hours per week
Tutorials1-2 hours per week
Workshops0-4 hours per week
Practicals4-10 hours per week
Field trips0-1 day

These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Natural Sciences Learning Studio on Campus West, but your teaching will be spread across our departments and locations will vary. Teaching locations for this course include: Alcuin, Derwent and James Colleges; the Environment Department and the Departments of Biology and Chemistry; and the Spring Lane teaching building.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed mostly by written exam in Years 1 and 2, with some coursework and a small amount of practical examination, followed by a roughly even split between written exams and coursework in Year 3.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams87%84%48%
Practical exams3%3%3%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Students doing fieldwork
Students doing group-work in the Natural Sciences Learning Space.

Careers and skills

A Natural Sciences degree is a versatile course that will provide you with the skills and experience to find employment in exciting interdisciplinary areas, such as environmental research and management, finance, energy, and public policy. The flexibility you will develop is valued by employers in many areas as you learn to identify the intersections between areas of work and develop innovative solutions.

Career opportunities

Some career options will depend on your specialism, but could include:

  • Environmental consultant
  • Project manager
  • Data analyst
  • Research officer
  • Civil Service fast stream

Transferable skills

  • Evaluation of complex or incomplete data
  • Fact-based decision making
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Time-management

Entry requirements

Typical offer
A levels

A*AA including Chemistry and Mathematics

International Baccalaureate 37 points, including grade 6 in Chemistry and Mathematics at Higher Level. 38 points, including grade 6 in Chemistry at Higher Level and grade 6 in Mathematics at Standard Level.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Alternative offers

Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.

Criteria Adjustment
Widening participation If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to three A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Next Step York, Realising Opportunities. More about widening participation.
Contextual offers If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to two A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.
EPQ If you achieve A or higher at EPQ, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component
Duolingo 110 overall, with a minimum of 100 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B2 Communicator High Pass with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
TOEFL 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Applications from mature students are welcomed.

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School of Natural Sciences

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