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BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences specialising in Biophysical Science

Delve into the scientific mysteries at the boundary between physics and the living world

Year of entry: 2021/22
Show year of entry: 2020

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time

Typical offer

A*AA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year
These figures are for 2020 entry. Fees for 2021 will be confirmed in September 2020.

International fees

£22,080 per year
These figures are for 2020 entry. Fees for 2021 will be confirmed in September 2020.

Apply the distinctive approaches of four disciplines to the study of biological structures, from the molecular level to whole organisms and ecosystems.

You'll gain a valuable grounding in the quantitative methods of biology, chemistry and physics and use them to understand the structure and complexity of the biological world.

World renowned Professor of Biological Physics, Mark Leake, has spearheaded the formation of the Biological Physical Sciences Institute here at York. The institute has drawn together academics from a wide range of disciplines, enabling collaboration on projects including face recognition, imaging the brain, improving rice yields, and using low temperature plasmas as potential cures for cancer.

With more than 75 principal investigators and up to 150 researchers from across the physical and life sciences, York research into the biophysical sciences shows impressive depth and range. As a student here you will be able to tap into the knowledge and experience of lecturers who belong to this thriving intellectual community.

All our Natural Sciences BScs have the same course code for your UCAS application. To select the Natural Sciences specialising in Mathematical Bioscience pathway, enter the subject option code "BiophSci". We will ask you to confirm your pathway if you are invited to interview.

"There is no other programme in the UK like Biophysical Science at York. It allows you to not only study chemistry, physics and biology but also develops your skills as a scientist. As a sixth form student I loved all the sciences and was fascinated by the interface between them; biophysical sciences has provided the perfect way for me to explore this."
Lara, Biophysical Science (Year 2)

Course content

Natural Sciences specialising in Biophysical Science draws on biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics to produce new ways of thinking about the big challenges in biology. You will study core topics across the natural sciences and mathematics alongside a range of advanced topics. You'll take modules totalling 360 credits, covering:

  • fundamental biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology
  • the principles and application of physical chemistry
  • electromagnetism, quantum and classical mechanics, statistical physics and thermodynamics, wave phenomena and the properties of matter
  • the critical assessment of experimental and theoretical evidence
  • experimental techniques used in biology, chemistry and physics
  • mathematical methods for the handling scientific data.

The natural sciences will open up a wide range of career opportunities built around skill sets that will equip you to:

  • plan and carry out experiments
  • interpret results from an extended investigation
  • use quantitative methods to explain physical phenomena
  • appreciate the conceptual bases of different scientific disciplines
  • use instruments for measurement, separation, identification and analysis
  • compare critically the results of model calculations with those from experiments. 

Study abroad

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

Year 1

Year 1 draws on course material from across biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics to prepare you for more advanced study.

Core modules

Academic integrity module

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

Year 2

For your second year you will take modules from across biology, physics and chemistry.

Core modules

Year 3

In your third year you will build on the skills you’ve developed throughout your course and chose one option to add depth to your understanding or explore a totally new area.

Core modules

Option modules

Choose one from the following:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

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:

  • Apply knowledge of relevant practice and technology in the biophysical sciences by using numerical, quantitative, and computer-based transferable skills to solve real world problems. 
  • Identify, justify and apply appropriate mathematical, experimental and statistical methods, as used in biology, chemistry and physics, to a biophysical problem. 
  • Explain fundamental biophysical concepts and techniques, including a critical understanding of the relevant scientific literature, and appreciate the synergies that exist between the physical, chemical and biological disciplines. 
  • Communicate complex biophysical concepts to interdisciplinary, specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear, concise and rigorous manner using a variety of media, demonstrating a fundamental multi-disciplinary breadth of knowledge. 
  • Identify and critically evaluate state-of-the-art experimental, analytical and quantitative techniques and methods from across the biophysical science discipline through knowledge and first-hand practical experience in laboratories, including the creation of comprehensive laboratory notebooks and reports. 
  • Work effectively, both independently and within a group, in a cross-disciplinary environment to solve problems rooted in the biophysical sciences by applying logical reasoning, lateral thinking and interdisciplinary approaches to develop and implement safe, ethical and socially responsible solutions that benefit humankind. 

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.

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2020 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year.

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £22,080

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.​ ​Your first year textbooks will be provided to you at no additional cost for modules delivered by Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and Chemistry will provide you with a lab coat.

These figures are for 2020 entry. Fees for 2021 will be confirmed in September 2020.

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: 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 students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

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.


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 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 Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

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 practical studies.

You'll receive lectures from leading figures in the field. These are supported by smaller group tutorials and seminars where 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.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures11-14 hours per week
Seminars1 hour per week
Tutorials1-3 hours per week
Problem classes1-2 hour per week
Workshops0-2 hour per week
Practicals3-7 hours per week

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, practise 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: the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, Derwent and Vanbrugh Colleges, the Physics and Electronic Engineering building 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

A variety of assessment techniques will be used for different elements of the course and at different times during your degree. These include:

  • examinations
  • course assignments and weekly problems
  • laboratory assessment
  • presentations
  • project reports

Assessment of your final year project includes a short oral examination, known as a viva, in which you will talk about your project with a panel of examiners.

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.

A student in a physics laboratory.
Students working in the Natural Sciences Learning Studio.
"Not only is the programme perfect but the environment at York is fantastic; the staff, the university and the city itself could not be nicer and the sense of community in the Natural Sciences cohort is unparalleled."
Lara, Biophysical Science (Year 2)

Careers and skills

A Natural Sciences degree is a versatile course that will provide you with the skills and experience to succeed in a wide range of careers.

Career opportunities

  • Industrial researcher for a chemical engineering company
  • Management consultant
  • Civil servant in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Project manager in the aerospace industry
  • Process technologist at an integrated circuit manufacturer
  • Financial quantitative analyst for an investment bank

Transferable skills

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

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

A*AA in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics

International Baccalaureate 37 points, including grade 6 in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Higher 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:

Qualification Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 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 IELTS 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.

Next steps

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School of Natural Sciences

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