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

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

Year of entry: 2019

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

A*AA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2019/20)

International fees

£21,330 per year (2019/20)

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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 MSci degrees have the same course code for your UCAS application. To select the Natural Sciences specialising in Archeology, Biology, Chemistry or Environment pathway, select the subject option code "Arch-Bio-Ch-En". We will ask you to confirm your pathway if you are invited to interview.

"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 whilst 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)

Course content

Enroll 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. As an MSci student you'll then be able to engage with further independent research in your fourth year, deepening your understanding in this exciting area.

You'll take modules totalling 480 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 to the University's 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

In addition to the potential Year Abroad there is also a variety of opportunites to enrich your academic experience by studying abroad through our Centre for Global Programmes.

Year 1

The first year will give you a broad understanding across all four subjects. You will take the following core modules, totalling 120 credits:

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. You will take modules from each totalling 120 credits.

Archeology and Biology

For Archaeology, you will take one 20 credit World Archaeology module, a 20 credit Practical Skills module, and a Team Project in the Summer Term. Your Practical Skills module will be on the same topic as your Team Project.

World Archaeology, Practical Skills and Team Project topics are subject to change each year, but may include topics such as: 

For Biology you will take the following core Biology modules:

Archaeology and Chemistry

For Archaeology, you will take one 20 credit World Archaeology module, a 20 credit Practical Skills module in the Spring Term and a Team Project. Your Practical Skills module will be on the same topic as your Team Project. (See the listing for Archaeology and Biology for example modules).

For Chemistry you will take the following core modules:

Archaeology and Environment

For Archaeology, you will take one 20 credit World Archaeology module, a 20 credit Practical Skills module and a Team Project in the Summer Term. Your Practical Skills module will be on the same topic as your Team Project. (See the listing for Archaeology and Biology for example modules).

For Environment, you will take the following core modules: 

You will also choose either:

Biology and Chemistry

Core Biology modules:

Core Chemistry modules:

Environment and Biology

Core Environment modules: 

You will also choose either:

Core Biology modules:

Environment and Chemstry

Core Environment modules: 

Core Chemistry modules:

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.


All students specialising in Archaeology will complete the Dissertation and Assessed Lecture for Archaeological Scientists (40 credits).

You will also choose one 30 credit Special Topic, one 10 credit World Archaeology II module and one 40 credit Assessed Seminar.

Special Topics: 

World Archaeology II modules: 

Assessed Seminars: 


You will complete a 40 credit Research Skills and Project module.

You will then choose eight 10 credit option modulesfrom a wide selection, including: 


You will complete a 20 credit Advanced Practical Research Training module and the following core modules:

You will choose four option modules one from each set listed below.

Choose one module from:

One module from:

One module from:

And choose one of either:


You will take a 20 credit Research Skills and Statistical Methods module and a 20 credit Advanced Literature Review module. You will also choose at least one of:

You will then have the option of taking either 40 or 60 credits (depending on whether you took both of the above) from the following:

Year 4

In your fourth year you will take masters level modules totalling 120 credits, with the majority of your work devoted to your research project.


You will take the Archaeology Extended Research Project (60 credits) and 60 credits of option modules.

You will choose two modules from the following:

You will also choose four Research Skills modules, two from each of the lists below.

Choose two modules from:

And choose two modules from: 


You will take the following modules:


You will take the following core modules:

You will choose  two 10 credits from the following:


You will complete the Research Dissertation (60 credits) and the following modules:

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:

Archaeology specialism

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

Biology specilism

  • Provide systematic explanations that demonstrate a deep understanding of key Biological principles, concepts and theories taken from the origin, evolution, structure, function, development and distribution of living organisms through critical evaluations of the scientific literature at the forefront of Biological research
  • Formulate hypotheses, design and execute experiments for the collection, analysis and modelling of experimental biological data, primarily for testing current understanding of biological systems, to produce figures, graphs and tables explained in comprehensive research reports. Use such skills across disciplines
  • 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 and advanced chemical principles and knowledge as appropriate to the interdisciplinary ethos of a Natural Scientist
  • Apply fundamental and advanced chemical scientific principles and knowledge with a strong emphasis on chemistry to the in-depth study of chemical science specialisms and the solution of problems at the forefront of the science and chemistry in particular
  • Design and safely conduct chemical experiments. Accurately document and record experiments to enable the effective synthesis of complex chemical compounds and advanced analysis of physical measurements, of both a quantitative and qualitative nature
  • Interpret experimental data by using mathematical skills, advanced scientific 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 plan, design and conduct an extended, open-ended investigative research project to extend knowledge and understanding at the forefront of the chemical sciences
  • 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 consistent with the expectations of a research chemist in academic, governmental or commercial positions
  • Use advanced chemistry based principles, themes, concepts and methodologies as appropriate to a Natural Scientist with a view to exploit the synergies between expert level chemistry skill sets and other science based disciplines all 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 information from a wide range of reliable sources and collate this information to establish current understanding and independently identify key research questions in specialised areas of environmental science
  • 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 and the management and business sector
  • Identify knowledge gaps,  plan, design and execute original research as an individual or as part of a team to address current environmental questions and problems using critically-selected field, survey and laboratory methods at appropriate temporal and spatial scales
  • Design and undertake critical analyses and interpretation of 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 and research publications
  • 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

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 2019 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 £21,330

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.​

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 offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

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 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.

By studying to MSci level you'll have the opportunity to integrate project work with research at a greater level.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Lectures and seminars372 hours456 hours216 hours612 hours

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

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1,200 hours a year learning.

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 will 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, and in Year 4 coursework will make up roughly 70 per cent of your assessment, with 30 per cent as written exam.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Written exams82%84%52%30%
Practical exams3%3%0%0%

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

Students looking down a microscope in a lab.
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

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

A*AA, including A or above in Chemistry and Mathematics

International Baccalaureate 37 points, including Higher-level Chemistry at grade 6 or above and Higher-level Mathematics at grade 6 or above. 38 points, including Higher-level Chemistry at grade 6 or above and Standard-level Mathematics at grade 6 or above.
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AAAAA at Higher level and AA at Advanced Higher level in Chemistry and Mathematics

If you achieve an A or higher at EPQ, you will be eligible for a reduced offer, one grade 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:

  • IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component
  • PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
  • C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency: 176, with a minimum of 169 each component
  • TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 21 in Writing
  • 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 and applications considered individually.

Next steps

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School of Natural Sciences

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