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MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences specialising in Mathematical Bioscience

Use mathematical techniques to understand the dynamics of the natural world

Year of entry: 2023/24

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

A*AA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2023 (semester dates)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£26,800 per year

Undergraduate Open Days

Book your place for our Open Days on 1 and 2 July.

Discover York

for 'overall satisfaction' for Natural Sciences

out of Russell Group Universities according to the 2022 National Student Survey

in the UK for Natural Sciences

Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

Mathematics is changing our approach to biological and environmental problems. Apply your passion for mathematics to the pressing ecological and environmental issues of our times.

You'll build highly sought-after technical skills and use quantitative methods to understand the dynamics of the natural world, with a focus on ecology, conservation and the environment. You'll engage with global problems from natural resource management and shrinking biodiversity, to climate change, contamination risks and urban pollution and its impact on health and wellbeing.

You'll benefit from the established interdisciplinary connections between the Departments of Biology and Mathematics. Our teaching is informed by highly-regarded international research, such as our £1.5m "Pyramids of Life" study, that aims to translate theory from ecological modelling into ecologically sustainable and commercially viable fishing management strategies.    

Studying this course to Masters level will expand your independent study and allow you to explore this area in greater depth.

All our Natural Sciences MSci degrees have the same course code for your UCAS application. To select the Natural Sciences specialising in Mathematical Bioscience pathway, enter the subject option code "MatBio". 


The badge indicates accreditation.

All of our Natural Sciences courses are accredited by the Society for Natural Sciences. This means that our courses have achieved the standards set out in the Society’s accreditation framework, and are recognised as offering outstanding quality interdisciplinary science education, providing students with excellent learning opportunities and skills development to prepare them for future careers in research, education, business or industry.

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.

Fantastic facilities

You'll benefit from access to the extensive facilities from our contributing departments, as well as our popular Natural Sciences Learning Studio, a flexible space for socialising, revising and discussing your work.

Course content

Natural Sciences specialising in Biological Modeling will give you a grounding in core topics from across the natural sciences and mathematics alongside a range of advanced topics. You'll take modules totalling 480 credits across four years, covering:

  • ecology, evolution, physiology and environmental science fundamentals
  • mathematical physics, applied mathematics, statistics and numerical and computational mathematics
  • the essential definitions of a range of mathematical and statistical theories
  • the application of appropriate techniques to solve a variety of problems focusing on ecological and environmental scenarios.

You will also gain experience with computer packages for symbolic manipulation of mathematical expressions, implementation of algorithms, numerical evaluation of mathematical and statistical functions and processes, and representation and manipulation of large ecological and environmental datasets.

As a MSci student you'll also engage with further independent research in your fourth year, deepening your understanding in this exciting area.

Spend time in industry

You’ll have the opportunity to undertake a work placement which can enable you to develop valuable skills that increase your employability:

Study abroad

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


There are opportunities to spend time in industry as part of this course.

Year 1

Year 1 emphasises core material in biology 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

In your second year you will explore your specialised subjects in greater depth.

Core modules

Option modules

You will also study one option module:

Year 3

Core Modules:

Option modules

If you choose to study the Biology Group Research Project you will select two option modules from the list below. If you choose the Mathematics Group Research Project you will study all three modules:

Year 4

In your fourth year the majority of your work devoted to your research project. 

Core Module

Option modules

You will also study two option modules:

Our 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:

  • Confidently identify complex mathematical problems that can be analysed or resolved by standard mathematical techniques, and be able to apply those techniques successfully with a high level of sophistication
  • Identify and apply relevant and contemporary mathematical, numerical or statistical tools, techniques and methodologies to solve real world mathematical modelling problems in a specialised biological, eco-evolutionary, or genetics context
  • Demonstrate breadth and depth of understanding of the fundamentals of genetics and evolution, and the theoretical basis for ecological science, including critical appraisal of research at the forefront of the discipline.
  • Identify and critically evaluate state-of-the-art experimental, analytical and quantitative techniques and methods at the forefront of the discipline through knowledge and first-hand practical experience in laboratories, including the creation of comprehensive laboratory and field reports of a professional standard
  • Work individually, in teams and in collaborative groups as a leader or member, to solve complex/unpredictable modelling problems rooted in the biological sciences by applying logical reasoning, lateral thinking, and mathematical and numerical methodology to develop and implement safe, ethical and socially responsible solutions that benefit humankind
  • Communicate, with clarity and precision and in a variety of media, the importance of mathematical, biological or ecological issues to an interdisciplinary, specialist or non-specialist audience with arguments that are backed up by rigorous data analysis and robust mathematical modelling techniques.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £26,800

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) fees may increase within the government fee cap in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International fees are subject to increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

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

Textbooks 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 Biology you will have access to a course ebook and you will be provided with a lab coat at no additional cost.

Costs for going abroad or spending time in industry will vary depending on what sort of placement it is and what sort of financial assistance is available.​


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2023/24 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 will have strong element of experimental and practical 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 group

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.

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

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures7-11 hours per week
Seminars1 hours per week
Workshops0-2 hour per week
Practicals0-7 hours per week
Field trips0-1 week

These figures are representative of a typical 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 semesters. 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 locations will vary. Teaching locations for this course include the Spring Lane Teaching Building; Departments of Biology and Maths; and other locations around campus.

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

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

Students doing group work.

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

Typical offer
A levels

A*AA including Mathematics and either Biology or Further Mathematics

International Baccalaureate 37 points, including grade 6 in Biology and Mathematics (either Analysis and Approaches or Applications and Interpretations) at Higher Level.
T levels We are currently not accepting T Levels for this course.
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers Scottish Highers - AA

Advanced Highers - AA in Mathematics and either Biology or Further Mathematics

We may also be able to consider three Advanced Highers or a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers, where an applicant does not meet the grade requirement through Highers alone. Please contact us to discuss your qualifications.
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: Black Access Programme, Next Step York, Realising Opportunities, YESS, YorWay to York. 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 120, minimum 105 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C / Grade 4
LanguageCert SELT B2 with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic/PTE Academic Online 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.

Next steps

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School of Natural Sciences

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