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

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

Year of entry: 2020

UCAS code


Institution code



4 years full-time

Typical offer

A*AA (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2020 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2020/21)

International fees

£22,080 per year (2020/21)

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This versatile degree explores the intersections between the core laboratory sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, providing a solid interdisciplinary foundation before you choose one field as your specialism.

Studying Natural Sciences will give you a more complete overview of these closely-related disciplines than a single-subject degree. You'll gain practical laboratory experience and build your intellectual independence, enabling you to investigate your specialism with an appreciation for its connections to wider scientific questions.

With the option to specialise in Biology, Chemistry or Physics, you'll be able to develop an area of expertise and combine focused enquiry with a breadth of understanding that is valued by employers.

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

"The biology, chemistry and physics pathway gives a fascinating insight into the links between the three subjects, showcasing how each individual science builds on theory and techniques from the other two. The course covers a great breadth of knowledge, in particular it’s been fantastic using the labs in each department, gaining hands on experience with all sorts of equipment and gadgetry."
Alex, Natural Sciences specialising in Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Year 3)

Course content

Enroll now and choose 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 three 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'll take a total of 360 credits over the duration of your course.

Year in industry and year abroad

You'll have the opportunity to take a year in industry or a year abroad if you specialise in Biology or Physics, and students taking any specialisation will be able to apply for a placement year. If you choose to take the MSci version of this course you can take the year in industry with any of the specialisms and a year abroad with Biology or Chemistry.

A work placement or year abroad can enable you to develop valuable skills that increase your employability. 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. You will take core modules totalling 120 credits.

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 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.

Biology and Chemistry

Core modules

Biology and Physics

Core modules

Chemistry and Physics

Core modules

Year 3


Core module
Option modules

Chose four from a wide selection, including:


Core modules
Option modules

Choose one from:

Choose two from:


Core modules

You will also complete either:

Option modules

Chose modules totalling 80 credits from the following:

Year 4

The main focus of your final year is your research project. You’ll also study advanced core and/or option modules in your specialisation area, chance to add depth to your understanding or explore a totally new area.


Core modules


Core modules
Option modules

Choose two from the following:


Core module
Option modules

Choose three 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:

Biology specialism

  • 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

Physics specialism

  • Apply independent learning strategies that incorporate core and advanced physics, mathematics and/or computational knowledge, techniques and understanding to synthesise and evaluate real-world problems that require expertise in physics
  • Plan and execute an extended or complex scientific investigation using the principles of physics in investigating a hypothesis and interpret outcomes in physical problems
  • Work independently and within a research team and apply group-specific research methodologies, including objective analysis and constructive criticism of research level literature, to extended or complex open-ended problems
  • Communicate succinctly to the general public, scientists and professional physicists through accurate and precise scientific record keeping, scientific report writing and presentations
  • Select and apply sophisticated digital tools for in-depth scientific investigation and in wider societal applications
  • Use advanced physics principles, themes, concepts and methodologies as appropriate to a Natural Scientist with an understanding of the possibilities that exist to exploit the synergies between physics and other science-based disciplines as underpinned by experience and exposure to different scientific disciplines

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

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 textbook will be provided to you at no additional cost and Chemistry will provide you with a lab coat.

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 Physics) 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'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2020/21 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 experiment-based studies.

You'll receive lectures from leading researchers and academics, 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.

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

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures12-16 hours per week
Seminars0-2 hours
Tutorials1-2 hours
Workshops0-4 hours per week
Practicals3-7 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, 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: Alcuin, Derwent, and James Colleges; the Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Electronic Engingeerning buildings; and the Spring Lane 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

Typically, 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. 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 doing small group work in the Natural Sciences Learning Studio.
Students in a chemistry lab with an array of flasks.
"I got a chance to be taught and participate in teaching sessions across three different departments. Besides academic excellence, I found social endorsement from quantitatively small groups, qualitatively outstanding course and family-like staff.."
Igor, Natural Sciences specialising in Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Year 2)

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 academica, industry, finance and government. 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 opportunities will depend on your specialism, but could include:

  • 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 or above in Higher-level Chemistry, Higher-level Physics and Higher-level Mathematics
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 one A level grade (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
Duolingo Minimum overall score of 110

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).

Mature students are welcomed.

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School of Natural Sciences

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