Study Biology in the UK, more than a Science...
Why study Biology in the United Kingdom? Firstly, few places have influenced human thought more in terms of science and technology than this small collection of islands.
In the United Kingdom, the student biologist can retrace the steps of Darwin, White of Selborne, Robert Hooke and a host of others, who did so much to establish the fundamentals of the subject.
You have heard of the tri-carboxylic acid, or Kreb’s cycle; so to seek out its origins, go to Sheffield. You have heard of the first chlorination of water; this single, deceptively-simple measure occurred following regular cholera epidemics in London - one step that saved more lives than all the antibiotics which were also first to be found here.
Matchless collections, assembled by pioneer British biologists, from all parts of the world, are here to study.
Names like Banks, Wallace and Hooker are to be seen on countless herbarium pages, or on the jars of preserved type-specimens on the shelves of UK museums. Where do you think are the papers from HMS Beagle or the journals of Captain Cook?
So what of the present?
The UK continues to absorb peoples and cultures from all parts of the world, its’ universities adapting themselves in an unbroken tradition that stretches back for nearly eight hundred years. Over 90 universities, within a total of about 140 higher educational institutions, award a first or Bachelor’s Degree.
Of these, the vast majority advertise courses in Biology, in all its forms, which remains the most popular science. Postgraduate work, beyond the Bachelor’s Degree, encompasses Diploma courses, studies at Masters’ level and the Degree of Ph.D.
As you can see from the familiar terminology, British qualifications are recognised worldwide.
Science in the UK
Study in the metropolis of London, or in the wider spread of England beyond. Choose the mountains and open spaces of Scotland or Wales. Take in the distinctive atmosphere of Ulster.
Wherever you decide to go, you can be sure to find a rewarding and stimulating course. But what about the standards? How can you distinguish between course literature from so wide a range of institutions?
How can you trust that what is advertised is actually true? The answer is Quality Assurance, via a government agency, which can inspect all courses, be that at undergraduate or postgraduate level.
The Degree of B.Sc. (Applied Biological Sciences), for example, is expected by its students to cover more or less the same fundamental ground and with similar academic goals, wherever it is taught.
Traditionally too, British universities inspect each other, via a system in which external examiners from other similar UK institutions participate in the examination process.
The assessment of students must be seen to be unbiased and all standards must be seen to be maintained. In fact, Quality Assurance has been so successful that the process is now being copied in many other parts of the world!
What of variations in course content? Biology, always at the forefront of human endeavour, continues to evolve. UK universities do their utmost to keep pace with all new developments, for this is the tradition by which they survive.
Subdivision of Biology courses into subject areas, such as Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Genetics, often makes it possible for students to select single specialized routes for further study.
By contrast, the same modular-based course system means that other students can develop their own more broadly-based Biology Degrees. For graduates seeking opportunities for research, many institutions offer Diploma, Masters’ or Doctorate level work.
Not surprisingly, a larger university will possess a greater subject range, whilst the smaller institution may pride itself on lower student numbers and closer, more personal supervision. Greater diversity contributes to the strength of the whole.
Under the UK system, work is intensive. Three-year Bachelor and Ph.D. Degree programmes tend to be the norm in which people need to study efficiently and quickly. The wider world outside awaits their talents and the contribution that UK-based Degrees can make.