kannmnn
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#1
Hi, I’m trying to choose a university and a course and I want to know how much specialisation there is in the biology course from oxford. I’ve checked the website, although the exact details given are a bit vague. You choose modules out of different ‘themes’, but there isn’t much information into the specifics of the actual modules. Could you apply to biology at oxford, and end up with a degree in just genetics/molecular biology? Of course you have to take ecology based topics in first year, but after that, are you free to choose what you want? Also, if you were to choose only the biochemistry type modules, how different would your end degree be to a degree in Biochemistry? Thanks for any advice

Edit: Also, I’m confused as to what postgraduate opportunities a biology degree from oxford has. Could I only go on to study zoology or plant science at a postgrad level? Or, would any of the ‘medical science’ postgraduate areas still be available to me? Could I study biology undergrad, and then move on to something like neuroscience/genetics/anything to do with medical science later on?
I’ve really rambled here so sorry about that but thanks for any help
Last edited by kannmnn; 4 weeks ago
0
reply
Oxford Mum
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#2
Report 4 weeks ago
#2
(Original post by kannmnn)
Hi, I’m trying to choose a university and a course and I want to know how much specialisation there is in the biology course from oxford. I’ve checked the website, although the exact details given are a bit vague. You choose modules out of different ‘themes’, but there isn’t much information into the specifics of the actual modules. Could you apply to biology at oxford, and end up with a degree in just genetics/molecular biology? Of course you have to take ecology based topics in first year, but after that, are you free to choose what you want? Also, if you were to choose only the biochemistry type modules, how different would your end degree be to a degree in Biochemistry? Thanks for any advice
Scotney Any light to shed on this?
0
reply
Plagioclase
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#3
Report 4 weeks ago
#3
(Original post by kannmnn)
Hi, I’m trying to choose a university and a course and I want to know how much specialisation there is in the biology course from oxford. I’ve checked the website, although the exact details given are a bit vague. You choose modules out of different ‘themes’, but there isn’t much information into the specifics of the actual modules. Could you apply to biology at oxford, and end up with a degree in just genetics/molecular biology? Of course you have to take ecology based topics in first year, but after that, are you free to choose what you want? Also, if you were to choose only the biochemistry type modules, how different would your end degree be to a degree in Biochemistry? Thanks for any advice

Edit: Also, I’m confused as to what postgraduate opportunities a biology degree from oxford has. Could I only go on to study zoology or plant science at a postgrad level? Or, would any of the ‘medical science’ postgraduate areas still be available to me? Could I study biology undergrad, and then move on to something like neuroscience/genetics/anything to do with medical science later on?
I’ve really rambled here so sorry about that but thanks for any help
Not a biologist, but I can answer a few of these questions. If you start the Biology course at Oxford, you will end up with a Biology degree, either a BA or a MBiol depending on whether you take the three or four year course. In common with most science courses at Oxford, choice of modules is more limited here than at many other universities because departments believe in giving students a strong and broad foundation in their subject rather than encouraging over-specialisation. If you want a very specialised degree, Oxford is probably not going to be ideal. In first year, there are no options. In second year, you can choose three out of four, and in third year you can choose four out of eight (and the fourth year is dedicated to the MBiol research project). The second year options are on the Biology website, the third year options aren't though and I don't understand why.

Regarding postgraduate admissions, this is generally more flexible than it is for undergraduate admissions (particularly if you're talking about PhDs/DPhils) but that also means that giving a clear-cut answer at this stage is difficult because it will also depend on things like your own research experience. But if the neuroscience/genetics/medical courses you're looking at indicate that an undergraduate degree in Biology is acceptable then yes, of course you'd be able to apply.
3
reply
Scotney
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#4
Report 4 weeks ago
#4
Pretty much covered by above poster. Oxford provides a broad based Biology degree. You can specialise more as the years pass. It is useful to stay broad at this stage as you may change your mind about what you would like to specialise in and also gives you an across the board understanding of all areas of subject.
0
reply
Oxford Mum
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#5
Report 4 weeks ago
#5
Plus Oxford degrees tend to be very thorough, and the extra work you do at Oxford will give you a good foundation for specialisation later. There are plenty of Oxford undergraduates I know who want to do a masters and would prefer to stay at Oxford.

I heard of an Oxford student who wanted to do a masters elsewhere, but found the course content had been covered in the second year at Oxford
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#6
Report 4 weeks ago
#6
(Original post by kannmnn)
Hi, I’m trying to choose a university and a course and I want to know how much specialisation there is in the biology course from oxford. I’ve checked the website, although the exact details given are a bit vague. You choose modules out of different ‘themes’, but there isn’t much information into the specifics of the actual modules.
(Original post by Plagioclase)
The second year options are on the Biology website, the third year options aren't though and I don't understand why.
They seem to have redesigned their website, somewhat recently I believe as well; maybe they haven't finalised the copy for the new website. I'm not a huge fan of it

However you can find the (then prospective) list for the 2018 finalists on waybackmachine: https://web.archive.org/web/20161114.../lectures.html

Specifically the then listed options for third year (before the 4th year was introduced) were:
  • Animal Cognition
  • Animal Locomotion: Evolutionary Biomechanics
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Communication, Culture and Collective Behaviour
  • Development and Evolution of Animals
  • Ecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems: Past, present and future
  • Evolutionary Ecology of Animals
  • Forestry: genetics, silviculture and policy
  • Genome Evolution
  • Human Evolutionary Genetics
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Marine Ecology
  • Metabolic Adaptation in Plants
  • Molecular mechanisms of cell function
  • Plant Biodiversity on an Oceanic Island
  • Plant Development - Genetics and Evolution
  • Plant signalling and growth
  • Sensory Ecology and Physiology
  • Social Evolution
  • Soils, roots and food security
  • Species conservation
  • The Evolutionary Dynamics of Infectious Disease
  • Tropical Forest Ecology

Bear in mind not all of these courses may have been offered in a given year and they may well have restructured some or all of these into different formats/combinations of topics since this list was published in 2016. LMH OXFORD or BrasenoseAdm might be able to comment on whether this is indicative of current offerings?

The course seems to have relatively little overlap with the Human Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, or Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular Biology) courses they offer - perhaps one or two shared papers at most. I would suggest if your interest is primarily in molecular/cellular biology in general then the biochemistry course at Oxford would be more suited to your interests (this is actually probably true for any university, since in the UK "biochemistry" tends to refer to molecular and cellular biology focused courses, rather than chemistry courses with a biological focus).

As far as further prospects go, you could probably go on to do a PhD project based in a biochemistry or biomedical sciences/physiology/neuroscience department, depending on which options you chose, but you probably couldn't do any PhD offered in such a department. However it's important to remember that a PhD will always be specialised in some particular area; the department is just where you "live", you probably won't touch most of the areas the department works on no matter what topic you do. This is fairly normal.
Last edited by artful_lounger; 4 weeks ago
1
reply
Oxford Mum
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#7
Report 4 weeks ago
#7
What a great, detailed post, artful!

I am sure this is the post the op is looking for.
1
reply
OxFossil
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#8
Report 4 weeks ago
#8
(Original post by kannmnn)
Hi, I’m trying to choose a university and a course and I want to know how much specialisation there is in the biology course from oxford. I’ve checked the website, although the exact details given are a bit vague. You choose modules out of different ‘themes’, but there isn’t much information into the specifics of the actual modules. Could you apply to biology at oxford, and end up with a degree in just genetics/molecular biology? Of course you have to take ecology based topics in first year, but after that, are you free to choose what you want? Also, if you were to choose only the biochemistry type modules, how different would your end degree be to a degree in Biochemistry? Thanks for any advice

Edit: Also, I’m confused as to what postgraduate opportunities a biology degree from oxford has. Could I only go on to study zoology or plant science at a postgrad level? Or, would any of the ‘medical science’ postgraduate areas still be available to me? Could I study biology undergrad, and then move on to something like neuroscience/genetics/anything to do with medical science later on?
I’ve really rambled here so sorry about that but thanks for any help
Just a note to the answers already provided. 2020 is the first intake to be offered the option of a 4th year to get a M Biol. That 4th year is devoted to training in research methods around a chosen specialisation and research project. The content of the degree is obviously based on the common features of all life on earth, so human biology (including pharmacology, genetics, physiology) isnt given the level of scrutiny that you might get with courses that are explictly human-centred. You should be clear though that the undergraduate degree you will end up with, regardless of the options you choose will be a BA in Biology, and the 4th year will give you a Master in Biology.

As for PG qualifications, your options will depend on what you want. For example, there's a significant difference between taught Masters courses (where the entry criteria tend to be more flexible) and PhDs (which tend to be much more specific)
4
reply
kannmnn
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#9
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#9
(Original post by artful_lounger)
They seem to have redesigned their website, somewhat recently I believe as well; maybe they haven't finalised the copy for the new website. I'm not a huge fan of it

However you can find the (then prospective) list for the 2018 finalists on waybackmachine: https://web.archive.org/web/20161114.../lectures.html

Specifically the then listed options for third year (before the 4th year was introduced) were:
  • Animal Cognition
  • Animal Locomotion: Evolutionary Biomechanics
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Communication, Culture and Collective Behaviour
  • Development and Evolution of Animals
  • Ecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems: Past, present and future
  • Evolutionary Ecology of Animals
  • Forestry: genetics, silviculture and policy
  • Genome Evolution
  • Human Evolutionary Genetics
  • Infection and Immunity
  • Marine Ecology
  • Metabolic Adaptation in Plants
  • Molecular mechanisms of cell function
  • Plant Biodiversity on an Oceanic Island
  • Plant Development - Genetics and Evolution
  • Plant signalling and growth
  • Sensory Ecology and Physiology
  • Social Evolution
  • Soils, roots and food security
  • Species conservation
  • The Evolutionary Dynamics of Infectious Disease
  • Tropical Forest Ecology

Bear in mind not all of these courses may have been offered in a given year and they may well have restructured some or all of these into different formats/combinations of topics since this list was published in 2016. LMH OXFORD or BrasenoseAdm might be able to comment on whether this is indicative of current offerings?

The course seems to have relatively little overlap with the Human Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, or Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular Biology) courses they offer - perhaps one or two shared papers at most. I would suggest if your interest is primarily in molecular/cellular biology in general then the biochemistry course at Oxford would be more suited to your interests (this is actually probably true for any university, since in the UK "biochemistry" tends to refer to molecular and cellular biology focused courses, rather than chemistry courses with a biological focus).

As far as further prospects go, you could probably go on to do a PhD project based in a biochemistry or biomedical sciences/physiology/neuroscience department, depending on which options you chose, but you probably couldn't do any PhD offered in such a department. However it's important to remember that a PhD will always be specialised in some particular area; the department is just where you "live", you probably won't touch most of the areas the department works on no matter what topic you do. This is fairly normal.
(Original post by Oxford Mum)
What a great, detailed post, artful!

I am sure this is the post the op is looking for.
(Original post by OxFossil)
Just a note to the answers already provided. 2020 is the first intake to be offered the option of a 4th year to get a M Biol. That 4th year is devoted to training in research methods around a chosen specialisation and research project. The content of the degree is obviously based on the common features of all life on earth, so human biology (including pharmacology, genetics, physiology) isnt given the level of scrutiny that you might get with courses that are explictly human-centred. You should be clear though that the undergraduate degree you will end up with, regardless of the options you choose will be a BA in Biology, and the 4th year will give you a Master in Biology.

As for PG qualifications, your options will depend on what you want. For example, there's a significant difference between taught Masters courses (where the entry criteria tend to be more flexible) and PhDs (which tend to be much more specific)
Thanks! This really helped and was the information I was looking for. Now I have a lot to think about... but at least I’ll make a more informed decision
1
reply
Oxford Mum
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#10
Report 4 weeks ago
#10
I’m glad, there are always experts at hand to help on tsr.
0
reply
Scotney
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#11
Report 4 weeks ago
#11
(Original post by kannmnn)
Thanks! This really helped and was the information I was looking for. Now I have a lot to think about... but at least I’ll make a more informed decision
I would only add that the beauty of a broad based Biology course is that you may change your mind about what you wish to specialise in over your time on the course.
0
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#12
Report 4 weeks ago
#12
(Original post by kannmnn)
Thanks! This really helped and was the information I was looking for. Now I have a lot to think about... but at least I’ll make a more informed decision
You may want to consider Cambridge Natural Sciences, which allows you to study exclusively biological options within the course, but gives you the freedom to to potentially mix and match between e.g. biochemistry, biomedical sciences , and organismal/ecological biology options and then eventually specialise in one of those areas. Additionally they have a lot of physiology/molecular biology type options even within the plant sciences and zoology Part II (third year) courses.

The possible downside to NatSci at Cambridge is the course is only 3 years for bioscientists unless you do biochemistry or do your 4th year in systems biology. This would however leave you the option of pursuing a more specialised masters after the course though.
1
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#13
Report 4 weeks ago
#13
(Original post by artful_lounger)
The possible downside to NatSci at Cambridge is the course is only 3 years for bioscientists unless you do biochemistry or do your 4th year in systems biology. This would however leave you the option of pursuing a more specialised masters after the course though.
The upside, of course, being it's Cambridge...
1
reply
kannmnn
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#14
Report Thread starter 4 weeks ago
#14
(Original post by Reality Check)
The upside, of course, being it's Cambridge...
I have looked into Cambridge, but I think I prefer oxford. Besides, I think I’d have a much harder time trying to get in for natural sciences as I haven’t taken maths alevel (biology, Chemistry, history)
1
reply
Reality Check
Badges: 22
Rep:
?
#15
Report 3 weeks ago
#15
(Original post by kannmnn)
I have looked into Cambridge, but I think I prefer oxford. Besides, I think I’d have a much harder time trying to get in for natural sciences as I haven’t taken maths alevel (biology, Chemistry, history)
I was being a bit flippant

In any case, as you rightly say not having A level mathematics would preclude your application anyway. Good luck if you decide to apply to Oxford.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

University open days

  • University of Oxford
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Wed, 1 Jul '20
  • University of Oxford
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Thu, 2 Jul '20
  • University of Oxford
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Fri, 18 Sep '20

Have you made up your mind on your five uni choices? (November update)

Yes I know where I'm applying (75)
73.53%
No I haven't decided yet (15)
14.71%
Yes but I might change my mind (12)
11.76%

Watched Threads

View All