Biomedical Sciences | University of Oxford
Biomedical Sciences
A high resolution raytraced ribbon model of Human Hemoglobin.
(Image credit: Shutterstock).

Biomedical Sciences

Biomedical scientists focus on how cells, organs and systems function in the human body; an exciting and dynamic area that is highly relevant to the understanding and treatment of human diseases. This course does not provide a medical training.

 

Oxford is a highly respected and internationally recognised centre for biomedical research and, on this interdisciplinary course, students will receive the benefit of tuition from leading experts working within a variety of non-clinical and clinical departments.

This course provides students with an intellectually stimulating education in modern molecular, cellular and systems biology and neuroscience. The course has been designed so that students first acquire an integrated understanding of biomedical science that allows them to shape their subsequent studies towards the topics that interest them the most.

As the course progresses, increasing emphasis is placed on relating knowledge to scientific research. That emphasis is demonstrated by the opportunity for all students to obtain first-hand experience of laboratory research in the later stages of the course. Students choose their own project and the possible areas for research within the University are wide ranging.

On the basis of the specialisation initiated by the selection of second-year modules and confirmed by the choice of third-year options, students will be awarded a degree in Neuroscience or Cell and Systems Biology.

For further details on the structure of the course, please refer to www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/bms.

Biomedical Careers

This course provides a strong foundation to pursue academic research, work in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, or apply for an accelerated graduate entry course in medicine.

The Biomedical Sciences course at the University of Oxford is a full-time, basic science degree course, offering education in cell and systems physiology and neuroscience. It is not accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science.

Related courses

Students interested in this course might also like to consider Biochemistry (Molecular and Cellular), Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Human Sciences, Medicine or Psychology (Experimental).

A typical weekly timetable

A first-year student would typically attend six to ten lectures, a Mathematics class and a three-hour practical class. Practical work undertaken in laboratories forms an integral part of this programme; students are required to complete practical work to a satisfactory standard in order to progress through the degree course. In addition, students prepare for weekly tutorials during which students and tutors discuss, through consideration of experimental studies, the significance and limitations of a given topic. Students’ remaining time is available for self-directed study and extra-curricular activities.

During the first two terms of the second year, work is divided between lectures (about five a week), tutorials (one or two a week) and practical classes. The final term of the second year is set aside for experimental research in a laboratory.

During the third year students attend lectures, seminars and tutorials in their chosen specialist area.

Terms 1–3 (1st year)

Courses

  • Numerical and scientific skills (Mathematics and Statistics, Chemistry and Physics)
  • Body, brain and behaviour
  • Cells, molecules and genes

Delivered by lectures, classes and practical sessions

Assessment

Examined by five written papers at the end of the year.

A satisfactory practical record is required for progression to Year 2.

Terms 4–5: Part 1 Finals
Courses

Students select courses totalling ten units from a wide range of subject areas, which currently include:

  • Psychological processes and disorders
  • Neurophysiology
  • Cellular and systems physiology
  • Intra- and intercellular signalling
  • Genetics and developmental biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular pathology and immunology

The full list is available on our website

Assessment

Examined by two written papers at the start of Term 6. These papers contribute 20% to the final degree mark. An academic penalty will be applied for an unsatisfactory practical record.

Terms 6–9: Part 2 Finals

Term 6

Students work on their research project.

Terms 7–9

Options currently offered are:

  • Neuroscience (cellular and systems)
  • Molecular medicine
  • Cardiovascular, renal and respiratory biology
  • Infection and immunity
  • Cellular physiology and pharmacology
  • Experimental psychology

Cell and Systems Biology: students study two options from the first five above.

Neuroscience: students study the Neuroscience and Experimental psychology options.

Students select topics within an option to study in depth.

The full list of current options is available at www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/bms

Assessment

Examined by four written papers during the third term of the final year. Students will also submit a project report and deliver a presentation on their research findings to the examiners.

80% of the final degree mark is determined by performance in the written papers and the project report/presentation.

 

The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.

A-levels: A*AA excluding Critical Thinking and General Studies. Candidates are required to have two of their A-levels from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.
Advanced Highers: AA
Highers: AAAAA. Candidates are required to have an Advanced Higher in at least one from Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics, and two Highers from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.
IB: 39 (including core points) with 766 at HL. Candidates are required to have two subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Higher Level.

If not taken on to a higher level (A-level or equivalent), all candidates will need to show that they have received a basic education (achieving at least a grade C at GCSE, Intermediate 2 or Standard grade (Credit) or equivalent) in Biology, Chemistry, Physics (GCSE Dual Award Combined Sciences or equivalent is also acceptable) and Mathematics. Other equivalent qualifications are also acceptable. Please see www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/bms for further details.

All candidates must also take the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) as part of their application. Please see How to apply for further details.

Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds. We offer a generous package of financial support to Home/EU students from lower-income households. (UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students.)

Fees

These annual fees are for full-time students who begin this undergraduate course here in 2017.

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU£9,250£0£9,250
Islands
(Channel Islands
& Isle of Man)
£9,250£0£9,250
Overseas£18,080£7,350£25,430

For more information please refer to our tuition fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Living costs

Living costs at Oxford might be less than you’d expect, as our world-class resources and college provision can help keep costs down.

Living costs for the academic year starting in 2017 are estimated to be between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month you are in Oxford. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs. For further details please visit our living costs webpage.

Financial support

Home/EU

A full loan is available from the UK government to cover tuition fees for Home (UK) students undertaking their first undergraduate degree*, so you don’t need to pay your tuition fees up front.

Tuition fee support arrangements for EU students commencing their studies in 2017 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. Information will be updated on this page as soon as it is announced.

In 2017 Oxford is offering one of the most generous bursary packages of any UK university to those on a family income of £42,875 or less, with additional opportunities available to those from households with incomes of £16,000 or less. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support.  See further details.

Islands
(Channel Islands and Isle of Man)

Islands students are entitled to different support to that of students from the rest of the UK.

Please refer the links below for information on the support to you available from your funding agency:

States of Jersey
States of Guernsey
Isle of Man

Overseas

Please refer to the "Other Scholarships" section of our Oxford support page.

*If you have studied at undergraduate level before and completed your course, you will be classed as an Equivalent or Lower Qualification student (ELQ) and won’t be eligible to receive government or Oxford funding

Fees, Funding and Scholarship search

Additional Fees and Charges Information for Biomedical Sciences

In the third term of the second year, students who undertake a research project may wish to remain in Oxford after the end of full term to facilitate completion of their project. (See the likely range of living costs for an additional month in Oxford.) However, this extended residence in Oxford is not a requirement and students should be aware that no financial support is available to help with any additional living costs during this time.

All candidates must follow the application procedure as shown in applying to Oxford. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course.

Written work 

You do not need to submit written work as part of an application for this course.

Written tests 

All applicants must take the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) in their own school, college or approved test centre on 2 November 2016. The standard deadline for registration is 1 October 2016, and the final deadline for registration is 15 October 2016. It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure they are registered for this test.

Please see www.bmat.org.uk for further details.

What are tutors looking for?

Tutors look for lively, receptive minds with the ability to evaluate evidence critically. You should be able to consider issues from different perspectives and have a capacity for logical and creative thinking. BMAT results will be considered when shortlisting candidates for interview. For further information about the selection criteria see: www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/electives/applying/selection-criteria.

Selection criteria

Candidates may wish to refer to the selection criteria for Biomedical Sciences.

Suggested reading

Introductory reading for Biomedical Sciences.

Apply

Hannah McKay, 3rd year

Watch a series of short videos of students talking about some aspect of their time at Oxford.

Mark, 2nd year

'Although in school I was encouraged to apply for Medicine, my interests were much more about the science than patient interaction. The brilliance of the Biomedical Sciences course at Oxford is the luxury of choice. It has been designed in a ‘stepping stone’ fashion, providing students with a solid foundation of science in the first year and then allowing them to tailor the course to their particular interests over the following two years. You can tell they’ve really thought about the structure and it’s arguably one of the best and most exciting courses Oxford offers.'

Contextual information

The Key Information Sets provide a lot of numbers about the Oxford experience – but there is so much about what you get here that numbers can’t convey. It’s not just the quantity of the Oxford education that you need to consider, there is also the quality – let us tell you more.

Oxford’s tutorial system

Regular tutorials, which are the responsibility of the colleges, are the focal point of teaching and learning at Oxford. The tutorial system is one of the most distinctive features of an Oxford education: it ensures that students work closely with tutors throughout their undergraduate careers, and offers a learning experience which is second to none.

A typical tutorial is a one-hour meeting between a tutor and one, two, or three students to discuss reading and written work that the students have prepared in advance. It gives students the chance to interact directly with tutors, to engage with them in debate, to exchange ideas and argue, to ask questions, and of course to learn through the discussion of the prepared work. Many tutors are world-leaders in their fields of research, and Oxford undergraduates frequently learn of new discoveries before they are published.

Each student also receives teaching in a variety of other ways, depending on the course. This will include lectures and classes, and may include laboratory work and fieldwork. But the tutorial is the place where all the elements of the course come together and make sense. Meeting regularly with the same tutor – often weekly throughout the term – ensures a high level of individual attention and enables the process of learning and teaching to take place in the context of a student’s individual needs.

The tutorial system also offers the sustained commitment of one or more senior academics – as college tutors – to each student’s progress. It helps students to grow in confidence, to develop their skills in analysis and persuasive argument, and to flourish as independent learners and thinkers.

More information about tutorials

The benefits of the college system

  • Every Oxford student is a member of a college. The college system is at the heart of the Oxford experience, giving students the benefits of belonging to both a large and internationally renowned university and a much smaller, interdisciplinary, college community.
  • Each college brings together academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and college staff. The college gives its members the chance to be part of a close and friendly community made up of both leading academics and students from different subjects, year groups, cultures and countries. The relatively small size of each college means that it is easy to make friends and contribute to college life. There is a sense of belonging, which can be harder to achieve in a larger setting, and a supportive environment for study and all sorts of other activities.
  • Colleges organise tutorial teaching for their undergraduates, and one or more college tutors will oversee and guide each student’s progress throughout his or her career at Oxford. The college system fosters a sense of community between tutors and students, and among students themselves, allowing for close and supportive personal attention to each student’s academic development.

It is the norm that undergraduates live in college accommodation in their first year, and in many cases they will continue to be accommodated by their college for the majority or the entire duration of their course. Colleges invest heavily in providing an extensive range of services for their students, and as well as accommodation colleges provide food, library and IT resources, sports facilities and clubs, drama and music, social spaces and societies, access to travel or project grants, and extensive welfare support. For students the college often becomes the hub of their social, sporting and cultural life.

More about Oxford’s unique college system and how to choose a college