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Planet Earth II: The Best Life Sciences and Natural History Courses in the UK

9th December 2016 Posted by: Cristina Radulescu

IN a recent interview, broadcasting legend and everyone’s top choice for fantasy dinner guest, Sir David Attenborough just made an observation that makes us feel hopeful for our future and that of our planet. Today’s young generation is apparently more inclined to watching Planet Earth II as opposed to The X Factor. This suggests that a growing number of youths are expressing an avid interest in our environment, our natural history and means of preserving them. This fantastic prospect most accurately translates in the fact that university degrees in the various fields are in great demand among prospective students.

Read on for our list of the best universities in the UK for Life Science and Natural History. If you like the look of them, get applying as soon as you can.

Best Universities for Life Sciences Degrees

Harper Adams University: This countryside-based institution in Shropshire is the ideal destination for those who are seeking a degree in agriculture. The university has thoroughly postive reviews, from alumni and employers alike, as it offers a bespoke curriculum, depending on which area of agriculture students are looking to focus on.

Degree Options:

  • Agriculture with Animal Science BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time taught degree
  • Animal Production Science BSc (Hons) – 4 years sandwich degree with one year placement in a relevant professional area
  • Animal Production Science MSci – 5 years sandwich degree, which includes a Master in addition to the full time undergraduate degree and professional placement year.

Interesting fact: The balance between academic performance and excellent professional training ensure that all the courses offered by the University have between 85% - 99% employment rate.

Loughborough University: Not only the top "sports university” in the UK, Loughborough also offers students high quality life science-based degrees. Like many of the courses at Loughborough, there is a great emphasis on integrating business studies alongise specific degrees. Those with a focus on life sciences make no exception.

Degree Options:

  • Human Biology BSc (Hons) – 4 years sandwich degree with a placement year in the industry
  • Biomaterials Engineering Meng (Hons) – 5 years to include a postgraduate degree on top of the existing sandwich years study.
  • Human Biology (Elite Athlete Pathway) BSc (Hons) – 4 years with a foundation year.

Interesting fact: The Elite Pathway degree options is specific to Loughborough. It is available to elite athletes or coaches who are looking to study at the University. Aside from many perks, the degree itself may tie in with their chosen sports preference, and it provides students with a systematica approach and a global perspective.

University of South Wales: This Welsh institution takes pride in constantly thriving and improving in the overall and specific rankings from one year to another. It offers a vast array of life science degrees which students are becomingmore and more attracted to.

Degree Options:

  • Biology BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time taught degree
  • International Wildlife Biology BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time taught degree
  • Biology MBiol (Hons) – 4 years degree with integrated Masters

Interesting Fact: The International Wildlife Biology BSc offered by the unversity is among the few of its kind in the country. Apart from offering information on an intriguing part of the law, there’s also the opportunity for students to travel in order to observe wildlife in its natural habitat. This might mean studying lions and rhynos in the South African savannahs, the coral reefs of Asia or tropical forests in South America.

Newcastle University: The Northern Russell Group institution provides the largest number of life science degrees in the UK for a non-specialised university. Students have a vast array of degree options to choose from that are taught by leaders in the field.

Degree Options:

  • Zoology BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time
  • Marine Biology BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time
  • Computer Science (Bio-Computing) MCompu (Hons) – 4 years with integrated Masters
  • Biomedical Genetics MSci (Hons) – 4 years with integrated Masters

Interesting Fact: Part of the University is the International Centre for Life which hosts many life-science projects open to both students as well as scientists and clinicians.

Best Universities for Natural History

University of Leeds: Offers a highly-competitive, internationally recognised degree with a 90% employment rate after University. The 4-year Natural Sciences MNatSci provides full undergraduate study with integrated Masters. It has an interdisciplinary perspective, combining science, mathematics and business which results in a truly comprehensive degree that prepares you for any graduate route you might be willing to take.

University of Exeter: Natural history degrees at Exeter are highly research based and prepare students very well for potentially undertaking a Phd. There are many research groups at the University that aid students in perfecting their research skills.

Degree Options:

  • Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time
  • Natural Sciences MSci (Hons) – 4 years full time study with integrated Masters

Interesting Fact: Many alumni credit the course with having "a unique twist” that similar programmes lack. Namely, the inter-disciplinary structure is an aspect which sets Exeter graduates apart from others.

University of Keele: In the natural history sphere, the university prides itself with offering some of the best professional opportunities for students after they graduate, as well as during their course. The staff is often quoted by students as being highly inspirational and ofefring students a fantastic platform from which to express their knowledge.

Degree Options:

  • Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time study
  • Natural Sciences MSci (Hons) – 4 years with a Masters in addition to the full time undergraduate study.

Interesting Fact: Both streams of the natural sciences degree ensures close collaboration with the Institute of Natural Arts and Sciences and the Grand Challenges lecture series. Both offer students the unique opportunity to work with, listen to and brainstorm with leaders in the field of natural history.

University of Durham: Last, but not least, the Russell Group giant that is known for its traditionalist appeal, has a surprisingly non-traditional approach when it comes to its Natural history degrees. It allows students to create their own bespoke curriculum from their very first year. The balance between flexibility and depth is what attracts so many new students to Durham every year.

Degree Options:

  • Natural Sciences BSc (Hons) – 3 years full time learning
  • Natural Sciences MSci (Hons) – 4 years full time learning with a Masters in addtition to the undergraduate course.

Interesting Fact: Both streams of the course at Durham have the lowest drop-out rate among major University providers in the UK.


And there you have it – plenty of courses to choose from. And every single one of them is great enough to make Sir David Attenborough proud!


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