Natural Sciences

Frequently asked questions


Studying at Nottingham 

Why should I study at Nottingham?

The University of Nottingham is one of the most popular universities in the Country. It is a campus university in pleasant and green surroundings in a city that provides a wealth of activities and opportunities.

The Natural Sciences degrees take advantage of the established high quality teaching from 8 different Schools with an impressive, world-class research portfolio. The course has been designed to incorporate the latest developments in the field into the teaching to provide students with a stimulating environment which allows them to learn from the people who are working at the boundaries of their field.

What can I do with my degree?

The opportunities which are available to you once you have finished your degree are broad due to the wide range of subjects you can study on the Natural Sciences degree. In addition to subject-specific knowledge students will develop vital transferable skills including communication, team work, research skills, information processing, time management and self-motivation.

After finishing their degree some students will choose to take their studies further particularly if they are interested in a career in research or if they are considering a specific career which requires additional qualification (e.g. teaching). Other students may prefer to get straight into their career through either a graduate training scheme or direct employment.

Graduates of the Natural Sciences degree would be well qualified for careers in a range of scientific industries as well as in wider fields such as management, finance, civil service and the media. Find out more about possible careers.

Can I swap between the MSci and the BSc?
Students are able to move between the MSci and the BSc in either direction up until the end of their second year provided they meet the progression requirements for the course they are transferring to (these are higher for the MSci).
Can I do a work placement during my degree?

A number of students choose to look for laboratory experience/field work during their summer vacations. These are fantastic opportunities for students to gain real world experience of working in a discipline and something which we encourage students to do if they can. 

In addition there are also opportunities for summer placements in loads of other industries as well as volunteer work all of which can help you to stand out once you have finished your degree.  If you are interested in taking a longer placement then it is possible to suspend your studies for a year to undertake this. 

Is there a possibility of me studying abroad?

The University of Nottingham has an extensive network of exchange links with overseas universities which are available to all of our students. 

Through the Universitas 21 scheme students are able to apply to study for one or two semesters at one of our partner universities in the USA, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Singapore South Korea, Ireland, and Sweden.  

For opportunities available to Natural Sciences students please look at out flyer for 2014 study.


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What you can study

Can I study Biology, Physics and Chemistry?
I am afraid not, all first year pathways with Physics also include Maths to help students keep up with the workload. As a result you can take Chemistry, Physics and Maths or Biological Sciences, Physics and Maths but not Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Can I take combinations of subjects not listed as a pathway?
Due to the challenge of combining the teaching from this many Schools and Departments and the issues this causes with timetabling at present it is not possible to offer subject combinations which are not listed as pathways. The subject combinations available have been put together with consideration for what works well together as well as what works with the timetable. Since it is early days the programme is still undergoing some changes to the pathways and the Schools involved so there may new pathways introduced along the way.
Do I have to take maths modules in all pathways?
No, only students on pathways including maths will be required to take maths modules. There is no overall requirement for students on Natural Sciences to take maths.
Can I take language modules with Natural Sciences?
Unfortunately because of the difficulty in combining three subjects together it is not possible to take additional modules from outside of these subjects for credits. It is possible to take evening classes in many languages for a fee and this can even count towards the advantage award.  You can also join the Language Centre's Self-Access Centre for free and pursue languages on a self-study basis using their wide range of materials for language learning in the self-access centre including course books, language applications, audio work stations and self-study packages.

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What do you base your decision on?
The primary criterion is whether you have the ability to complete the course successfully. Your academic record and school (or other) reference play a crucial role in this, but we are not just looking for academic ability. Your motivation and commitment, your ability to organise your time and effort effectively and to work independently are all important, and it is these that we look for most when reading your personal statement.
Will I need to attend an interview?

Not usually as offers to school-leavers are normally made without an interview, but successful candidates will be invited to the UCAS visit days which take place in February and March to give them a chance to visit the University.

If you are from a less standard background i.e. mature student then an interview may be required to support your application.

What are you looking for in a personal statement?
We are not assessing your ability to write (although grammar and spelling are important) so there is no need to worry if you have no particular writing flair. The most important thing is to get across your enthusiasm for the subject and your commitment to the course. If you are not comfortable writing about how much you like the subject broadly you can always write about a specific aspect of the subject you find interesting or maybe about what first got you interested in the subject. If you are involved in any activities outside of school which are related to the subject or which have helped you develop transferable skills then you should mention them. If you are still not sure where to start with writing your personal statement there is a guide on the UCAS website.
I am thinking about taking a gap year, will this affect my chances of getting an offer?

No, you will still be considered in the usual way and you will receive the same offer as other applicants. A year out can be very good for your personal development but is also time in which your knowledge from previous studies can become rusty so it is important to weigh up the pros and cons and think about whether you will be using the time to your advantage.


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Entry Requirements 

Do you accept other qualifications as an alternative to A-levels?
We do accept a range of qualifications including Scottish Highers, Welsh Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate, International/European Baccalaureate and Cambridge Pre-U Diploma. For information about specific grades or for a qualification not listed above please contact us.
Will I be at a disadvantage if I am not taking Maths/Further Maths A level?

That all depends on whether you want to take maths or not. If you are interested in doing a pathway which involves maths then you would need to have an A level in maths. However, if you are interested in a pathway which does not involve maths then you do not need to have taken it (although in certain subject you may find it beneficial if you have).

As far as further maths is concerned there is no requirement on any pathway for you to have taken it but if you are considering studying Maths or Physics then you may find it beneficial in the first year.  After this year all students will be on an equal footing so there is no long term disadvantage if you have not taken further maths. We have a mixture of students who have taken it and students who have not and find that students entering without further maths do just as well.

Can I take a subject even if I do not have an A level (or the equivalent) in it?
Some of the subjects require you to have an A level in that subject to be able to study it in a pathway (Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics) but other subjects are happy to take students without an A level (Archaeology, Environmental Science, Geography, Psychology). If you do not have all of the required subjects at A levels for a pathway and you are unsure if you could pursue it then drop us an email to ask.

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A Level Exam Results

I have not made the grades for my offer, will I automatically be rejected?

Our offer through UCAS is a firm commitment on our part; if you meet our offer, we will take you. If you don’t meet the offer, then it will depend on other factors. The University will tell us how many `near misses’ we can take; this could be very few -- even zero -- or quite a lot, depending on how many first-year students there is room for. 

Where we are allowed to look at near misses they will be considered on the basis of the grades they have attained and the qualities that are shown in their personal statement. We will not take on students merely to make up our numbers; we do not need to do this, and our first consideration is always whether we think you will do well on our course.

When will I find out about reading lists and equipment?

A list of the recommended texts and equipment will be put up on the arriving students page in September. Students are advised to wait to buy any texts until after they have arrived at the University. All texts are available from the library so students will not be completely without them if they wait until they arrive and the University bookstore will usually have  recommended texts in stock.

How do I know where to go when I get here?
All students will be sent a letter at the beginning of September which will include information about the week one schedule. There will also be a notice on the website from the middle of August on the arriving students page which will advise students of the time, date and location of the first event in week one.
What do I need to bring with me?
There is a comprehensive list provided in the guide sent out by the University in early September but the key thing is to remember things which you can’t buy while you are here: important personal documentation (passport, driving license, birth certificate, id, health forms), notes from A levels and also text books (often handy in your first year), medical stuff (any prescription drugs, repeat prescriptions, note from doctor about long term conditions), financial information (student loans company, sponsorship, bank details) and any personal items you might like to remind you of home.

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Natural Sciences

School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham
University Park

Tel: +44 (0) 115 823 2376
Fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3555