Natural Sciences

Earth Science, Biology and Maths

Natural Sciences is a multidisciplinary degree which allows you to study three subjects in the first year and continue with two subjects in the second and third year. If you have undertaken a Natural Sciences course with a year in industry, placement year, or year in computer science, this will take place during your second year and so all following years will be pushed by one year (e.g. year two becomes three, year three becomes four).

Year One

You will study 40 credits of each subject from your chosen three-subject streams.

Compulsory year one module

All students are required to take the Academic and Transferable Skills Portfolio. This will be taught throughout the first full year. It will support organisational and professional competencies which will be used during the course. 

Earth Science

Students must take a total of 40 credits. 10 credits are from a compulsory module.

Earth, Atmosphere and Oceans

Bulk properties of the Earth, minerals, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, geological time, tectonics, geological structures, map interpretation, geological hazards, resource geology.

20 credits in the Spring semester.



Select a further 10 credits from the following optional modules:

Physical Landscapes of Britain

This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:

  • Development of life over geological time
  • Environmental changes over geological time
  • Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be supplied nearer the time of the trip)

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Introduction to Geographic Information systems
The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.

It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.



40 compulsory credits can be from your chosen specialism.

Molecular Biology and Genetics specialism

Genes, Molecules and Cells

This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.

40 credits throughout the full year.



Evolutionary Biology and Ecology specialism

Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

Life on Earth

Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.

20 compulsory credits throught the full year.




Students must take 40 compulsory credits.

Calculus and Linear Algebra

Basic theory is extended to more advanced topics in the calculus of several variables. In addition, the basic concepts of complex numbers, vector and matrix algebra are established and extended to provide an introduction to vector spaces. Students are introduced to different types of proof, such as direct proof, proof by contradiction and proof by induction, as well as theorems and tests for determining the limits of sequences and series. An emphasis in the course is to develop general skills and confidence in applying the methods of calculus and developing techniques and ideas that are widely used and applicable in subsequent modules.

40 compulsory credits throughout the year


Year Two

You will continue on your stream comprising of two of your first year subjects. You will take 60 credits of modules from each subject and greater emphasis will be put on studying outside of formal classes.

Earth Science

Students take 60 credits from this list

Spatial Decision Making

Overview: This module provides a consideration of:

  • Spatial Decision Making & the role that GIS has in this
  • Spatial Data Types and Sources
  • Vector and Raster Processing Algorithms
  • Professional Training in ArcGIS
  • Project planning, implementation and reporting

20 credits .


Overview: Soils are the most complex biomaterial on earth. An understanding of the basic concepts concerning the form and function of soils is important for future management strategies such as mitigating the effects of climate change and providing safe and sustainable food. This module focuses on the important soil properties from physical, chemical and biological perspectives including soil organic matter (microbiology and chemistry); soil chemical reactions (acidity, redox); soil fauna and flora; soil-water relations (irrigation and drainage).

10 credits

Rivers in the Landscape

This module:

  • introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
  • describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
  • uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures

Topics covered include:

  • catchments and longitudinal patterns
  • river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
  • complex response in the fluvial system
  • flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
  • an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Earth Observation

This module provides a general introduction to the subject of earth observation. This involves analysing remotely sensed images, typically acquired from instruments on board satellites or aircraft, to investigate spatial phenomena on the Earth's surface.

Example topics include the use of global image data sets to investigate climate change, analysis of satellite sensor imagery to identify wildlife habitats and conservation concerns, and urban land use mapping from detailed aerial photography. Theoretical lectures cover the concepts underpinning remote sensing, including the physical principles determining image creation, fundamental image characteristics, methods of image analysis and uses or applications of earth observation.

There is also a strong practical component to the module, with regular practical exercises on various forms of digital image analysis.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Environmental Geochemistry

This module will develop understanding of the important chemical and physical processes that operate in the terrestrial environment, principally within soils and fresh water systems.  It includes the study of the hydrological cycle, surface and sub-surface water chemistry including rainfall, rivers and lakes, processes that govern the movement of solutes and colloidal materials, adsorption, redox, solubility, diffusion and kinetics.

10 credits.

Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction

Description under review

20 credits

The Urban Environment

Description under review

10 credits.




40 compulsory credits from your chosen specialism:

Molecular Biology and Genetics specialism

  • The Genome and Human Disease

In this module you will learn about the structure and function of the eukaryotic genome, including that of humans, and the approaches that have led to their understanding. You will learn about techniques that are employed to manipulate genes and genomes and how they can be applied to the field of medical genetics. By using specific disease examples, you will learn about the different type of DNA mutation that can lead to disease and how they have been identified. Practical elements will teach you about basic techniques used in medical genetics such as sub-cloning of DNA fragments into expression vectors. Practical classes and problem based learning will be used to explore the methods used for genetic engineering and genome manipulation.

20 compulsory credits throughout the year.

Microbial Biotechnology

You'll cover the key groups of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms relevant to microbial biotechnology, principles of GM, and strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of “omics”, systems biology, synthetic biology and effects of stress on industrial microorganisms are explored, alongside the activities of key microorganisms that we exploit for biotechnology.

10 compulsory credits in the Spring Semester.

  • Bacterial Genes and Development

Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be explored. You'll learn by considering case studies, which will show you how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You will also study the regulation of genes in pathogenic bacteria.

10 compulsory credits in the Spring Semester.


Plus a further 20 credits from the following for the Molecular Biology and Genetics specialism:

Infection and Immunity

You will study microbiology, learning about pathogenic microbes including viruses, fungi, parasites and the roles of bacteria in health and disease. You will learn how the body generates immunity; the causes of diseases associated with faulty immune responses will be considered. In applied microbiology you will be introduced to recombinant DNA technology and prokaryotic gene regulation.

20 credits in the Autumn Semeseter.

Neurobiology of Disease

This module will teach you the underlying neurophysiology and pathology associated with several common CNS disorders and the neuropharmacology of currently available medication. You will learn about the neurotransmitters and pathways involved in normal brain function and how changes in these contribute to abnormal function. You will also decipher the pharmacological mechanisms of drugs used to treat these CNS disorders. You will cover numerous human diseases including those with great significance such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism.

20 credits in the Spring Semester.

Evolutionary Biology of Animals

Introduces key evolutionary concepts and their application in the animal kingdom. Areas you will study include the history of evolutionary thinking, natural selection versus the neutral theory, sexual selection and human evolution.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Developmental Biology

Examines the basic concepts of vertebrate embryonic development. You will discuss specific topics including germ cells, blood and muscle cell differentiation, left-right asymmetry and miRNAs. The teaching for this module is delivered through lectures. 

10 credits in the Spring Semester.



Evolutionary Biology and Ecology specialism

40 credits from the following:


You will learn about the forces determining the distribution and abundance of species and be able to use models to predict the dynamics of populations under a range of conditions. You will recognise how interactions between species can drive co-evolutionary processes leading to an understanding of the organisation of natural systems working systematically from populations through to communities, ecosystems and biogeographical scales.

20 compulsory credits in the Autumn Semester.

The Green Planet

This module explores the evolution of key plant systems through deep time, and the significance of this process for understanding modern ecology and food security. You will learn about the challenges that plants faced when moving onto land and evolutionary innovations within the early spermatophytes. You will also gain an understanding of the power of natural selection in producing plant diversity over deep time.

20 compulsory credits in the Spring Semester.



Plus a further 20 credits from the following options:

Animal Behaviour and Physiology

A comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development through learning and its adaptive significance in the natural environment. Through practical classes, you will learn about the physiological basis of fundamental behaviours. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, you will learn how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do.

20 credits in the Spring Semester.

Building Brains

Studying this module, you'll be able to explain how the nervous system develops, is organised, and processes information. This will be achieved through presentation of comparative invertebrate and vertebrate studies, consideration of evolutionary concepts, and a detailed analysis of the development, structure, and function of the mammalian brain. The lecture sessions are complemented by workshops on Drosophila and chick embryo development, on the neuroanatomy of the human spinal cord, and dissection of pig brains subject to the availability of tissue.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Insect Biology
Description coming soon
Evolutionary Biology of Animals

Introduces key evolutionary concepts and their application in the animal kingdom. Areas you will study include the history of evolutionary thinking, natural selection versus the neutral theory, sexual selection and human evolution.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Reproductive Physiology

Reproductive Physiology of both male and female mammals including comparative information for farm animals and human. Reproductive physiological processes and their regulation from gametogenesis to fertilization and preparations for a successful pregnancy. Development of mammary glands and hormonal regulation of lactation will also be discussed. Principal features of avian reproduction and the avian maintenance of calcium homeostasis for efficient egg formation. Hormonal regulation of egg laying with emphasis on the nutritional and metabolic challenges associated with commercial rates of egg lay.  

Hands-on practical's have been changed to online dissection demonstrations that are performed by experts and are very nicely recorded. This helps students to understand the taught subject matter and provide additional understanding when observing live dissection. This can be viewed multiple times and helps students when preparing for assessment.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.




Students taking Maths must take 60 credits from their chosen specialism:

Applied, Computation and Statistics specialism

20 compulsory credits:

Vector calculus

This course aims to give students a sound grounding in the application of both differential and integral calculus to vectors, and to apply vector calculus methods and separation of variables to the solution of partial differential equations. The module is an important pre-requisite for a wide range of other courses in Applied Mathematics.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Differential Equations and Fourier Analysis

This course is an introduction to Fourier series and integral transforms and to methods of solving some standard ordinary and partial differential equations which occur in applied mathematics and mathematical physics.

The course describes the solution of ordinary differential equations using series and introduces Fourier series and Fourier and Laplace transforms, with applications to differential equations and signal analysis. Standard examples of partial differential equations are introduced and solution using separation of variables is discussed.

10 credits in the Spring Semester



And 40 optional credits from the following modules:

Applied Statistics and Probability

The module covers introductory topics in statistics and probability that could be applied to data analysis in a broad range of subjects. Topics include probability distributions, parameter estimation, confidence intervals,hypothesis testing and an introduction to statistical modelling. Consideration is given to issues in applied statistics such as sample size calculations, the multiple comparison problem,data collection, design of experiments, critiquing and interpreting statistical reports and papers.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Modelling with Differential Equations

This course aims to provide students with tools which enable them to develop and analyse linear and nonlinear mathematical models based on ordinary and partial differential equations. Furthermore, it aims to introduce students to the fundamental mathematical concepts required to model the flow of liquids and gases and to apply the resulting theory to model physical situations. 

20 credits throughout the full year.

Introduction to Scientific Computation

This module introduces basic techniques in numerical methods and numerical analysis which can be used to generate approximate solutions to problems that may not be amenable to analysis.

Specific topics include:

  • Implementing algorithms in Matlab
  • Discussion of errors (including rounding errors)
  • Iterative methods for nonlinear equations (simple iteration, bisection, Newton, convergence)
  • Gaussian elimination, matrix factorisation, and pivoting
  • Iterative methods for linear systems, matrix norms, convergence, Jacobi, Gauss-Siedel
  • Interpolation (Lagrange polynomials, orthogonal polynomials, splines)
  • Numerical differentiation & integration (Difference formulae, Richardson extrapolation, simple and composite quadrature rules)
  • Introduction to numerical ODEs (Euler and Runge-Kutta methods, consistency, stability) 

20 credits throughout the full year.



Year Three

You will continue with the same two subjects studied in the second year, taking 50 credits in each.

Compulsory year three module

Alongside subject-specific study, you will undertake a 20-credit compulsory synoptic module which aims to tie together the subjects you are studying through an interdisciplinary group project.

The Natural Sciences programme is by nature interdisciplinary but is mostly taught via specialized modules delivered by individual Schools with little exploration of the interfaces between the sciences. The synoptic module (C13602) gives students the opportunity to combine knowledge and skills acquired whilst on their pathway to carry out a (number of) interdisciplinary piece(s) of work.

20 credits throughout the full year.

Earth Science

You must take 50 credits from:

Freshwater Management

This module considers human attempts to manage and restore freshwater environments, specifically rivers, lakes and wetlands. It considers changes in the fluvial system that occur in response to river management and engineering and examines approaches to restoring the natural functions of rivers that have been heavily degraded by human impacts.

The module examines some of the main stressors on lakes and wetlands lake management, and approaches for their management using an ecosystem-scale approach. The principles by which restoration practice is guided will be considered, and criteria for selection between alternative strategies will be introduced. The module will consider water quality and legislative requirements for freshwater bodies.

The module includes a field trip where you will visit a local nature reserve and develop a management plan with input from management practitioners and land-owners. You will also be able to engage with river management practitioners in a series of guest lectures.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Environmental pollutants: fate, impact and remediation.

Description under review

20 credits


Palaeobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: Origins and evolution of life; Evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; the geobiology of critical intervals in both palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology. Students will gain an in depth knowledge of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environmental and their impact upon evolution. In order to gain a broad understanding the module will explore past changes as seem in the fossil record, together with present day processes that underpin these responses. The lectures and course work will give students knowledge of the tools that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions and the effect of future changes in the abiotic stimuli that drive environmental change.

10 credits in the Autumn semester.

Sustainable Soil Management

Description under review.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

Environmental Pollution Field Course

Description under review

10 credits




Students must take 40-50 credits in total from one of the specialisms.

Molecular Biology and Genetics specialism

30 compulsory credits:

Ageing, Sex and DNA Repair

Examine the molecular causes of the ageing and malignant transformations of somatic cells that are observed during a single lifespan, and gain an understanding of the necessity to maintain the genome intact from one generation to the next. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures studying this module.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

Molecular Biological Lab Skills

Examines the mechanisms through which eukaryotic genes are expressed and regulated, with emphasis placed on recent research on transcriptional control in yeast and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotes. Studying this module will include having three hours of lectures per week.

10 compulsory credits in the Spring Semester.



And 10-30 credits from the following:

Pathogens: Vaccines and Therapeutics

This course, taught by 5 lecturers will give students an in depth understanding of the genetics, evolution and biochemistry behind the pathogenic properties of parasites and micro-organisms that cause major human disease in the present day. We will concentrate mainly on microbial aspects with one week on the genetics of human susceptibility. Students will learn about the specialised features of parasites and micro-organisms that make them pathogenic, how the genes encoding these features are regulated, and how biological, genetic and chemical tools can be used to develop preventative and curative treatments (two weeks). Model organisms to be studied include the agents of malaria (two weeks), leishmania (one week), candidiasis (one week), aspergillosis (one week), Salmonella, Escherichia and Shigella dysenteries (one week), and tuberculosis (one week). Students will also take part in a group-learning activity to produce a poster on an emerging or persistent pathogen explaining the molecular biology of its virulence. They will learn to use a questioning approach to gain an understanding of microbiological processes in the literature and how to present a scientific poster at a conference by presenting their group's work for peer and staff judging at a poster conference for 35% of the module mark.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Current Topics in Development and Genetics
Description under review
The Dynamic Cell
Description under review
Molecular Parasitology
Description under review
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Considers ion channels at the molecular level, with topics including the structure and function of different ion channel groups and their modulation by drugs, pesticides and natural toxins. You will also consider the synthesis and transport of neurotransmitters and the formation and release of synaptic vesicles. This module involves one three hour session per week incorporating eight lectures and two practical sessions.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Cancer Biology

Examine a selection of acquired and inherited cancers, and develop an understanding of the role of the genes involved and how they can be analysed. To study for this module you will have a two- or three-hour lecture once per week.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.


Or 40-60 credits from this substream:

Evolutionary Biology and Ecology specialism

30 compulsory credits:

Evolutionary Ecology
The module will consider current knowledge of, and research into, the ecological causes and evolutionary processes that govern natural selection, adaptation and microevolution in natural populations. Three approaches to the study of evolutionary ecology will be used: theoretical and optimality models; the comparative method and direct measurement of natural selection in the wild.

Approximately one week will be spent on each of the following topics:

  • Natural selection and the causes of evolution
  • The genetic basis of variation and its maintenance
  • Evolutionary stable strategies
  • Evolution of life histories
  • Competition and evolution
  • Coevolution of predators and prey
  • Coevolution of hosts and parasites
  • Coevolution of mutualists
  • Ecology and the origin of species
  • Genomics in evolutionary ecology

10 compulsory credits in the Autumn Semester.

The module looks in detail at the ideas and concepts underpinning conservation, particularly the effects of scale. The major role of habitat loss and fragmentation is explored, and the inadequacies of local conservation measures. Conservation practitioners are brought in to speak about their jobs and how to work in conservation. Quantitative approaches are emphasized, and the skills needed to contribute are developed in a set of practical exercises.

20 compulsory credits in the Spring Semester.



And 10-30 credits from the following:

Conservation Genetics
Description under review
Molecular Evolution: Constructing the tree of life

The module examines how we can use DNA and protein sequences to investigate evolutionary relationships among organisms.

The subject matter includes the alignment of DNA and protein sequences, the way in which DNA and protein sequences evolve and how these processes can be modeled, the construction of evolutionary trees (phylogenies) to determine relationships among organisms, and the use of molecular clocks to place evolutionary events within a timeframe.

The course provides numerous examples of the uses of molecular sequence data in evolutionary studies, highlighting the way in which sequence data are revolutionising our understanding of the living world and shows how understanding molecular evolution to produce accurate trees is crucial to understanding evolutionary mechanisms.

In depth examples include the uses of molecular data to resolve the deep-level relationships in the ‘tree of life’ (relationships among the three domains of life), the origins of mitochondria and chloroplasts, and the application of molecular data to study relationships in the Mammalia and in particular the Cetacea.

The use of molecular data in understanding phylogeography is also discussed, with particular emphasis on the recolonisation of Europe following the retreat of the ice at the end of the last glacial period. We also discuss the uses of genomic data to examine evolution.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Science and Society

Scientific discoveries are not isolated from the society within which they exist. This module will explore the interactions between science and society through a series of lectures, discussion groups and workshops.

Topics that will be explored include the ethical parameters that govern how scientific work is constrained, ways in which scientific discoveries can/should be disseminated to the wider community, the wider responsibilities that follow the acquisition of new knowledge and the concept of 'citizen science', where science takes place outside the traditional academic centres of work.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

Evolution and Behaviour
Description under review
Aquatic Biology
Description under review



Students taking Maths must take a total of 50 credits from the below modules:


In this module a variety of techniques and areas of mathematical optimisation will be covered including Lagrangian methods for optimisation, simplex algorithm linear programming and dynamic programming. You’ll develop techniques for application which can be used outside the mathematical arena. 

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Mathematical Medicine and Biology

Mathematics can be usefully applied to a wide range of applications in medicine and biology. Without assuming any prior biological knowledge, this course describes how mathematics helps us understand topics such as population dynamics, biological oscillations, pattern formation and nonlinear growth phenomena. There is considerable emphasis on model building and development.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Coding and Cryptography

This course provides an introduction to coding theory in particular to error-correcting codes and their uses and applications. It also provides an introduction to to cryptography, including classical mono and polyalphabetic ciphers as well as modern public key cryptography and digital signatures, their uses and applications.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

Game Theory

Game theory contains many branches of mathematics (and computing); the emphasis here is primarily algorithmic. The module starts with an investigation into normal-form games, including strategic dominance, Nash equilibria, and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. We look at tree-searching, including alpha-beta pruning, the ‘killer’ heuristic and its relatives. It then turns to mathematical theory of games; exploring the connection between numbers and games, including Sprague-Grundy theory and the reduction of impartial games to Nim.

10 credits in the Spring Semester.

Fluid Dynamics

This course aims to extend previous knowledge of fluid flow by introducing the concept of viscosity and studying the fundamental governing equations for the motion of liquids and gases. Methods for solution of these equations are introduced, including exact solutions and approximate solutions valid for thin layers. A further aim is to apply the theory to model fluid dynamical problems of physical relevance.

20 credits in the Spring Semester.

Scientific Computation and Numerical Analysis

Differential equations play a crucial modelling role in many applications, such as fluid dynamics, electromagnetism, biomedicine, astrophysics and financial modelling. Typically, the equations under consideration are so complicated that their solution may not be determined by purely analytical techniques; instead one has to resort to computing numerical approximations to the unknown analytical solution. In this module we study numerical techniques for approximating data, ordinary and partial differential equations, and solving, or finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors of, the large linear systems of equations that result from these approximations. The module covers:

  • Initial value problems (ODEs): multistage and multistep methods; convergence and stability; higher order ODEs; systems of first order ODEs; implicit methods
  • Partial differential equations: finite differences for elliptic, parabolic and hyperbolic PDEs; truncation error and stability analysis; finite volume methods
  • Approximation theory: least squares approximation; trigonometric polynomial approximation
  • Eigenvalues and eigenvectors: power method; inverse iteration; Householder transformations; QR algorithm; singular value decomposition
  • Large linear systems: Krylov subspace methods; conjugate gradient method; preconditioning

20 credits in the Spring Semester.



Year Four (MSci students only)

You will choose one of your third-year subjects to focus on in the fourth year, spending half your time working on an independent research project aiming to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in research.

All students take 120 credits of modules in the fourth year and each subject has a minimum number of credits listed. Students can take 120 credits from a single subject (where available) or they can use modules from their second subject to make up the difference between the minimum and the required number of credits.

Earth Science

You must a take a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 120 credits from earth science throughout the year. 

60 compulsory credits:

MSci Research Project

The aim of the module is to provide training for the description, planning and conduct of a programme of research in order to solve or report on a specific scientific problem. The MSci project is taken in both the autumn and spring semesters and comprises 60 credits. In the autumn the student will work with the supervisor to devise a projectby identifying an appropriate topic before focusing on a specific scientific problem. This will involve regular planning meetings and individual research by the student. In the spring semester the students will undertake the main body of work for the project which may be experimental, computer, literature or theoretically based (or various combinations of these). The student will continue to have, as a minimum, monthly supervisor meetings and document all progression in their project notebooks. The module is assessed by a project write up in the style of a scientific paper, the project notebook and a poster presentation with an oral component to the staff and the student cohort.

60 compulsory credits  throughout the full year.

Project Management
Description under review
Writing and Reviewing Research Proposals
Description under review
Statistics and Experimental Design for Bioscientists
Description under review
Communication & Public Engagement Skills for Scientists
Description under review


You may then choose up to 10 credits from:  

Advances in Managing Rivers and Catchments
Description under review



A total of 120 credits are required.

100 compulsory credits:

Life Sciences Fourth Year Project
The project is a year-long module. Preparatory work (familiarisation with laboratory/field safety protocols etc.) will occur in autumn, with the bulk of practical work in spring. The topic of the project will be chosen from a list of suggestions relevant to the degree subject, and will be finalised after consultation with a member of staff, who will act as a supervisor.

The project involves an extensive piece of detailed research on the topic chosen after discussion with the supervisor. The practical component will involve collection of data from a laboratory or field investigation and appropriate analysis. The findings will be interpreted in the context of previous work, and written-up in a clear and concise final report in the form of a research paper manuscript or end-of-grant report. The main findings will also be delivered in an assessed oral presentation and discussed with two assessors in a viva voce.

60 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

Research Planning and Preparation
This is a year-long module, but with most of the work being complete by the end of January. The module focuses on the preparing students to engage in substantial independent research in Life Sciences, and is supported by lecture content in Research Presentation Skills. Students choose a research topic from a list provided the previous academic year, and are allocated an individual research supervisor accordingly. In regular meetings, student and supervisor discuss relevant research literature and design a practical research project addressing a specific hypothesis. Assessment is via a substantial research proposal.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.

Research Presentation Skills
The module aims to provide students with a range of presentation and IT skills that are essential for modern biological researchers. The workshop content will provide a conceptual framework, while journal clubs and coursework will deliver the hands-on experience required to develop appropriate practical skills.

20 compulsory credits throughout the full year.



Plus a further 20 credits from the following options:

  • Cutting-edge Research Technologies and Ideas in Molecular Biology
This module focusses on laboratory methods and ideas which are currently emerging in molecular biology. Students will be exposed to the mechanisms and methods that generate the data they go on to analyse. Assessment will include presentations and ongoing assessment.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

  • Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis
This is an advanced level biological statistics module which builds on basic undergraduate training. Lectures discuss concepts in experimental design, biological probability, generalised linear modelling and multivariate statistics. Practical sessions build on this conceptual outline, giving you hands-on experience of problem solving and analytical software, and some basic programming skills. You will spend three to four hours within lectures and workshops when studying this module.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.

  • Process and Practice in Science
A consideration of science ‘as a process’, with brief introductions to the history, philosophy and sociological norms of science. You will cover aspects of the scientific literature and scientific communication, peer review, 'metrics’, including citation analysis, journal impact factors, and the 'h' and other indices of measuring scientists' performances. You will also cover ethics in science and the changing relationship between scientists, government and the public. You will have a three hour lecture once per week during this module.

10 credits in the Autumn Semester.




You must take a minimum of 80 and a maximum of 120 credits from maths throughout the year.

40 compulsory credits:

Mathematics Dissertation

This module consists of a self-directed investigation of a project selected from a list of projects or, subject to prior approval of the School, from elsewhere.

The project will be supervised by a member of staff and will be based on a substantial mathematical problem, an application of mathematics or investigation of an area of mathematics not previously studied by the student. The course includes training in the use of IT resources, the word-processing of mathematics and report writing.

40 compulsory credits throughout the year



And select a minimum of 40 credits from the optional modules:

Techniques for Differential Equations

The development of techniques for the study of nonlinear differential equations is a major worldwide research activity to which members of the School have made important contributions. This course will cover a number of state-of-the-art methods, namely:

  • use of green function methods in the solution of linear partial differential equations
  • characteristic methods, classification and regularization of nonlinear partial differentiation equations
  • bifurcation theory

These will be illustrated by applications in the biological and physical sciences.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester

Differential Geometry

The course introduces notions of topology and differential geometry which are required for modern research in relativity and other topics involving geometry. The course will be illustrated with a body of concrete geometrical examples drawn from general relativity. The modern study of general relativity requires familiarity with a number of tools of differential geometry, including manifolds, symmetries, Lie Groups, differentiation and integration on manifolds. These are introduced using examples of curved space-times whose context is familiar from the study of general relativity, the presentation of geometric concepts will be significantly more abstract and powerful than in Relativity MATH3018


20 credits in the Autumn Semester

Introduction to Quantum Information Science
Description is under review.
Financial Mathematics

The first part of the module introduces no-arbitrage pricing principle and financial instruments such as forward and futures contracts, bonds and swaps, and options. The second part of the module considers the pricing and hedging of options and discrete-time discrete-space stochastic processes. The final part of the module focuses on the Black-Scholes formula for pricing European options and also introduces the Wiener process. Ito integrals and stochastic differential equations.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester

Scientific Computing and C++

The purpose of this course is to introduce concepts of scientific programming using the object oriented language C++ for applications arising in the mathematical modelling of physical processes. Students taking this module will develop knowledge and understanding of a variety or relevant numerical techniques and how to efficiently implement them in C++.

20 credits in the Autumn Semester

Black Holes

General relativity predicts the existence of black holes which are regions of space-time into which objects can be sent but from which no classical objects can escape. This course uses techniques learnt in MATH4015 to systematically study black holes and their properties, including horizons and singularities. Astrophysical processes involving black holes are discussed, and there is a brief introduction to black hole radiation discovered by Hawking.

This course aims to introduce the physics of black holes and its mathematical description, giving insight into problems of research interest. It provides an opportunity to apply techniques and ideas learned in previous modules to important astrophysical problems. Students will acquire knowledge and skills to a level sufficient to begin research in general relativity.

20 credits in the Spring Semester

Topics in Biomedical Mathematics

This module illustrates the applications of advanced techniques of mathematical modelling using ordinary and partial differential equations. A variety of medical and biological topics are treated bringing students close to active fields of mathematical research.

20 credits in the Spring Semester

Time Series and Forecasting

This module will provide a general introduction to the analysis of data that arise sequentially in time. You will discuss several commonly-occurring models, including methods for model identification for real-time series data. You will develop techniques for estimating the parameters of a model, assessing its fit and forecasting future values. You will gain experience of using a statistical package and interpreting its output.

20 credits in the Spring Semester

Computational Applied Mathematics

This course introduces computational methods for solving problems in applied mathematics. Students taking this course will develop knowledge and understanding to design, justify and implement relevant computational techniques and methodologies.

20 credits in the Spring Semester


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Natural Sciences

School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham
University Park

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