University undergraduates studying in the Monica Partridge building. Friday November 5th 2021.Megan Mahoney (blue top); Jane Israel (denim jacket); Sara Bintey Kabir (yellow top); Francis Adam (black and white hoodie); Lucy Woodward and Khaqan Khan (red jumper).

Natural Sciences BSc

University Park Campus, Nottingham, UK

Course overview

Natural sciences allows you to study a combination of science subjects, getting to experience these at university before specialising later in the degree.  You'll choose a combination of three subjects (called a stream) in your first year and study two subjects to degree level from your second year onwards.


Year one Year two Year three Additional year Notes for applicants

The time in your first year is split equally studying three subjects.

You will choose a subject stream (listed below) in early September following confirmation of your place. This choice is flexible and you can change stream any time up to the end of the first week of study providing you meet stream requirements.

Subject Streams Required A level subjects
Archaeology-Biology-Chemistry Biology, chemistry
Archaeology-Biology-Earth Science Biology, other science*
Archaeology-Earth Science-Chemistry Chemistry, other science*
Biology-Archaeology-Ecosystems and Environment Biology, other science*
Biology-Chemistry-Mathematics Biology, chemistry, mathematics
Biology-Physics-Mathematics Biology, mathematics, physics
Cancer Sciences-Biology-Chemistry Biology, chemistry
Cancer Sciences-Biology-Psychology Biology, other science*
Chemistry-Archaeology-Ecosystems and Environment Chemistry, other science*
Chemistry-Earth Science-Mathematics Chemistry, mathematics
Chemistry-Physics-Mathematics Chemistry, mathematics, physics
Ecosystems and Environment-Earth Science-Archaeology Any two sciences from list below
Earth Science-Ecosystem and Environment-Biology Biology, other science*
Ecosystem and Environment-Earth Science-Chemistry Chemistry, other science*
Ecosystem and Environment-Biology-Chemistry Biology, chemistry
Earth Science-Biology-Chemistry Biology, chemistry
Earth Science-Biology-Mathematics Biology, mathematics
Mathematics-Psychology-Chemistry Chemistry, mathematics
Physics-Earth Science-Mathematics Mathematics, physics
Physics-Psychology-Mathematics Mathematics, physics
Psychology-Biology-Chemistry Biology, chemistry
Psychology-Biology-Mathematics Biology, mathematics

You choose two of your first-year subjects and continue studying them in greater depth than the first year. Some subjects allow further specialisation within the subject through optional modules and specialisms allowing you to tailor your programme to your interests.

You'll spend more time developing practical skills in this year. This enables you to put what you are learning into practice through field work and practical computing and laboratory classes.

Typical year two modules

For typical year two modules, please visit the natural sciences website.

You continue studying your two chosen subjects at a more advanced level. You have even more flexibility through optional modules to explore your own interests and focus on specialist areas within each subject and can opt to do a major/minor split to study more of your preferred subject.

Emphasis will be put on self-reliance and proactively putting what you have learned in previous years into practice.

Alongside subject content you take the 20 credit synoptic project which provides a broader view of science and its communication and ties together the different subjects through a collaborative group project.

Typical year three modules

For typical year three modules, please visit the natural sciences website.

Year in computer science

You can add to this degree by spending an extra year in the university’s School of Computer Science. This is designed to provide you with training in software development and computing skills to enhance your studies and your career options. You will be able to transfer into this programme from the BSc or MSci course (subject to progression criteria).

You will graduate with a named degree BSc Natural Sciences with a Year in Computer Science.


Course transfers

You can transfer to any of the following:

  • BSc or MSci programmes
  • international study programmes
  • placement year programmes

at any time within the first two years of the course, providing you meet any additional requirements for those programmes.

Extracurricular activities

  • The Nottingham Internship Scheme provides a range of paid work experience opportunities and internships throughout the year
  • The Nottingham Advantage Award is our free scheme to boost your employability. There are over 200 extracurricular activities to choose from
  • NatSci Soc organise events throughout the year. You could take part in sports activities, casual social events and the annual boat party. They also arrange an alumni careers event

Language study as part of this degree

You may be able to choose to study a language as part of this degree.  

Learning another language can open career opportunities around the globe and enriches your CV. It could also help you in your studies by being able to access learning materials in other languages. 

If you are planning to travel or work abroad it will help you to broaden your cultural understanding.

Our Language Centre offers many languages, and you may start as a beginner or at a more advanced level. 

Find out more about learning a language as part of your degree.

You will broaden and deepen your knowledge of scientific ideas and techniques using a wide variety of different methods of study. The majority of teaching is face-to-face. 

Teaching methods

  • Computer labs
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Problem classes
  • Field courses
  • Independent study
  • Placements

Marking criteria are available from each of the individual subjects and how different types of work are assessed is discussed in first-year skills workshops. Your work will be marked in a timely manner and you will receive regular feedback. The pass mark for each module is 40%.

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained for your second and subsequent years of study. For the BSc degree Year two is worth 33% with Year three worth 67%.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Written exam
  • Poster presentation
  • Lab reports

You'll study 120 credits a year, typically through 10, 20 or 40 credit modules. One credit equates to approximately 10 hours of work split between formal contact time, self-study, revision and assessment. The number of formal contact hours varies depending on the subjects you are studying but you will typically spend between 18 and 23 hours in your first year in the following classes:

  • 10 to 12 hours per week of lectures
  • 2 hours per week of skills workshops
  • 3 hours per week in problem classes or workshops (subject dependent)
  • 4-8 hours per week in laboratory classes/field work (subject dependent)
  • 1-2 hours per week in tutorials (subject dependent)

There are additional study group sessions which are optional but provide some structure to learning outside of formal classes and the remainder of your time is spent on independent study.

Lectures vary in size from 30 to 400 students in the first year but tend to reduce in size in later years as students specialise more. Practical classes are between 20 and 50 students and may be done in pairs.

Teaching is provided by academic staff within the relevant school. Additional support is provided in small group and practical classes from staff, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

The knowledge and skills that you will gain from this course can lead to roles working in many areas within and outside of science.

Our graduates have gone on to work as:

  • Lab Scientist at Lighthouse Lab Services
  • Commercial Oncology Graduate at Bristol Myers Squibb
  • Bioinformatician at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
  • DevOps/Platform Engineer at Metaswitch Networks

Read our alumni profiles for the sort of jobs our graduates go on to do.

Approximately a third pursue careers in the science sector. Taking up roles in chemical, medical or physical labs, in offices and in the field working as analysts, scientists or engineers. About a third of graduates apply their skills to another sector working at some of the top graduate employers in the country in finance, management, sales, logistics and the civil service.

Further study

The remainder go on to further study doing a masters or PhD in a science specialism they wish to focus on. An understanding of the ideas and approaches across science and how the disciplines fit together is a strong background for further study.

Average starting salary and career progression

86.40% of undergraduates from the Faculty of Science secured employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £27,834.

HESA Graduate Outcomes (2017- 2021 cohorts). The Graduate Outcomes % is calculated using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Trent Building in sunshine  June 2nd 2020 by Lisa Gilligan-Lee

I enjoyed the idea that I could just pick the sciences that I wanted to study as opposed to alternative natural sciences courses where you study all the sciences in first year and then differentiate.

Ella Tolfrey

BSc Natural Sciences

Course data

Open Day June 2022