Course overview

Explaining Natural Sciences

Natural sciences allows you to study a combination of sciences, helping you to understand where you may want to specialise. You'll choose a combination of three subjects (called a stream) in your first year and study two subjects from your second year.

You can continue to study familiar subjects alongside some you may not have studied before. These range from archaeology if you are interested in using scientific techniques to understand the past, or earth science if you're fascinated by geological landscapes and the effect chemical processes have on our environment. Our course offers the flexibility to focus on what interests you.

BSc or MSci?

This MSci degree adds a further two years of advanced study to the standard BSc with the third year spent abroad. You'll return to Nottingham for years four and five, with the opportunity to work on a collaborative project and focus on one subject in depth in your final year. This is designed to enhance your research, analytical and project management skills.

During your final year, you will spend half the time working on an in-depth research project in an area of your choice. Supported by teaching staff, the project provides an exciting opportunity to conduct your own research and consolidate your learning from earlier years.

Study abroad

The MSci combines the multidisciplinary integrated masters degree with the exciting opportunity to spend a year studying abroad.

You will spend your third year studying at one of our partner institutions overseas in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, North America or Europe. An international year has many employability benefits that will help you in your career.

Subjects available

You can continue to study familiar subjects alongside some you may not have studied before. Choose multiple subject combinations from:

  • archaeology
  • biology
  • cancer sciences
  • chemistry
  • earth science
  • ecosystem and environment
  • maths
  • physics
  • psychology

How you will learn

Depending on your chosen subject, you'll get hands-on practical experience working in our modern scientific laboratories, computer rooms and taking part in field work.

During the masters year you gain specialist experience in a professional research environment. This is good preparation for researcher job roles within industry, or if you are considering further study, such as a PhD.

Why choose this course?

  • Experience life as a professional researcher in your fifth year, presenting your work and writing reports and papers
  • Gain in-depth scientific knowledge and skills whilst keeping your career options open
  • Explore different areas of science and see how they are taught overseas
  • Flexibility to study different subjects and tailor your degree to your interests
  • Gain hands-on practical experience in experimental and computational laboratories and the field

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAA in Clearing for home students

Please note: Applicants whose backgrounds or personal circumstances have impacted their academic performance may receive a reduced offer. Please see our contextal admissions policy for more information.

Required subjects

Required subjects depend on your preferred stream.

IB score 36; 6,6,6 including two science-based subjects at Higher Level in Clearing for home students

The subjects required depend on your chosen stream but include a minimum of A in the required subjects for your steam (or 6 at Higher Level if taking the IB Diploma). This is usually from biology, chemistry, maths, and physics (see Year One for a full list of required subjects).

General Studies, Critical Thinking, CIE global perspectives, CIE thinking skills and Citizenship Studies are not accepted.

Acceptance on to the course is subject to an informal chat with the course leaders.

Alternative offer

AAA plus an A in the EPQ, or A in the Individual Project component of the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate.

Cambridge Pre-U qualifications can replace A levels in required subjects.

Applicants receiving an alternative offer as a result of studying a project-based qualification (above), will be given both the Standard and Alternative Offers.

Contextual offer

AAA - this type of offer is given to students who meet our contextual admissions or elite athlete criteria. Find out more about contextual offers at University of Nottingham

Foundation progression options

If you don't meet our entry requirements there is the option to study the science foundation programme. If you satisfy the progression requirements (65%) then you can progress to any of the streams without maths in natural sciences.

Find out more at: Science Foundation Certificate.

There is a course for UK students and one for EU/international students.

Mature Students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information on the mature students webpage.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

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

How you will be assessed

Marking criteria are available from each of the individual subjects and how different types of work are assessed is discussed in 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 MSci with International Study degree, year two is worth 20% with years four and five worth 40% each.


Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Written exam
  • Research project
  • Practical write-ups
  • Lab reports

Contact time and study hours

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 with additional support in small group and practical classes from staff, PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

Study abroad

We currently have 26 partners worldwide from Europe to Australia. Studying abroad gives you the chance to learn science from a different perspective as well as building your independence and communication skills.

Students who choose to study abroad are more likely to achieve a first-class degree and earn more on average than students who did not (Gone International: Rising Aspirations report 2016/17).

Benefits of studying abroad

  • Explore a new culture
  • Study specialisms not available at Nottingham including marine conservation, desert biology and plasma physics
  • A reduced tuition fee for the time you are abroad
  • Improve your communication skills, confidence and independence

Countries you could go to:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong (teaching is in English)
  • Ireland
  • Mexico (teaching is in English)
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore (teaching is in English)
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • USA

You must achieve a minimum 65% pass rate to spend time studying abroad. Your year spent abroad does not count towards your final mark.


You will need to consider the travel and living costs associated with your country of choice. This may include visa costs and medical insurance.


* Study locations are based on existing destinations. Options may change due to, for example, curriculum developments, updates to partnership agreements or travel restrictions. Where changes occur, these will be reflected on our course webpages as soon as possible.

Study Abroad and the Year in Industry are subject to students meeting minimum academic requirements. Opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university’s control. Every effort will be made to update information as quickly as possible should a change occur.


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.

Streams available

Please note: some streams are new and we are awaiting module information so this will be updated once available.

Subject stream Required 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

* Other Science includes: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies/Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Physics and Psychology.

The majority of modules are compulsory but there are limited optional choices in a few subjects. For typical modules on each stream, click the stream titles above.

Alongside your academic study, you take workshops towards the Academic and Transferable Skills Portfolio to help you to transition to university life and develop the skills you need to be successful in your studies and beyond.

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 laboratory classes.

You will apply to potential host universities for entry into year three. The University will support you in this.

Typical year two modules

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

You will spend the year overseas at one of our partner institutions. This will be an additional year of study which allows you to gain a different perspective of your studies while experiencing life and studying in another country.

Placements are organised through the competitive University-wide programme which includes partners in Canada, USA, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Hong Kong.

The number of modules you study during your year abroad will depend on the institution you will be studying at. You will agree a programme of study with the Director of Natural Sciences prior to going abroad. 

On return to Nottingham, 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.

Emphasis will be put on self-reliance and proactively putting what you have learned in previous years into practice. Alongside subject-specific study, you will undertake 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.

You'll spend half your time working on an independent research project to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in research. The project is an opportunity to consolidate learning from previous years and to apply that knowledge in a world-class research environment with the support of university staff.

Alongside your project you take taught modules which complement your research project, develop your professional research skills and allow you to explore subjects in more depth. There is flexibility for the project and/or the taught modules to focus on a single subject or to be more interdisciplinary in nature.

Notes for applicants

The first two years of the natural sciences degrees are common to all natural sciences degrees. You can transfer from the international study programmes to the BSc and MSci programmes, or Placement year programmes, or Year in Computer Science programmes or onto the BSc with International Study at any time within the first two years of the course, providing you meet any additional progression requirements.

Transfer to the BSc or MSci International Study programme is possible up to the December of year-two, providing you meet any additional progression requirements.

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Per year

*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.


Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes but these are available digitally. You are welcome to buy print credits if you need them. It costs 4p to print one black and white page.


You will be able to access all of the books you’ll need through our libraries, but you may wish to purchase your own copies of books you use a lot. If you do most books cost around £20-£50.


If your subject stream requires you to work in the laboratory (eg Biology and Chemistry), your tuition fees will cover the cost of a protective lab coat and safety goggles. If you lose these you are responsible for the cost of replacing them (around £25).

While the calculator you used for your former study is usually sufficient some students will choose to purchase a new calculator which will cost around £10.

Students may want to purchase a Molecular Model Kit to help with visualising molecules in Chemistry these cost £20.

Field trips

Depending on which pathway you choose there are optional field modules in Earth Science and Ecosystems and Environment which may incur a cost. These range from £30-50 for UK-based day trips to as much as £350 for overseas residential trips. A full list of approximate expected prices for is available at the start of each year.

Other costs

Students will be responsible for the cost of hire of their gown for graduation (around £50) and may need to pay for additional guest tickets.

In addition there may be costs issued by the university for replacement student ID cards, additional transcripts or certification letters, reassessments and library fines.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


Our graduates use their knowledge and broad skill set to work in many areas within and outside of science.

Approximately a third use their scientific skills taking roles within environmental consultancy or medical research. About a third of graduates apply the transferable skills they have developed by working in finance and management. 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.

Graduates have gone on to work in the following roles:

  • 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

Average starting salary and career progression

92.3% of undergraduates studying natural sciences secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £26,041*

* Data from University of Nottingham graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary. 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).

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" I had so many opportunities that I would not have had if I had stayed in Nottingham and have made life-long friends. It exceeded all my expectations. "
Lucy Wolstencroft, MSci Natural Sciences International Study

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Important information

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.