Natural Sciences

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CGF0 - Natural Science (2016)

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1. Programme Title:

Natural Science

NQF Level:


2. Description of the Programme (as in the Business Approval Form)

Natural Sciences provides the intellectual foundations for the interdisciplinary scientists of the future. It is a degree designed for highly motivated students combining flexibility, choice and intellectual rigour. It will place you at the heart of the learning process and give you the opportunity to work alongside world-leading researchers who are exploring some of the most important scientific developments of the 21st century. It will enable you to develop the essential skills and knowledge that will allow you to make a real contribution to these challenges.

The degree ensures that you build solid foundations in the fundamentals of physical, biological and mathematical sciences, with a bespoke first year, and provides you with the flexibility to specialise in areas of specific interest as the programme progresses. As well as having the opportunity to specialise in the more traditional subject areas, you will engage with the inspirational new areas of modern scientific innovation and research such as mathematical and computational biology; biophysical, biochemical and biomedical science; materials science and materials chemistry; the science of oceans, atmospheres and climate; astrophysics; and energy research. This aspect of the programme is uniquely inspired and underpinned by some of the exciting and world-leading interdisciplinary research being carried out within the University of Exeter’s Science Strategy themes, such as climate change and sustainable futures, systems biology, functional materials and extrasolar planets.

Our Natural Sciences programme will allow you to take full advantage of the growing demand in research organisations, industry and business for graduates who are able to work in the multidisciplinary scientific environments of the future.


3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The general aims of this programme are:

To provide education intended to give you competence in the Natural Sciences, and to encourage you to develop your intellectual capabilities within an institution that is committed to advancing world-leading, interdisciplinary research, scholarship and learning, and to disseminating knowledge.

More specifically, this programme aims:

  1. To provide you with knowledge and understanding of the natural sciences from the fundamentals to the frontiers of the subject.
  1. To provide you with the basic scientific, intellectual, and practical training that will prepare you for lifelong learning, and, if you wish, for a career in scientific research.
  1. To develop your analytical and problem-solving skills.
  1. To enable you to experience a supportive learning environment that fosters your academic and personal development.

4. Programme Structure

The BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences programme is a three year full-time programme of study at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 6 (as confirmed against the FHEQ). This programme is divided into three Stages. Each Stage is normally equivalent to an academic year.

The programme is also divided into units of study called ‘modules’ which are assigned a number of ‘credits’. The credit rating of a module is proportional to the total workload, with 1 credit being nominally equivalent to 10 hours of work.

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

In Stage 2, you may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module. Descriptions of the individual modules are given in full on the University websites:

You may take elective modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme's core and optional modules in Stage 2 and 45 credits in Stage 3, as long as you have obtained the explicit permission of the Programme Director, any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.  

Stage 1

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
NSC1002Mathematics and Computing: Integrative Tools for Natural Sciences30YesYes
NSC1003Foundations in Natural Science60YesYes
NSC1004Experimental Science15YesYes
NSC1005Frontiers in Science 115YesYes

Stage 2

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
NSC2001Frontiers in Science 230YesYes
Topic 1: Energy, Forces and Fields
ECM2702Differential Equations15NoNo
ECM2707Systems, Series and Transforms15NoNo
NSC2002Physical Chemistry15NoNo
PHY2023Thermal Physics15NoNo
Topic 2: Matters and Materials
BIO2085Chemical Structure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds15NoNo
ECM2702Differential Equations15NoNo
ECM2707Systems, Series and Transforms15NoNo
PHY2022Quantum Mechanics 115NoNo
PHY2024Condensed Matter 115NoNo
PHY2029Physics of Living Systems15NoNo
Topic 3: Complex Dynamic Systems
BIO2076Ecology and the Environment15NoNo
ECM2704Numerics and Optimisation15NoNo
ECM2707Systems, Series and Transforms15NoNo
GEO2226Biogeography and Ecosystems15NoNo
PHY2030Observing the Universe15NoNo
Topic 4: Living Systems
BIO2088Advanced Cell Biology15NoNo
BIO2090Analytical Techniques in Biochemistry15NoNo
BIO2091Bioinorganic Chemistry15NoNo
BIO2092Genomics and Introductory Bioinformatics15NoNo
ECM2707Systems, Series and Transforms15NoNo
PHY2029Physics of Living Systems15NoNo

Stage 2: 30 credits of compulsory modules, at least 60 credits of optional modules and up to 30 credits of elective modules. You must select at least four optional modules from the list labove  (from at least two different topic areas). The remaining 30 credits will usually also be taken from the list above. However, exceptionally, up to 30 credits may instead be taken from other relevant University modules, for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tutor.

Stage 3

Code Title Credits Compulsory NonCondonable
NSC3001BSc Research Project30YesYes
NSC3003Group Project30YesYes
BIO3037Ecology of Environmental Change15NoNo
BIO3073Specialist Topics in Chemical Sciences15NoNo
BIO3077Frontiers in Molecular Cell Biology15NoNo
BIO3085Horizons of Biochemical Research15NoNo
BIO3089Organic Synthesis and Drug Design15NoNo
ECM3706Mathematical Biology and Ecology15NoNo
ECM3719Mathematics: History and Culture15NoNo
ECM3730Mathematics of Climate Change15NoNo
GEO3225Climate Change and its Impacts15NoNo
PHY3052Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics15NoNo
PHY3061The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues15NoNo
PHY3067Energy and the Environment15NoNo

Stage 3:  60 credits of compulsory modules, 60 credits of elective modules

You must select 60 credits of elective modules at least 30 of which must be at level 6. You may select up to 30 credits from the Stage 2 (level 5) optional module list (see above) assuming you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module. You may also take other relevant University modules for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tutor. An indicative list of optional modules is provided below but this list is not exhaustive and you are encouraged to look at the range of modules on offer across the University.

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning & Assessment Methods

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to: Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be accommodated & facilitated by the following learning & teaching and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

A Specialised Subject Skills & Knowledge

1. Explain broadly the Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing.

2. Describe in detail essential facts and theory in an area of Natural Sciences.

3. Describe and critically evaluate aspects of current scientific research with reference to reviews and research articles.

4. Design and undertake experimental scientific research in an interdisciplinary area relating to the University's science strategy themes.

Learning & Teaching Activities

Within the programme, teaching and learning activities are designed to encourage a progressive acquisition of subject knowledge and skills by moving from study methods that have a greater degree of support and assistance towards independent learning.

The programme uses a diversity of teaching and learning methods: lectures; laboratory classes; seminars; reflective workshops; small group tutorials; research project; group work.

Typically a 15 credit module would consist of 22 x 1 hour lectures in which the core subject material will be provided. The lecture notes will be available via the University of Exeter Virtual Learning Environment and references to outside reading will be made available. Laboratory classes will normally run for 3-5 hours and students will be provided with a written schedule describing in detail the experimental procedures. Group work will be carried out (2-5 individuals depending on Stage) with an expectation the workload is divided equally.

Some laboratory classes form the basis of assessment and require the submission of written work. This may require data analysis in the form of tables and graphs. There is also an expectation that the data generated will be used in some subsequent calculations. Discussion of the findings or answers to short questions will be used to provide evidence of knowledge gained. Practical computer science sessions will be used to develop your computational skills so that they can be used to develop mathematical models of physical phenomena.

The Stage 3 individual research project will be undertaken in an interdisciplinary research group setting, usually linked to one of the University's Science Strategy Themes (currently Extrasolar Planets, Systems Biology, Climate Change and Sustainable Futures, and Functional Materials). Research will be followed by production of a written report.

The Stage 3 group project aims to provide experience of working as part of a project team in a situation close to that which might be found in a research, industrial or commercial setting. The group project could encompass a piece of scientific research, but could also be related to outreach, widening participation or work aimed at encouraging greater gender equality within STEM/M Disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

Assessment Methods

The programme uses a diversity of assessment methods such as: essay examinations; short answer and multiple choice tests (MCQ); practical work and reports; quantitative (numerical) problems; project report; oral presentations (individual and group).

B Academic Discipline Core Skills & Knowledge

5. With limited guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within the natural sciences, mathematics and computing.

Learning & Teaching Activities

See above.

Assessment Methods

The programme uses a diversity of assessment methods such as: essay examinations; short answer and multiple choice tests (MCQ); practical work and reports; quantitative (numerical) problems; project report or dissertation; oral presentations.

C Personal / Transferable / Employment Skills & Knowledge

6. Communicate ideas effectively and professionally by written, oral and visual means.

7. Study autonomously and undertake projects with minimum guidance.

8. Select and properly manage information drawn from books, journals, and the internet.

9. Synthesise information and ideas from disparate subject areas to formulate testable hypotheses.

10. Interact effectively in a group.

Learning & Teaching Activities

See above.

Assessment Methods

The programme uses a diversity of assessment methods such as: essay examinations; short answer and multiple choice tests (MCQ); practical work and reports; quantitative (numerical) problems; project report or dissertation; oral presentations.

7. Programme Regulations


The programme consists of 360 credits with 120 credits taken at each stage. In Years 2 and 3, we would normally advise you to take an even balance of 60 credits in each term; exceptionally you may be permitted to take credits in an asymmetric pattern (45 in one term and 75 in the other term). In total, students take no more than 150 credits at level 4, and must take at least 90 credits at level 6.

The pass mark for award of credit in an individual module is 40%.


You can progress to the next stage (or in the final year, proceed to the award of an honours degree) once at least 90 credits have been passed in a stage, and provided that an average of at least 40% has been achieved over the 120 credits of assessment for that stage, including the marks for any failed and condoned modules.

Condonement is the process that allows you to pass a ‘stage’ should you fail to achieve the required number of credits in any stage.

You will not be allowed reassessment in the condoned credit.  Up to 30 credits of failure can be condoned in a stage. However, you must pass the modules marked with a 'Yes' in the 'non-condonable' column in the tables above.  

Assessment and Awards

Assessment at Stage 1 does not contribute to the summative classification of the award. The award will normally be based on the degree mark formed from the credit weighted average marks for Stages 2 and 3 combined in the ratio 1:2, respectively.


The marking of modules and the classification of awards broadly corresponds to the following percentage marks:

Class I    70% +

Class II   Division I 60-69%

Class II   Division II 50-59%

Class III  40-49%

Full details of assessment regulations for UG programmes can be found in the Teaching Quality Assurance Manual (TQA) on the University of Exeter website.  Generic marking criteria are also published here.

Please see the Teaching and Quality Assurance Manual for further guidance.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

The Natural Sciences Programme provides every student meetings each term with a personal tutor. The role of tutors is both to instil in you a sense of academic rigour and thinking and to provide you with advice and support for the duration of the programme. This includes working with you to decide the appropriate elective module choices, and research project areas, and extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. In year 1, and some modules in subsequent years, you will also be provided with additional academic support through small group tutorials and you can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff. The Natural Sciences website includes the student handbook. You have access to computers and printers within the University. You can expect reasonable access to all teaching staff through appointments. The Natural Sciences Student/Staff Liaison Committee enables students and staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.

All modules will have ELE pages. ELE is the University of Exeter's online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It provides an online set of integrated tools to support e-Learning activities and enables you to access course materials and use tools such as Discussion Forums and Quizzes to interact online.

10. Admission Criteria

All applications are considered individually on merit. The University is committed to an equal opportunities policy with respect to gender, age, race, sexual orientation and/or disability when dealing with applications. It is also committed to widening access to higher education to students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Candidates must satisfy the general admissions requirements of the University of Exeter.

Candidates must satisfy the general admissions requirements of the University and of Natural Sciences. Offers are made on the basis of the UCAS form; interviews are usually only for mature and non-A-Level applicants. Natural Sciences provides an Open Day for interested applicants, and Offer Holder Visit Days to all applicants who have been made an offer.

Complete and up-to-date information on entry requirements for Natural Sciences is found on the University of Exeter Undergraduate Study website

For further information about the “typical offer” please refer to the University of Exeter Undergraduate Applications website:

Natural Sciences will consider sensitively and sympathetically any application from disabled or widening participation applicants. All teaching and examination materials (including the University of Exeter virtual learning environment ELE) will be prepared according current university guidelines to facilitate accessibility.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice.  See the University's TQA Manual for details.

12. Indicators of Quality and Standards

This programme is not currently accredited by an external agency.

14 Awarding Institution University of Exeter
15 Lead College / Teaching Institution College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences
16 Partner College / Institution College of Life and Environmental Sciences
17 Programme accredited/validated by Not applicable
18 Final Award(s) BSc (Hons)
19 UCAS Code (UG programmes) CGF0
20 NQF Level of Final Awards(s): 6
21 Credit (CATS and ECTS) 360 CATS (180 ECTS)
22 QAA Subject Benchmarking Group (UG and PGT programmes) Biosciences Chemistry Engineering Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics
23 Origin Date November 11th 2015 Last Date of Revision: September 15th 2016