1. Programme Title

Natural Sciences with International Study (2019/0)

NQF Level:

7 (Masters)

3. Educational aims

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:

  • To provide you with knowledge and understanding of the natural sciences from the fundamentals to the frontiers of the subject.
  • 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.
  • To develop your analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • To enable you to experience a supportive learning environment that fosters your academic and personal development.
  • To produce graduate Natural Scientists who are well-prepared for more advanced professional work, and research, in interdisciplinary areas.

4. Programme Structure

The programme is 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.

Programme structure

In Stages 2 and 4, 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.

You may take elective modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme's core and optional modules in Stage 2, 30 credits in Stage 3 and 60 credits in Stage 4, 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.

Further information is available from:






Stage 1

120 credits of compulsory modules

Compulsory Modules

NSC1002Mathematics and Computing: Integrative Tools for Natural Sciences 30Yes
NSC1003Foundations in Natural Science 60Yes
NSC1004Experimental Science 15Yes
NSC1005Frontiers in Science 1 15Yes

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 below. The remaining 30 credits will usually also be taken from the list below. 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.

Compulsory Modules

NSC2001Frontiers in Science 2 30Yes

Optional Modules


NatSci BSc-MSci Stage 2 optional modules 2019-0

BIO2076Ecology and Environment15No
BIO2085Structure and Reactivity of Organic Compounds II15No
BIO2088Advanced Cell Biology15No
BIO2090Analytical Techniques in Biochemistry15No
BIO2091Bioinorganic Chemistry15No
BIO2092Genomics and Introductory Bioinformatics15No
MTH2003Differential Equations15No
MTH2004Vector Calculus and Applications15No
NSC2002Physical Chemistry15No
NSC2003Introduction to Numerics and Simulation for Scientists15No
PHY2021Electromagnetism I15No
PHY2022Quantum Mechanics I15No
PHY2023Thermal Physics15No
PHY2024Condensed Matter I15No
PHY2029The Physics of Living Systems15No
PHY2030Observing the Universe15No

Stage 3

90 credits of compulsory modules, 30 credits of optional modules.

You must select 30 credits of optional and elective modules. You may select these 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.

Compulsory Modules

NSC3002MSci Research Project 1 30Yes
NSC3004Semester of Science Studies Abroad 60Yes

Optional Modules


NatSci BSc-MSci Stage 3 optional modules 2019-0

BIO3037Ecology of Environmental Change15No
BIO3041Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry15No
BIO3073Specialist Topics in Chemical Sciences15No
BIO3077Frontiers in Molecular Cell Biology15No
BIO3089Organic Synthesis and Drug Design15No
MTH3007Fluid Dynamics15No
NSC3006Atmospheric Chemistry15No
NSC3007Macromolecular and Supramolecular Chemistry15No
PHY3052Nuclear and High Energy Particle Physics15No
PHY3061The Biophysics of Cells and Tissues15No
PHY3067Energy and the Environment15No
MTH3019Mathematics: History and Culture15No
MTH3006Mathematical Biology and Ecology15No
MTH3030Mathematics of Climate Change15No
NSC3008Symmetry and Statistics of Molecules15No

Stage 4

60 credits of compulsory modules and 60 credits of optional or elective modules (including NSCM002).

Elective modules may be taken from other relevant Masters level (level 7) University modules for which you have the necessary pre-requisites, and with agreement with your Personal Tutor. You must select a total of 120 credits at Masters level (level 7). 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.

Compulsory Modules

NSCM001MSci Research Project 2 60Yes

Optional Modules


NatSci MSci Stage 4 optional modules 2019-0

BIOM514Secondary Metabolites15No
BIOM528Advanced Topics in Biological Sciences15No
NSCM002MSci Research Project 2 Extension15No
NSCM005Mathematical Modelling in Biology and Medicine15No
NSCM006Advanced Topics in Natural Sciences Chemistry I15No
NSCM007Advanced Topics in Natural Sciences Chemistry II15No
MTHM018Dynamical Systems and Chaos15No
MTHM019Fluid Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans15No
MTHM025The Climate Change15No
MTHM030Waves, Instabilities and Turbulence15No
MTHM031Magnetic Fields and Fluid Flows15No
PHYM002Quantum Mechanics II15No
PHYM003Condensed Matter II15No
PHYM008Physical Methods in Biology and Medicine15No
PHYM012Solar and Extra-Solar Planets and Their Atmospheres15No

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 and Knowledge
On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:

  • 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.
  • 5. Translate interdisciplinary problems into testable hypotheses, testing them through appropriate experimental, mathematical or computational approaches.

A: Learning and Teaching Activities (in/out of class)

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 Semester Abroad aims to provide you with a unique opportunity to study Natural Sciences abroad. You will have the opportunity to gain knowledge of material that is not covered at Exeter, or that is studied from a new perspective. If offers you the chance to experience the exciting challenge of settling in a new environment both socially and academically. It also gives you chance to discover different teaching methods, strengthening your own academic skills.

The Year 3/4 individual research project is taken by all MSci students and 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. Project work in Year 4 will usually continue the research project from Year 3, with a greater degree of independence. The Year 4 Project Extension will be granted in cases where the realistic outcome is a substantial contribution to a scientific publication.

A: 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 and Knowledge
On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:

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

B: Learning and Teaching Activities (in/out of class)

See above.

B: Assessment Methods

See above.

C: Personal/ Transferable/ Employment Skills and Knowledge
On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:

  • 7. Communicate ideas effectively and professionally by written, oral and visual means.
  • 8. Study autonomously and undertake projects with minimum guidance.
  • 9. Select and properly manage information drawn from books, journals, and the internet.
  • 10. Synthesise information and ideas from disparate subject areas to formulate testable hypotheses.
  • 11. Interact effectively in a group.
  • 12. Interact effectively with research staff beyond your peer group.

C: Learning and Teaching Activities (in/out of class)

See above.

C: Assessment Methods

See above.

7. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards Further Information

7.1 Assessment and Award

Programme-specific Progression Rules

To progress to Stage 3 of the MSci you must achieve an average mark of at least 60% across Stages 1 and 2, otherwise you will be required to transfer to the BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences.

If you no longer wish to take the MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences with International Study, you may be permitted to transfer to the MSci (Hons) Natural Sciences providing you have achieved an average mark of at least 60% across Stages 1 and 2.

Programme-specific Award Rules

At the end of Stage 3, you may be permitted to exit with a BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences provided that you have achieved 360 credits in total, you have taken no more than 150 credits at level 4 and at least 90 credits at level 6 or 7. If you do exit with a BSc (Hons) 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.


7.2 Classification

Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Student 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.

9. University Support for Students and Student Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

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

13. Methods for evaluating and Improving Quality Standards

The University and its constituent Colleges review the quality and standard of teaching and learning in all taught programmes against a range of criteria through the procedures outlined in the Teaching Quality Assurance (TQA) Manual Quality Review Framework.

14 Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15 Lead College / Teaching Institution College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences (CEMPS)
16 Partner College / Institution College of Life and Environmental Sciences (CLES)
17 Programme Accredited / validated by


18 Final Award(s) MSci (Hons)
19 UCAS Code (UG programmes)


20 NQF Level of Final Awards(s): 7 (Masters)
21 Credit (CATS and ECTS) credits ( ECTS)
22 QAA Subject Benchmarking Group (UG and PGT programmes) [Honours] Physics, astronomy and astrophysics
23 Origin Date


Last Date of Revision: