Biotechnology BSc (Hons) – 2017 entry

I chose Surrey for the modular programme, which provides the flexibility to choose subjects you’re particularly interested in, and because I was keen to participate in the Professional Training scheme.

What you'll study

Biotechnology is the study of the systems that govern gene expression and metabolic pathways.

You will learn how manipulation of these systems can be applied to the use of microbes as ‘cell factories’ to make gene therapies, replace missing components in defective cells and synthesise therapeutic drugs from by­products of microbial metabolism.

Programme overview

Gene analysis and other developments from the ‘post­genomic era’ provide technologies that enable  the manipulation of microbial genes to enhance the production of valuable metabolites that can be used, for example, as medicines or fuels.

Microbial ‘cell factories’ are used to produce drugs for treating conditions as diverse as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, haemophilia and cancer, as well as curing infections. A fungal mating factor is even used for preventing tissue rejection after transplant operations.

On this programme you will study how microbes can be manipulated to ‘overproduce’ by­-products of their metabolism that can be harvested and purified for a range of important applications.

You will also study how traditional products such as fermented foods and beverages have benefited from modern, high­tech applications developed by biotechnologists.

Read about the experience of Biotechnology student Sanjana Bhaskar.

New Engineering for Health courses

Our pioneering Engineering for Health programmes will be available to undergraduate students from 2017 and aim to address the challenges faced by the UK’s healthcare service. Discover more about our Engineering for Health project, which is designed to produce graduates who will drive the future of healthcare.

Microbiology and Biotechnology at Surrey

Our Microbiology and Biotechnology degrees will spark your interest and develop your expertise in an exciting field of science that is progressing rapidly.

They encompass a broad range of biological science, covering everything from molecular biology to biochemistry of micro­organisms, and from the pathogenesis of disease to the creation of pharmaceutical agents via microbial exploitation.

The modular structure of our programmes allows the study of a broad base of topics during the first two years of the degree.

More specialised topics are studied in the final year, and a research project will give you the opportunity to explore a research area you are especially interested in and develop lab-­based skills and experience in that area.

Together with the Professional Training placement, this means that our graduates are well­-rounded, knowledgeable and eminently employable.

As a Microbiology or Biotechnology student at Surrey, you will have the flexibility to transfer between Biosciences programmes during your first year. It is usually possible to transfer between the four microbiology-­related programmes at any stage up to the start of your third year.

After graduating in Microbiology or Biotechnology, you are likely to find employment in the medical, pharmaceutical, environmental or food industries, or alternatively go on to do a PhD before a career in research.

Programme structure

Year 1 (FHEQ Level 4)

In Year 1, you will study a broad range of microbiology and biotechnology topics to allow you to develop a strong foundation of knowledge in the subject.

Laboratory practical sessions will complement your study of theoretical modules in topics such as medical microbiology, cell biology and molecular biology.

You will also study some biochemistry, in order to refine your understanding of biochemical aspects of microbiology.

Compulsory modules:

Optional modules:

Year 2 (FHEQ Level 5)

During Year 2, you will study aspects of microbiology and biotechnology in greater depth, and will apply basic theories to more complex scenarios and scientific phenomena. Specifically, areas such as cellular microbiology, immunology and virology are explored.

A specific focus of your studies in Year 2 is preparation for your Professional Training placement.

Compulsory modules:

Optional modules:

Professional Training placement (optional)

Our Professional Training programme is one of the very best available, and the majority of our students choose to undertake a placement year.

Our experienced tutors help you to select suitable placements from a strictly vetted selection of excellent industrial, hospital and academic institutions, including some that have taken Surrey students regularly for many years.

We have placements across the UK, including major pharmaceutical, food and biotechnology companies and research institutes. We also provide placements outside the UK.

Examples of organisations that have participated in the scheme include:

  • New Zealand Food Safety Authority
  • Solvay Pharmaceuticals
  • University of Turku
  • Okayama University
  • Cornell University

Most of our placements provide a salary, and to ensure their success, students are visited by a tutor twice during the year and have one virtual meeting via Skype.

Year 3 (FHEQ Level 6)

In Year 3, the core taught modules you will study vary, depending on your specialist pathway, and include topics such as advanced immunology, molecular biology, systems biology and medical biochemistry.

The largest single component of the year is the research project (equivalent to two modules), carried out under the supervision of a member of staff.

For their research project, students on the Biotechnology programme have recently chosen to investigate the generation of energy by microbes, the microbial production of antibiotics and useful pharmaceuticals produced by eukaryotes.

Compulsory modules:

Optional modules:

Additional costs

There are associated costs with this programme:

  • Safety equipment and/or uniform: £20
  • Grand total: £20

The equipment pack includes laboratory coat, laboratory glasses, laboratory book, pen and padlock.


We offer a modular degree based on a structured programme of advanced study, which allows you to pursue the subjects essential to your particular degree, but at the same time offers you the flexibility to study other subjects of interest.

During your first year, almost a third of your time is spent in laboratory classes.

In your second year, the study becomes more specialised and you will focus on many different aspects of the subject. In your final year, you will be performing your own scientific research project, usually in one of our research laboratories.

Throughout your degree, we provide support to some of the core modules in an electronic format, to complement the excellent facilities offered by the Library and Learning Centre.


All modules are assessed individually and credits are awarded for the successful completion of each one. Assessment takes place through a combination of examination and/or coursework, practical examinations and practical reports as appropriate.

Credits are accumulated towards the award of Bachelor of Science (BSc) with honours.

On average you will have approximately 24 hours of contact time each week (lectures, practical classes and tutorials), and you will also be expected to undertake private study, such as laboratory write­ups, essays and other coursework, for a similar amount of time.

Contact hours

The following represents an indicative estimate of how you can expect your time to be split on this programme, based on the information available at the time of publication (February 2016):

  • 1 per cent personal tutorial/small group teaching
  • 2 per cent medium group teaching
  • 19 per cent large group teaching
  • 78 per cent studying and revising in your own time


Our degree programmes are enhanced through the use of state­-of­-the-­art laboratory facilities.

Our commitment to the development of your practical skills means that you will use equipment allowing you to analyse the genetic make­up of different types of microbes, and specialist computer software enabling the modelling of microbiological systems and metabolic pathways.

For your research project in year 3, you will work within our research laboratories alongside active researchers, and will have the opportunity to contribute to established research projects being undertaken by the Department of Microbial and Cellular Sciences.

Academic support

You will be allocated a personal tutor during your first week at the University and will normally keep this tutor throughout the degree programme.

They will advise you on personal and academic matters, including reviewing your progress on the programme, advising on module, placement and career options and providing information about wider support services at the University.

Career opportunities

University of Surrey Microbiology and Biotechnology graduates are employed in academic and industrial research laboratories throughout the world.

The majority of our graduates go immediately into the job market and many others choose further study such as Masters degrees and PhD studentships.

The many transferable skills that you will gain during your studies ensure that you will be a suitable candidate for a wide variety of science careers, whether you want to be a laboratory-­based research scientist or a science journalist.

Graduate prospects

Graduates over the last few years have secured roles such as:

  • Procter & Gamble, Microbiology Researcher
  • Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association, Senior Research Officer and PhD
  • Tesco, Technical Development Executive
  • Northern Foods (Solway Foods Factory), Process Development Technologist
  • TMO Renewals, Scientist
  • Jordans & Ryvita Company, Taste and Development Technician
  • Leatherhead Food Research, Research Assistant
  • Sanofi Aventis, Microbiology Analyst
  • University of Eastern Finland, Researcher

Many students progress to higher degrees at Masters and doctorate levels.

Global opportunities

Our international exchange programme offers you the opportunity to study abroad at a partner university for either one semester or a full academic year as part of your degree.

For Biosciences students this might be possible for one or two semesters in your second year at one of our partner institutions in the USA (for example, Texas, Cincinnati or Florida) or in Australia (Swinburne University of Technology).

The exchange programme enables you to study and live in another country and earn credits that contribute towards your Surrey degree, without paying additional tuition fees.

In doing so you will broaden your horizons, meet other exchange students from around the world and experience student life in some of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Studying abroad also enables you to become more independent, teaching you how to adapt and adjust to the culture and climate of another country.

In addition, or alternatively, you may wish to consider spending your Professional Training year working in another country. Students have travelled to the USA, Australia and many European countries, and typically work in a research laboratory at a partner institution.

If you work in another part of Europe you will be eligible for an Erasmus+ grant, as well as your full student loan if undertaking an unpaid research placement. This is an excellent opportunity not only to acquire valuable work experience but also improve or learn another language.


Learn more about the Erasmus programme or discover where our global opportunities can take you.

2017 Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?



We do not include General Studies or Critical Thinking in our offers

It is desirable for those applicants taking part in the Science Practical Endorsement in either Physics, Biology or Chemistry to obtain a pass.

Access to HE Diploma

QAA recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma with 39 Level 3 Credits at Distinction and 6 Level 3 Credits at Merit - QAA recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma with 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 Credits at Merit.

BTEC (QCF Level 3) Extended Diploma


European Baccalaureate

75 per cent-74 per cent

International Baccalaureate

35-34 points

Scottish Highers

Scottish Advanced Highers AAB/Scottish Highers AAABB-Scottish Advanced Highers ABB/Scottish Highers AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma and A-level AA-Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma and A-level AB

Other international qualifications

If you are an international student and you don’t meet the entry requirements to this degree, we offer the International Foundation Year.

Select your country:

Required subjects

GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C/4 or above

Two Science A Levels which must include Biology and a second science (Applied Science, Chemistry, Further Maths, Maths, Physics, Psychology, Geography or Geology)

Selection process

Offers are normally made in terms of grades.

Suitable candidates may be invited to an Applicant Day. During the visit to the University the candidate can find out more about the programme and meet staff and students.

English language requirements

6.5 IELTS minimum overall (or equivalent)

6.0 IELTS minimum in each sub-skill (or equivalent)

If you are an international student and you are concerned that your English is not to the required standard, you may benefit from the International Foundation Year, run by the Surrey International Study Centre.

Please note that the University of Surrey offers English language programmes and is also an IELTS Test Centre.

See 2018 entry information

Course Options

Qualification Course Length Professional Training UCAS code KIS code
BSc (Hons) 3 years C560 View KIS data set
BSc (Hons) 4 years C561 View KIS data set

Tuition fees

View a complete listing of all ongoing fees for our undergraduate programmes.

The University will assess your fee status. If you are unsure whether you are likely to be considered a home, EU or overseas student for fees purposes, the UKCISA website offers more information.

Professional Training placement fees

Programmes marked with a tick in the table above include a Professional Training placement.

A reduced fee is charged for Professional Training placements.

Fees will not have to be paid up front for those eligible students who decide to take up the Government's loan for higher education fees. The Professional Training placement is a key factor in the high employability rates achieved by students with Surrey degrees.

Bursaries and scholarships

We're committed to making sure that we offer support for students who might need it.

Find out more

International students

Experienced staff in our International Student Office are available to help from the moment you consider studying at the University. We offer professional advice on immigration, visa issues, entry qualifications, pre-departure information, employment regulations and international student welfare.

How to apply

Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.

More info


Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that modules may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Our alumni

Contact Us

Phone: +44 (0)1483 681 681

General undergraduate enquiries

Undergraduate admissions enquiries

View Larger Map