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Foundation Degree in Human Biosciences

Level 4-5
Course Code:
HEB010 / C701
North Devon Campus
Two years, full-time

This course adds breadth and depth to your knowledge and understanding of human biology and potentially leads to the third year of the BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences degree at the University of Plymouth.

A degree in Human Biosciences provides the necessary skills for employment as a technician or laboratory scientist in biomedical science, public health or food quality control. It is also an excellent preparation for a career in science teaching or health education. Learners benefit from small groups taught in well-equipped laboratories.


The Human Biosciences Foundation Degree covers a broad range of areas within biology.

Year one:
Anatomy - studies the organisation of the human body into systems, including gross structure and histology, so providing the perfect preparation for year two studies of physiology. This module is based around a number of practical sessions, including dissection and microscope work.

Human Life Cycle – looks at developments from conception to old age. Areas of study include contraception, fertility, embryological/foetal development, adolescence and ageing.

Genetics - introduces you to the structure and function of genes and how these, together with environmental factors, affect the characteristics of individuals and populations.

Biochemistry - examines the essential features of living organisms starting with the chemical and biological properties of small biological molecules and how they are assembled into macromolecules essential to the structure and functioning of cells.

Microbiology - provides an introduction to microbiology, including the diversity of microorganisms, their growth requirements, and clinical and industrial importance. There is an emphasis on aseptic techniques and good laboratory practice.

Statistics - develops previously learned mathematical skills within a scientific context and builds on these skills to allow students to learn statistical techniques which can be applied to testing scientific data.

Developing Graduate Skills – helps you develop the qualities and transferable skills necessary for undergraduate academic work and employment requiring the exercise of responsibility and decision making. As part of this module you will complete at least 50 hours of relevant work experience.

Year two:
Cell Biology and Immunology - covers the basic structure and function of cells together with the principles underlying the major techniques used in modern studies of cellular biology. It contains a comprehensive introduction to immunology with particular reference to cellular and humoral responses to infection.

Human Physiology - is the study of the functions of the various organs and systems of the human body and the changes that occur during stress. This module is largely theoretical with lectures and seminars, analysis of case studies and some practical work.

Microbial World – develops students’ knowledge of the diversity of the microbial world including bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses. It teaches techniques used to study microorganisms in the laboratory and culminates in a research project designed and carried out by the student.

Genetic Continuity and Diversity - considers the processes that maintain genetic stability and promote genetic diversity at different levels of biological organisation. It then develops a broad range of applications which have resulted from increasing awareness of the genome, its structure, and interaction with the environment.

Biochemistry – builds on the content of year one and shows how metabolism involves a wide range of biochemical pathways. It concludes by explaining how the complex collection of chemical reactions required for human life is controlled and coordinated in a variety of ways.

Research module - focuses on core skills and techniques in good laboratory practice essential to human biosciences. You will carry out your own practical research project, working safely and efficiently within an appropriate experimental design. Your project will be preceded by a literature review of the topic, addressing wider issues. The whole project will be written up formally in the style of an academic paper, and presented informally to your peers.
Course assessment includes essays, presentations, laboratory reports and exams. Most modules have one coursework assessment during the year as well as a final exam. The coursework assessment usually makes up 60% of the final grade, with the exam being 40%.
Applicants will need 48 UCAS points for entry, usually from A-levels, BTEC or Access to Higher Education, in a relevant subject. Applicants will need evidence of academic attainment at Level 3 (A-levels, BTEC or Access to Higher Education) in relevant subjects. GCSE English and Mathematics at grade 5/4 or above are essential. Mature applicants will also be considered based on their relevant experience and knowledge.
Most Human Biosciences Foundation Degree graduates choose to progress to the third year of the BSc (Hons) Human Biosciences degree at the University of Plymouth. Some may complete their degree at an alternative institution. Please note there is a progression application deadline and places may be subject to availability.

Some students may use their Foundation Degree to apply for progression to further academic study in areas such as medicine, dentistry or veterinary science.

Graduates in Human Biosciences may gain employment in laboratories concerned with biomedical science, public health, the pharmaceutical industry or food quality control. While some graduates pursue careers in teaching or health education.
Most lessons are conducted in dedicated laboratories and there are specialist microbiology facilities. External visits may be organized to local laboratories and further afield. Whenever possible we take advantage of opportunities to invite external speakers to talk to students.
You will need a lab coat and we recommend a copy of the following book: Sadava, D. et al. (2012) Life, New York: Freeman
Please contact the HE Team on 01271 852335 for more information.
Q: How much will this course cost?
A: For more information about course fees, please visit

Q: How do I apply?
A: Please apply through our website if you are only applying to Petroc. If you are also applying for places at other universities, then you should apply through UCAS. If you require further information about our Human Biosciences Foundation Degree course, contact Dr. Lin Rolfe (Programme Manager) at

Q: What about work placements?
A: In the first year, you will study a module called Developing Graduate Skills. As part of this you are required to organize your own programme of work experience using the contacts we have with local employers. In addition, we organize external visits which broaden your options and can lead to work experience. Trips have included tours of local facilities such as NDDH pathology and biochemistry laboratories, South West Water and local pharmaceutical companies. Excursions further afield are possible, including visiting science festivals or exhibitions

Course Fees

Annual Fee: £7400