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Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc)

Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc)

Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc)

  • UCAS Code
  • C1L8
  • Qualification
  • BASc
  • Duration
  • 3 years full-time
  • 4 years full-time with intercalated year
  • Entry Requirements
  • A level: AAB
  • IB: 36
  • (See full entry
  • requirements below)

Expand your knowledge of sustainability as you study the natural world through scientific analysis and practical activity on Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc). As the course progresses, you’ll have the opportunity to choose either a Biological Sciences or Ecology route, allowing you to study modules tailored to your interests and career aspirations.

What challenges does the natural world face in the wake of unprecedented human impact upon the environment? How might new research and innovations in the Life Sciences work to secure the future of sustainable societies by countering infectious disease and biodiversity loss? By choosing to pursue a degree in Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (GSD), you will be encountering these questions on a daily basis. You will gain valuable lab and analytical experience whilst studying with Life Sciences, and will apply that knowledge to our current understandings of climate change, social justice, and food security. At the end of your first year, you’ll choose either a Biological Sciences or Ecology route, allowing you to study modules tailored to your interests and career aspirations.

Our students are aspiring global citizens with social consciences. They are flexible, adaptable and broad-minded. By studying GSD, you’ll take a transdisciplinary approach and confront issues from a diverse array of perspectives. You’ll need to be ready to think creatively and embrace new opinions from your peers from across the world. We’ll challenge you to become an active participant in your own learning and help you to develop professional skills through certificates you’ll complete as part of the course. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend part of your second year studying abroad at our partner institution, Monash University, home to the world-leading Monash Sustainable Development Institute. Alternatively, you may choose to apply for an intercalated year abroad or a work placement.

Students are automatically enrolled on the three-year course, however you have the option to change to a four-year course with an intercalated year in the third year. During the intercalated year, you may pursue a study abroad programme or a work placement (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements).

Important Information

We are making some exciting changes to the second year of our Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development degree for 2020 entry. The core modules for Life Sciences are currently undergoing approval through the University's rigorous academic processes.

Topics in second year for the Biological Sciences route will however include Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics and Evolution. In the Ecology route, you'll explore a range of modules which will help you to understand the nature and extent of environmental problems, both locally and globally.

As modules are approved, they will be included in the module lists on this page. It is therefore very important that you check our webpage for the latest information before you apply and prior to accepting an offer.

For the BASc Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development course, your teaching will normally be split equally between GSD modules and modules offered by the School of Life Sciences, regardless of your chosen route.

Year 1: Four core GSD modules comprising half of your first year workload, three of which focus on providing you with a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainability’: economy, environment, and society. Your fourth core GSD module will be a real-life sustainability project.

For the Life Sciences half of your first year workload, you will take three core modules, including 'Quantitative Skills for Biologists', 'Molecules Cells and Organisms' and a 'Tutorial Programme'. You will also choose one module from two optional modules, either 'Animal and Plant Biology' or 'Environmental Biology'. Optional professional development certificates in Digital Literacy, Sustainability and Professional Communication (with a work placement) will be available.

At the end of your first year, you will select a speciality for the remainder of your degree, either Biological Sciences or Ecology.

Year 2: For the GSD half of your second year, your modules will be comprised of one 30 CAT optional core, either 'Health and Sustainable Development', 'Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System' or 'Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All'. You will also choose further module(s) totalling 30 CATS selected from the range of modules available across the University (including from within the Global Sustainable Development Division) which have a global sustainable development focus.

For the Life Sciences half of your second year, you will study modules within your chosen route.

There is also an opportunity in your second year to take the Certificate of Coaching Practice and the Certificate of Professional Communication (with a work placement).

Year 2 (with Terms 2 and 3 spent abroad)

Term 1: If you opt to travel abroad to study at Monash University for terms 2 and 3 of your second year, you will take one of the following 15 CAT optional core GSD modules in your first term at Warwick, either 'Health and Sustainable Development', 'Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All' or 'Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System'. During Term 1 you will also take further relevant second year modules from within or outside of the School for Cross-faculty Studies with a global sustainable development focus, totalling 15 CATS.

For the Life Sciences half of your first term at Warwick, you will study modules within your chosen route.

Terms 2 and 3: Whilst abroad, you are required to study approved modules relevant to your course and route, equating to 60 CATs selected from those offered by the partner institution.

Final Year: In your final year you will take the core GSD module 'Dissertation' (30 CATS) plus further relevant modules from within or outside of the School for Cross-faculty Studies with a global sustainable development focus, totalling 30 CATS.

Biological Sciences Route: For the Life Sciences half of your final year on the Biological Sciences route, you will take 60 CATs worth of optional core modules offered in two different combinations. You will either take a Research Project and three 12 CATs optional modules offered by the School of Life Sciences. Or, you will choose to study two 12 CATs optional core modules (‘Biological Clocks’ and ‘Principles of Development’) and three 12 CATS optional modules offered by the School of Life Sciences.

Ecology Route: For the Life Sciences half of your final year on the Ecology route you will take 60 CATs worth of optional core modules offered in two different combinations. You will either take a Research Project and three 12 CATs modules offered by the School of Life Sciences. Or, you will choose to study two optional core modules (‘Extreme Environment Biology’ and ‘Environmental Science Management’) along with three 12 CATS optional modules offered by the School of Life Sciences.

You will attend lectures and take part in seminars, workshops and tutorials and work with your fellow students in teams on controversial, topical problems that pose significant sustainable development questions. You will undertake fieldwork, archival research and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You will review the work of your fellow students. You will also engage in laboratory based work on the Life Sciences half of the course.

You will be taught by a range of academics, from different disciplines, who will communicate their expertise on a specific issue and describe their methodology for addressing it. Your role is to bring together these various approaches and to develop your own informed stance on each issue.

Contact hours
Core first year GSD modules have 23 hours of contact time each made up of lectures, workshops and, for the 'GSD Project' module, group supervision sessions and a field trip. In the second year, optional core GSD modules have around 45 contact hours each for the 30 CATS versions and half this for the shorter 15 CATS versions. Teaching is via workshops. Optional GSD modules are available with between 20 and 50 hours for scheduled contact time depending upon how the module is taught. For example, some modules have lectures, seminars, film screenings and research supervision whereas others have lectures and workshops. Some modules include field trips.

Class size

Seminar groups comprise between 10 and 15 students.

In the first year, two of the GSD core modules have an exam worth 40%. The remaining 60% of these modules and the other core GSD modules are assessed by methods other than formal examination. For Life Sciences, two of the core first year modules are wholly assessed by exam. Others are assessed by coursework. In the second year GSD optional cores and options do not have traditional examinations. Two of the Life Sciences cores are assessed by examination. Optional cores are assessed either wholly by exam or wholly by coursework or a combination of the two. The final year core GSD module is a Dissertation/Long Project and so is assessed via 'coursework'. The overall percentage of the course that is assessed by coursework depends upon the options taken. The final degree classification is determined by your second and final year marks and each contributes 50%.

There is an option to spend Terms 2 and 3 of second year studying abroad at Monash University. Students may be based in Melbourne, Australia or Malaysia.

Students spend the first term of their second year studying at Warwick and will travel to Monash University in February for the start of their second semester (which spans Warwick’s second and third terms). This arrangement is the integrated terms abroad variant of the course.

During their time abroad students study approved modules/units and will undertake assessments. The credit gained from this study is used to contribute towards the final degree classification awarded by Warwick.

Students may also choose to spend a year studying or working abroad (e.g. as part of the ERASMUS scheme). Marks gained from the year-long intercalated study abroad or work placement do not count towards the overall Warwick degree, but recognition of the time spent abroad or on work placement is recorded on the HEAR.

A level: AAB to include Biology. You will also need Grade B/Grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE (contextual offers are made at ABB)

IB: 36 to include Biology (at Higher Level 5), and English and Mathematics (at Higher Level or Standard Level 5)

Additional requirements: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements.

Contextual data and differential offers
Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria. Differential offers will be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer (for Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development, contextual offers will be made at ABB).

    Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP)
    All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only). For full details of standard offers and conditions visit the IFP website.

    We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international entry requirements page.

    Taking a gap year
    Applications for deferred entry welcomed.

    We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.

    Second personal statement

    We ask applicants who meet, or are predicted to meet, the minimum entry requirements to submit a second personal statement to Warwick which addresses their reasons for applying to the course.

    Open Days
    All students who have been offered a place are invited to visit. Find out more about our main University Open Days and other opportunities to visit us.

    Year One
    Economic Principles of Global Sustainable Development (GSD)

    What is economic development, what does it look like and how can it be measured? These are questions that are explored in this module. You’ll learn about the relationship between economic activity and social and environmental development, the economic theories that underpin sustainable development policy interventions, and how those theories impact upon policy design. After studying this module, you’ll be able to apply the economic principles that you’ve learned to the analysis of GSD problems. You’ll also understand how economic policies intended to address those problems are developed and be able to offer informed critiques of such policies.

    Social Principles of GSD

    This introductory module examines in-depth the most crucial concepts that allow you to analyse and interpret the social and political issues related to GSD. You’ll be considering complex, topical issues that allow you to understand and evaluate the most pressing social and political contexts of sustainable development at national and international levels. Upon completing this module you’ll have acquired specific knowledge and understanding that allows you to offer a well-informed evidence-based explanation of the key challenges that face our world, focusing on the social and political contexts.

    You’ll also be able to explain the global social threats that are caused by economic development, consider and reflect critically on the reasons why some countries developed while others stayed poor, engage critically with various strategies that have been suggested to end extreme poverty, understand and write critically about the continuing challenges of providing “Education for all” and “Health for all”, and write critically about the notion of goal-based development.

    Environmental Principles of GSD

    This module is structured around an emerging global consensus that humans are compromising the global biosphere by transgressing nine Planetary Boundaries: the result of which will be fundamental and unrecoverable change that significantly compromises the operating space of human development. We focus on the natural science of these environmental issues – covering well known topics like climate change and biodiversity loss, but also lesser realised problems, such as biochemical flows. We evaluate existing governance and management efforts, and try to develop responses of our own. You’ll be taught how to write a Policy Briefing and will prepare one on your chosen subject, aimed at a specific key decision maker. Then, you’ll convert your Brief to a Policy Pitch: a two minute ‘sell’ of your research. By the end of this module, you’ll possess key knowledge of environmental principles and also skills valuable for creating meaningful change in the real world of work, governance and/or activism.

    GSD Project

    During this module, you'll collaborate with your peers on a task of investigating the issue of sustainable transport. You'll be immersed in a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data that you'll gather, examine, analyse and critique. As well as deepening your understanding of the economic case for sustainable transport, you'll be strengthening your academic research skills to deconstruct a major problem, formulate and test hypotheses, evaluate the evidence, and undertake field research, including interviews and focus groups.

    Molecules, Cells and Organisms

    You'll study this module as the essential foundation for most other modules taught in the School of Life Sciences. You'll gain the basic knowledge you need of molecular and cellular aspects of biology, and also become familiar with whole-organism and developmental biology, in the context of evolution.

    Quantitative Skills for Biology

    All biological scientists need to understand and analyse quantitative data. So, this module will see you learning to use statistical methods for analysing and summarising experimental data (for example, from your lab classes), and learning the basic principles for modelling biological populations.

    Tutorial Programme
    At the end of your first year you’ll choose either a Biological Sciences or Ecology route.

    Year Two
    Health and Sustainable Development

    Your starting point on this module is the sustainable development goals for health and well-being, gender equality and reducing inequalities, with an overarching theme of how our bodies relate to various forms of development. You can expect to articulate your knowledge of major global inequalities and apply your understanding across different cultural and social norms. You'll ask provocative questions and critically engage with the way the environment is affecting health outcomes, and critique the efficacy of policy measures that aim to address health-related global crises. You’ll also improve your research skills by generating original, well-researched arguments for policies that address health and inequalities outcomes.


    Security, Sovereignty and Sustainability in the Global Food System

    At least 800 million people are chronically undernourished globally, and the global population is projected to increase to a staggering 10 billion by 2050. From this challenging starting point, you’ll be working with active researchers from across various disciplines at the University of Warwick. You'll become acquainted with contrasting disciplinary approaches to the investigation of food systems, and be able to analyse scholarly concerns surrounding food security, sovereignty and sustainability. You’ll evaluate competing solutions and research, evaluate and synthesise academic and other credible research and analysis in order to respond critically to the essential topics and questions in this exciting field.


    Inequalities and Sustainable Development: Inclusion and Dignity for All

    This new module focuses on issues of inequalities shaping our societies, economies, environments and politics. Starting with the question does inequality matter, you will critically reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You will then explore six different dimensions of inequalities (work, politics, environmental justice, societal discrimination, automation and globalisation, opportunities and empowerment) and gain an understanding of the complexities of these problems. Finally, you will appreciate the challenges faced by today’s policy makers who aim to reduce inequalities.

    Year Three
    GSD Dissertation/Long Project
    Plus choice of optional Life Sciences modules including a Research Project
    Selection of optional modules that current students are studying

    Global Sustainable Development - Keeping the Phoenix Flying or Clipping its Wings?; Extinction & Survival; Achieving Sustainability: Potentials and Barriers; Challenges of Climate Change; Managing Natural Resources.

    Life Sciences - Genetics and Genomics; Microbial Pathogens; Plant Molecular Development; Evolution; Exploiting Innovations in Biology; Science Communication; Introduction to Secondary Teaching in Biology.

    Our degree programmes have been developed to provide you with a set of skills that will enable you to compete for existing and emerging roles across a variety of professions. Your options are varied across a range of industries, from working in the United Nations to advising small businesses on issues that will affect the local community.

    You will also learn valuable transferable skills that will help you with your employment prospects including:

    • Analysing and problem solving: Through your study of economic principles and models, you’ll learn how to extract the essential features of complex systems, providing useable frameworks for evaluation.
    • Critical thinking: Assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions.
    • Communicating: Develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings.
    • Researching: An integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data.
    • Organising: Through a rigorous assessment schedule and a compulsory dissertation module in your final year, you’ll learn the essentials of time management, prioritisation and how to be well organised.
    • Collaborating: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude.

    The nature of our GSD degrees is such that graduates can go into global sustainable development itself, or take their interdisciplinary skills, along with the specialist knowledge gained from subject-specific modules into a wide range of roles, such as:

    • Project work / lobbying for international organisations, NGOs and charities
    • Advisory / consultancy roles in public services, education or the environmental or energy sectors
    • Roles in communications, public relations and the media
    • Sustainable finance

    The GSD Division has a dedicated Placements' Officer who is able to offer careers guidance, provide information about suitable placement opportunities and support you to secure appropriate work experience. The Placements' Officer gives specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, and provides on-going support for you whilst on placement. In addition, the Officer delivers the associated Certificate of Professional Communication.

    A level: AAB to include Biology. You will also need Grade B/Grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE

    IB: 36 to include Biology (at Higher Level 5), and English and Mathematics (at Higher Level or Standard Level 5)

    Additional requirements: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements.

    UCAS code

    Degree of Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)

    3 years full-time
    4 years full-time with intercalated year

    Start date
    28 September 2020

    Location of study
    University of Warwick, Coventry

    Tuition fees
    Find out more about fees and funding

    Additional course costs
    There may be costs associated with other items or services such as academic texts, course notes, and trips associated with your course. Students who transfer to the intercalated course and do a year-long work placement will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.

    This information is applicable for 2020 entry.

    Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.

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