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Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc) (Full-Time, 2021 Entry)

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Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc)

3 years full-time
4 years full-time with intercalated year spent either studying abroad or on work placement

Start Date
27 September 2021

Department of Study
Department of Global Sustainable Development

Location of Study
University of Warwick

Expand your knowledge of sustainability as you study the natural world through scientific analysis and practical activity on our Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (BASc) degree. 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.

Course overview

What challenges does the natural world face in the wake of unprecedented human impact upon the environment? How might new research and innovations in 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’ll be encountering these questions on a daily basis. You’ll 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’re 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 (subject to you meeting departmental academic requirements).

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.

Course structure

For the BASc Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development (GSD) 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 One

GSD modules

You’ll undertake three core modules designed to provide you with a critical understanding of the ‘three pillars of sustainable development’ (45 CATS in total):

You’ll also take the core Global Sustainable Development Project module (15 CATS), giving you the chance to see how the principles of GSD apply to a real case affecting a local community.

Life Sciences modules

For the Life Sciences half of your first year work-load, you will study three core modules (48 CATS in total):

You’ll also choose one module from three optional core modules:


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


We offer a range of unique certificates outside of the curriculum as a way of continuing your professional development. You can find out more about the certificates here.

In your first year optional professional development certificates in Digital Literacy, Sustainability and Professional Communication with Work Placement will be available.

Year Two

GSD modules

As you begin to apply the perspectives you were introduced to in Year One, you'll have the opportunity to engage with a key issue in sustainability, studying one optional core module from the following (30 CATS in total):

You’ll also choose optional modules with a GSD focus totalling 30 CATS either from within GSD or from other departments across the University.

Life Sciences modules

Biological Sciences route

For the Life Sciences half of your second year on the Biological Sciences route, you will study three core modules:

You will also study one optional core module from the following:

Ecology route

For the Life Sciences half of your second year on the Ecology route, you will study two core modules: Ecological Principles and Processes and Ecology and its Applications.

You will also study one optional core module, either Biological Oceanography or Plant Molecular Development.

In addition, you will study one optional module, either Evolution or Clinical Microbiology.


There is an opportunity in your second year to take the Certificate of Coaching Practice and the Certificate of Professional Communication with Work Placement.

Year Two (with Terms Two and Three spent abroad)

Term One

If you opt to travel abroad to study at Monash University for terms two and three of your second year, you'll take one of the following 15 CATS optional core GSD modules in your first term at Warwick:

During Term One you'll also take further relevant second year modules with a GSD focus from within or outside of the School for Cross-faculty Studies, totalling 15 CATS.

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

Terms Two and Three

Whilst abroad, you are required to study modules relevant to your course and route, equating to 60 CATs selected from those offered by the partner institution. These modules will be pre-approved by the Warwick departments, and will be subject to the approval of your GSD-based personal tutor.

Year Three

Intercalated Year (study abroad or work placement)

You could opt to spend a year studying abroad at one of Warwick's partner institutions, or completing a work placement. This year will not contribute towards the overall grade of your degree, however, it will be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

Final Year

GSD modules

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

Life Sciences

Biological Sciences Route: For the Life Sciences half of your final year on the Biological Sciences route, you'll take 60 CATS worth of optional core modules offered in two different combinations. You'll either take a Research Project and three 12 CATS optional modules offered by the School of Life Sciences. Or, you'll choose to study two optional core modules totalling 24 CATS (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’ll take 60 CATS worth of optional core modules offered in two different combinations. You’ll either take a Research Project and three 12 CATS modules offered by the School of Life Sciences. Or, you’ll choose to study two optional core modules totalling 24 CATS (Extreme Environment Biology and Environmental Science Management) along with three 12 CATS optional modules offered by the School of Life Sciences.

How will I learn?

You'll attend lectures and take part in seminars, workshops and tutorials and work with other students in teams on controversial, topical problems that pose significant sustainable development questions. You'll undertake fieldwork, archival research and engage in peer discussion to propose alternative solutions. You'll review the work of other students too.

You'll 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 between 20 and 25 hours of contact time. Each module is made up of lectures, workshops and, for the Global Sustainable Development Project module, group supervision sessions.

In the second year, optional core GSD modules have between 45 and 50 contact hours each for the 30 CATS versions and half this for the shorter 15 CATS versions.

In the final year, the core GSD dissertation module involves eight lectures and eight supervision sessions across three terms.

Optional GSD modules are available with between 25 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 may include field trips.

Module offerings in other departments may involve more or less formal teaching time per week, depending on your module choices.


Class size

Seminar groups in GSD comprise around 20 students.

How will I be assessed?

We continually review our assessment methods in light of feedback. Therefore assessment criteria are subject to change annually.

Modules in the GSD Department

In the first year, two of the core GSD 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, including essays, online quizzes, presentations, and a group research project.

In the second year, optional core GSD modules and optional modules in GSD do not have traditional examinations. Depending on your module choices, you may be assessed on case studies, research papers, essays, log books, projects, presentations, quizzes and critical policy reviews.

The final year core GSD module is a Dissertation/Long Project and so is assessed via coursework, including a research proposal and presentation or other means of dissemination.

You can find out about assessment methods for individual GSD modules on our module web pages.

Modules in the School of Life Sciences

For Life Sciences, in your first year there are currently no formal exams for the core Life Sciences modules. The optional first-year Life Sciences modules are currently 100% assessed by examination.

In the second year and final year, assessment methods in the Life Sciences modules will depend on your chosen route.

In the final year, you can choose from a range of optional core and optional modules offered by Life Sciences. Your choice of modules will determine the proportions of coursework to formal examination.

Modules from across the University

The methods of assessment will vary according to the optional modules that you choose from across the University.

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%.

Study abroad

Your university experience could be a truly global one by studying overseas. You can access study abroad opportunities via two routes:

1. Study abroad for part of your second year

Spend the second and third terms of your second year studying at Monash University.

Your time at Monash will be part of your degree, so you’ll graduate in three years. You’ll therefore gain the benefits of studying abroad without extending the length of your course. Your academic achievements abroad will count towards your degree awarded by Warwick, meaning your studies will be both rewarding and rewarded! This is a unique opportunity exclusively available to you as a GSD student.

You’ll have the chance to enhance your global outlook as you experience Monash’s approach towards issues of global sustainable development. You’ll learn to appreciate that different corners of the world have different concerns and priorities for sustainable development, as well as different ways of tackling issues. You’ll be able to broaden your learning in new and exciting ways by taking modules beyond the ones offered at Warwick.

2. Year-long study abroad

If you want to extend your learning and broaden your perspective by studying abroad for a year, Warwick has partnerships with universities across the world. You’ll spend your first and second years at Warwick, studying abroad in your third year. You’ll then return to Warwick for your final year. Your year abroad won’t count towards your overall final mark (but it will be recorded on your Higher Education Achievement Report), giving you the freedom to take chances with your module choices and push yourself outside of your comfort zone with your learning. Depending on your destination, you’ll have the opportunity to learn a new language and immerse yourself in a new learning context.

Please see here for more information on studying abroad.

Work experience

As part of their degree programme, students have the option to take part in both short and long work placements which are formally recognised on the Higher Education Achievement Report. The work placements enable you to engage in the world of work and learn about the professional environment.

Additionally, it is an opportunity for you to apply theory to practice, develop skills, learn from industry professionals as well as explore a future career path. This ultimately supports you in developing your employability skills and prepares you for future employment.

The two work placement options are:

Intercalated year-long work placement:

You have the opportunity to complete a four year degree, in which the work placement takes place after you have completed your second year.

Certificate of Professional Communication:

You can take this optional certificate in your first or second year. As part of this certificate, you’ll undertake a short four week work placement which takes place during the summer.

General entry requirements

A level:

  • AAB, to include A level in Biology
  • You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE
  • We make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances at ABB, to include A level in Biology, plus grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE


  • 36, to include Biology at Higher Level 5, and Mathematics and English


  • We welcome applications from students taking BTECs alongside one or two A levels, including A level Biology
  • You will also need grade B/grade 6 in English and Mathematics at GCSE

Additional requirements

Second personal statement: If you meet (or are predicted to meet) the minimum entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a second personal statement which explores your reasons for applying to the course. We will contact you directly to request this second personal statement and provide guidance at that time.

English Language: You will also need to meet our English Language requirements. This course falls under Band C.

International Students

We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.

Find out more about international entry 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 (to a minimum of BBB).

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).

Find out more about standard offers and conditions for the IFP.

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. We will also consider your second personal statement when making offers.

Core Modules

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.

Animal and Plant Biology

Drawing on zoology and botany, on this module you'll broaden your biological knowledge to support your learning on second-year modules. By analysing and studying our current understanding of animal and plant evolution, diversity and physiological activities, you'll be able to integrate your organismal and molecular knowledge in a broad, evolutionary context. You'll also have opportunities to practise your skills in presentation and communication.

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'll critically reflect on the UN’s decision to integrate inequalities into the Sustainable Development Agenda. You'll 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'll appreciate the challenges faced by today’s policy makers who aim to reduce inequalities.

Biological Sciences Route

Molecular Cell Biology

On this module, you will gain a sound knowledge of the organisation, complexity and essential processes that occur in the genomes and information-processing mechanisms in all three domains of life. You will study the molecular biology that underlies fundamental cellular processes, including the cytoskeleton in cellular structure, function and motility, the mechanisms that control cell proliferation and genome stability, protein processing in secretory pathway organelles, and programmed cell death in eukaryotic cells.

Genetics and Genomics

This module introduces concepts and techniques in genetics and genomics that are used to understand and manipulate complex traits. It includes hands-on workshops.


This physiology module provides an overview of neurobiology and includes an introduction to the physiology of the nervous system and detailed analysis of the cell and molecular biology underlying the development and functions of the nervous system.



The module provides an overview of the immune system with a focus on T cell immunity.


Microbial Pathogens

Students will be introduced to a range of important microparasites, the diseases they cause and the parasite-host and environmental interactions that govern their biology and approaches to control. Examples include vector-borne and/or zoonotic organisms from Mycobacterium, Trypanosomes, Plasmodium to fungi.


Protein Structure and Function

Basic concepts of protein structure are built upon in order to understand the structure/function relationships of proteins in terms of the chemistry of their component amino acid residues.



Neuropharmacology is the study of how chemical agents influence bodily functions in both health and disease, and indeed how the body deals with these chemicals. The module will concentrate on the use of drug-based therapeutics in a range of human diseases and will bridge the gap between basic cell signalling, biochemistry and the complex patho-physiology and treatment of the diseases.

Ecology Route

Ecological Principles and Processes

This module is designed to give an overview of ecological principles and processes to aid an understanding of the natural world, and to provide a foundation for later studies for students with a special interest in environmental studies.

Ecology and its Applications

Students are provided with the opportunity to gain a scientific and interdisciplinary perspective of the earth and its processes, including measuring using remote sensing, changes to climate and environment and responses by habitats and species to disturbance.


Biological Oceanography

You will be introduced to the major marine habitats, the ecologically significant groups of organisms, and the biological processes in the oceans that play a crucial role in regulating the global fluxes of major elements. You will examine how anthropogenic influences are influencing the marine environment and, thereby, the climate.


Plant Molecular Development

You will discover the complexity of the eukaryotic cell and its subcellular compartments. You will gain an overview of cell division and its underlying control process, the cell cycle, and how this responds to growth signals and death signals, resulting in cell proliferation and programmed cell death respectively.

Final Year

GSD Dissertation/Long Project

In this final-year module, you’ll bring together all of your learning and experiences on the course – the theoretical concepts and principles and your practical know-how - in order to address a specific sustainable development problem of your own choosing – one that concerns you most and which you’d like to tackle. You’ll be supported by an academic supervisor to devise a suitable project and to undertake research to explore the issue, taking a transdisciplinary approach to your investigation in order to produce an original intervention. This may be a concept paper, a practical project, a film production, a long essay, an advocacy campaign etc. – use your creativity! You’ll design a strategy for disseminating your findings (e.g. at a conference presentation, via online publication or an article in a journal or at a public meeting that you have arranged). This provides you with an opportunity to get your voice heard in a forum where it matters and could have lasting impact.

Plus a choice of optional core Life Sciences modules including a Research Project.

Examples of optional modules/options for current students:

GSD Department

Please see here for a full list of optional modules offered by the GSD Department.

School of Life Sciences

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 choose to complete a work placement or study abroad will pay reduced tuition fees for their third year.

Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2021

We believe there should be no barrier to talent. That's why we are committed to offering a scholarship that makes it easier for gifted, ambitious international learners to pursue their academic interests at one of the UK's most prestigious universities. This new scheme will offer international fee-paying students 250 tuition fee discounts ranging from full fees to awards of £13,000 to £2,000 for the full duration of your Undergraduate degree course.

Find out more about the Warwick Undergraduate Global Excellence Scholarship 2021

Your career

As a GSD graduate, you have a wide range of career pathways that are available to you. This is demonstrated by the variety of work placements that our students have completed with employers from different sectors.

Our students have been successful in securing work placements with employers from the private, public, and third sectors. These include:

  • Research institutions
  • Governmental bodies
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Intelligence agencies
  • Housing
  • Environmental consultancies

Our students have undertaken diverse roles such as:

  • Marketing Assistant
  • Sustainability Officer
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Researchers

You’ll 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: You’ll assess arguments, make judgements, formulate reasoned debates and generate feasible solutions
  • Communication: You’ll develop advanced communication skills that enable you to communicate with a variety of audiences and in different settings
  • Research: You’ll undertake an integrated programme of research skills training, teaching you how to source, evaluate and use different forms of information and data
  • Organisation: 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
  • Collaboration: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with others and nurture your emotional intelligence, developing a professional attitude

Helping you find the right career

We have a dedicated Employability and Placement Manager who’ll provide you with one-to-one careers guidance. They work in collaboration with employers, so you’ll be supported in securing appropriate work placements. You’ll have access to specialist pre-placement advice, guidance and preparation, as well as on-going support during your placement.

You’ll also have access to the University’s Student Opportunity resources (including careers counselling, employment advice, and job fairs).

Find out more about careers support at Warwick.


Be the change you want to be

Hear from GSD student Luke about how he's putting into practice what he's been learning on his degree. Luke has implemented a practical solution to a problem in the local area by setting up a social enterprise to help tackle food insecurity.

This information is applicable for 2021 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.