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Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Welcome to the NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences site. The purpose of this site is to provide information about the NST Part II BBS course to students taking the course, their supervisors and their dissertation supervisors and Course Organisers.

NST Part II BBS is managed by the Biological Sciences Committee for the Faculty Board of Biology. The administration of the course is undertaken by Dr Chad Pillinger in the Faculty Board Office, which is located at 17 Mill Lane. If you have any administrative problems with the course, which cannot be solved within a particular department or by your College Director of Studies, please contact the Faculty Office (tel: (7) 66944 or facbiol@mole.bio.cam.ac.uk.

Departmental Course Organisers are responsible for the detailed arrangements of the individual Major and Minor Subjects. A current list of Departmental Course Organisers, together with their contact details, is available here.

You should contact the Course Organiser for the Major/Minor Subject if you need any information about the lecture arrangements, dissertations or examinations.

The department in which you are taking your Major Subject will be designated as your "home" department. If your Major Subject comprises modules offered by more than one department, one of these departments will be assigned as the "home"; this will usually be the department in which you are doing your dissertation. As an NST Part II BBS student you will have access to the same resources and support in your home department as single subject NST Part II students.

The aim of the NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences (NST Part II BBS) is to provide a rigorous and intellectually challenging alternative to a single biological Part II subject for third year Natural Scientists and Medical and Veterinary Science students. It allows students to maintain some breadth in their study at Part II rather than specialising in a single subject, and requires the submission of a dissertation rather than a practical laboratory-based research project. NST Part II BBS is therefore suited to Natural Science students who wish to pursue career paths in, for example, teaching, management or consultancy rather than those who wish to continue in a research career. It is also suited for Medical and Veterinary Science students who wish to remain in the Faculty of Biology as Part II, but who do not wish to take a single subject NST Part II.

The Course Coordinator and departmental course organisers will be available to answer questions at the Subjects Fair in March.

Registration for NST Part II BBS is part of the Part II Allocations Procedure used by biological departments for selection of students for the single subject Part II. Students will need to submit their choice via CamSIS, by the beginning of Easter Term.  

Course Aims and Learning Outcomes

Aims: The course aims to:

  • provide a route for students who would prefer to follow a broader biological curriculum than that offered in single subject Part II courses
  • provide an education of the highest calibre in biosciences leading to graduates of the quality sought by the professions, the public service, and industry
  • provide an intellectually stimulating and challenging learning environment in which students have the opportunity to develop their skills and enthusiasms to the best of their potential
  • provide training in scientific principles and experience in evaluation of research
  • contribute to the national needs for practitioners and leaders in the medical and veterinary professions

Learning Outcomes: The course will provide

  • advanced, in-depth understanding of the core principles and their experimental basis of a chosen major subject
  • additional advanced understanding of a more limited area of a chosen minor subject
  • experience of independent work, including an introduction to aspects of scientific research skills
  • development of skills in analysis of arguments and data from research papers
  • development of skills of reasoned argument in written and oral presentation of scientific investigations and exegesis
  • verbal and written communication skills

Course structure

The course has three main components

  • a 'Major' Subject, which will typically draw on the core teaching of a single Part II subject, but may draw on modules offered by more than one department. The 'major subject' will involve a minimum of 96 contact hours (excluding supervisions).
  • a 'Minor' Subject, normally provided by another department, which will involve 24-30 contact hours (excluding supervisions)
  • a dissertation of up to 6000 words