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What is BBS?

What is Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences?

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.


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
  • 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

Course Management

NST Part II BBS is managed by the Biological Sciences Committee for the Faculty Board of Biology. The overall course organiser for BBS 2018-19 and 2019-20 is Dr Nick Gay (Biochemistry). The administration of the course is undertaken by Dr Claire Michel 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) 66899 or

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 on the Major Subjects and Minor Subjects webpages.

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

Your "home"

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 your "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, such as soft skills training, journal clubs, seminars and facilities, as single subject NST Part II students in that department.

How to choose BBS?

The Course Coordinator and departmental course organisers will be available to answer questions at the Subjects Fair in March with more information available in the BBS Student Handbook 2018-19.

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. 

Registration for your Minor Subject:
Once you are registered for your BBS Major Subject at the beginning of the long vacation, you will gain access to the BBS Moodle Site. Detailed information regarding subject timetables and compatibility between subjects will be available there. Please visit the Moodle site and register your Minor Subject choice by 1st September.

Information contacts

For information regarding Major Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Major Subjects webpage.

For information regarding Minor Subjects such as content and timetables, please see the contact details on the Minor Subjects webpage.

For general administration of BBS and general questions which cannot be answered in departments, please contact the Faculty of Biology Office (, (7)66899)

If you wish to move to or from BBS or wish to change Major and/or Minor subject(s), please contact the departments involved AND the Faculty of Biology Office.