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What is Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences?

The aim of Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) is to provide a rigorous and intellectually challenging biological Part II subject, for both third year Natural Scientists and Medical and Veterinary Science students. NST Part II BBS allows students to maintain some flexibility in their study at Part II, allowing them to combine courses from more than one single subject biological Part II and a choice of non-biology subjects. It requires the submission of a dissertation.


Course Aims and Learning Outcomes 2023-24

Aims: The course aims:

  • to provide an education of the highest calibre in biosciences producing graduates of the quality sought by the professions, the public service, and industry;
  • to 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;
  • to provide flexibility in curriculum by allowing the theory papers of a single subject Part II in approved biology-related subjects to be combined with a paper from an approved list of other biology or non- biology subjects;
  • to provide training in scientific principles and evaluation of research and to encourage science-writing skills through preparation of a dissertation;
  • to contribute to the national needs for practitioners and leaders in the sciences, medical and veterinary professions.

Learning Outcomes: At the end of the course students should have

  • an in depth understanding of the core principles, and their experimental basis, of a chosen major subject;
  • additional advanced understanding in a chosen minor subject;
  • depending on subject choices, theoretical knowledge of disciplines and techniques useful to scientific research;
  • experience of independent work, including study of research papers and critical analysis;
  • developed skills in analysis of arguments and data;
  • communication skills used for reasoned argument in discussing scientific investigations and texts.

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, which can be 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 2023-24 is Professor Uta Paszkowski (Plant Sciences). The administration of the course is undertaken by Jess Joseph, Student Liaison Administrator 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

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 April with more information available in the BBS Student Handbook 2024-25.

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. The deadline for submission of choices through the online is in mid-May. 

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 (

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.