UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)



Find out more about the Biology foundation module on the UPC. Learn about what you will study, teaching methods, assessments and recommended reading.

Key information

Module Title: Biology

UPC Pathway: Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering (UPCSE) - optional module

Module Leader: Karen Keenan

Number of students on module in 2020/21 academic year: 36

Module description

In this module, we’ll introduce you to the core principles of biology. We’ll teach you a wide range of topics to give you a broad and in-depth understanding of the subject. You’ll also study how to interpret data and complete a variety of assessments throughout the international foundation year. The course focuses on eight main topics:

1. Molecules and Cells

  • Molecules nucleic acids
  • Replication and protein synthesis
  • Enzymes
  • Cell structure and cell membrane
  • Cell organelles
  • Chromosome structure and mitosis
  • Recombinant DNA technology

2. Exchange and Transport

  • Movement of molecules
  • Gas exchange in plants and simple organisms
  • Gas exchange in mammals
  • Transport in mammals: blood
  • Transport in mammals: vessels
  • Transport in mammals: heart transport in plants
  • Transport of water through the plant
  • Translocation in plants

3. Ecology, Energy and the Environment

  • Autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition
  • Energy flow in the ecosystem
  • Food chains and food webs
  • Ecological pyramids
  • Recycling of nutrients
  • Population growth and control
  • Resource management and human influences

4. Metabolism, Respiration and Photosynthesis

  • The role of ATP in metabolism
  • Aerobic respiration
  • Anaerobic respiration and energy budgets
  • Photosynthesis
  • Biochemistry of the light dependent stage
  • Biochemistry of the light independent stage

5. Regulation and Control

  • Homeostasis
  • The kidney
  • Functioning of the kidney
  • Plant growth substances
  • Effect of light on plant growth
  • Nerves
  • Synapses
  • The central nervous system
  • Sensory receptors
  • The eye

6. Microbiology

  • Types of microorganisms
  • Growth and culture techniques
  • Fermentation
  • Pathogens and human disease
  • Protection against disease
  • Immunology
  • Applications and contemporary issues

7. Reproduction and Genetics

  • Pollination and fertilisation
  • Seed development and germination
  • Variation
  • Meiosis
  • Mendel’s laws
  • Deviations from Mendel’s laws and sex linkage
  • Mutations

8. Classification, Biodiversity and Evolution

  • Principles of taxonomy
  • Seven kingdom classification
  • Population genetics
  • Evolution and selection
  • Isolation and speciation
  • Biodiversity

The organisms used to illustrate these topic areas will include mammals, flowering plants and microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses.

How we teach Biology

You’ll have a mixture of lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory work. Alongside these sessions, we expect you to complete your own independent investigations.

To support your learning, the module includes a five-night residential field trip to Somerset, England. You’ll also have educational visits to London Zoo, Down House (the home of Darwin) and the Natural History Museum. These experiences will allow students to understand the principles of biology first-hand.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

  • present your understanding of the principles of biology using a variety of media
  • use some sophisticated manual laboratory skills
  • interpret data relating to statistical analysis and graphical representations
  • evaluate data collection and manipulation processes
  • complete a wide range of assessments
  • develop excellent technical subject language and terminology.

Overview of Summative Assessment

OneWritten Exam (2 hours 10 minutes)10%
TwoWritten Exam (2 hours 10 minutes)10%
ThreeOral Exam (10 mins)5%
 Final Written Exam (3 hours 10 minutes)45%
Throughout the yearCoursework15%
 Practical Work15%
  100% Total

Assessment weighting is for the 2021/22 academic year. This may change for 2022/23 entry.

Recommended reading

If you want to do some reading before the module, we recommend:

Edexcel International GCSE (9-1) Biology Student Book; ISBN-13 978-0435966881

OCR AS/A level Biology – A student Book 1 + Active Book; ISBN-13 978-1447990796

A Dictionary of Biology in English (Penguin); ISBN 978- 0141013961

Additional costs

Biology field trip contribution: £75.00

Module selection guide

Please check out our optional module selection guide for information on suitable modules for your future degree plans.