Natural Sciences degrees


Academic Structure

Like all other science degrees at UCL, the programmes are organised on a course-unit system, in which students take a number of individual courses, each assigned a course-unit (CU) value depending on the amount of work involved. UCL has extended this system to assign each course a European Credit Transfer (ECT) value. The ECT Scheme allows students to gain recognition for academic achievement at participating institutions across Europe, which can assist UCL students who wish to pursue educational or career opportunities throughout Europe.

The majority of courses are valued at 0.5 CU and students will normally take eight of these in one year. Two core streams are selected and will constitute 3 CU (1.5 CU each) per year for the first two years. At the beginning of the third year, students will choose one of the streams as a major stream and will take an extra 0.5 CU in one stream to define this as a major stream. Students will still take 1.5 CU in the minor stream, as shown in the table below.

The remaining course units in the second year are a compulsory module, MAPS2001 Scientific Communication and Computing and a 'free' optional course and in the third year an optional course taken from your major stream. In the first year a 0.5 CU course is taken in Mathematics by all Natural Sciences students, as shown in the table below. 

Course unit value

Year 1

0.5 Foundation Module 1
0.5 Foundation Module 2
0.5 Foundation Module 3
0.5 Mathematics
1 Stream choice A
1 Stream choice B

Year 2

1.5 Stream choice A
1.5 Stream choice B
0.5 MAPS2001 Scientific communication and computing
0.5 Option (general)

Year 3

2.5 Major stream (including literature project)
1.5 Minor stream

Year 4

4 Major stream (including research project)

For the fourth year in the MSci programme, three out of the four course units will be taken in the major stream, the rest are option courses. All MSci programmes include a major research project which can be worth up to 50% of the fourth year. 

Most courses are assessed individually, usually by a written examination in the third term and supplemented by coursework and/or practical assessments. Ideally students take four 0.5 CU in each of the two teaching terms (autumn and spring). A full course unit usually spans both teaching terms.

The shorter summer term is devoted to revision classes and examinations. Most of the courses shown in this booklet are of 0.5 CU value. Typically 0.5 CU consists of two or three lectures per week, with laboratory practical classes, private study, coursework and tutorials as appropriate, throughout one of the two teaching terms.

It is not always possible to switch between streams after the first year, as the streams are designed to ensure that the prerequisites for higher level courses have been completed.

For the MSci degree, students must have passed at least 11 CUs to progress to the fourth year and have an overall average mark of at least 60%.  MSci students who fail to meet this will be considered for a BSc degree after three years.