Natural Sciences MSci

London, Bloomsbury

Natural Sciences enables students to combine science subject areas, known as streams, reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of high-quality, internationally leading research undertaken at UCL. The first three years of the MSci follow the same structure of our BSc programme. In the fourth year, you will deepen and extend your knowledge of one stream by undertaking a major research project as well as specialist taught study.

If students are unsure whether to pick the BSc or MSci, they are advised to apply for the MSci initially, although transfer between the two programmes up to the end of the third year is straightforward.

UK students International students
Study mode
Full-time
Duration
4 academic years
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
£9,250
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
£32,100
Programme starts
September 2023
Application deadline
25 Jan 2023
UCAS course code
FGC0

Entry requirements

Grades
A*AA
Subjects
Any two subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.
Please note: certain streams may have prerequisites of particular grades and/or subjects at A level or equivalent; further details can be found on the Natural Sciences website.
GCSEs
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.

Contextual offer information

Grades
BBB more about contextual offers
Subjects
Any two subjects from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.
GCSEs
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 5.
Points
39
Subjects
A total of 19 points in three higher level subjects including grade 6 in two from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics, with no higher level score below 5. For Mathematics, the programme will accept either 'Analysis and Approaches' or 'Applications and Interpretation' at higher level.

Contextual offer

Points
32 more about contextual offers
Subjects
A total of 15 points in three higher level subjects including 6 in two from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics, with no higher level score below 5. For Mathematics, the programme will accept either 'Analysis and Approaches' or 'Applications and Interpretation' at higher level.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Pass in Access to HE Diploma, with a minimum of 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit, all from Level 3 units. Please note, where subject specific requirements are stipulated at A level we may review your Access to HE syllabus to ensure you meet the subject specific requirements prior to a final decision being communicated.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A levels at grades A*AA. To include any two subjects from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology.

A1,A,A at Advanced Highers (or A1,A at Advanced Higher and A,A,A at Higher). To include any two subjects from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology at Advanced Higher.

D2,D3,D3 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects. To include any two subjects from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Biology.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

International applications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

Access and widening participation

UCL is committed to widening access to higher education. If you are eligible for Access UCL you do not need to do anything in addition to the standard UCAS application. Your application will be automatically flagged when we receive it.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see: ucl.ac.uk/upc.

English language requirements

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Course overview



The vision behind the Natural Sciences Programmes is to offer distinctive cross-disciplinary subject combinations that would not be available within any single department, by exploiting a vast range or existing scientific learning opportunities.

We want our students to be comfortable crossing artificial subject boundaries, collaborating, and making connections in their professional life, whilst also benefitting from a deep level of expertise and knowledge that ensures they can compete on specialist terms for employment or further study with graduates from single discipline programmes. 

We achieve this balance through carefully structured curricula that enable our students to access teaching across departments and divisions, at all undergraduate levels of study. Many classes are taken alongside students who are studying for degrees in a single discipline.

The programme is sub-divided into many different subject “streams”, which broadly reflect major research themes and similar specialist science degree subjects. A combination of two streams is selected early in the programme from a long list of available options and is followed for the duration of the degree. The curriculum design for each stream combination ensures that in years one and two there is strong cross-disciplinary emphasis on core knowledge, whilst in the third and fourth years there is scope for students to exercise their diverse interests.

In the first term of year one you will select three foundation modules from broad areas of biological and life sciences, chemistry, earth sciences, physics, statistics, and science and technology studies, depending on your academic background and interests. You also will take an appropriate module in mathematics, tailored to your background and foundation module choices. Later in the first term you will select your two streams from the allowed stream combinations and this determines the modules that you take in the second term of your first year.

In year two you will consolidate and deepen your knowledge and understanding of your two chosen streams, devoting an equal amount of study to each. In the third year you will elect one stream as your major and undertake a higher proportion of study in that stream, including a research literature review. A combination of core and optional modules in the major stream will allow you to map out a clear specialisation.

Students who progress to the final year of the MSci programme complete a substantial research that (depending on the stream) contributes around half the workload for the year. The remaining credits are comprised of Masters-level module options. These are typically chosen from the major stream, though up to a quarter of the final year credit can be chosen in the minor stream.

Information on the available streams, allowed stream combinations and stream-specific entry requirements can be found on the Natural Sciences website.

What this course will give you

You will study science subjects with the same rigour and quality as students on single subject programmes. At all levels of study, most classes and assessments are taken alongside peers at the same level who are studying for degrees in single science subject areas.  

Teaching and learning

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Upon successful completion of 480 credits, you will be awarded a MSci (Hons) in your chosen Natural Sciences stream.

Modules

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

The broad foundation

The programme begins with a broad coverage of selected scientific topics, mathematical know-how and computer practice. You select three foundation modules from the following six areas, according to your background and scientific interests:

  • Biological and Life Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Statistics
  • Science and Technology Studies

The foundation modules offer diverse scientific perspectives and enable you to make informed choices about your subject preferences after experiencing some of the teaching.

The “stream combination”

The “stream combination” refers to a choice of two complementary science subjects (streams) selected from a list of permitted combinations. The streams are designed to mirror specialist research areas and so offer focussed coverage of content rather than an overview of an entire discipline. The stream combination is selected early in year one and is followed throughout the remainder of the degree, with most classes taken alongside students who are studying for a single-science qualification.

The programme offers streams in the following areas

  • Astrophysics
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Earth and Environment
  • Genetics, Evolution and Environment
  • Geophysical Sciences
  • History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
  • Inorganic and Materials Chemistry
  • Mathematics and Statistics*
  • Medical Physics
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Neuroscience and Psychology
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Physics

* May only be pursued as a minor stream after year two

Information on the available streams, allowed stream combinations and stream-specific entry requirements can be found on the Natural Sciences website.

The “throughline”

A core spine of programme modules runs throughout the programme and is taken by all students. This includes training in mathematics, scientific communication and computing, and group work that is designed to develop interdisciplinary research skills, professional values, and understanding of topics such as public engagement, science outreach, education, and researcher ethics.

Individual choice

By offering a large range of stream combinations and further pathways of choice within the stream, you can exercise your diverse interests. Although there are restrictions on taught content within the streams to ensure that all students can achieve the required depth and breadth of subject knowledge, academic staff will aim to assist you in developing your individual curriculum, particularly in the latter years of study after essential subject foundations have been acquired.

The “major”

After completing the second year of studies, you will designate one stream as the “major” and undertake a greater proportion of your studies in that stream. You complete a research literature review of a chosen topic in your major stream and give a five-minute presentation on this topic to a cross-disciplinary audience of your peers. In the fourth year you will undertake a research project that (depending on the stream) contributes around half the workload for the year. The remaining fourth year credits are comprised of Masters-level module options. These are typically chosen from the major stream, though up to a quarter of the final year credit can be chosen in the minor stream.

Compulsory module(s)

In the first term you will select three foundation modules from the following six areas, serve as an introduction to the subject areas of the streams that are offered. You will make your selection according to your background qualifications and scientific interests:

  • Biological and Life Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Statistics
  • Science and Technology Studies

You also will take an appropriate module in mathematics, tailored to your background and foundation module choices.

Core streams

You will then choose two streams, to be studied from the first year second term onwards, subject to the allowed stream combinations.

The programme offers streams in the following areas

  • Astrophysics
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Earth and Environment
  • Genetics, Evolution and Environment
  • Geophysical Sciences
  • History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
  • Inorganic and Materials Chemistry
  • Mathematics and Statistics*
  • Medical Physics
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Neuroscience and Psychology
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Physics

* May only be pursued as a minor stream after year two

Information on the available streams, allowed stream combinations and stream-specific entry requirements can be found on the Natural Sciences website.

Core streams

You will take 45 credits from each of your two streams. Within your streams there may be some modules that are compulsory and some that are recommended, as well as options that you can choose if they do not create a timetable clash that cannot be resolved.

At the end of the second year, you will choose one of the streams as a major stream.

Compulsory module(s)

You will take NSCI0007 Scientific Communication and Computing. This module is split into two major components, developing scientific communication skills and an introduction to scientific computing.

In the first component you will be introduced to the world of science communication, its varied practices, rationales, critics and stakeholders. You will be equipped with essential skills to collaborate with other participants in the communication of science: the media, universities’ press officers and public engagement units. You will consider how scientific ideas and technical knowledge are communicated outside the laboratory, and the central role of communication to the production of knowledge, and you will be invited throughout to reflect on the purposes of science communication. You will be working in groups to outline a new series of scientifically focused podcasts and record an episode.

In the second component you will learn the fundamentals of Python, one of the most popular programming languages which is widely used in science and other disciplines. By the end of this section you will be able to use Python to perform computations, analyse and present data and make predictions, and will be in a position to learn more sophisticated computational techniques including mathematical modelling. The final assessment will be a group investigative task.

Optional modules

You can select one elective module, worth 15 credits. Your elective may be selected from any department within UCL, if you meet the pre-requisites and are given permission by the department that teaches it.

Core streams

You will take 45 credits in your minor stream and 75 credits in your major stream. The credit for the major stream includes a compulsory 15 credit literature review module. Within your streams there may be some modules that are compulsory and some that are recommended, as well as options that you can choose if they do not create a timetable clash that cannot be resolved.

Compulsory module(s)

You will take NSCI0004 Literature Project for Natural Sciences. This module involves writing a critical review of published work in a key topic area related to your major stream. After completing the module you should be able to:

  • Identify and develop a review topic in consultation with UCL academics
  • Interrogate appropriate research databases using search terms to find relevant literature
  • Critically assess the literature and make judgements about research quality
  • Plan and time-manage your review independently
  • Develop a professional researcher-researcher relationship with a supervisor
  • Write a fully referenced review describing a research topic
  • Construct and present an oral presentation for a scientific audience
  • Communicate scientific concepts to experts and non-experts alike

Core streams

At least 90 out of 120 credits must be taken in your major stream. This includes a mandatory research project that may be 45-75 credits, depending on the discipline.

Your learning

A variety of teaching methods are employed, including lecture classes, practical sessions such as laboratory, computing practical sessions or fieldwork (dependent on stream choice), and small-group tutorials.

You will also be expected to spend a substantial amount of time on coursework and private study.

Some streams involve optional modules with field trips, typically these are in Earth Sciences.

Contact hours can vary from stream to stream, reflecting how different scientific disciplines may be more practical and laboratory based or theoretical and involve extensive reading or searching of literature. Expect something in the range of 20-35 hours of in person and private study a week.

Assessment

Each module has its own intended learning outcomes, which are used to align the individual assessments. For example, practical assessments such as lab reports or scientific computing assignments may be designed to help you develop techniques of analysis and enquiry, and/or analyse data to draw conclusions.

Group work will allow you to tackle larger and more complex problems and develop your professional and collaborative skills, whilst independent work will allow you to demonstrate and explore your initiative and develop your critical skills.

Examples of assessment you may encounter include written examinations, oral examinations or presentations, podcast/video assessments, poster assessments, practical assignments and reports, multiple choice questionnaires, quizzes, and coursework problem sheets. Many of your modules will feature an unseen examination component that carries a large proportion of the marks, whilst some modules are entirely coursework based.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

The foundation of your career

Our programme is one of the largest and most comprehensive Natural Sciences courses in the UK. Our graduates have progressed to a diverse range of exciting graduate careers, including research, teaching, finance, management, consulting, technology, and science journalism, to name just a few.

Employability

On completion of your degree you will be able to:

  • demonstrate coherent, detailed knowledge in two complementary scientific disciplines
  • apply accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry
  • describe and comment upon current scientific research and advanced scholarship​

Crucially, you will also benefit from the opportunity to adapt and apply your learning across boundaries, developing your abilities to draw connections between topics and develop unique insights. This may make you a highly attractive candidate for some some career opportunities.

You should expect to compete successfully for jobs and further study opportunities in the sectors relevant to your main areas of study. Recent graduates have gone into areas such as technology, finance, law and the civil service. Further postgraduate study is also a common destination for leaving students. The most popular industry sectors for Natural Sciences graduates include:

  • Accountancy & Financial Services
  • IT, Technology & Telecomms
  • Publishing, Journalism, or Translation
  • Teaching or other educational activities

During your studies you will gain experience using e-learning technologies and you will produce a variety of outputs such as word-processed documents, posters and infographics, presentations, or recordings. You will write your own computer code and will develop your oral and written communication of science through a diverse range of assessments.

Problem solving and data analytic skills are extensively developed across a large fraction of the modules that you will have access to, and the ability to apply these skills to tackle unseen and interdisciplinary problems is challenged and evidenced via project work. Independent critical thinking and creativity are similarly encouraged and developed. All this project work requires excellent team work and leadership skills, and ability to manage projects. You will be trained in these skills in the programme core modules. Some students develop these attributes further via roles such as Student Academic Representative, Transition Mentor, or leadership roles within the NatSci Student Society.

In the third year literature project module, “critique” and “insight” are key assessment criteria, and the meanings of these terms are discussed in workshops. You will develop your critical thinking and creativity as you move through the programme, via assessments requiring increased levels of sophistication such as open-ended and long-form essay questions or journal clubs.

These attributes are common to all Natural Sciences students, but you will develop greater sophistication in some aspects through the study of your two streams. For instance, students who specialise in Mathematics and Statistics or Physics or those who take a computational project in year four can expect to develop high levels of proficiency in computing; students who take History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science can expect to become highly developed communicators with excellent understanding of ethical issues in science. Some students may also have opportunities to use specialist instrumentation.

Accreditation

Society for Natural Sciences Accredited Degree. These accredited programmes have achieved the standards set out in the Society’s accreditation framework and are recognised as offering outstanding quality interdisciplinary science education, providing students with excellent learning opportunities and skills development to prepare them for future careers in research, education, business or industry.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £9,250
Tuition fees (2022/23) £32,100

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2022/23 academic year. The UK fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2022/23 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate/funding-your-studies.

Additional costs

Typically there are not additional associated costs that students are likely to incur, although this may vary from stream to steam. There are field trips on the Earth and Environment and Geophysical Sciences streams, although all such modules are optional.  Students are typically expected to cover train travel and smaller costs such as lunches, which in total can cost between £200-400. 

A guide including rough estimates for these and other living expenses is included on the UCL Fees and funding pages. If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc., please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).

Funding your studies

Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.

Scholarships

The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Next steps

Your application

We would like to receive applications from students who… • excel in (and enjoy) more than one area of science • appreciate different scientific perspectives • can make links between traditional subjects or disciplines • wish to develop a scientific specialisation • are resilient, determined and enjoy a challenge • are independent, organised, resourceful

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.

Selection

For further information on UCL's selection process see: How we assess your application.

We will normally make any decision to offer you a place based on the content of your UCAS application including your personal statement and your teacher's reference. In circumstances where additional information is needed, we may contact you to request this or invite you to an interview (which may be conducted remotely, online). Your personal statement should clearly demonstrate your interest in sciences and the rationale for applying to the Natural Sciences degree. If you are applying to courses in both medicine and natural sciences, we will ask for you to send us a separate statement outlining why you wish to be considered for this programme. If you apply before the UCAS application deadline, you will be invited to attend a departmental open day, which may be either online or on campus. This will give you an opportunity to meet with staff and current students, and to hear more about our department and university. If it is possible for you to visit UCL before accepting an offer of a place, we encourage you to do so. This will help you to decide if the university environment seems like a place where you will be happy studying for three or four years.

Got questions? Get in touch