Our courses are modular and are taught in a two-semester year, each semester comprising twelve weeks plus three weeks of exams. The first semester runs from September till Christmas, with exams after Christmas. The second semester follows immediately after the first semester, with a break for Easter.
In each of the first three years you will have about 8 one-hour lectures a week. In the first two years you will also have two 3-hour sessions a week of practicals and a further sessions of related material. This means that there is a large amount of practical work in the course, and a large number of contact hours (at least 17 hours a week in the first two years and significantly more in the third year as a consequence of project work). Most practical work is done in pairs, and there is also some group work.
You will belong to a tutorial group, containing about 4 other students, assigned to an academic member of staff who will be your personal tutor during your time at Sheffield. You will have about 11 tutorials in the first year and 9 in the second, some of which are individual sessions. Tutorials are generally used for material not directly related to lectures, such as essay writing, presentation skills, calculations, CV writing and careers advice.
All of our degree programmes have a common first year. In the second year the first 6 weeks are common and you then start to specialise. This structure is designed to allow you to change your degree programme as you become clearer what your interests are.
In the third year you will carry out a research project. Most of these are in research labs either in MBB or in the medical school, but you can also choose to do a project in a local school (a popular option for students considering teaching as a career), or a computer-based bioinformatics project, a journalism project, or set up and run a virtual biotechnology company.
Three-year and four-year courses
The single-subject programmes (biochemistry, genetics and microbiology) allow you freedom to choose a range of options in second and third year. Dual-degree programmes and medical combinations offer you a more prescribed programme tailored to the speciality, while the molecular biology programme offers a wider range.
The three-year and four-year degrees are identical up the end of the third year. The fourth year is designed for students who want to try out an extended research project and can be undertaken in Sheffield or in industry. The fourth year is only open to students achieving a grade point average of at least 60 in their second year. Many students keep their options open by registering for the four-year course, but only about 25% actually choose to go into the fourth year.