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Microbiology wtih a Preliminary Year and Professional Training Year (BSc)

  • C503

5 Years (Full-time) / n/a (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)

There are often very good reasons why able students may not have the appropriate A-levels/AS-levels to directly enter the first year of a science degree programme. If you find yourself in this position, the Preliminary Year at Cardiff University can provide you with the academic background you will need for a science degree.

Using the spirometer

The Preliminary Year programme includes modules in Biosciences, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. On successful completion of the Preliminary Year, you will automatically progress into the first year of your chosen degree programme.

Study the Cardiff Microbiology BSc and you will gain fascinating insights into the wealth of organisms that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. These micro-organisms are everywhere and outnumber us human beings by far. After all, we have got more micro-organisms in and on us than actually cells of our own. You will study the benefits which they deliver as well as the harm they do in the medical, environmental and industrial contexts, which will allow you to further understand the crucial relevance of Microbiology as a subject and the value of the work microbiologists do. The Microbiology experts at Cardiff School of Biosciences directly research or collaborate with microbiologists or other subject experts in the UK and around the globe, covering the diversity of micro-organisms in all aspects. Cardiff microbiologists, for instance, research why some micro-organisms cause infectious diseases (especially in patients with underlying diseases), how they are spread, why they resist killing by antibiotics, what we can do about it and how to apply the knowledge to other areas of our life. They use modern approaches and the latest techniques of molecular biology and genomics. Ecological aspects of Microbiology are researched in microbial communities in sediments and the deep sub-seafloor.

At Cardiff School of Biosciences you will be joining a large and vibrant community of students and academic staff. We have over 100 academic staff across a wide variety of disciplines, including world-renowned researchers in their respective fields. (for example, a previous Head of the School, Sir Martin Evans, won the Nobel prize for medicine in 2007). All of this provides ample opportunity for you to explore your chosen subject in depth, but also discover aspects of the biosciences that you might not have encountered before.

As a School we are strongly focused on providing learning opportunities that are at the cutting edge of scientific research and which introduce you to the community of science. Throughout your course we will emphasise key employability skills that are specific to the sciences as well as transferable skills for employment in general. By working closely with academic staff you will develop these skills as you progress through each stage of your course. We aim to produce graduates who are employable, well-informed and enthusiastic ambassadors for science.

Key Facts

UCAS Code C503
Duration 5 years
How to apply
Accreditation  560
Typical places available The School admits 140 students each year to its undergraduate Biological degree programmes
Typical applications received 560
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer AAB-ABB
Admissions Tutors Dr Andrew Shore
Tel Number 029 2087 6609
Email address
School website
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

There are opportunities for students wishing to study part of their course through the medium of Welsh. Scholarships are available courtesy of the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Visit for further information and terms and conditions.

The Preliminary Year programme includes modules in Biosciences, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. The particular modules studied depend on each student’s academic background and the requirements of their chosen degree subject, and will be agreed through discussion with staff at enrolment. The Preliminary Year is not normally a route for students who have failed to achieve the required grades in their A-levels. It is possible to study the Preliminary Year programme on a part-time basis over two or three years. The science and maths modules are taught in the daytime at Cardiff University.

On successful completion of the Preliminary Year, students automatically progress into the first year of their chosen degree programme.

Whilst you may think of Microbiology as the study of ‘germs’ and disease, the Cardiff Microbiology BSc will show you that Microbiology has always been directly relevant to our life and our planet, and that this will continue to be so in the future especially in terms of health, managing global resources and sustainability. Micro-organisms perform important functions, and all ‘higher’ forms of life depend on their activities which include the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and the cycling of nutrients. Micro-organisms are also essential in food production (e.g. dairy, meat and bakery products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages), in waste treatment, and in industrial processes such as antibiotic, enzyme and hormone production.

The Microbiology degree is broadly based, has a very strong emphasis on practical work, and aims to produce versatile, employable graduates who are capable of taking jobs in any microbiological organisation or related field of interest. Wherever we need to keep things ‘clean’ (from cosmetics to the hospital), or only want to have certain communities of micro-organisms present to produce food or industrial products (from biodegradable plastic to vaccines), or use micro-organisms as tools for many other subjects such as Molecular Biology, Genetics and Biotechnology, the skills and expertise of microbiologists are required. Microbiologists are also needed to research and teach the subject, and to advise the government and the public.

The course structure is as follows:

Year One at the School of Biosciences recognises that, as well as making the transition to independence from home, you are also facing new and exciting challenges in your education. You will now be studying in your chosen field and you will need to be fully prepared for the educational opportunities that are waiting for you. During your first week we will start you on this preparation by making sure you know what is different between school and University learning. You will feel part of the School of Biosciences immediately as you will be paired with a student buddy, who will show you the ropes and make you feel part of the student community. You will also meet your personal tutor, who will be on hand to help you with pastoral and academic issues for the whole time you are with us.

Our common Year One modular course gives a broad grounding in the Biosciences, the interdisciplinary nature of this integrated course allows students to explore their interests without committing to a degree scheme until the end of the first year. The benefit of our common Year One modular course is that if you are not sure that you have chosen the right degree scheme when you join us then you are sure to have a much better idea at the end of our common Year One. You then have the opportunity to change to any of our 12 degree schemes according to your interests and career aspirations.

We offer a wide range of learning opportunities from lectures, tutorials, practicals, workshops and seminars, where you will come into contact with some leading research scientists. A team of academic staff who are teaching-focused ensure the smooth running of teaching and learning. We also appreciate that some of you will prefer particular assessment methods, and assess in a variety of ways, with emphasis on the practical skills you need to become a scientist. You will receive a range of feedback including written feedback on all coursework, and you have an opportunity to see your exam answer papers so you can improve on your performance next time.

Following on the common Year One, where you build a robust basic knowledge and skill foundation within the biosciences, Year Two allows strengthening and expanding it with natural progression, and crucially the development of knowledge and skills in a context specific to your chosen degree programme. You enrol on modules, which are core to your degree programme, and on optional modules relevant to your degree. Your choice of modules can follow a more generalist approach, or can be rather specific to certain aspects of the discipline (e.g. medical/environmental/industrial context of microbiology). You are given extensive academic advice and support in your choice by personal tutors, degree, module and Year coordinators. From Year Two you progress into the Professional Training Year, which supports your learning and maturing in a work environment, thus crucially adding to your employability, experience, independence, subject and generic skills portfolio. You will be able to offer both a good degree and relevant work experience, which is what employers seek in new staff.

You would go on a placement where you undertake scientific research in industry, a government research laboratory, or some other suitable organisation. Examples of recent placements include GlaxoSmithKline Research Laboratories; MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh; NASA Research Center, Florida; and the Marine Conservation Society of the Seychelles. You start looking for a placement at the start of Year Two and you are assisted by a PTY Coordinator who will also vet potential placements to ensure they provide suitable scientific training. While on placement, you are assigned a PTY Tutor from Cardiff School of Biosciences, who will keep in close contact with you to make sure everything is progressing well and will visit you, if the placement is in the UK. At the end of the placement year, you report on the scientific work undertaken as a basis of assessment along with a report from the employer. PTY counts for 10% of your overall degree result.

The research-led Final Year gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen field by following a series of advanced research-led modules. These are designed to develop your ability to critically analyse complex experimental or technical data and to expose you to the central concepts at the cutting-edge of your discipline. You also gain experience of contemporary research through attending a selection of the many seminars given within the school by international leaders in their fields. You are asked to produce an original dissertation based either on a laboratory project, an extensive literature analysis or an exercise relating to science teaching/ pedagogic research or public engagement. Through our mentoring of these projects we nurture a range of transferable skills to ensure that you are not only equipped for today’s job market but have the adaptability to be successful in the new career paths that will certainly emerge in the future.

Year One Core modules:
  • Skills for Science
  • The Dynamic Cell
  • Biological Chemistry
  • Structure and Function Of Living Organisms
  • Organisms and Environment
  • Genetics and Evolution
Year Two Core Modules
  • Research Techniques
  • Microbial Function
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Microbial Diversity
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Genes to Genomes: From Microbes to Mammals
  • Non-bacterial Pathogens
Year Two Optional Modules
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution
  • Ecosystem Processes
  • Field Course
  • Protein Biochemistry and Enzymology
  • Concepts in Biotechnology
Final Year Core Modules
  • Biosciences Final Year Project
  • Advanced Microbial Function
Final Year Optional Modules
  • Human Infectious Diseases
  • Animal Parasitology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Bacterial Genetics
  • Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
  • Biology and Genetics of the Cell Cycle and Cell Death

A wide variety of topics will be available for your project. Your supervisor will guide you in the selection of a project that will yield useful results in the time available, and will be on hand to give you guidance and assistance throughout the work. Your project will make use of sophisticated equipment the School possesses for research in the area.

Visit the Cardiff School of Biosciences website for more information about modules and credits.


Your degree course will include a number of different types of learning and teaching, and the aim of the course is to develop your skills as an independent learner. Much of the teaching takes place in lectures or seminars, supported by small-group teaching. You will also gain extensive practical experience learning key techniques and approaches for a scientist. There are also workshop sessions where you work with members of staff on specific skills, using software packages, developing presentation and problem-solving skills. The library and study facilities in the School of Biosciences allow you to access key textbooks, reviews and original research papers. You will progress as you move through your course towards using more original research material and the teaching focuses more on cutting-edge research delivered by experts in the respective fields.

A major focus for University learning is in you yourself developing your understanding of the subject and becoming an independent and self-critical learner. To this end the amount of time spent in self-directed learning increases as you go through your course and gain more independence. We structure non-contact time in the degree course carefully to allow you to plan and conduct your personal learning and skill development. Cardiff School of Biosciences supports this with routine provision of online learning material for self-directed learning and also facilitates the development of student-focused learning groups which work to identify and develop learning resources for each other. These study groups use collaborative ICT tools which develops your skills in these current technologies (a key employability skill).

Our lecturers have an open door policy during non-contact time and email exchange is encouraged if you have any questions. Lecturers are also available for you to ask questions about the material before and after the classes. Our students rate this support very highly as a crucial part of their good student experience, because they are enabled to successfully achieve all learning required to progress towards being an independent and reflective learner, ideally prepared for lifelong learning in a professional environment. This achievement is further supported by a scheme for developing all the transferable skills and competencies that are recognised as graduate attributes, and thus enhances your employability.


Your course will be assessed by a mixture of continuous assessment and examinations, and these change in nature as you progress through the course. The early part of the degree focuses on understanding the key concepts and background information for the subject. Early assessments focus on testing your understanding of the subject and you being able to identify and use information. Then as you progress through your course the focus shifts towards how you apply knowledge towards solving scientific problems, assessing information and criticising your own work and the work of others. In the final year your learning and assessment will be focused on identifying original research and applying it to key questions in science today. You will be guided towards reading original research papers and also undertaking research of your own. By the time you graduate you will have developed as an independent learner and will have a critical mind that we hope will continue to ask challenging questions and learn new things for the rest of your life.

Typical A-level Offer AAB-ABB
Typical WBQ Offer  Pass in the core plus AA at A-level
Typical Int Bacc Offer  34 points
Other Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed admissions and selection criteria for more information.

A list of commonly accepted alternative entry qualifications and admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be read here.

In recent years almost 80% of our Microbiology graduates have obtained related employment or places on higher degree courses (e.g. PhD programmes). Employment prospects are excellent, and recent graduates have obtained posts in the pharmaceutical industries, biotechnology companies, forensic science laboratories, the water industry and the food industry.

In 2010, 89% of the School's graduates overall were in employment or further study within six months of graduation while others were taking time out to travel etc. Employers included: universities and hospitals in the UK and overseas, local government departments, museums and organisations such as the BBC and National Museum of Wales. Career destinations included: laboratory researchers, lecturer, quality monitoring officer, and environmental scientist.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr. Andrew Shore  

Telephone: 029 2087 6609 



School Website:

More information

School of Biosciences