Biology is an exciting and rapidly developing subject area with great relevance to addressing global challenges from disease and poverty to biodiversity loss and climate change. The study of living things has undergone tremendous expansion in recent years, and topics such as cell biology, developmental biology, evolutionary biology and ecology, all of which are covered in the course, are advancing at a great pace. This expansion has been accompanied by a blurring of the distinctions between disciplines: a biologist with an interest in tropical plants may well use many of the tools and techniques that are indispensable to a molecular geneticist.
The modular structure of the Oxford Biology course encourages a cross-disciplinary approach. The options system in the second and third years allows students to study either a general background encompassing a comprehensive range of topics, or specialise in detailed aspects of animals, plants, cells or ecology. The course now incorporates an optional fourth year, meaning students can either leave after three years with a BA or choose to stay on and complete an extended project under the supervision of an academic member of staff which can be lab or field-based , in addition to advanced research skills training.
The Biology degree is taught jointly by the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology, with almost all teaching taking place in the University's Science Area. Students can choose to leave after three years and graduate with a BA, or they can continue to a fourth year and graduate with an MBiol.
Progression to the MBiol is contingent on satisfactory academic performance in the first three years. The fourth year consists of an extended project, which can be lab or field based, plus advanced research skills training.
Skills training is an integral part of teaching across all years and there is a compulsory one-week field trip for all first-year students to Pembrokeshire to study ecology. Skills training in second year is also compulsory and covers a whole range of more advanced practical and quantitative skills essential for a modern biologist. At the end of second year, students can choose from a range of extended skills courses that last one or two weeks: examples include ecological fieldwork in the UK and overseas , genome sequencing and genome editing.
In the third year, students specialise on a narrower range of options but skills training continues — this time in the form of learning how to engage with and critique a scientific paper. All overseas work requires financial contributions from the student. The course at Oxford in particular spanned the whole topic, covering everything there is to know, and I liked the flexibility this could give me, simultaneously allowing me to learn about a broad spectrum of topics but also enabling me to discover what I found most interesting and specialise accordingly!
It has also taught me more about the practical skills required, and thus the course has really helped me to become a well-rounded biologist. In the first year, your typical weekly timetable can be broken down into the following categories:. In the second and third years, variable hours are also spent on coursework elements. Tutorials are usually students and a tutor. Lectures and practical class sizes will vary depending on the options chosen. They will normally range from around students in the class to as few as 20 students in the class.
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Most tutorials, classes, and lectures are delivered by staff who are tutors in their subject. Many are world-leading experts with years of experience in teaching and research. Some teaching may also be delivered by postgraduate students who are usually studying at doctorate level.
Three written exam papers assessing lecture material and research skills ; assessed practical write-ups. The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes. Wherever possible, your grades are considered in the context in which they have been achieved. If, and only if, you have chosen to take any science A-levels, we expect you to take and pass the practical component in addition to meeting any overall grade requirement.
If English is not your first language you may also need to meet our English language requirements. The information below gives specific details for students applying for this course. All applicants must apply for the MBiol. You do not need to take a written test or submit any written work as part of an application for this course. Tutors are looking for an enthusiasm for biology and potential to study it at university. Be prepared to talk intelligently about particular aspects of biology that you find personally interesting.
The process is rigorous but sympathetic. Applicants may be asked to examine and comment on biological objects, or to interpret a written passage or a simple set of data, provided during the interview.
While more than a third of Oxford biology graduates go on to further study such as a research doctorate or postgraduate course in an applied field, over half embark on a professional career after graduating in areas as diverse as conservation, industry, finance, medicine, media, teaching or the law. So far I have tracked rhinos across deserts, chased birds across oceans, and am currently working with chickens! Oxford University is committed to recruiting the best and brightest students from all backgrounds.
UK nationals living in the UK are usually Home students. Latest information for UK and EU undergraduates who will begin their course in can be found here. Further information for EU students starting in is available here.
The fees and funding information below relates to those who will start at Oxford in For more information please refer to our course fees page. Fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges. Our academic year is made up of three eight-week terms, so you would not usually need to be in Oxford for much more than six months of the year but may wish to budget over a nine-month period to ensure you also have sufficient funds during the holidays to meet essential costs.
For further details please visit our living costs webpage. This support is available in addition to the government living costs support. See further details. Biology focuses on understanding living things. Scientific inquiry is the best approach we have to understanding the natural world and predicting natural phenomena.
Evidence for this claim can be found in the successes of science-based technologies. Take medicine, for example. Prior to the s, most medical practices were based on folk traditions or on ideas promoted by religious leaders. Some of these prescientific remedies worked, but the process for discovering new treatments was a slow and haphazard system of trial and error. Ineffective treatments were often accepted simply because there was no clear procedure for evaluating them.
Today, with science-based medicine and public health practices, we have gained unprecedented control over threats to our health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average life expectancy in the United States has increased by more than 30 years since Scientific inquiry has not displaced faith, intuition, and dreams. These traditions and ways of knowing have emotional value and provide moral guidance to many people. But hunches, feelings, deep convictions, old traditions, or dreams cannot be accepted directly as scientifically valid. Instead, science limits itself to ideas that can be tested through verifiable observations.
Supernatural claims that events are caused by ghosts, devils, God, or other spiritual entities cannot be tested in this way.
(General Science) BIOLOGY - Main Branches of Biology and Fields of Biology
Your friend sees this image of a circle of mushrooms and excitedly tells you it was caused by fairies dancing in a circle on the grass the night before. Experiments and further observations are often used to test the hypotheses. A scientific experiment is a carefully organized procedure in which the scientist intervenes in a system to change something, then observes the result of the change. Scientific inquiry often involves doing experiments, though not always. For example, a scientist studying the mating behaviors of ladybugs might begin with detailed observations of ladybugs mating in their natural habitats.
While this research may not be experimental, it is scientific: it involves careful and verifiable observation of the natural world. The same scientist might then treat some of the ladybugs with a hormone hypothesized to trigger mating and observe whether these ladybugs mated sooner or more often than untreated ones. This would qualify as an experiment because the scientist is now making a change in the system and observing the effects.
When conducting scientific experiments, researchers develop hypotheses to guide experimental design. You must be able to test your hypothesis, and it must be possible to prove your hypothesis true or false. The hypothesis is also falsifiable. If the leaves still dropped in the warm environment, then clearly temperature was not the main factor in causing maple leaves to drop in autumn.
As you consider each statement, try to think as a scientist would: can I test this hypothesis with observations or experiments? Is the statement falsifiable? This statement is not testable or falsifiable.
High-School Biology Today and Tomorrow: Papers Presented at a Conference.
But some would question whether the people in that place were really wicked, and others would continue to predict that a natural disaster was bound to strike that place at some point. These researchers investigated whether a vaccine may reduce the incidence of the human papillomavirus HPV. Preliminary observations made by the researchers who conducted the HPV experiment are listed below:. Researchers have developed a potential vaccine against HPV and want to test it. What is the first testable hypothesis that the researchers should study? The next step is to design an experiment that will test this hypothesis.
There are several important factors to consider when designing a scientific experiment. First, scientific experiments must have an experimental group. This is the group that receives the experimental treatment necessary to address the hypothesis. The experimental group receives the vaccine, but how can we know if the vaccine made a difference? Many things may change HPV infection rates in a group of people over time.
To clearly show that the vaccine was effective in helping the experimental group, we need to include in our study an otherwise similar control group that does not get the treatment. We can then compare the two groups and determine if the vaccine made a difference. The control group shows us what happens in the absence of the factor under study. A placebo is a procedure that has no expected therapeutic effect—such as giving a person a sugar pill or a shot containing only plain saline solution with no drug.
Moreover, if the doctor knows which group a patient is in, this can also influence the results of the experiment. Without saying so directly, the doctor may show—through body language or other subtle cues—his or her views about whether the patient is likely to get well. Both placebo treatments and double-blind procedures are designed to prevent bias. Bias is any systematic error that makes a particular experimental outcome more or less likely. Errors can happen in any experiment: people make mistakes in measurement, instruments fail, computer glitches can alter data.
The scientists who are researching the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine will test their hypothesis by separating 2, young women into two groups: the control group and the experimental group. Answer the following questions about these two groups. A variable is a characteristic of a subject in this case, of a person in the study that can vary over time or among individuals. Sometimes a variable takes the form of a category, such as male or female; often a variable can be measured precisely, such as body height.
Ideally, only one variable is different between the control group and the experimental group in a scientific experiment. Otherwise, the researchers will not be able to determine which variable caused any differences seen in the results. For example, imagine that the people in the control group were, on average, much more sexually active than the people in the experimental group.
If, at the end of the experiment, the control group had a higher rate of HPV infection, could you confidently determine why? Maybe the experimental subjects were protected by the vaccine, but maybe they were protected by their low level of sexual contact. To avoid this situation, experimenters make sure that their subject groups are as similar as possible in all variables except for the variable that is being tested in the experiment.
This variable, or factor, will be deliberately changed in the experimental group. The one variable that is different between the two groups is called the independent variable. An independent variable is known or hypothesized to cause some outcome.
Bioinformatics - Wikipedia
Imagine an educational researcher investigating the effectiveness of a new teaching strategy in a classroom. The experimental group receives the new teaching strategy, while the control group receives the traditional strategy. It is the teaching strategy that is the independent variable in this scenario. In an experiment, the independent variable is the variable that the scientist deliberately changes or imposes on the subjects. Dependent variables are known or hypothesized consequences; they are the effects that result from changes or differences in an independent variable.
In an experiment, the dependent variables are those that the scientist measures before, during, and particularly at the end of the experiment to see if they have changed as expected. The dependent variable must be stated so that it is clear how it will be observed or measured.
In any real-world example, many, many variables MIGHT affect the outcome of an experiment, yet only one or a few independent variables can be tested. Other variables must be kept as similar as possible between the study groups and are called control variables. To avoid this problem, a good study will be set up so that each group contains students with a similar age profile.
In a well-designed educational research study, student age will be a controlled variable, along with other possibly important factors like gender, past educational achievement, and pre-existing knowledge of the subject area. After the experiment is completed, the data gathered are carefully interpreted. This involves the measurement of the dependent variable.
The researchers found that, of the 1, women in the control group, nine were infected with HPV at the end of the study. Of the 1, women in the experimental group, zero were infected with HPV.
In science, as in life, things can happen for many different reasons. Strong results are said to be significant: very unlikely to occur by chance or random events. Whether the outcome is significant often depends on the size of study; the larger the number of individuals enrolled, the more convincing the results are likely to be. For example, imagine only 10 women were enrolled in the study. In the control group, 2 in 5 of the women became infected. In the experimental group, 0 in 5 were infected.
Why not? Random events could easily explain the difference between the groups. For example, perhaps none of the five women in the experimental group were sexually active over the study period. They therefore stood no chance of acquiring HPV. The vaccine might appear to work, but a skeptical reader could account for the results by proposing many other scenarios.
However, imagine if the same study were done with 10, women, and the infection rates were 2, of 5, in the control group and zero of 5, in the experimental group. Random events would be spread out among a very large group of people in this study; on average, the two big groups should have similar sexual behavior and other factors influencing infection rates. If there is a big difference at the end of the study, it is very unlikely that this result occurred by random chance.
Researchers reported significant results from the HPV vaccine experiment.