Physiological Sciences BSc (Hons)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: School of Life Sciences Research

Have you ever wondered: what limits determine where humans and other animals can live? How are water, sugars and ions transported across cell membranes? What specific exercise training programmes ensure peak performance?

Physiology, the science of living systems, will help you to answer these questions and many more.

Why study Physiological Sciences at Dundee?

The School of Life Sciences consistently achieves high rankings for both its teaching and research, and our Physiological Sciences course was ranked No. 1 in Scotland by the Times Good University Guide 2012.

We are committed to delivering excellent physiology teaching and have been active in developing teaching software to help deliver both lecture and practical material.

What exactly is Physiology?

Physiology is about the functions of living organisms, such as the circulation and function of the heart, food and digestion and the energetics of muscle contraction. Its scope ranges from understanding events at the molecular level (e.g. how cells sense nutrients) to the integrative physiology of organs and systems and how they are regulated and adjust to change (e.g. in response to exercise and to environmental extremes such as the microgravity of space flight).

On a molecular level, understanding ion channel properties and what controls where and when they are placed in the body brings us closer to developing novel therapeutic strategies for pain control and the treatment of life threatening conditions such as cystic fibrosis.

Nutrient (glucose, amino acids and lactate) transport across membranes of tissues plays a key role in whole body fuel metabolism. Integrative physiology shows how whole body metabolism is regulated and how the body adapts to altered fuel intake and use, and how muscle can adapt to changes throughout life e.g. growth, ageing and functional alterations such as exercise.

Physiologists haved helped in the development of treatments such as cardiac pacemakers and artificial joints, which are of benefit to animals as well as humans.

What's so good about Physiological Sciences at Dundee?

Flexible course pathways

Physiological Sciences is available as a single Honours degree programme and can also be combined with several other disciplines, in the Anatomical & Physiological Sciences degree, or combined with another subject e.g. pharmacology, in a Biomedical Sciences degree.

The Medical School is part of the Ninewells Hospital and it is a wonderful opportunity for us students to be able to go on wards, ask for advice from doctors, see patients from the very beginning of our studies. The curriculum at Dundee Medical School suits my learning style perfectly and I am so glad I am a Medical student at the University of Dundee!

Related Courses

This course is taught by staff based in the College of Life Sciences.

We use a variety of teaching methods, with lectures and practicals forming the core. In addition, we use workshops, tutorials, computer-aided learning, and field excursions, as appropriate to each module.

Typical Degree Programme

Levels 1 and 2

All Life Sciences degree programmes share common core modules at Level 1 that provide a general introduction to the life sciences through an integrated programme of lectures, tutorials, practical work and field excursions.

Please refer to the Biological/Biomedical Sciences degree structure and overview webpage for details of the common curriculum in Levels 1 and 2.

Level 3

At Level 3 you specialise much more in physiology, and you choose additional subjects that interest you to study alongside your main subject. You will study aspects of cellular and molecular physiology that currently cover:

  • membrane physiology
  • ion and nutrient transport 
  • cell-cell communication 
  • cell excitability and neurophysiology

The knowledge you gain from these topics will then be carried forward to demonstrate how function at the cell and molecular level is integrated into control of physiological systems (e.g. respiratory, cardiovascular, etc.) and the whole body.

Summer work placements

Many students take advantage of opportunities for summer work placements, normally between Levels 3 and 4, which are available as externally-funded competitive placements, or as voluntary laboratory work.

Level 4

Your studies at Level 4 will be at the level of current research in your chosen subject area.

Advanced study of topics in physiological sciences currently include:

  • membrane transport
  • lung development and function in health and disease 
  • regulation of cardiac function 
  • human reproduction 
  • pain 
  • modern techniques of human metabolic investigation 
  • regulation of nutrient exchange 
  • nutrient induced responses 
  • regulation of fuel and oxygen utilisation 
  • comparative animal physiology

Your studies will involve extensive use of scientific literature and the opportunity to attend a regular programme of seminars given by invited speakers from Britain and abroad.

  • Research project - several formats are available including laboratory-based research under the supervision of a leading scientist, computer modelling, multimedia teaching packages, literature and electronic database review.

All modules are assessed by a combination of in-course and end-of-course procedures. Regular in-course assessments (e.g. practical reports, computer-based exercises, essays and data processing exercises) provide feedback on your progress and help you prepare for end-of-module examinations.

On-line assignments are used extensively at Levels 1 and 2, with access via a PC on or off campus. Peer assessment operates in many team projects.

As a graduate in physiological sciences you will have an excellent grounding for a career in, or further training for, biomedicine and related fields including biochemistry, pharmacology and physiotherapy.

Many of you will contribute to a better understanding of the basis of human performance, taking higher degrees and then going on to careers in biomedical research.

You will also be welcomed into applied research and development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Some of you will go on to teach in schools and universities. We also have a good record of postgraduate entry to medicine.

A broad spectrum of employment is available to graduates in any discipline and your training in communication and transferable skills will be recognised and valued by a wide range of employers.

The following are the minimum requirements, please note qualifications have to be obtained at the first sitting of examinations.

Please note that the entry requirements in our printed prospectus may be subject to change. The entry requirements listed below are up to date and should be referred to in case of any discrepancy.

Courses starting September 2015

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
SQA Higher AABB AABB
GCE A-Level
ILC Higher AABB
IB Diploma 30 points (including 5, 5, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (Higher, ILC Higher, IB Higher Level) plus Mathematics and Chemistry (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, ILC Ordinary Level at C or IB Subsidiary Level at 4)
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with grade A in the graded unit with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate
SWAP Access Relevant science subjects with AAA grades to include Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology at SCQF Level 6
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma
Welsh Baccalaureate
European Baccalaureate 70% overall with 7 in Biology and Chemistry

Courses starting September 2015

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher AB (AH) + BB (H) in different subjects
GCE A-Level AAB
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects Biology and Chemistry (AH or A-Level or IB Higher level) plus Mathematics (Standard Grade at 3, Intermediate 2/National 5 at C, GCSE at C, or IB Subsidiary Level at 4)
EU & International
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HND with grade AA in the graded units with appropriate Science units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at AH Biology and Chemistry. Mathematics at SG (grade 3) or Intermediate 2 (grade C)
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant HND with Merits in appropriate Science modules
Advanced Diploma Grade A with ASL-A Level Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE C
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-Levels in Biology and Chemistry at AB. Mathematics at GCSE grade C
European Baccalaureate 75% overall with 7.5 in Biology and Chemistry

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will, in most cases, depend on your current country of residence.

The fee shown is annual, and may be subject to an increase each year.

Fee categoryFees for students starting September 2015
Scottish students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year of study. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants."
EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Overseas students (non-EU) £15,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants."

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Your personal statement should demonstrate an interest in the subject you are applying for and a commitment to the study of that subject. How did your interest in the subject arise, and do you have a particular career path in mind?

You should comment on your participation in both school/college/work and extracurricular activities and on the extent to which they have aided in your personal development and the acquisition of skills that will be of value to you as a life sciences student.

  • Do you have an enquiring mind?
  • Do you have good analytical skills and problem-solving ability?
  • Are you self-motivated and able to work independently?
  • Are you a good team player?
  • Do you have good communication skills?

If you are planning a gap year, comment on the intended activity and the benefits that you think you are likely to gain from the experience.

Give careful consideration to both the style and content of your personal statement as it can be an indicator of your ability to communicate as well as providing an account of your personal achievements and skills.

Please apply via UCAS



Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Physiological Sciences BSc (Hons)B100