Undergraduate study
Life & Physical Sciences

Degree Apprenticeship Laboratory Scientist

Linked Level 6 University award: BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

This degree apprenticeship is suitable for you if you’re in employment and your employer is willing to support your professional development. Please seek guidance from your employer’s training manager if this is the right route for you. If it isn’t, another part-time route is available for our BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences degree.

Course information


  • Not available full-time


  • 5 Years

More part-time details

  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information

  • On video

    National Horizon Centre fly-through

    Take a virtual tour of our new £22m National Horizons Centre to open in March 2019. The University’s research, teaching and training facility at our Darlington campus complements our existing facilities and supports the emerging bio-based industries. You will have access to a wider range of labs and equipment in biologics, biotechnology, bio-pharmaceutical science, biomedical science, bioinformatics and related technologies.


The Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship has four strands:

Analytical Science, Chemical Science, Research & Development and Life Sciences.

This degree supports the life sciences strand. It emphasises how understanding genetic, cellular, organism, ecological and evolutionary biology can be employed to benefit humankind and improve the environment. We draw on our local biotechnology industry and links with national experts to enhance your learning, ensuring you develop comprehensive knowledge and skills relevant to current industry and employer requirements. Your learning includes extensive development of a range of laboratory techniques, professional and employment skills (which are highly regarded by employers) as well as a thorough understanding of biological principles. This learning culminates in a major research project in the final year, which is often linked to industrially-significant applications.

The employer-based part-time pathway has been designed to provide an opportunity for students who are already employed in the life sciences sector to obtain a university degree in biological sciences and to fulfil the requirements of the standard for the Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship.

A series of work-based modules allows you to relate your learning and assessments to your work and broader activities of the sector you work in. The work-based modules are:

  • Professional Skills for Biological Sciences in the Workplace
  • Science Communication and Bioethics in the Life Science Sector
  • Leadership and Management in the Life Science Sector
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences

This degree apprenticeship is suitable for you if you're in employment and your employer is willing to support your professional development. Please seek guidance from your employer's training manager if this is the right route for you. If it isn't, another part-time route is available for our BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences degree.

As a fully competent laboratory scientist you will be able to work in a wide range of organisations, including but not exclusively, chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, formulated products, nuclear, and analytical services. You will carry out a range of technical and scientific activities which may include laboratory-based investigations and scientific experimentation in your specialist field. You will analyse, interpret and evaluate relevant scientific information, concepts and ideas and use these to develop subsequent experiments or investigations and to propose solutions to problems. You will be able to apply knowledge of underlying scientific principles to implement new processes according to the literature or input from senior team members. You will be able to work autonomously and as part of a wider scientific team to deliver scientific value to your organisation. You'll also be proactive in finding solutions to problems, be able to identify areas of business improvement and propose innovative scientific ideas. In all contexts working safely and ethically is paramount and many companies operate under highly regulated conditions because of the need to control the quality and safety of your products and/or services.
Typical job roles include analytical chemist, research and development scientist, molecular biologist, microbiologist, formulation scientist, medicinal chemist, process technologist, and biotechnologist.

The employer-based part-time pathway utilises a series of work-based modules which allow you to relate your learning and assessments to your work and broader activities of the sector you work in. The work-based modules are:

  • Professional Skills for Biological Sciences in the Workplace
  • Science Communication and Bioethics in the Life Science Sector
  • Leadership and Management in the Life Science Sector
  • Biotechnology and Life Sciences

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Animal and Plant Biology

This module introduces the themes of ecology, diversity, variation within animals and plants, population biology and the complexity within ecosystems, and the relationships between animals and plants and their environment. You gain a thorough introduction to these themes within the lecture series and are given example problems to solve within tutorials. Learning is supported by a field trip surveying diversity within the local area, and laboratory sessions exploring the physiology of animals and plants.

Biochemistry and Chemical Science

Biochemistry, the study of the chemistry of life, is one of the most important and exciting areas of science. It spans areas including biomedical science, nutrition, drug design, forensic science, agriculture and manufacturing. It covers the most important principles of biochemistry including the structure of the atom, chemical bonding and the forces that operate between molecules, chemical reactions and biological pathways. You study the chemistry of carbon and why it is capable of forming the complex 3D modules that make life possible. And you study important groups of biological molecules in detail including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids.

Biodiversity and Evolution

You study the concept of evolution and how it led to the development of biodiversity and the world we now inhabit. You discuss evolution by natural selection and our development from the common ancestor, along with the principles of taxonomy, speciation and the evolutionary tree to demonstrate relationships between species. We highlight the impact of modern molecular methods of taxonomy in the form of phylogenetics, particularly the discovery of the domain of archaea. We discuss the complex biodiversity of the microbial, plant and animal worlds and their importance in ecological balance for the earth, human kind and society in the form of conservation. Lectures and tutorial sessions provide an insight into the theoretical aspects of evolution and biodiversity, and you discuss and analyse problem-based exercises to affirm your theoretical knowledge.

Biological Methods

Life sciences is a multifaceted field drawing on knowledge and understanding from the molecular level to whole organisms and ecosystems. Biologists must be able to work in teams, drawing on this vast knowledge to solve problems in the field. In this module, you work in teams to solve a biologically relevant problem, taking into account the principles of health, safety and ethics facing professionals in the workplace. You develop a range of employability skills such as time management and presenting your work. You also gain the research skills needed to support problem solving in the field and to help you become a well-rounded, professional scientist.

Cell Biology and Microbiology

The cellular basis of all living organisms is one of the characteristics which defines life. This module explores the common features and the immense diversity of form and function displayed by cells of organisms. The module will increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. It covers the structure and function of major cellular components and examines how fundamental processes within cells are organised and regulated, such as gene and protein expression. It also addresses the mechanisms by which cells divide, reproduce and differentiate. You study the historical development of cell biology and microbiology advances in theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline. You explore how knowledge of the biology of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, has informed the identification and control of infectious diseases. You also examine the beneficial roles of many microorganisms and their utilisation in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Core Skills in Life Sciences

Knowledge of the degree subject is not the only thing you learn whilst at university and it’s not the only thing that potential employers are looking for after graduation. You also need to develop a range of skills applicable for a variety of career pathways These include your ability to articulate yourself clearly, confidently and effectively to different audiences; to work independently or on your own initiative demonstrating creativity and adaptability when tackling problems where you don’t have all the necessary information available; to locate information and critically assess its usefulness; and to make efficient and effective use of the latest information technology.

You also learn to assess your own performance, giving you the chance to recognise and build on your strengths, and identify and improve your weaknesses as a way to raise your aspirations. This module also introduces you to basic principles and good practice in collecting, recording and evaluating data, and using information resources and referencing. You also consider the assessment and handling of scientific errors. You review a range of basic mathematical skills and introduce statistical methods that are essential in a wide range of scientific endeavour. Emphasis is placed on using spreadsheets for data recording, presentation and statistical analysis.


Year 2 core modules

Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry

This module provides you with a broad understanding of the linked themes of metabolism and endocrinology. Metabolism, the chemical processes that occur in living organisms, is examined in the context of cellular respiration, and the metabolism of exogens such as drugs and vitamins. Endocrinology, the study of the physiological role of hormones, is covered in detail, including review of the mechanisms underpinning hormone action, the roles of second messengers, and endocrine system disorders. This module also explores the methods used for collecting, measuring and analysing clinical samples.

Science Communication and Bioethics

Central to this module is using teamwork for problem-based learning and monitored or facilitated self-directed learning. You explore the way science is communicated within the scientific community, to stakeholders and the general public. You discuss and critically analyse the different communication methods. You are also introduced to bioethical issues central to your programme of study. You are expected to debate these issues and sensibly communicate the complexity of the themes which are embedded within the scientific disciplines.


Year 3 core modules

Genetics and Molecular Biology

This module introduces you to a range of modern molecular biology concepts and techniques. It addresses general molecular biology, molecular biology of genetic diseases and using molecular biology for producing recombinant proteins and forensic applications. The new age of molecular biology is underpinned by gene and genome sequencing, sequence analysis and sequence manipulation. You are introduced to the principles of sequence analysis and how these techniques have revolutionised all areas of molecular biology, particularly the technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). You learn through lectures and tutorials that allow you to gain insight into the theoretical aspects of molecular biology. A series of laboratory practical sessions introduce the basic techniques at the heart of modern molecular biology such as DNA purification, PCR, restriction digestion, control of gene expression, nucleic acid analysis through agarose gels and sequencing.


Year 4 core modules

Leadership and Management in the Life Science Sector

This module has been designed to enable students to build upon and develop their existing knowledge and practical skills in management and supervision within the life science sector. It enables you to develop yourself, contribute to the development of others and develop your communication skills. You gain an understanding of and demonstrate effective leadership in the work place. The module allows students to gain an understanding of management systems and compliance management.

The module is delivered in a one day block followed by a comprehensive guided work-based activity. Activities carried out in the workplace lead to the completion of an assessed Professional Development Portfolio including a reflective diary.


Option A

Biogeography and Conservation

This module is ideal for you if you’re interested in the biogeographical distribution of species and how this information can inform conservation practices.

Biogeography, with its focus on the distribution of species at a range of scales, provides an important theoretical framework within which ecosystem services, and the increasing impact of human activity on global biodiversity and ecosystem functions, can be evaluated.

You explore the contribution of habitat destruction and fragmentation and invasive species to biodiversity losses. You examine underlying principles in biogeography, including the historical development of the discipline, and investigates how these principles can inform effective conservation practices targeted at preventing biodiversity losses. You explore how endangered species are characterised, the selection and design of conservation areas, and the legal and policy frameworks in place to support conservation efforts.


Option B

Biotechnology and Life Sciences

You are asked to design a biological product relevant to the agricultural, environmental, industrial or medical biotechnology sectors. You must consider the market need for your product, the feasibility of its production and scale-up, the UK bioeconomy, intellectual property and the technical requirements of its production.

An introductory lecture introduces you to the task. Tutorials then provide support throughout the process providing case studies and discussing the considerations needed to take a product to market.


Biotherapeutics are medicinal products derived from living organisms. This module looks at the role of a biologist in the upstream and downstream aspects of a typical bioprocess. You cover the molecular and cell biology techniques required during the upstream part of the process including selecting suitable production organisms, recombinant DNA technologies and synthetic biology. You cover the different fermentation strategies and how these relate to the product being manufactured, economics and sustainability of the process. You learn about controlling and monitoring the fermentation process using analytical methods and process analytical technology.

For the downstream processing aspects, you focus on the different separation and purification strategies used for isolating the target product. This module highlights the regulatory and quality management aspects that impact on a bioprocess at all of these stages, in particular the roles of good laboratory and manufacturing practice. You develop an understanding of the multidisciplinary nature of the bioprocessing industry and how a biologist is required to have an appreciation of the engineering, chemistry, economic and regulatory aspects of a bioprocess.


Year 5 core modules

Biology Research Project

The Biology Research Project allows you to bring together a range of practical and academic skills developed in previous years of study. You specialise in a particular area of biology supported by an academic staff member as your research supervisor. They will act as a mentor, guiding you in developing and completing your research project.

You must present a poster and abstract at the annual School of Science & Engineering poster day attended by academic members of the School, external examiners and professionals from the region. The poster contributes to your final project mark.

Throughout the project you are expected to maintain systematic and reliable records of your research. These records will be reviewed on a regular basis by your supervisor and assessed at the end of the project. Finally, you will submit your research in the style of a paper which could be submitted to an appropriate scientific journal related to your discipline.


Option A

Ecological Sustainability

The module is for life and environmental sciences students. You explore key areas in which biological-based technologies have the potential to offer more sustainable solutions to environmental problems. You consider the complementary and multidisciplinary analytical techniques that are used to understand and ensure the sustainable management of different ecological systems. You learn through a combination of lectures, student-led seminars, tutorial sessions and a field trip where possible.

Environmental Protection

This module explores the principles of environmental protection. Environmental protection is distinct from other aspects of law because of the potential impact of any given incident on a large sector of the community, wildlife and habitats.

Environmental protection issues have significant health implications. For example there may be long-term adverse effects on the environment and future generations, effects that go way beyond simple visual blight and loss of amenity. There is also increasing evidence of a connection between local environmental degradation and increasing incidences of environmental and other crimes.

Through keynote lectures, seminars and case studies you develop a critical understanding of national and global environmental protection strategies and the approaches used to investigate the impact of pollutants on the environment and health.


Option B

Human Ageing and Disease

This module furthers your understanding of the molecular, cellular and whole organism ageing processes. It addresses how ageing occurs by the accumulation of damage to molecules, cells and tissues, resulting in a loss of function and leading to an increased risk of death. Ageing is a major risk factor for a number of diseases including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. This module addresses advances in intervention mechanisms which have contributed to reduced disease risk and development in an ageing population.

Medical Microbiology

The module helps you explore how modern clinical microbiology can be used to detect, diagnose and control infectious diseases. You extend your understanding of the molecular basis of microbial pathogenesis and it allows you to explore how modern molecular biology techniques have been employed to define the nature of host-pathogen interactions.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

This degree apprenticeship has been developed to recognise the work place as a centre of knowledge building and support apprentices by combining learning opportunities within the workplace and the learning environment of the University.

Block week and work-based pathway modules complement the programme’s core and designated options.

How you are assessed

You are assessed as part of the BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences degree at Teesside University, and this includes the successful completion of the Biology Research Project which is an individual piece of research based in the work place. Throughout the development and completion of this project you are supported by academic staff from the University. By completing the project in the work place you meet the degree apprenticeship requirement for a synoptic project.
In addition to meeting the assessment requirements for this degree, your employer will also assess your vocational competency on an ongoing basis, and there is an overall degree apprenticeship end assessment you will need to pass.

To be awarded the degree apprenticeship you are required to successfully complete each and all assessment elements.

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Find out more about our disability services

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How to apply

To apply for this degree apprenticeship you must be employed in the life science sector and have the full agreement and support of your employer. To receive a link to the online application form please email your request to sse-admissions@tees.ac.uk.

Entry requirements

Individual employers will set the selection criteria for their apprentices. Most candidates will have achieved grade 4 or above in English and mathematics at GCSE level prior to commencement of apprenticeship. Most candidates will also hold A-levels or existing relevant Level 3 qualifications or equivalent. Other relevant or prior experience may also be considered as an alternative.

The academic entry requirements typically might be:

For entry to Year 1 of this programme requires study of the following essential subjects at Level 3:

  • biology (or related subject)

The most common acceptable Level 3 qualifications are (typical minimum grades are shown in brackets):

  • A levels (grades BBC)
  • BTEC Extended Diploma (grade DMM)
  • Access to HE Diploma (with 30 Level 3 credits from science units awarded at merit or higher)

You also need to have numeracy and literacy skills equivalent to at least GCSE grade 4.

If the qualification you are studying for is not listed above, please contact our Admissions Office for advice. We accept many alternative qualifications.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Course information


  • Not available full-time


  • 5 Years

More part-time details

  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information