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Undergraduate study

Course overview

This degree apprenticeship is suitable 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.

The Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprenticeship has been developed to combine study and full-time work to deliver the professional laboratory scientist your organisation needs. The apprentice works towards a Bachelor’s (Honours) degree. Students develop practical laboratory and analytical skills and apply their knowledge in the workplace

Combining study with work, this degree apprenticeship offers your organisation a cost-effective solution to professionally develop new and existing employees, helping you maintain a skilled workforce. Apprentices are entitled to an allocation of at least 20% of their normal work-time for academic study.

A list of the knowledge, skills and behaviours developed through this degree apprenticeship is available to view in the apprenticeship standard.

If you are seeking to recruit new employees to develop through this apprenticeship route, we can help by adverting your vacancy and shortlisting eligible candidates. We can even offer you lower cost solutions through our free to join Advanced Entry Degree Apprenticeship (AdEDA) scheme.

As a laboratory scientist you apply specialist knowledge and broad scientific understanding to carry out a range of technical and scientific activities in your specialist discipline. You 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 identify areas of business improvement and propose innovative scientific ideas. You perform practical, established and novel lab procedures using standard and specialist lab equipment and instrumentation. Ensuring uniformity, consistency, reliability, reproducibility, quality and integrity of scientific tests underpins your work and the working environment. In all contexts working safely and ethically is paramount.

To join this Degree Apprenticeship you must be in employment. The knowledge, skills and behaviours required for your job must map to the knowledge, skills and behaviours’ outcomes from this degree apprenticeship, and your employer must be willing to support your professional development.

Please seek guidance from your employer’s training manager if this is the right route for you and if your employer is prepared to support you on this degree apprenticeship programme.

If you are seeking to study part time financed by other means (self-funded or through a student loan) visit the course information page for BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences to find a link to the online application form for non-apprenticeship funded part-time study.

Professional approval

Outstanding provision for higher apprenticeships
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Course details

The unique structure of this degree, which incorporates a series of work-based modules, allows apprentices to relate learning and assessments to the workplace. Work-based modules include:
• Core Skills for Life Sciences in the Workplace
• Science Communication and Bioethics in the Life Science Sector
• Biotechnology and Life Sciences

The degree 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 employees learning, ensuring you develop comprehensive knowledge and skills relevant to current industry requirements. Learning includes extensive development of a range of laboratory techniques, professional and employment skills as well as a thorough understanding of biological principles.

This learning culminates in a major research project in the final year, which fulfills the workplace synoptic project element of the laboratory scientist degree apprenticeship assessment plan. This project is a substantial piece of work that will allow the apprentice to plan, develop and implement an individual scientific work-based project. Typical project examples include implementation of a new analytical technique; experimental design to contribute to an R&D project; design of a new synthetic step within a formulation pathway.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Animal and Plant Biology

This module focuses on multicellular organisms such as animals and plants to introduce physiology, population biology, ecology and the complexity of ecosystems. You gain a thorough introduction with the lecture series and develop these themes during seminars integrating discussion, problem solving and quantitative techniques.

Lectures and practical seminars are also an opportunity to comprehend the relevance of the biological processes introduced to our human societies. Learning is also supported by a field trip within the local area, a first-hand experience of animal and plant biological surveying in the natural environment.

Biochemical 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.

Core Skills for Employer Based Students

You develop a range of skills applicable for a variety of career pathways in the science sector. These include: the ability to articulate clearly, confidently and effectively to different audiences, the ability to work independently, the ability to locate information and critically assess its usefulness, and the ability to make efficient and effective use of the latest information technology.
You also explore basic principles and good practice in the collection, recording and evaluation of data, and the use of information resources and referencing. You also consider the assessment and handling of scientific errors. You review a range of basic mathematical skills and statistical methods that are essential in a wide range of scientific areas. You use spreadsheets for data recording, presentation and statistical analysis.

Microbiology and Cell Biology

The cellular basis of all living organisms is one of the characteristics which define life. You explore the common features and the immense diversity of form and function displayed by cells of organisms. You increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. You cover the structure and function of major cellular components and examine how fundamental processes within cells are organised and regulated, such as gene and protein expression. You also address 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, and the beneficial roles of many microorganisms and their utilisation in genetic engineering and biotechnology.


Year 2 core modules

Human Diseases and Immunology

Infectious diseases are responsible for a third of global mortality and have a significant impact on quality of life on a worldwide basis. This module examines the organisms able to generate pathogenic interactions with human populations and takes a systems-based approach, for example gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tract, to examine the virulence determinants, pathology, characteristics and epidemiology of selected pathogens. You are also introduced to the current molecular and cellular biology of pathogen interactions and co-evolution with host cells, and their relevance to human diseases. And you consider the factors contributing to the emergence of devastating pandemics and new diseases, in particular the significance of zoonotic diseases. The module reviews the extensive array of protein and cell-based responses which are typically launched against microbial pathogens as part of the innate and acquired immune response. You analyse the effectiveness of strategies used to treat and control the transmission of infectious diseases.

Human Metabolism and Clinical Biochemistry

You gain a broad understanding of the human metabolism, endocrinology and clinical biochemistry. Metabolism, the chemical processes that occurs in living organisms, is examined in the context of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, cellular respiration and metabolism of drugs. Endocrinology, the study of the physiological role of hormones, is covered in detail, including a review of the mechanisms underpinning hormone action, the roles of second messengers and endocrine system disorders. Enzyme kinetics and enzyme regulation is also a significant topic.

The module will also explore the methods used for the collection, measurement and analysis of clinical samples in the biomedical laboratory. You will also cover the principles and applications of clinical biochemistry investigations used in screening, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of disease.

Science Communication and Bioethics in the Life Science Sector

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

Ecology and Biodiversity

You will explore ecology and how complex interactions shape the distribution and abundance patterns of species in the natural environment. You examine the ecology of populations and communities, and how the integration of powerful new molecular biology technologies can inform the study of ecology and ecological interactions. You also explore the underlying theories used to explain the observed spatial and temporal patterns of diversity observed and the measurements which can be used to quantify diversity.

These topics are aligned to current issues, enabling you to appreciate the environmental, ethical and socio-economic concerns raised by ecological studies. As part of this module, by sampling natural environments you will have the opportunity to develop your ecological fieldwork, laboratory and data interpretation skills.

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.

Science Research Methods and Proposal

You will take this module if you are studying a science degree and complete a hypothesis-driven research project at Level 6 of your degree studies. It is delivered though lectures, tutorials and workshops.

You develop a proposal for your research project, which includes an explanation of the project targeted at both a specialist audience and the general public, and details of experimental design and statistical analysis to be employed. The proposal considers academic beneficiaries and economic, environmental and societal impacts. Project costs are estimated on the basis of a full economic costing model. In addition, the proposal is supported by a targeted CV.

A short lecture series at the start of the academic year provides you with an introduction to the module and advice on completing the research proposal documentation, followed by a series of assessment centre-style workshops and tasks which help assign you to a specific research project area and supervisor. These tasks familiarise you with the type of activities you might face during the application, interview and selection procedures.

You must produce a research proposal for your individual project. You are supported by a series of meetings with your supervisor to provide feedback on your progress.

For the proposal to be considered you must acquire ethical clearance from the School Research Ethics Committee. Once you are allocated a project you join discipline-based tutorials with other students. Each discipline operates tutorial sessions, which are used to provide academic guidance and support for completing ethical clearance documentation and the proposal. A series of research methodology-based workshops introduce you to various experimental designs and statistical techniques relevant to your discipline. These sessions also demonstrate how you can use software such as Minitab, SPSS and Excel to present and analyse datasets. These workshops help you decide on the design and analysis of the data associated with your project.

The module is assessed by you successfully acquiring ethical clearance (pass/fail) and submitting a completed research project proposal and supporting CV (100%).


Year 4 core modules

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.


and one optional module

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.


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

You 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 present a poster and abstract at the annual School poster day attended by academic staff, 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.


and one optional module

Ecological Sustainability

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.



Medical Microbiology

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.


and one optional module

Environmental Resource Management

You critically evaluate international agreement-derived sustainability models. In particular, eco-efficiency and ecological models, and their underpinnings of key thrusts, such as industrial symbiosis and sustainable product development. These will be analysed at the local, national and international level. The module will consider in detail the importance of energy policies and energy technologies and their implications in climate change. Specifically, the roles of renewable energies, such as wind, wave, solar, biomass and biofuels will be evaluated. The potentially important role the hydrogen economy could play in satisfying future energy requirements, taking cognisance of the pivotal role of carbon dioxide sequestration and storage, will be discussed.



Human Ageing and Disease

You develop your understanding of the molecular, cellular and whole organism ageing processes. This module 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.


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The course combines and integrates both academic and work-based learning through close collaboration between employers and the University. You are encouraged to take responsibility for your own learning from the start of the course with support from the teaching team and within your organisation.

You learn in a range of ways including lectures, seminars, practical skills sessions and group work. You can also access our virtual learning environment, allowing you to engage with the learning and tutors whilst in the workplace.

The course provides a number of contact teaching and assessment hours (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, projects, exams), but you are also expected to spend time on your own – self-study time – to review lecture notes, prepare coursework assignments, work on projects and revise for assessments. Each unit of credit corresponds to 10 hours of learning and assessment (contact hours plus self-study hours). The programme consists of a total of 360 credits delivered over the full length of the programme.

How you are assessed

Assessments include both formative and summative assignments – these test your subject knowledge, independent thought and skills acquisition, and provide you with information that will be useful to employers.

You are provided with programme and module guides containing comprehensive information about your assessments. Assessment schedules allow you to manage your time more effectively and prepare for submission.

There are also sites available for each programme and module on our virtual learning environment, e-learning@tees.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

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

Entry requirements

Entry to Year 1 (Level 4)

Your Level 3 qualification(s) must include study of the relevant Level 3 subject:
• biology.

The most common acceptable Level 3 qualifications and minimum grades are:

• 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).

English and maths
At least GCSE English and maths with grade 4 or passes in Functional Skills (Level 2). Other equivalent Ofqual approved English and maths qualifications are also acceptable.

Teesside University and your employer will discuss your background and eligibility, and will consider any prior learning and relevant experience you may have. Prior learning at Level 4 or high may be taken into consideration to exempt you one or more modules of the degree programme.

For additional information please see our entry requirements

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



Career opportunities

Laboratory scientists work in a range of organisations including chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, formulated products, consumer products, nuclear and analytical services. They work autonomously on defined projects under the supervision of a senior scientist and as part of a wider scientific team, which may include a lab technologist and lab technicians. They deliver scientific value to their organisation, whilst contributing to the development of others.

Typical job titles include a research and development scientist, molecular biologist, formulation scientist, or process scientist.



  • Not available full-time


2020 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants

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