Biological Sciences

In order to improve the nation’s health, it is essential that the working of the human body, in both health and disease, is fully understood. As a result, key areas of study include the function and nutritional status of the body, as well as an appreciation of the key areas of drug therapy.

Why QMU?

Queen Margaret University offers degrees in Applied Pharmacology, Human Biology, Nutrition*, and Nutrition and Food Science*. The first two years of these four courses have almost identical content, allowing all students to receive the same grounding in the biological sciences. In these early years, all students will gain a solid understanding and appreciation of the key areas of human physiology, human biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, pharmacology, immunology and nutrition. In parallel with these core subjects, our students also benefit from the opportunity to enhance their ability in the areas of laboratory practical skills and investigative skills (eg data analysis).

The BSc (Hons) Applied Pharmacology degree allows students to study how drugs and medications affect the working of the human body, both in health and disease.

 The BSc (Hons) Human Biology degree allows students to gain a fundamental understanding of how the human body works and responds to changes in health and disease.

Although we hope that our students have made the correct choices on application, there can be times when a student feels that they would like a change of direction. This can come about as a student starts to gain an appreciation of a wider range of topics, possibly experienced for the first time. If this situation does arise, the opportunity exists to change from any one of the four courses mentioned above to one of the others. This change, or transfer, would be the student’s own decision. We hope that the unique structure we offer widens the range of opportunities available to all of our students.

In Year Three, the key clinical science topics remain shared across all courses, but further distinction between the courses also becomes apparent. This results in there being fewer shared modules. Year Four modules differ for all the degrees, either in the module itself or the topic choice within the module.

Our courses are truly international, with students coming from many countries across the globe. The opportunity to study alongside students from different countries certainly broadens the whole student experience.

Our proximity to Edinburgh positions us close to many of the leading players in the contract research and pharmaceutical research areas, as well as many large companies and industry.

Our approach to learning and teaching

Our innovative approach to learning and teaching includes not only the more traditional approaches of lectures and tutorials, but also, importantly for such biological sciences courses, numerous laboratory practicals throughout the course. In addition to these more typical approaches we also utilise communication/IT workshops, self-study learning packs, group and individual projects, problem-solving exercises and case studies. As a student moves through their course, the use of didactic lectures will gradually decrease and be replaced by more student-centred and student-driven approaches. This change in emphasis is mirrored by the move from textbooks as course materials, to a more significant use of primary research, journal articles and government legislation and guideline documents.

A key part of any course is assessment and to this end we try to use a balanced range of approaches. We feel that there is a place for the more traditional examination format, alongside some more alternative approaches. These include written assignments, individual and group presentations, laboratory and project reports, short tests (multiple choice questions, short answer formats etc) and oral examinations. Overall, assessment is less exam-based in later years.


The staff involved in teaching the biological sciences courses are heavily involved in research into issues related to nutrition and health. Most academic staff are research active and at any given time we have a number of PhD students. Our research is aimed at establishing sound evidence on which to base strategies for improving health, in the context of both treatment and prevention, and draws on expertise in pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry and nutrition. Our academic staff and PhD students are involved in the research in the areas of clinical nutrition, metabolism, public health nutrition, microbiology, immunology, food choice, food and drink as vehicles for essential and non-essential nutrients, and the impact these components have on health, wellbeing, and management of disease. This focus on research links in with all of our teaching, particularly in Years Three and Four, and ensures that the content of our courses is both relevant and current.


Find out more information on how to apply for a course at QMU.