Biology is the study of life, spanning molecules and cells, how organisms work, behave and evolve, through to global ecosystems and their preservation.

The biology course at Oxford provides the diversity of skills and experience to understand how life works, and to apply that knowledge to research, conservation, food security and health. The first year covers fundamental knowledge across the breadth of biology and introduces core research skills for biologists. The second and third years allow students to specialise on particular modules and further develop research skills in the laboratory, fieldwork and computing. The fourth year comprises an original research project. Full details of the course structure are available on the department website linked below.

Magdalen is an inspirational setting for studying the natural world. Our grounds encompass beautiful gardens, wilder natural habitat, and a wealth of plant and animal life in a green corridor through the city. We have our own herd of fallow deer, wild bats, otters, badgers, waterbirds and 100s of plant and insect species in the flood meadow and riverside habitats. Our teaching uses the grounds to complement class-based tutorials, lectures, practicals and fieldwork.

Tuition in Biology at Magdalen is overseen by three tutorial fellows assisted by a college lecturer and assistance from other specialists in the College and across the department. First year tutorials are delivered by the College tutors, whereas second and third year tutorials can be selected from tutors across the whole university based on their expertise and your interests. The College tutors continue to guide and support your progress. Biologists who wish to undertake fieldwork or internships during vacations benefit from a generous Travel and Research Grants scheme. Magdalen students work on a wide range of topics for their 4th year projects including plant biotechnology, cancer biology, behaviour of bird, fish and bees, conservation and much more.

Magdalen accepts around 6 Biology students per year. Our students arrive with diverse backgrounds and interests, but all share a love of the natural world, and the desire to learn and use their biology to make a difference. They go onto diverse and interesting careers, with many continuing to postgraduate research and a doctorate, and most but not all using biology or scientific skills in some form or other in their future careers. 

Entry requirements



Written work

None required.

Specific subjects

Biology is essential; plus either Chemistry, Physics, or Maths.

Deferred entry

Applications for deferred entry will be considered on their merits.