Planning your first year curriculum

Planning your first year curriculum

Some students come to university with precise intentions. Others will be less certain and will wish to keep a number of options open. This is perfectly possible with our flexible system of entry to Science. Whatever your situation you should discuss your course choices in advance with a Senior Adviser. We will attempt to contact you over the summer to organise such a discussion; alternatively you should contact

In most cases a first year curriculum is the possible foundation of more than one honours programme, and usually a choice of honours programmes will remain open until the end of second year. If planned well, you will have the choice between two subject areas in which you could specialise at honours level.

The programme to which you were admitted through UCAS will show in ‘MyCampus’. This is merely a method of identifying appropriate subjects for you to study in first year. It means that the compulsory courses will be shown and you may have to choose the remaining 40 or, perhaps, 80 credits. (In a few cases you will have no choice!) It is important that you use ‘My Requirements’ in MyCampus as this will guide you through both your compulsory courses, and the wide range of optional courses that you can select (provided it is possible to timetable these).

Normally the first year curriculum for science students consists of three level-1 subjects. All level-1 courses are worth 20 or 40 credits and your curriculum should normally add up to 120 credits. These three subjects can all be Science subjects but it is possible to include one non-science subject out of general interest. Please note that you must study a minimum of 80 credits in Science subjects in level 1.

Some courses do not lead to a degree and therefore only one such course should be included in a first year curriculum.

Most students will be content to study three Science subjects. If you would like to study a subject in another area, details of courses are available in MyCampus (you will be guided by ‘My Requirements’).

Here are a few notes of general guidance:

  1. Normally you must include 40 credits of your intending honours subject in your starting curriculum. The sole exception to this rule is statistics; the prerequisite for studying Statistics 2 is mathematics at level 1. Statistics 1Y/1Z are strongly recommended along with mathematics if you are intending honours.
  2. At least one subject will be prescribed by your intended honours degree but in some cases two, or exceptionally three, subjects are necessities. For example, mathematics must be includes for students taking degrees in astronomy, electronic & software engineering, physics or statistics. Mathematics is also strong recommended for students taking computing science and software engineering.
  3. Science Fundamentals 1X/1Y are intended primarily for those who have not achieved a previous qualification in chemistry at Higher, A-level or equivalent. It may also be appropriate for those with a grade C in Higher or D at A-level, particularly at the second attempt.
  4. If you think that you might want to take part in the ERASMUS exchange programme to an EU university (in your second or third year), then you may take an appropriate language from the Arts list.
  5. In most cases two subjects will almost select themselves, but the choice of the third subject may prove difficult. If you have no clear idea what it should be, then here are some common-sense rules.
    • It may not be sensible to attempt to study a subject which you do not like, or which you know yourself to be very weak in, just because it is familiar and seems suitable for the rest of your curriculum.
    • If a subject new to you seems attractive and is one that you might wish to study, please consult the online course catalogue in ‘MyCampus’ for further information (using ‘Browse Catalogue’).

On completion of a course, a grade is awarded with A1 being the highest and H the lowest. Most courses have an element of assessed coursework that may be based on tutorials, laboratory reports, essays, class tests and even class exams. Poor performance in exams in December or April/May (i.e. grades E, F, G or H) may be recovered by taking the resit exams in August. The important thing to understand is that there are not normally reassessment opportunities for coursework eg laboratory assessments. Please see the course information provided by each School for details.  Although you may be allowed a second attempt at a degree exam, in coursework the mark achieved at the first attempt normally stands. Failure to achieve a reasonable result on the first occasion can lead to a poor overall grade that cannot be greatly improved by taking a resit examination. No matter how well you actually do in the resit exam, even if MyCampus shows A1 as the grade, the grade points awarded will be no higher than 9 per credit (equivalent to a grade D3).