Life Sciences - 3966

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Science


Campus: Sydney

Career: Undergraduate

Typical Duration: 3 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 144

UAC Code: 429050

Domestic Entry Requirements: See Domestic Entry Requirements

International Entry Requirements: See International Entry Requirements


Bachelor of Life Sciences

Bachelor of Life Sciences (Major)

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The three-year Life Sciences degree has been designed for students who seek a 'generalist' degree in which there is a large element of choice but with an emphasis on the life and health sciences. A student will select a major area of study and can combine courses from two or more Science disciplines, or take courses from outside the Science disciplines. There is also the option to continue into an Honours year by enrolling in a further year of study (program 4500). The basic rules for this degree are set out below.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

This program has been designed to:
  1. Develop and sustain an interest in and knowledge of Science with an emphasis on the life and health sciences;
  2. Develop a working knowledge of scientific methods of investigation;
  3. Encourage curiosity and creative imagination and an appreciation of the role of speculation in the selection and solution of problems, the construction of hypotheses, and the design of experiments;
  4. Develop an appreciation of scientific criteria and a concern for objectivity and precision;
  5. Develop confidence and skill in formulating problems and in treating both qualitative and quantitative data;
  6. Develop the ability and disposition to think logically, to communicate clearly by written and oral means, and to read critically and with understanding;
  7. Develop the habit of seeking and recognising relationships between phenomena, principles, theories, conceptual frameworks and problems;
  8. Promote understanding of the significance of science, technology, economics and social factors in modern society, and of the contributions they can make in improving material conditions;
  9. Provide opportunities for the development of students' motivations and social maturity, and an awareness of their capabilities in relation to a choice of career which will be fruitful to themselves and to society;
  10. Provide opportunity to study science in combination with other disciplines.

Program Structure

When completing the Bachelor of Life Sciences, students must complete a minimum of 144 units of credit. This 144 units of credit is comprised of an approved Bachelor of Life Sciences major, science elective courses, free electives and general education as shown below:

* An approved Bachelor of Life Sciences major; and
* Science elective courses ('Science' courses are defined in Table 1 below.)
36 UOC * Free electives: these courses can be taken from any Faculty of the university.
12 UOC * General Education courses: these courses cannot be Science courses.

Single Degree Program Rules

Academic rules relating to the Bachelor of Life Sciences are as follows:

   1.  Students enrolled in the program must complete a minimum of 144 units of credit;

   2.  Students must complete at least one approved Bachelor of Life Sciences major, and this must be declared before enrolling in level II courses.

Students do not need to declare a major in their first year as they are encouraged to try a variety of level 1 Science courses to enable them to select an appropriate major before commencing level II courses. Information on how to declare a major can be found on the Science Student Centre website.

   3.   Approved majors in the Bachelor of Life Sciences program are:


   4.   Students must complete at least 6 UOC of courses with the course code BABS####, and at least 6 UOC of courses with the course code BIOS####.

Most students will take these courses in their first year of study, and many majors require courses from these both of these fields, which will fulfil this requirement. For instance, the marine science major requires students to complete BABS1201 and BIOS1101 in their first year. Other majors do not require these courses and students must complete at least one BABS#### course and one BIOS#### course at some stage in their program.

   5.  In addition to the courses required for a student's chosen major, students must take 'science' courses so that the major plus 'science' courses total 96 units of credit.

Majors in the Bachelor of Life Sciences range from 60 units of credit to 84 units of credit, therefore students will typically need to take 12 to 36 units of credit of additional 'science' courses depending on the major chosen. Some of these additional science courses may need to be at level I depending on whether a major meets rule 6 below. Where a student chooses to complete a double major, provided that the sum of the courses required for the two majors is greater than 96 units of credit, this requirement is met.

'Science' courses are courses offered by the following Schools. The course prefixes that are associated with each School are in bold below:

Table 1: Definition of 'Science' courses
Aviation AVIA
Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences
Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences BABS, BIOC, BIOT, MICR
Chemistry CHEM
Computer Science COMP
Food Science FOOD
Materials Science and Engineering MATS
Mathematics and Statistics MATH
Psychology PSYC
Physics PHYS
Optometry and Vision Science OPTM, VISN
Science Faculty SCIF

   6.  Students must complete at least 24 units of credit of science level I courses.

Most majors in the Bachelor of Life Sciences already satisfy this requirement, for example, the Ecology major requires BIOS1101, BIOS1301, GEOS1701 and MATH1041. This is a total of 24 units of credit of 'science' level I courses, therefore, no more level I science courses are required.

12 units of credit of general education must be taken and these may be taken at any stage in a student's program.

Students must follow the UNSW rules for general education. GENS#### courses, or any course defined as a 'science' course in Table 1, cannot be taken as general education. Any exceptions to these rules must be approved by the Associate Dean (Undergraduate Programs) or nominee.

   8.  A maximum of 72 units of credit of level I courses can be taken throught this entire program, which includes any GEN*#### course or mainstream level I course taken to fulfil the 12 UOC general education requirement (see rule number 7 regarding general education).

   9.   No student may commence level II courses until 30 units of credit of level I courses have been successfully completed.

   10.   Students may commence level III courses upon successful completion of 72 units of credit.


Honours in the Bachelor of Life Sciences is offered through program 4500 Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Psychology Honours requires enrolment in 4518 Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours). Students seeking to enrol into Honours should refer to program 4500 Science (Honours) and the relevant streams listed in the Handbook.

Acceptance into 4500 Bachelor of Science (Honours) is subject to academic performance, the academic requirements for Honours in the Program, and the number of places available in a School’s Honours program. Typically students require a minimum overall WAM of a Credit for entry into the Honours program, although due to the competitive nature of Honours in some Schools, the level of academic performance required may be higher.

Academic Rules

See the Academic Rules outlined above.


For information regarding fees for UNSW programs, please refer to the following website:

Choosing Electives

In addition to choosing science courses, and general education courses as per the academic rules above, students have 36 units of credit of free electives in the single degree program, where not undertaking a double major. These free electives can be taken from the Faculty of Science, or from any other Faculty at UNSW subject to the rule that no more than 72 units of credit of level I courses (or GEN*#### courses) can be taken throughout the degree program. Therefore students may choose to undertake further science courses, or may explore subject areas from outside of science.

Double Major

Where students choose to undertake a double major, elective courses are utilised to undertake courses for the second major. Whilst some majors are in cognate areas and have some overlap which will enable the two majors to be completed in less than 144 units of credit, other major combinations may require a student to do more than the minimum 144 units of credit for the degree. This will result in additional cost and time to complete the degree requirements for the student and may have visa implications for international students.

Award with Distinction

The Faculty of Science will award a Pass degree with Distinction to students who obtain a minimum WAM of 75 across their program and complete at least 72 units of credit at UNSW.

Sample Programs

The Faculty of Science has created Undergraduate Program Guides to help students choose courses based on the requirements of their chosen major/s. The documents should be used as a guide only and in conjunction with the program rules outlined above.

To access the Program Guide for your major, visit

Area(s) of Specialisation