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Biological science - From Genes to Species

The Open University UK

3168 GBP/full
3168 GBP/full
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This Biological science - From Genes to Species module at The Open University UK explores a range of advanced topics in biological science from evolution to cell and molecular biology.


What you will study in the Biological science - From Genes to Species course at The Open University UK

Biology encompasses all aspects of the study of living things from their ecology and behaviour, physiology and anatomy, through to their cell biology and molecular composition. 

You will learn about biological processes operating at different levels - molecular, cellular, organismal and species – and explore key concepts and research methodologies in these areas. The module is presented as a series of eight topics, alongside which is a closely related Research Skills strand.

  • Topic 1: Species and Speciation
Here you will consider the enormous diversity of life on Earth and how it has arisen. You will learn about some of the difficulties in defining species as well as current thinking on the mechanisms of speciation.
  • Topic 2: Evolutionary Mechanisms
In this Topic you will study the mechanisms of evolution, examining the processes responsible for the diversity of living things. You will consider how variation in populations, which is necessary for evolution to occur, is studied and how it changes over time.
  • Topic 3: Origin of Variation
With the exception of some viruses, the genomes of all organisms on Earth are composed of DNA. Changes in DNA in individuals are the source of variation in a population, which allows evolution to occur. Here you will learn about how and why changes in DNA occur, and the effect of environmental influences on variation. You will also engage with case studies that illustrate how the molecular basis of variation is studied experimentally.
  • Topic 4: Genomes and genome evolution
The genomes of different species differ considerably in their content and structure. Considering that all life on Earth is believed to originate from a common ancestor which existed over 3.5 billion years ago, a great amount of genome evolution must have occurred to give rise to the diversity of present day species. 
  • Topic 5: Gene expression and its control
Whilst the characteristics of an organism are determined by its genome, the expression of its component genes varies. Whether or not particular genes are expressed in a particular cell, and the level of their expression, are determined by a variety of control mechanisms. 
  • Topic 6: Controlling cell behaviour
All organisms, whether unicellular or multicellular, need to respond to their ever-changing environment in order to survive and flourish. In this topic, you will learn about some of the fundamentals of cell signalling - how cells detect and respond to physical changes and chemical cues occurring around and within them. 
  • Topic 7: Life and Death of the Cell
This topic takes a look at fascinating biological processes that occur at the beginning and end of the life of a cell. Cell death is a crucial aspect of life, and without cell death organisms would not develop or function correctly. Here you will focus largely on a form of programmed cell death known as apoptosis. 
  • Topic 8: Development, morphogenesis and ageing
In this topic, you will move from considering processes purely at the cellular level to relate these processes to what happens at the level of the whole organism. You will begin by focussing on the mechanisms that orchestrate embryonic development in multicellular organisms, before turning to the factors that influence the life span of different organisms, and to those that result in their biological ageing. 

Programme Structure

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:
  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Key information

Start dates & application deadlines




60 alternative credits



Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

English requirements

We are not aware of any English requirements for this programme.

Other requirements

General requirements

This is an OU level 3 module and you need to have a good knowledge of biology, obtained through level 1 and 2 study with the OU, or with another higher education institution. Students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully and get most enjoyment and satisfaction out of the module.

Tuition Fee

To alway see correct tuition fees
  • International

    3168 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 3168 GBP for the full programme
  • National

    3168 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the tuition of 3168 GBP for the full programme


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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Biological science - From Genes to Species
The Open University UK


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