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Physiological Sciences BSc (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course equips you for opportunities to work as a researcher, R&D scientist or if you take the integrated placement route as a healthcare science practitioner in the NHS.

You can use this course to work towards one of two possible degree titles:

  • BSc (Hons) Physiological Science
  • BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science

The Physiological Sciences course builds on your existing knowledge of chemistry/biology to give you a thorough understanding of how the body functions and how cells, tissues and organs work together.

Depending on your choice of modules, and the availability of suitable placements, it may be possible to switch from Physiological Sciences to Healthcare Science. This is the accredited training programme for working in the NHS as a healthcare science practitioner either in cardiac physiology or audiology.

Sunderland scores highly in science; the most recent review by the Quality Assurance Agency awarded biology the highest possible score of 24 out of 24, and physiology was awarded 23 out of 24.

The University provides excellent facilities in our modern Sciences Complex and the quality of our analytical science equipment is outstanding among UK universities.

Physiological Sciences staff and students talk about the content of the course, teaching and opportunities for work placements:

Course content

Which degree to choose?

Depending on the availability of suitable placements, and your choice of options, you can work towards one of three possible degree titles:

  • BSc (Hons) Physiological Sciences
  • BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology)
  • BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Audiology)

BSc (Hons) Physiological Sciences

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Human Physiology (20 Credits)
  • Cell Science 1 (20 Credits)
  • Clinical Practice and Professional Skills (20 Credits)
  • Infection and Immunity (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Sleep Science (20 Credits)
  • Applied Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology (20 Credits)

Year 2 (national level 5)

Core modules:

  • Research Methods (10 Credits)
  • Pathophysiology and Therapeutics (20 Credits)
  • Pathophysiology of Auditory and Vestibular Systems (20 Credits)
  • Pathophysiology of Common Cardiovascular and Respiratory Conditions (30 Credits)

Optional modules (choose 2):

  • Cell Science II (20 Credits)
  • Infection and Immunity II (20 Credits)
  • Blood Science (20 Credits)
  • Biosciences Dissertation (20 Credits)
  • Physiology of Sport and Exercise (20 Credits)

Year 3 (national level 6)

Core modules:

  • Research Project in Physiological Sciences (30 Credits)

Optional modules (choose 4 or 5):

  • Molecular Pathology (20 Credits)
  • Immunology (20 Credits)
  • Haematology with Blood Transfusion (20 Credits)
  • Human Genetics and Genomics (20 Credits)
  • Medical Microbiology (20 Credits)
  • Applying Cardiac Physiology I 
  • Psycho/Social Aspects of Hearing Loss (30 Credits)
  • Pathobiology (10 Credits)
  • Physiology of Sport and Exercise II (20 Credits)
  • Nutrition of Sport and Exercise (20 Credits)

BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology)

Year 1 (national level 4)

All core modules:

  • Human Physiology (20 Credits)
  • Cell Science I (20 Credits)
  • Infection and Immunity I (20 Credits)
  • Clinical Practice and Professional Skills* (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to Cardiovascular Respiratory and Sleep Science (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to the practice of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Sleep Science (20 Credits)

*Here you will be required to undertake a suitable 10-week work placement in your first year

Year 2 (national level 5)

All core modules:

  • Research Methods (20 Credits)
  • Instrumentation, signal processing and imaging (20 Credits)
  • Pathophysiology of common Cardiovascular and Respiratory conditions (20 Credits)
  • Cardiac Physiology: ECG (30 Credits)
  • Cardiac Physiology: Blood Pressure (20 Credits)
  • Professional Practice and work-based training 1 in Physiological Sciences (20 Credits)

*You will also be required to undertake a suitable 15-week work placement at the end of your second year

Year 3 (national level 6)

All core modules:

  • Professional Practice and work-based training in Physiological Sciences* (30 Credits)
  • Research Project in Physiological Sciences (30 Credits)
  • Applying Cardiac Physiology I (20 Credits)
  • Applying Cardiac Physiology II (20 Credits)
  • Applying Cardiac Physiology III (20 Credits)

* Here you will be required to undertake a suitable 25-week work placement in your final year

BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Audiology)

Year 1 (national level 4)

All core modules:

  • Human Physiology (20 Credits)
  • Cell Science I (20 Credits)
  • Infection and Immunity I (20 Credits)
  • Clinical Practice and Professional Skills* (20 Credits)
  • Applied Physics and Measurements (20 Credits)
  • Applied Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology (20 Credits)

*Here you will be required to undertake a suitable 10-week work placement in your first year

Year 2 (national level 5)

All core modules:

  • Research Methods (20 Credits)
  • Applied Physiological Measurement and Instrumentation (20 Credits)
  • Processes of Audiological Rehabilitation (20 Credits)
  • Pathophysiology of Auditory and Vestibular systems (30 Credits)
  • Fundamental Principles of Audiological Assessment (20 Credits)
  • Professional Practice and work-based training in Physiological Sciences I (10 Credits)

*You will also be required to undertake a suitable 15-week work placement at the end of your second year

Year 3 (national level 6)

Core modules:

  • Professional Practice and work-based training in Physiological Science II* (30 Credits)
  • Research Project in Physiological Sciences (30 Credits)
  • Psycho/Social Aspects of Hearing Loss (30 Credits)
  • Advanced Principles of Audiological Assessment (20 Credits)

Optional Modules (choose 1):

  • Introduction to Tinnitus (10 Credits)
  • Vestibular Assessment (10 Credits)
  • Paediatric Assessment (10 Credits)
  • Specialist Hearing Instruments (10 Credits)

*Here you will be required to undertake a suitable 25-week work placement in your final year

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, practical work, seminars and other forms of group work. Assessment is by continuous assessment of coursework and by examinations, in a ratio of roughly 40:60.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Key Information Sets

All UK universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

This course is based in the Sciences Complex at our City Campus, which boasts excellent laboratories and cutting-edge equipment thanks to a multi-million pound investment. This includes a human anatomy resource and a new state of the art clinical skills suite and bioscience laboratories. This will also include the addition of new ‘state of the art’ multi-purpose teaching laboratories in addition to a new clinical skills suite that will include a new patient simulation suite/theatre and an Anatomage simulation table that includes 3D gross body male and female systems, 3D High Resolution of regional anatomy and a digital anatomy library with a large number of pathological examples and human case studies of disease.

Point of Care Centre – University of Sunderland

We have recently opened a new point of care centre at the University. The centre comprises a multi-functional clinical facility which has been equipped with a large number of ‘state of the art’ point of care technologies such as ECG equipment, a cardiac scanner, portable desktop machines for spirometry and peak flow, portable patient monitoring (blood gases and biochemical analysis as well as audiological diagnostic systems. This facility is used in our teaching and also to educate health professionals as part of continuing professional development (CPD).

Simulation technology

You’ll have the opportunity to apply your training in a realistic setting with our two advanced simulation technology ‘SimMan’ models.

Each of our £57,000 SimMan mannequins has blood pressure, a pulse and other realistic physiological behaviour. The models can be pre-programmed with various medical scenarios, so you can demonstrate your pharmacological expertise in a realistic yet safe setting. Our academic team is also actively working with the SimMan manufacturers to develop new pharmacy simulations.

Facilities for Medicinal Chemistry

Our state-of-the-art spectroscopic facility allows us to investigate the structures of new molecules and potential medicinal substances. We are equipped with Liquid Chromatography-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Mass Spectroscopy (LCNMR/MS) platforms; this is an exceptional facility for a university. We also have low and high resolution mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance and elemental analysis equipment.

Our facilities allow you to gain hands-on experience of a wide range of analytical techniques such as atomic absorption spectroscopy and infra-red spectroscopy, which are of great importance in determining both ionic/metal content of pharmaceuticals and simple chemical structures.

You will also gain experience of revolutionary protein and DNA separation techniques, as well as Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography for separating unknown chemical mixtures.

Facilities for Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology

Our highly technical apparatus will help you gain a better understanding of the effects of drugs on specific receptors located throughout the human body and related physiological effects. 

In addition to equipment for standard pharmacopoeial tests, such as dissolution testing, friability and disintegration, we also have highly sophisticated test methods. These include rheometry, thermal analysis (differential scanning calorimetry and hot stage microscopy), tests for powder flow, laser diffraction, photon correlation spectroscopy, image analysis and laser confocal microscopy. 

We also have equipment for wet granulation, spray drying, capsule filling, tablet making, mixing inhalation, film coating and freeze drying. 

University Library Services

We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

 Some of the most important sources for your studies include:

  • Embase, which is a complex database covering drug research, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, toxicology, clinical and experimental human medicine, health policy and management, public health, occupational health, environmental health, drug dependence and abuse, psychiatry, forensic medicine and biomedical engineering/instrumentation
  • PsycINF, which includes information about the psychological aspects of medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, pharmacology and physiology
  • PubMed, which contains life science journals, online books and abstracts that cover fields such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine and health care
  • Science Direct, which offers more than 18,000 full-text journals published by Elsevier
  • Web of Science, which covers a broad range of science areas

Learning Environment

Sunderland has a rich heritage in scientific studies and our degree courses are well respected in industry. We are fully plugged into relevant industry bodies, with strong links and an exchange of ideas and people. Our vibrant learning environment helps ensure a steady stream of scientists who are well-trained and ready to contribute in a variety of fields.


Dale Building

Sciences Complex, City Campus, Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award) including biology or chemistry. Please note we do not accept General Studies AS or A Level. Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication, Application of Number.

In order to undertake the work-based training part of the Healthcare Science programme, you will need a satisfactory disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and a medical check, and be subject to interview by the hospital work placement provider. This selection process will be undertaken during the first year of the course.

If English is your second language we require a minimum of IELTS 6.0 (or equivalent), however if you wish to take the Healthcare Science route you will need a score of 7.0.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 112 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 112 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

Your career options will vary according to the title of your final degree.

BSc (Hons) Physiological Sciences

Employment prospects are very good for Sunderland graduates in subjects allied to medicine.

According to Unistats 2014, 100% of our graduates in employment within six months after graduation are in professional or managerial role, which means higher pay and better prospects. Around nine out of ten are classed as ‘health professionals’.

Potential employers include the NHS, medical research institutions, clinical laboratories, drug companies, molecular biology companies and other organisations where a strong science background is an advantage.

BSc (Hons) Healthcare Science (Cardiac Physiology/Audiology)

If you choose this degree you will be well-prepared to apply for roles as a healthcare science practitioner within the NHS, with a specialism in cardiac physiology or audiology.

Our course provides significant amounts of work-based learning, with unpaid placements amounting to 10 weeks in Year 1, 15 weeks in Year 2 and 25 weeks in Year 3.

NHS salaries for staff working in healthcare science range from around £21,000 to around £80,000 per year. At entry level, the work involves obtaining diagnostic data from patients and working as part of a multidisciplinary team that also includes doctors, nurses and radiographers.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme:


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For full details, please see our Employability page.


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars. If you have individual queries or difficulties within subject areas, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Saturday 12th November 2016
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Programme Leader for specific questions about the course:

Dr Jane Carr Wilkinson
Tel: 0191 515 3396

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

The details

Course Name Physiological Sciences
Classification BSc (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

112 points

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