Biotechnology (Honours) - 3053

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Science


Campus: Sydney

Career: Undergraduate

Typical Duration: 4 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 192

UAC Code: 429400

Domestic Entry Requirements: See Domestic Entry Requirements

International Entry Requirements: See International Entry Requirements


Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours)

View program information for previous years

Program Description

Important: prior to 2016 this program was known as 3052 Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology). Students must follow the Handbook of the year they commenced their program, so continuing students should refer to the relevant Handbook here.

Biotechnology can be defined as the use of various biological processes to make products and perform services. In biotechnology, living cells and biochemical macromolecules such as proteins, DNA and RNA are applied in a rapidly expanding range of activities of direct benefit to society. Biotechnology is used for the production of pharmaceuticals, food and industrial chemicals, in the development of improved crops and livestock for farming, for environmental clean-up, and in forensics. Modern biotechnology makes practical use of the most recent scientific advances in areas such as molecular genetics and molecular cell biology.

The development of recombinant DNA technology has resulted in the ability to create, modify and improve industrial organisms and to produce large quantities of any useful protein. Based on this technology, biopharmaceuticals including hormones, vaccines, anti-hypertensive agents, anti-inflammatory agents and new therapies for the treatment of cancer are being developed with the potential to revolutionise medicine. The sequencing of the human genome and the rapid emergence of high-throughput genomic and proteomic techniques is resulting in a surge of new drug targets. Translation of this advanced knowledge into useful therapies and improved medical practices requires the application of biotechnology.

Microorganisms and viruses are being modified for use in controlling plant and animal diseases and pests. Diagnostic kits are being developed for use in forensic science and in product identification and quality control. Genetic improvements in agriculture, plants and animals are becoming a reality, as is the control of inborn genetic disorders in humans. The ability to treat diseased and injured organs with replacement cells and tissues generated outside of the body is advancing rapidly.

Bioprocesses are also used for environmental remediation, for the extraction of minerals from low-grade ores, and for the development of novel processes to treat waste and degrade recalcitrant molecules. Environmental biotechnology is an area of vital importance for our increasingly polluted planet.

The future for expansion in all the above areas is immense. Our ability to cope with many medical, environmental, agricultural and manufacturing problems in the 21st century will depend heavily on advances in biotechnology.

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

At the conclusion of this program, students should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a coherent and advanced knowledge of the essential principles and techniques in Biotechnology and its related disciplinary areas with a capacity to apply these techniques to solving problems;
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of Biotechnology in its interdisciplinary and international context;
  3. Apply their knowledge and skills to collect, review, analyse and evaluate information, define and solve problems, and develop and carry out experiments;
  4. Work independently with an ability to approach problem-solving independently and from different the perspectives;
  5. Apply the principles of teamwork and collaboration;
  6. Communicate effectively with spoken and written communication skills to present a clear and coherent account of knowledge and ideas to a variety of audiences;
  7. Demonstrate information and digital literacy;
  8. Demonstrate an understanding of ethical practice in the scientific context and application of the discipline in a socially responsible manner;
  9. Identify a problem and construct and execute a research project in a way that demonstrates knowledge and understanding of both concepts and techniques in research and design, and project management skills. A capacity for critical thinking, initiative and judgement will be demonstrated in the development and design of the research project.

Program Structure

Students must complete a minimum of 192 units of credit for the award of a Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours). This 192 units of credit is comprised of the following:

168 UOC
* 96 UoC of core courses in Stages 1 to 3 as specified below
* 18 UoC of approved electives in Stages 2 and 3
* 6 UoC of Science electives
* 48 UoC of Honours year (Stage 4)
12 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.

Stage 1
  • Free elective or General Education courses totalling 12 UoC
Stage 2
  • Free elective or General Education (6 UoC)
Plus at least one course (minimum 6 UoC) from the following list of approved Stage 2 electives:
Note to students: Your choice of elective in stage 2 may influence your potential stage 3 elective choices.

Stage 3
  • Free elective or General Education (6 UoC)
Plus at least three courses (minimum 18 UoC) from the following list of approved Stage 3 electives:
Note to students: In selecting electives, students may wish to specialise in a particular area of Biotechnology. Some recommended elective choices for these areas are listed below, by way of example.

Medical Biotechnology
Environmental Biotechnology
Molecular Biotechnology
Stage 4
Note: Students enrol in BABS4053 (total 48 UoC) for both semesters through the BABS School Office.

Academic Rules

  1. Students must complete a minimum of 192 units of credit.
  2. Students must follow the program of study as outlined in this Handbook, including the core and elective requirements as specified in the Program Structure above.
  3. Students must complete 12 UoC of General Education at any stage in their program. Students must follow the UNSW rules for General Education. Any course defined as a 'Science' course in Table 1 cannot be taken as General Education. Additionally, GENS courses cannot count as General Education for Science students. Courses with identifying codes GEN# can only be used to fulfil the General Education requirement of the program. GEN# courses cannot count towards the free elective component, or towards science core courses or science electives in the program. Any exceptions to these rules must be approved by the Associate Dean (Academic Programs) or nominee.
  4. Students must complete 12 Units of Credit of free electives (which may be chosen from any of the approved elective lists, but could also be chosen from elsewhere within the University).
  5. An Honours Year of 48 units of credit must be completed. No student may commence Stage 4 until stages 1 to 3 have been completed successfully.
  6. A maximum of 48 units of credit of level I courses can be taken throughout this entire program, excluding any GEN*#### course or other mainstream level I course taken to fulfil the 12 unit of credit General Education requirement.
  7. Progression to Stages 2, 3 & 4 is subject to academic performance. Students will be required to maintain a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of at least 65 for progression to Stage 3, and to Stage 4. Students who do not meet the requirement to enter Stage 4 (Honours) will be transferred to program 3970 (Bachelor of Science) and will, on successful completion of the first three stages of program 3053, graduate with the degree Bachelor of Science (program 3970) with a major in Biotechnology. Students who transfer to program 3970 before successful completion of stage 1 to 3 of program 3053 will be required to complete an approved major in program 3970 as specified in the Handbook.


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

Table 1: Definition of 'Science' courses

 Aviation  AVIA
 Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences  BEES, BIOS, CLIM, ENVS, GEOS, MSCI
 Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences  BABS, BIOC, BIOT, INOV, MICR
 Chemistry  CHEM
 Computer Science  COMP
 Data Science  DATA
 Food Science  FOOD
 Materials Science and Engineering  MATS
 Mathematics and Statistics  MATH
 Medical Sciences  ANAT, NEUR, PATH, PHAR, PHSL, SOMS
 Psychology  PSYC
 Physics  PHYS
 Optometry and Vision Science  OPTM, VISN
 Science Faculty  SCIF


The fourth year of the Bachelor of Biotechnology (Honours) program, comprises a 48 unit of credit independent research project completed under the guidance of an academic supervisor, culminating in a written thesis. As part of the research project students will attend compulsory workshops in an Honours Orientation week at the beginning of the session. Topics covered in these workshops include ethics, research design, fundamental statistics and data analysis, occupational health and safety, thesis writing and synthesis, project / time management, presentation skills and professional development. Throughout the Honours year students will be required to complete a literature review, two presentations, a thesis, and a thesis interview. A practice thesis and practice thesis interview will also be required as formative assessment and training for the student.

At the completion of their Honours program students will be awarded an honours grading as follows:
  • Honours Class 1: mark of 85 or greater;
  • Honours Class 2 Division 1: mark from 75 to 84;
  • Honours Class 2 Division 2: mark from 65 to 74;
  • Honours Class 3 or Pass: mark below 65.
The calculation of class of award will be determined as follows:
  • A written thesis. Each student is assigned an Assessment Committee consisting of three members who assess the thesis independently. Where agreement cannot be reached on a thesis grade a fourth examiner will be engaged to provide an independent assessment of the thesis (70%);
  • Presentation of research findings (10%);
  • Final thesis interview of student with their Assessment Committee (10%);
  • Student aptitude and performance as assessed by laboratory notebooks and a supervisor's report (10%)
Honours marks and grading will be scrutinised at the School level. The Faculty will also review these marks and grades prior to the release of results.

Faculty of Science Rules

The Faculty of Science has some rules that relate to all students enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty in relation to recognition for prior learning, general education, course exclusions, study load, and cross-institutional study. All students should read the information contained on the Faculty General Rules and Requirements page in this Handbook.

Area(s) of Specialisation