My College

bio-intranet-homepageThe College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham is a major international centre for research and education, with world class research being produced in all areas. 

Bringing together research and education, the College consists of the following four schools: Biosciences; Psychology; Geography and Environmental Sciences; and Sport, Excercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. You can find out more about the College and its Schools at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences public website.

The principal administrative hub of the College is located on the ground floor of the Biosciences building (R27 on the Edgbaston Campus Map), with our other buildings dotted around the West side of campus.

 A welcome from the Head of College


Dear Colleague,

I would like to extend a warm welcome to the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. Our purpose is to generate and disseminate new knowledge and you’ll be playing an important part in allowing us to achieve this. I hope that you’ll take keen interest in the research and teaching that we do across our four Schools and appreciate the critical contribution that you can make in allowing us to excel, whatever your specific role.

Universities are going through a period of great change, as we face the challenges of enhancing experience of students who study here and stiffer competition for research money. In order to build on our success stories in both these regards it is critical that each and every one of us can put in a personal best performance and support each other in doing so. If as a newcomer you can see things that we could do better or differently, or if you perceive obstacles that inhibit us from achieving our goals, please discuss them with your line manager. As a new colleague, you will have been hand chosen for your achievements and potential and we need to take full advantage of both your expertise and ambition.

We are a large organisation and even within the College we are spread over seven buildings, so it’s going to take you a while to get to know people. I would encourage you to do all you can to take opportunities as part of your induction process and beyond to meet as many people as possible, both within and outside the College. By working in partnership with colleagues across the University we are more likely to be successful in our aspirations to become and remain one of the world’s best universities.


With Best Wishes,

Head of College


 College structure

A full break-down of the College Operations Structure is available on the College Intranet, which will be made available to you once your staff login has been activated. Your manager will help you sort this out once you begin work here.


The College provides a broad portfolio of undergraduatepostgraduate taught and postgraduate research programmes. Programmes at all levels are delivered by some of the UK’s most respected researchers, providing students with the best possible learning experience. 



A wide range of Career Development courses are available, run by the People and Organisational Development (POD) team. Training is available from just a few hours to a few weeks to help you top up your skills and knowledge and stay ahead of the game. Please look at the Development Brochures (see above link), then discuss with your manager what courses would be appropriate


We span an enormous breadth of disciplines, from the biomedical to the social sciences, and our expertise aligns strongly with key international challenges, including lifelong health and well being, food security, energy security, and living with environmental change. We've recently had the addition of the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (moving from the Business School to GEES) and the Department of Sport Pedagogy (moving from the School of Education to the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences).

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) confirmed the pre-eminence of our School of Psychology, with 80% of our research falling in the highest two categories, 3* (internationally excellent) and 4* (world-leading), placing us in the top three nationally with Cambridge and Oxford. Sport and Exercise Sciences achieved a rating of 60% activity at 3*and 4*, placing us top with Loughborough. Biosciences and Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences have distinctive areas in which they are internationally leading, including environmental science, molecular cell biology and molecular microbiology. With regard to the latter, we have recently formed an Institute of Microbiology and Infection, bringing together researchers from the School of Biosciences with scientists and clinicians in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, allowing us to integrate our basic scientific and translational research in this key area.

Microbiology lab research

Our strategy is to build around our strengths and to bridge these to cognate areas of activity both within the College and across the University. We have invested in new staff at both early career and professorial levels in each of our four Schools and have attracted more than fifteen independent research fellows in the last year alone. Academic staff are encouraged and supported to ensure that they can achieve their personal best, through advice and guidance from both senior academics and research support professionals.

The College has benefitted from significant University investment in key interdisciplinary research initiatives, including: Computational Neuroscience and Cognitive Robotics (in partnership with the School of Computer Science); Systems Science for Health (in partnership with the Schools of Mathematics and Computer Sciences and the College of Medical and Dental Sciences); and Resilience and Urban Living. These initiatives are not only helping to boost our research awards but are also designed to deliver new Masters level programmes, which are targeted at both UK and international students.

A new exciting development is a joint venture with the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), which will provide a world-class research and training centre on Birmingham’s campus that integrates state-of-the-art approaches in molecular biology, including DNA sequencing, metabolomics and bioinformatics. Research will focus in three key areas: ways in which organisms respond to environmental change and the development of novel environmental diagnostic techniques; better understanding of disease susceptibility and treatment including advances in personalised health care and medicine; and advancing our understanding of the role that microbes play in infection and disease.


Experimental research within the Air and Atmosphere Labs

The College project portfolio reflects the breadth of funding that we attract, including links with industry, charities and policy makers, as well as research councils. For example, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with EON is identifying, modeling and predicting the impact of urban heat islands and climate change on the ageing rate of transformers while research on urban resilience is informing spatial planning and national security policy in both the UK and overseas (US, Russia and Israel). The outcomes of our fundamental and applied research have resulted in commercialisation activity. For example, a new clinical diagnostics system developed within the School of Biosciences resulted in the spin-out company Linear Diagnostics. Studies on stroke rehabilitation in our School of Psychology have spawned Cognition Matters. Knowledge transfer is recognised by the College as an integral part of research.

All of our research groups have international collaborators. As part of the University’s international engagement strategy, we are building multi-disciplinary links with key partners across the globe and our College is at the forefront of these in USA (Chicago), India (Delhi) and China (Guangzhou). For example, our School of Psychology is conducting joint research with colleagues in the University of Chicago on social neuroscience, colleagues in GEES are working on sustainable cities with TERI University in Delhi as well as with partners in Guangzhou on environmental pollution.


For more information regarding research within the College, and to find out the research themes within the indiviudal Schools, please see the College Research Brochure.

 College population 

We have a faculty of 210 academics, each with their own research group, and a total staff complement of around 600. The College is home to around 4000 full-time students studying a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes. 

 College communication

We endeavour to have a well-structured framework within which we communicate with all staff. Communication is carried out via various channels across the different Schools, as well as regular College update emails from the Head of College; a College intranet which is continually being developed in order to provide staff with up-to-date information and resources; termly College Assemblies; College Leadership Forum which is chaired by the Head of College; and meetings with the School senior management teams, which are also attended by the Head of College.


Buzz - Newsletter

University wide there is also a staff e-newsletter called Buzz Bitesize, sent monthly, as well as a bi-monthly printed edition of Buzz – the University’s award winning staff magazine. You can find more information on Buzz and Buzz Bitesize, and how to contribute, at this link:


College Board

College Board are responsible for overseeing all aspects of College life and report into the University Executive Board (UEB). The purpose of College Board is:

-To advise and support the Head of College in the strategic and operational management and leadership of the College

-To facilitate communication and ensure the effective co-ordination of all matters relevant to the running of the College and its activities

-To make recommendations to University Senate, the University Executive Board or any other body within the University on any matters not within the Board’s authority to determine

The College Board consists of the following:


  • Head of College (Chair)
  • Heads of School
  • College Director of Education
  • College Director of Research


  • College Director of Graduate Research
  • College Director of Reserach & Knowledge Transfer
  • College Accountant
  • College Head of Human Resources
  • College Planning Partner
  • College Research Support Partner


COG (College Operations Group)

The College Operations Group are responsible for overseeing all decisions relating to professional services staff. The purpose of COG is to:

- Ensure senior Professional Services managers with College responsibility are aware of current issues raised at core College/University meetings

- To provide a forum for sharing best practice

- To support the development and maintenance of effective working relationships and shared understanding of roles and responsibilities with professional services colleagues from across the University

- To ensure senior Professional Services managers with College responsibility understand and effectively engage in development and implementation of plans/policies of common interest

- To consider operational management issues raised within and across Schools and College operational teams, which are of College wide interest, or relevance, and ensure effective resolution or action, as appropriate.

- To resolve College wide operational management issues



Professional Services