Division of Health Sciences

Make a difference to health and well-being.

About us

We combine academic and practice-based learning, plus on-site work with the NHS, the voluntary and private sectors. This means you gain valuable real-life work experience while you study, helping you become a competent and highly skilled professional.

All our courses are accredited so you can become a registered Mental Health Nurse or Counsellor. Or you might decide to follow an employment path that leads to research or training.

Our degree in Biomedical Science trains you in practical biology for medical uses. Potential careers paths include microbiology, biotechnology or clinical biochemistry.

An IBMS accredited Biomedical Science degree sets you up as a trainee biomedical scientist in the NHS. As well as being accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS), the course is also approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

We have a strong focus on practical expertise, with hand-on experience inside and outside the lab. You will be encouraged to take placements in industry, and where available, supervised work experience. This prepares you for a career in medical research.

We aim to give you the skills and talents you need to meet the high standards in these competitive fields.

Head of Division

Professor Chris Gwenin

Professor Christopher Gwenin

Study with us

Undergraduate Degrees

BSc (Hons) Nursing (Mental Health Nursing) 

BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science (Applied and Non-Applied routes)

BSc (Hons) Psychology and Counselling (Joint Degree)

We also offer Continuing Professional Development for practitioners through our Open Minds programme.

Postgraduate Taught Degrees

MSc Counselling

MSci Biomedical Science

We also offer Continuing Professional Development for practitioners through our Open Minds programme.

Postgraduate Research Areas

Please see below for our areas of research focus in this Division.

Or, if you are looking for something specific, check the full list of university-wide research opportunities here.


The Counselling and Interpersonal Skills Suite helps us teach our students interpersonal skills and therapeutic interventions.  This area is designed as a therapeutic clinical environment, with comfortably furnished private rooms, a larger meeting space, and a central waiting area.  It is is used by undergraduate and post-graduate students, and provides a confidential and natural environment for practice.  We also use the suite for the assessments of skills, and therapy methods such as CBT. 

On non-teaching days the rooms are used by the Tayside Centre for Counselling, a research clinic which provides student placements and counselling to the local community.  We also use the rooms for research projects including Counselling for Sight-loss.

The Clinical Skills Suite has been created to mimic the healthcare environment, and is set up to allow students to learn core nursing skills and practices on campus.  It provides opportunities for students to learn a range of practical skills for example, basic life support, vital signs (blood pressure, temperature, and pulse), the management of sensory impairments, aseptic technique, and administration of medication.

The Biomedical Science Labs are perfect for carrying out experiments. They feature two labs designed specifically for teaching our biomedical and forensic science students. Both labs are equipped with state-of-the-art features, including controllable and fixed cameras, independent monitors, and 15 IT display screens, which are use to display teaching material, experiments and video clips.

Hospital environment - patient lying in bed and 4 Nursing staff standing around the bed

Our Research

The Division of Health Sciences is situated within the School of Applied Sciences. 

Our research contributes to the Health and Care across the Lifespan and Sustainable Development & Inclusive Living Challenge Spaces. Our unifying focus is to inform the development and refinement of practice engagement through the allied health research we conduct.

Our Mental Health Nursing and Counselling researchers respond to the growing needs within society concerning challenges to mental health and wellbeing, and the provision of mental health care. Much of our research focusses on preparing professionals for practice through, for example, the creation of Pluralistic approaches to mental health care and the application of these to particular service-user and client groups.

Our Biomedical Sciences staff take a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach to better understand and respond to the biology of health and disease. We focus on reproductive health, cancer biology, antimicrobial resistance, pharmacology and bioethics.

Mental Health

Our research in mental health and counselling focuses on the development and delivery of effective interventions and support for people experiencing challenge, and the interplay between physical and mental health. Our research is community- and practice-based, supported by  our on-site The Tayside Centre for Counselling that provides a venue for large-scale data collection as well as providing research-oriented counselling services to the local community and taking referrals from NHS GP services, clinics, and hospital units. The clinic hosts projects examining the role of emotional and psychological support for long-term health conditions, and the evaluation of Pluralistic Counselling. The clinic is part of a UK-wide BACP-supported Research and Training Consortium, involving other similar University hosted clinics and has strong alliances with external partners, enabling development of research into interventions used in mental health support. The clinic also provides a number of post-graduate students with opportunities for practice placement.


Our mental health nursing research centres on the reporting of Cause for Concern in healthcare settings, the evaluation and management of risk in mental health contexts, the disparity between management of self-harm and the experiences of those who experience self-harming behaviour, and the use and effectiveness of interventions for people living with dementia.  External collaborations have included those with NHS Fife on the skills and training required for helping people living with Borderline Personality Disorder, and the creation of a recovery assessment tool for use by service-users, the Individual Recovery Outcomes Counter (I.ROC) with Penumbra. Our research approach has focussed on the use of advanced qualitative methodologies such as auto-ethnography and the Quasi-judicial and Ward Method of complex case-study data analysis.  We also collectively engage in a number of systematic reviews of Mental Health Nursing practice to provide a landscape of the evidence base for the profession.

Biology of Health and Disease

We focus on cancer systems biology and reproductive health research in collaboration with partner Universities and stakeholders such as the NHS. Our cancer systems biology combines experimental data streams and theoretical modelling to characterise cell signalling network responses to therapeutic interventions and oxidative stress and have developed a statistical model of patient survival based on the spatial distribution of cells in patient tissue. Drawing on our expertise in electrophysiology, we have extended our focus to reproductive health and IVF failure in particular. We have elucidated one of the causes of IVF failure, resulting in a spin-out company developing routine standardised screening tests that can inform clinical decisions, fast track patients to alternative treatments and reduce IVF treatment failure. We collaborate with our Engineering and Food Science colleagues to engage in work on molecular and comparative physiology and nutritional health, including links to environmental and public health

Practice Engagement

We explore the engagement with, and experiences of, healthcare practice. We have shown the value of person-centred care, where contextualising care in a person’s situation is of particular importance, and interpersonal and complex trauma, relational and person-centredness are key. Our approach is typically based on detailed assessment of individual experiences (e.g., in-patient treatment for anorexia; how students with vision impairment experience inclusion and support in schools, experiences of harmful therapy). In population-based research on healthcare communication, we have assessed patient communication with practitioners in relation to symptoms indicative of cancer as a pathway to improve healthcare messaging and devised a taxonomy of explanations to aid healthcare practitioners in their care of patients with persistent physical symptoms. We have also explored broader perspectives in practice engagement, including the profiling of patient demand on the healthcare system and ethical aspects of healthcare, e.g., genetic modification of the human germline to improve health. We have extended our collaborative approach with our Psychology colleagues, combining our expertise in communication-based interventions and behavioural analyses, to examine the role of quantitative methods to characterise behaviour and enhance the quality of practitioner interventions.

Comparative physiology and nutritional health

We investigate the underlying molecular biology and physiology of fat deposition in common and grey seals, which can also serve as a model for human obesity and diabetes, as well as the impacts of environmental stressors, such as pollution on wild animals which can inform likely impacts on human metabolic health through dietary exposure and change. In collaboration with Food Science, and Sport and Exercise Science colleagues we are also interested in antioxidants and understanding the mechanisms through which food and physical activity interact and affect metabolic and cardiovascular health.

Applied and environmental microbiology

We use soil and plant-associated communities and model bacterial species to investigate the evolutionary ecology of biofilm-formation in experimental microcosms to better understand adaptation to natural and managed environments. We are also interested in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in wild seal populations and the links this has with environmental and public health. The research group, led by Professor Graeme Walker, comprises PhD students co-supervised by colleagues from Abertay’s Divisions of Engineering & Food Science, Health Sciences and Psychology and Forensic Science.

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