Zoology BSc

   
   
  

Fact file - 2018 entry

Qualification
Zoology | BSc Hons
UCAS code
C300
Duration
3 years full-time
A level offer
AAB
Required subjects
Biology and a second science at A level, preferably from chemistry, physics or maths; geography and psychology are also accepted. A pass is required in science practical tests, if assessed separately. GCSE English language and maths at grade 4 or above are also required.
IB score
34 (5/6 in biology and one other science, in any order, at Higher Level)
Course location
University Park Campus and Medical School
Course places
35 (with MSci Zoology
School/department
 

Overview

Join a modern zoology degree which is enriched by cutting-edge research across disciplines ranging from animal behaviour, ecology and parasitology, to neurobiology and toxicology.
Read full overview

Highlights of zoology at Nottingham

  • expand your study through a wide choice of optional modules, including the unique Biological Photography and Imaging modules
  • get hands-on during field courses to Portugal and the Peak District, adding context to your learning
  • benefit from substantial laboratory experience from year one
  • travel while you learn, with opportunities to study abroad in your second year or for the third-year research project
  • work on real research alongside research groups within the school; some students even have work published   
 

Zoology is ideal if you have an interest in biology but would prefer to focus on animals.

You will explore an array of topics with a high degree of choice. If you find a particular area of zoology interesting, there is flexibility (through optional modules and research projects) to tailor the course to learn more about certain areas.

You will graduate with a breadth of knowledge that provides opportunities for a variety of careers in industry, government agencies or research.

Yearly overviews

Year one 

In the first year, you will find out more about the biology of animals, plants and microbes and the biochemical, evolutionary and genetic processes that underlie their biology.

You will explore the remarkable diversity of life on Earth, the role that animals and plants play in their environment and learn about the fundamental building blocks of life: genes, molecules and cells. You have the opportunity to learn about the workings of the human body and the ways that living processes in all organisms are regulated by the genome.

The experimental approach forms a key component to the year, with courses teaching practical skills and the principles of experimental design and analysis. Key transferable skills encountered this year include the use of learning resources, essay writing and oral presentations. 

Year two

In this year, you will be able to focus on your favourite areas of zoology, with a high degree of choice.

One major theme of modules this year is health and disease in humans and other animals. You can learn about the genetic and developmental basis of disease, the fundamental biology of pathogens and parasites, and what happens when the nervous system doesn’t work properly.

Another major theme is the evolutionary origins and ecological consequences of biodiversity – something you might explore in the wild on one of our field courses.

Alternatively, you might take our unique Biological Photography and Imaging module, where you will learn how to capture images in a range of biological situations, from wildlife photography to microscopy.

Transferable skills that we focus on in year two include researching the primary scientific literature and writing according to the rules of scientific convention. This culminates in you writing an extended essay on a topic of your choosing. 

Year three

The main theme of the third year is diversity, and in addition to a compulsory module in science and society you will be able to choose from a wide range of advanced modules to enhance your learning in areas such as neurobiology, genetics, ecology, animal behaviour, conservation, aquatic biology, immunology and developmental biology.

All your learning in previous years culminates in a major practical research project, which allows you to carry out your own biological investigation in a topic area that interests you, either in the laboratory or the field. 

See what third year students George and Georgina
say about their projects.

 

Learning and assessment

Teaching methods

You will learn through a variety of methods depending on the module. This may include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • laboratory classes
  • workshops
  • residential field courses
  • tutorials

Assessment methods 

Assessment is a combination of:

  • exams
  • dissertations
  • laboratory reports
  • presentations 

Exams happen twice a year at the end of each semester. 

Find out more about our teaching on our school website.

 
Study abroad and placements

We offer the chance to study abroad at an approved partner university through the Universitas 21 programme. This is an exciting opportunity to gain a global perspective of science, boost your communication skills, and to discover a new culture.

There is also the possibility to gain valuable work experience with an optional placement year. Placements are a great opportunity to see what the sector you want to go into is like, try out specific job roles, and to gain the skills that employers want.

Please note that placements have to be organised by the student and approved by the school. The University's Careers and Employability Service can provide advice on how to find and apply for a placement. 

Information on fees for a placement or study abroad year can be found on the fees website.

 

Student support

All students have a personal tutor. Personal tutors are members of academic staff in the school and they will:
  • monitor your academic progress and check on your wellbeing
  • provide exam marks and help you reflect on feedback
  • act as a first point of contact for any guidance on academic or personal matters

At Nottingham we still offer small group tutorials of around six students. This ensures you have enough time to build a relationship with your tutor and benefit from their support. Your fellow tutees also provide peer support. 

Additionally, the school has a dedicated Welfare Officer and a Student Liaison Officer who are available to help you adapt to university life and provide advice on more complex issues.  

Peer mentoring

BioSoc is the student-led biology, genetics and zoology society. Alongside organising social, sporting and networking events, BioSoc provide peer mentoring. You will be matched with a senior student who can offer help and support and introduce you to the rest of what the society offers. 

 

Mature applicants

We encourage applications from mature applicants. You should apply in the normal way through UCAS. There is various support available to you including peer mentoring and the Mature Students’ Network which organises social events throughout the year. Find out more on our mature students website.
 

International applicants

We welcome applications from international applicants. The University provides dedicated advice and support throughout your application and preparation for coming to the UK.

Please see the entry requirements tab for English language requirements.

If you are unable to attend an open day, we can meet you in your country at one of our overseas events or arrange an individual visit to the University

 
Student profile video
 

 

 

Entry requirements

A levels: AAB, including biology and a second science at A level, preferably from chemistry, physics or maths; geography and psychology are also accepted. A pass is required in science practical tests, if assessed separately. GCSE English language and maths at grade 4 or above are also required.

Understand how we show GCSE grades

 

English language requirements 

IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE), which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English. Successful students can progress onto their chosen degree course without taking IELTS again.

Alternative qualifications 

For details please see the alternative qualifications page

Science Foundation Certificate

International students only

International students (non-EU) who do not have the required qualifications or grades to go directly onto an undergraduate degree course, may be interested in the Science Foundation Certificate delivered through The University of Nottingham International College. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met. 

Science with Foundation Year

Home, EU and international students

If you have achieved high grades in your A levels (or equivalent qualifications) but do not meet the current subject entry requirements for direct entry to your chosen undergraduate course, you may be interested in our one year science foundation programme. Applicants must also demonstrate good grades in previous relevant science subjects to apply. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met.  

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  
 

Modules

Typical year one module

Genes, Molecules and Cells
This module combines lectures and laboratory classes and introduces you to the structure and function of significant molecules in cells, and the important metabolic processes which occur inside them. You will study, amongst other topics, protein and enzyme structure and function, the biosynthesis of cell components, and the role of cell membranes in barrier and transport processes. You'll examine how information in DNA is used to determine the structure of gene products. Topics include DNA structure, transcription and translation and mutation and recombinant DNA technology.
 
Core Skills in Zoology
This module focusses on developing the core skills needed by zoologists in scientific writing, data handling and analysis, experimental design and scientific presentations. Alongside lectures and workshops, small-group tutorials are an important component of this module. In these tutorials, you get to know the member of staff who will be your tutor for the duration of your studies, discuss scientific topics relevant to your degree, and practice key skills such as essay-writing and data-handling.
 
Life on Earth
Life on Earth provides an introduction to the fundamental characteristics and properties of the myriad of organisms which inhabit our planet, from viruses, bacteria and Archaea, to plants and animals. In weekly lectures, and regular laboratory practical classes, you will consider how living organisms are classified, how they are related genetically and phylogenetically, and basic aspects of their structure and function.
 
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.
 


Optional modules:

You also choose one optional module from the School of Life Sciences or from other schools in the University. Options from within the School of Life Sciences are as follows:

Human Physiology
In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of the major systems eg cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, mostly in man, including some aspects of drug action. This module will allow you to understand your biochemical and genetics knowledge in the context of the intact organism. This module includes lectures and laboratory classes.
 
Fundamentals of Neuroscience
This module will give you a good grounding in the basic principles of the nervous system of humans and other animals. Topics will include neuroanatomy, cellular neuroscience, neuropharmacology, sensory systems, neuroendocrinology, memory, behavioural neuroscience and diseases of the nervous system. These will be delivered through weekly lectures and practical classes.
 
 

Typical year two modules

Higher Skills in the Biological Sciences
You will gain confidence and skills in using the biological literature. Your knowledge of statistical methods will be reinforced and developed, and, through designing your own experiments, you will learn to build statistical principles into their experimental methodologies. Through writing a dissertation, you will learn to collate information from multiple sources, and describe a field clearly and concisely, revealing the state of present knowledge and prospects for future developments.
 


Optional modules:

Behavioural Ecology Field Course

This is a residential field course in Portugal based on research projects in animal behaviour, ecology and parasitology, carried out in small groups. You’ll stay at a purpose-built field centre in beautiful countryside outside Lisbon. Typical projects involve finding out why birds carry feather mites, how honeybees choose where to forage, and why frogs make so much noise in the mating season. This module takes place over 15 days in the Easter vacation.

 
Biodiversity Field Course

This seven day residential field course module is based in the English Peak District. The module aims to introduce students to practical techniques in field biology and data presentation and analysis against a background of awareness of the variation in British habitat types. You will be encouraged to use self-collected data to learn about basic concepts in ecology and conservation such as species-area relationships, the measurement of richness and diversity and the design of reserve networks.

 
Ecology

You will learn about the forces determining the distribution and abundance of species and be able to use models to predict the dynamics of populations under a range of conditions. You will recognise how interactions between species can drive co-evolutionary processes leading to an understanding of the organisation of natural systems working systematically from populations through to communities, ecosystems and biogeographical scales.

 
Animal Behaviour and Physiology

This module will provide you with a comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development through learning and its adaptive significance in the natural environment. Through practical classes, you will learn about the physiological basis of fundamental behaviours. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, you will learn how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do.

 
Bacterial Genes and Development
Molecular events that occur during the control of gene expression in bacteria will be described. You'll learn by considering case studies, which will show you how complex programmes of gene action can occur in response to environmental stimuli. You will also study the regulation of genes in pathogenic bacteria.
 
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
Introduces key evolutionary concepts and their application in the animal kingdom. Areas you will study include the history of evolutionary thinking, natural selection versus the neutral theory, sexual selection and human evolution. 
 
Building Brains

Studying this module, you'll be able to explain how the nervous system develops, is organised, and processes information. This will be achieved through presentation of comparative invertebrate and vertebrate studies, consideration of evolutionary concepts, and a detailed analysis of the development, structure, and function of the mammalian brain. The lecture sessions are complemented by workshops on Drosophila and chick embryo development, on the neuroanatomy of the human spinal cord, and dissection of pig brains subject to the availability of tissue.

 
Biological Photography and Imaging I
Through practical sessions, you will learn the techniques of biological image production and manipulation, including the ability to generate biological images of the highest technical quality and scientific value. You will build an understanding of the principles behind photography and how to get the most out of state of the art photographic and imaging equipment.
 
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
Introduces key evolutionary concepts and their application in the animal kingdom. Areas you will study include the history of evolutionary thinking, natural selection versus the neutral theory, sexual selection and human evolution. 
 
Molecular Imaging

This module enables you to develop an elementary understanding of modern molecular imaging techniques, in addition to a historical overview of microscopy. You will acquire theoretical and practical knowledge of how to localise and analyse macromolecule behaviours in fixed and living cells.

 
Neurons and Glia

This module will provide you with an understanding of the mechanisms behind electrical conduction in neurones. You will learn about the generation of the membrane potential and its essential role in signaling within the nervous system. You will develop an appreciation of the role of ion channels in the generation of trans-membrane currents and how myelin can accelerate signal conduction. You will also learn about the important supporting roles that astrocytes and glial cells play in the nervous system in order to ensure its efficient functioning.

 
Developmental Biology
Examines the basic concepts of vertebrate embryonic development. You will discuss specific topics including germ cells, blood and muscle cell differentiation, left-right asymmetry and miRNAs. The teaching for this module is delivered through lectures. 
 
From Genotype to Phenotype and Back
This module studies transporters and channels, groups of proteins responsible for controlling the flow of substances across lipid bilayers that are critical for cellular homeostasis. You will learn the basics of transporter and channel biology, and then apply this knowledge to design virtual experiments, the simulated results of which would gradually reveal the molecular basis of a transporter or channel related disease. You will design a series of “virtual experiments”, with appropriate controls, in order to probe the function of a particular gene in a physiological condition.
 
Macromolecular Systems: Structure and Interactions

This module covers various aspects of macromolecular structure of biological molecules including proteins and DNA and how these molecules interact in cells. You will learn about the biotechnological applications of these macromolecules and their interactions, and the methods that are available to study them.

 
Infection and Immunity

In this module you will study basic immunology, learning about the organs, cells and molecules of the immune system and the mechanisms engaged in the generation an of immune response to pathogens. You will learn by studying examples of types of human pathogens (viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoa and helminths), the varied nature of the immune response, depending on the pathogen, its niche(s) in the host and pathogen strategies for invading and surviving in the host. You will learn how immunological methods can be effectively utilized for disease diagnosis and vaccine development, and about the consequences of failure of normal immune function, including autoimmunity and hypersensitivity.

 
Microbial Biotechnology

You'll cover the key groups of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms relevant to microbial biotechnology, principles of GM, and strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. The impact of “omics”, systems biology, synthetic biology and effects of stress on industrial microorganisms are explored, alongside the activities of key microorganisms that we exploit for biotechnology.

 
Structure, Function and Analysis of Genes

This module will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the structures of DNA and RNA and how the information within these nucleic acids is maintained and expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell types. Additionally, this module describes how nucleic acids can be manipulated in vitro using molecular biological approaches. Practical classes will focus your learning on the cloning and manipulation of DNA to express recombinant proteins in bacterial systems.

 
Structure, Function and Analysis of Proteins

This module considers the structure and function of soluble proteins and how individual proteins can be studied in molecular detail. More specifically you will learn about the problems associated with studying membrane-bound proteins and build an in-depth understanding of enzyme kinetics and catalysis. You will learn about the practical aspects of affinity purification, SDS PAGE, western blotting, enzyme assays, bioinformatics and molecular modelling approaches.

 
The Green Planet
This module explores the evolution of key plant systems through deep time, and the significance of this process for understanding modern ecology and food security. You will learn about the challenges that plants faced when moving onto land and evolutionary innovations within the early spermatophytes. You will also gain an understanding of the power of natural selection in producing plant diversity over deep time.
 
Signalling and Metabolic Regulation
This module will explain the main signalling mechanisms that take place in eukaryotic cells. You will learn about the main signalling mechanisms and pathways which can control protein levels, activity and intra-cellular site of action. This knowledge will then be placed in the context of the regulation of major metabolic pathways, such that you will understand the factors influencing metabolic control, and dysregulation leading to major modern diseases like type II diabetes and heart disease.
 
The Genome and Human Disease
In this module you will learn about the structure and function of the eukaryotic genome, including that of humans, and the approaches that have led to their understanding. You will learn about techniques that are employed to manipulate genes and genomes and how they can be applied to the field of medical genetics. By using specific disease examples you will learn about the different type of DNA mutation that can lead to disease and how they have been identified. Practical elements will teach you about basic techniques used in medical genetics such as sub-cloning of DNA fragments into expression vectors.
 
Pharmcological Basis of Therapeutics

This module will provide an in-depth analysis of drug action, and its application to the design and use of current therapeutics. You will learn to define what drugs are, the different ways they act at the cellular and molecular level, and the pharmacokinetic principles underlying drug absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. You will explore examples in cardiovascular and respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity, CNS disorders, cancer and infectious disease. Overall, you will develop a deep understanding of what the discipline of pharmacology represents, and its application to both basic biological research and current and future medical advances.

 

 

 

Typical year three modules

Research Project
The project is a year-long level three module. You will undertake detailed research on a chosen topic after discussion with a supervisor. Each project will involve collection of data by means such as experiment, questionnaire or observation, as well as the analysis and interpretation of the data in the context of previous work.
 
Science and Society
This module will explore the interactions between science and society through a series of lectures, discussion groups and workshops. Topics that will be explored include the ethical parameters that govern how scientific work is constrained, ways in which scientific discoveries can/should be disseminated to the wider community, the wider responsibilities that follow the acquisition of new knowledge and the concept of ‘citizen science’, where science takes place outside the traditional academic centres of work. This mode consists of a three-hour lecture incorporating discussion groups once per week.
 


Optional modules:

Biological Photography and Imaging II
Extends and develops your skills of creative and critical biological photography. You will continue to develop the practice and experience gained in Biological Photography and Imaging 1. You are encouraged to demonstrate increasing expertise in selected subject areas and/or specialist photographic techniques such as digital imaging and manipulation (using Photoshop software), digital video photography and editing, ecological and environmental photography, landscapes, macro and long lens photography and specialist lighting. Field and studio work continue to be essential elements of the module. You will have around three hours of lectures per week studying this module.
 
Evolution and Behaviour
A series of student-driven assignments, discussion groups and problem-solving workshops on evolutionary biology, with an emphasis on behaviour. You will consider topics such as adaptation, sex and evolution, kinship theory, communication, and human behavioural ecology. There are four hours of lectures and workshops each week in this module.
 
Evolutionary Ecology
Considers current knowledge of, and research into, the ecological causes and evolutionary processes that govern natural selection, adaptation and microevolution in natural populations. You will examine three approaches to the study of evolutionary ecology: theoretical and optimality models; the comparative method; and direct measurement of natural selection in the wild. You will have two-to three hours of lectures each week in this module.
 
Conservation Genetics
Considers the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially relating to the conservation of endangered species. You will study topics including genetic drift and inbreeding in depth, from theoretical and practical standpoints. You will spend around one and a half hours per week in lectures studying this module, plus a two and a half hour computer practical.
 
Pathogens
This module gives a detailed understanding of the genetics and biochemistry behind the properties of parasites and microorganisms that cause major human diseases in the present day. You will have a three-hour lecture once per week for this module.
 
Parasite Immunology

Considers immunological interactions between parasites and their hosts. Initially the mechanisms involved and the consequences of host responses/resistance to infection are reviewed across diverse taxa of parasitic organisms. You will discuss the strategies evolved by parasites to enable survival in the face of host immunity in some depth. You will spend around three-hours per week in lectures studying this module.

 
Conservation
Considers a range of approaches to conservation biology, such as the measurement and monitoring of biodiversity, and the legal frameworks and management strategies that exist to protect it. You will discuss particular threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss and invasive species. You will spend around four hours per week in lectures and have four three-hour practicals to study for this module.
 
Population Genetics 
You will consider the history and practice of population genetics research, with a focus on a quantitative approach to the subject, with training in problem-solving skills. You will spend around two hours within lectures per week studying this module, plus a two-hour computer practical.
 
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Considers ion channels at the molecular level, with topics including the structure and function of different ion channel groups and their modulation by drugs, pesticides and natural toxins. You will also consider the synthesis and transport of neurotransmitters and the formation and release of synaptic vesicles. This module involves one three hour session per week incorporating eight lectures and two practical sessions.
 
Aquatic Biology in a Changing Environment
The module will consider current knowledge of, and research into, organismal structure and function in aquatic environments, and the attributes of aquatic ecosystems, in the context of global environmental change. Three types of aquatic systems will be covered by the module: marine, estuarine and freshwater systems. The focus will be on physiological adaptations to the aquatic environment, and ecological structure of aquatic communities, as well as the impacts of anthropogenic disturbances and climate impacts. The module is delivered by a three-hour lecture once a week.
 
 

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

 
 

Careers

You will have a broad understanding of the biology of animals, at both the organismal and the molecular level, and will have had the opportunity to focus on your particular areas of interest.

You will have acquired scientific, analytical and communication skills, and gained experience of a practical zoological investigation. 

Find out more about the career options open to zoology graduates, including recent Nottingham graduate destinations by visiting our careers website.

Average starting salary 

In 2016, 92% of undergraduates in the school secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,037 with the highest being £42,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates, 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

 

Careers Support and Advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.

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Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 40 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.

 
 
 

Key Information Sets (KIS)

 

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

 

How to use the data

Disclaimer
This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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