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Course overview

Zoology is ideal if you’re interested in biology but would like to focus on the scientific study of animals, from physiology to ecology and conservation.

This course, accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, is very flexible with the option to transfer between Life Science courses at the end of year one. It’s also possible to switch to an integrated master's course (MSci) from a BSc course, depending on your grades.

Practical learning and laboratory experience starts in term one, with opportunities for field work from year one onwards. Your lab skills will improve further in year three with a year long research project. This is a great opportunity to contribute to real research carried out in Life Sciences and will train you for a future research or industry career. Guidance is provided by a research-active supervisor and you may work alongside a research group in the University. Some students have even had their work published in scientific journals.

BSc or MSci?

MSci degrees are undergraduate-level courses which last for four years and have an integrated masters qualification. They are the equivalent to a bachelors degree plus a masters level qualification. These courses usually provide additional industry and/or research experience to enhance your future prospects. An MSci is excellent preparation for further study such as a PhD.

If you choose to study an MSci, your student loan will cover tuition fees and living costs for the additional year too (home/EU students only). If you are unsure on whether to choose an MSci or BSc, we recommend you choose the MSci to secure your funding. Transfer to the BSc is possible.

Find out more about MSci Zoology.

Why choose this course?

  • From studying praying mantis behaviour in the lab to field expeditions in the UK and abroad, our ever changing range of research projects give you the chance to hone your research skills in multiple environments
  • A diverse range of optional modules, allowing you to explore your interests or specialise
  • Laboratory and field experience begins in year one
  • The option to travel while you learn, through studying abroad or undertaking field courses in the UK and overseas
  • Be trained by tutors who are active in real world research, giving you the skills necessary for your future careers

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level offer AAB
IB score 34; 5/6 in biology and another science subject at Higher Level

A level

AAB including biology and a second science at A level. A pass is required in science practical tests, if assessed separately.

GCSE

GCSE English language and maths at grade 4 or above are also required.

Foundation progression options

Biology is one of the progression pathways for our Science with a Foundation Year course. Requirements for progression are:

Foundation Biological Science - 55%
Foundation Chemistry - 55%
Overall pass - 40%

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

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

Teaching methods

  • eLearning
  • Field courses
  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Practical classes
  • Problem-based learning
  • Seminars
  • Self-study
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

Assessment is a combination of the following types.

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

Assessment methods

  • Examinations
  • Dissertation
  • Lab reports
  • Presentation

Contact time and study hours

Approximately 18 hours of contact time per week split between tutorials, lectures and practicals, with 18 hours of self study.

You will be in a tutor group of no more than seven students and class sizes will vary per module.

Study abroad

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.

Year in industry

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.

Modules

In the first year, you will strengthen your understanding of the diverse biology of animals, plants and microbes and the underlying biochemical, evolutionary and genetic processes of life on Earth.

Optional modules allow you to explore an area of interest.

Core modules

Core Skills in Zoology

Through lectures, workshops and tutorials this module will enable you to develop core skills in scientific writing, data handling and analysis, experimental design and scientific presentations. This module is designed to develop your problem solving scientific skills. An important aspect of this module is the small-group tutorials which allow you to get to know the member of staff who will be your tutor for the duration of your studies.

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.
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 have to choose an additional 20 credits worth of modules, which can be done from selecting one further module from the four offered or by selecting a module of your choice from those offered outside the school.

Human Physiology
In this module, you will be introduced to the physiology of major systems such as cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal, 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.
Hallmarks of Cancer

A study of the ten fundamental processes that make cancers form, grow, invade and spread.

Causes and consequences of cancer

What is cancer, what causes cancer, and what happens when someone gets cancer, from detection, through diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

In this year, you can focus on your favourite areas of biology/zoology through a wider range of optional modules.

Themes include health and disease, pathogens and parasites, the nervous system, evolutionary origins, biodiversity, imaging techniques in a range of biological situations from wildlife photography to microscopy.

Core module

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

Students MUST take a minimum of 80 credits and a maximum of 100 credits from the modules below. At least 10 credits MUST be from either:

  • Evolutionary Biology of Animals
  • The Genome and Human Disease

Other modules include:

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

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.

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.
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. 
Infection and Immunity

You will study microbiology, learning about pathogenic microbes including viruses, fungi, parasites and the roles of bacteria in health and disease. You will learn how the body generates immunity; the causes of diseases associated with faulty immune responses will be considered. In applied microbiology you will be introduced to recombinant DNA technology and prokaryotic gene regulation.

Pharmacological 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.

Reproductive Physiology

In this module you’ll learn about the development, physiology and regulation of mammalian reproduction, the control of avian reproduction, and lactation. You’ll cover mammalian reproduction, including physiological control, cyclicity and reproductive efficiency. You’ll also consider avian physiology and reproduction in domestic fowl, with an emphasis on the nutritional and metabolic challenges associated with commercial rates of egg lay. Lactation will also be covered, where you’ll learn about the development of mammary tissue, the biochemistry of milk synthesis, the endocrine control of milk secretion, and the metabolic correlates of lactation in dairy ruminants. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions for experimental work and dissection.

Neurobiology of Disease

This module will teach you the underlying neurophysiology and pathology associated with several common CNS disorders and the neuropharmacology of currently available medication. You will learn about the neurotransmitters and pathways involved in normal brain function and how changes in these contribute to abnormal function. You will also decipher the pharmacological mechanisms of drugs used to treat these CNS disorders. You will cover numerous human diseases including those with great significance such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

A major part of the third year is the research project, which will allow you to carry out your own practical investigation in an area of zoology that interests you.

You will also choose advanced optional modules in areas you’ve developed an interest in.

Core modules

Zoology 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

You MUST choose a minimum of 30 credits and a maximum of 50 credits from:

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.
Biological Photography and Imaging II
Extend and develop your skills of creative and critical biological photography through this advanced module. 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.
Gene Regulation
Examines the mechanisms through which eukaryotic genes are expressed and regulated, with emphasis placed on recent research on transcriptional control in yeast and post-transcriptional control in eukaryotes. Studying this module will include having three hours of lectures per week.
Advanced Developmental Biology
You will consider the molecular mechanisms underlying stem cell function during embryogenesis and adulthood. This will involve studies of regeneration and repair of tissues and pluripotency. You will have one two-hour lecture per week in this module. 
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.
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.
Conservation Genetics
Consider 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.
Human Variation
Examines genetic variation in humans, including variation at the DNA level, and the study of human population history using genetic methods. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures studying this module.
Molecular Parasitiology
Immunity and the Immune System

This module provides an overview of the mechanisms and concepts underpinning the science of immunology and allergy.

And a minimum of 20 credits and a maximum of 40 credits from:

Conservation
Consider 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.
Molecular Evolution: Constructing the Tree of Life
Biological Challenges in the Tropics
Ageing, Sex and DNA Repair
Examine the molecular causes of the ageing and malignant transformations of somatic cells that are observed during a single lifespan, and gain an understanding of the necessity to maintain the genome intact from one generation to the next. Around three hours per week will be spent within lectures studying this module.
Cancer Biology
Examine a selection of acquired and inherited cancers, and develop an understanding of the role of the genes involved and how they can be analysed. To study for this module you will have a two- or three-hour lecture once per week.
Advanced Human Genetics
You will cover recent developments in the genetic approach to human disease, and will examine new findings in the study of disorders such as diabetes. If you choose this module you will spend around three hours per week within lectures, and there will be an eight hour seminar session.
Reproduction and Fertility

This module covers the advanced study of fertility regulation and manipulation in mammals. You’ll learn about the artificial control of reproductive cycles in the female and mechanisms involved in pregnancy recognition and maintenance. You’ll explore recent developments in reproductive technology and embryology as it applies to farm species, endangered species, and humans. You’ll have lectures and laboratory practical sessions to apply your learning.

The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

This additional year focuses on a year-long masters-level research project. A great introduction to postgraduate study, you’ll gain experience in writing a literature review and a research grant proposal. The extensive practical component involves collection and detailed analysis of completely novel data.

In an additional module, you’ll learn about research presentation skills including writing papers and preparing posters and webpages.

Advanced optional modules are available to complement your research or expose you to new ideas that will improve your scientific understanding.

Core Modules

Zoology Year 4 Research Project

The project is a year-long module. Preparatory work (literature review and familiarisation with laboratory/field safety protocols etc.) occurs in autumn, with the bulk of the practical work in spring.

You will choose the topic of your project from a list of suggestions relevant to your degree subject and will finalise this after consultation with your supervisor. The project involves an extensive piece of detailed research. Reading and collating earlier research by other scientists working in the area is an essential component. You will use your literature review to write a research grant proposal, which outlines the hypotheses to be tested, the proposed experimental design and the research costs associated with the project. The practical component involves collection of data from a laboratory or field investigation and appropriate analysis.

Your findings will be interpreted in the context of previous work, and written up in a clear and concise final report in the form of a research paper.

Research Presentation Skills
The module aims to provide students with a range of presentation and IT skills that are essential for modern biological researchers. The workshop content will provide a conceptual framework, while journal clubs and coursework will deliver the hands-on experience required to develop appropriate practical skills.
Research Planning and Preparation

This is a year-long module, but with most of the work being complete by the end of January. The module focuses on the preparing students to engage in substantial independent research in Life Sciences, and is supported by lecture content in Research Presentation Skills. Students choose a research topic from a list provided the previous academic year, and are allocated an individual research supervisor accordingly. In regular meetings, student and supervisor discuss relevant research literature and design a practical research project addressing a specific hypothesis. Assessment is via a substantial research proposal.

Optional modules

Cutting Edge Research Ideas in Molecular Biology
This module will bring you up to date with the latest technological developments in biochemistry that you are unlikely to have encountered in detail in your first three years. We also discuss and explore how new technologies with broad implications come into existence and follow the process of establishment, acceptance and dissemination through the scientific community. This module involves having a three hour workshop each week. 
Advanced Experimental Design and Analysis
This is an advanced level biological statistics module which builds on basic undergraduate training. Lectures discuss concepts in experimental design, biological probability, generalised linear modelling and multivariate statistics. Practical sessions build on this conceptual outline, giving you hands-on experience of problem solving and analytical software, and some basic programming skills. You will spend three to four hours within lectures and workshops when studying this module.
Process and Practice in Science
A consideration of science ‘as a process’, with brief introductions to the history, philosophy and sociological norms of science. You will cover aspects of the scientific literature and scientific communication, peer review, 'metrics’, including citation analysis, journal impact factors, and the 'h' and other indices of measuring scientists' performances. You will also cover ethics in science and the changing relationship between scientists, government and the public. You will have a three hour lecture once per week during this module.
The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. This prospectus may be updated over the duration of the course, as modules may change due to developments in the curriculum or in the research interests of staff.

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

Confirmed July 2020*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

EU tuition fees and funding options for courses starting in 2021/22 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses. You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies.

Optional Field Courses

We run field courses to Derbyshire and Portugal.  These are subsidised by the school, however the Derbyshire field course is expected to cost each student approx. £100, and the Portugal field course to cost each student approx. £250.

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 £1,000 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

We offer a range of Undergraduate Excellence Awards for high-achieving international and EU scholars from countries around the world, who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers. This includes our European Union Undergraduate Excellence Award for EU students and our UK International Undergraduate Excellence Award for international students based in the UK.

These scholarships cover a contribution towards tuition fees in the first year of your course. Candidates must apply for an undergraduate degree course and receive an offer before applying for scholarships. Check the links above for full scholarship details, application deadlines and how to apply.

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. Your final year project will have given you the freedom to pursue a specific research area of interest. The combined knowledge and skills gained from all years of your undergrad degree will prepare you for either further study or a career in many varied industries including:

  • Conservation and Zoos
  • Ecological Consultancy
  • Graduate Veterinary Programmes
  • Animal Care Sector
  • Teaching
  • Science Communications and Journalism
  • University Research
  • Wildlife Film-making and Photography
  • Scientific Governmental Agencies

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

Average starting salary and career progression

96.5% of undergraduates in the School of Life Sciences secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £20,000 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £41,600.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates who were available for employment, 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

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 consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Royal Society of Biology

This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers.The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

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Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

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.