School of Biological and Marine Sciences

BSc (Hons) Zoology

Zoology is the science of animals and you will study the whole diversity of animal life, from tardigrades to elephants. You'll gain in-depth knowledge of how animals work, develop key lab skills in molecular biology, physiology, and cell biology that are sought after by employers and build fieldwork skills on two residential field trips.You'll also gain the expertise and skills to be a professional zoologist and work across a diverse range of professions or go on to further study.

The pink feather colour of Flamingos is due to carotenoids they obtain through crustaceans and Cyanobacteria in their diet. The pigments in the diet are protein bound and blue/green but turn pink when dissolved in lipid. The same effect occurs between raw and cooked lobsters and shrimps.

Key features

  • Study the biology of animals in marine, terrestrial and freshwater aquatic habitats. A spectacular range of these habitats are right on our doorstep.
  • Gain a strong foundation in theoretical aspects of ecology, physiology, anatomy, behaviour, evolution and genetics.
  • Develop high-level laboratory skills across animal biology in a wide range of taxa and habitats and gain key transferrable skills that are sought after by employers.
  • Undertake in-depth field studies of animals, including residential courses in the UK and abroad that develop field techniques and familiarity with a wide range of ecosystems and fauna.
  • Undertake self-study throughout your course, using our well-equipped library and range of online scientific journals, as well as LABPlus, our unique laboratory and resource centre designed for science and engineering students.
  • Have the opportunity to boost your employability by taking a placement year between your second and final years of study, working in the industry, anywhere in the world - you can read more about this in the 'course details' section of this page.
  • Take an extended personal research project on a range of topics, often linked to ongoing staff research, in your final year.
  • Benefit from our strong links with external organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts, the Natural History Museums in London and Plymouth, the National Marine Aquarium, the Field Studies Council, Whitley Wildlife Trust, the Donkey Sanctuary, Dartmoor National Park.
  • Explore a range of contemporary issues in zoology.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you'll learn the core skills and fundamental science required to be able to study Zoology. Study evolution, behaviour, physiology, microbiology and ecology, whilst developing your skills in experimental design and interpretation. Understand the importance of statistical analyses in scientific studies. You'll gain these skills and through a mix of lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals. You'll also undertake a field trip to Slapton Ley in South Devon to study the ecology and behaviour of organisms in the wild and in an agricultural setting. 

    Core modules
    • BIOL129Z Professional Development in Biological Sciences 1

      Skills in fieldwork, e.g. in identification, or in the laboratory, e.g. in liquid handling, are an important aspect of any biology degree, and can contribute to the employability of graduates. The purpose of this module is to track the progressive acquisition of a range of basic field, laboratory and transferable skills of relevance to each degree programme, and delivered in the other Level 4 modules.

    • BIOL131Z Cells: The Building Blocks of Life

      The cell is the basic building block of life. This module introduces you to the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and the cell biology that allow different cells to do different things including some highly specialised cells of multicellular organisms. The module will then focus on the molecular basis that underlies cell function introducing you to the metabolic pathways and molecules that allow cells to work.

    • BIOL132Z Ecology and the Diversity of Life

      This module introduces the fundamental principles of ecology and the diversity of life. It examines patterns of life on Earth, past and present, and how an understanding of these supports efforts to conserve biodiversity and manage resources sustainably. The module also provides an overview of the domains of life on Earth, introducing the remarkable variety of organisms with which we share the planet.

    • BIOL133Z Principles of Physiology

      This module is an introduction to the fundamental principles of comparative physiology, and the structure and function of the body systems of plants and fungi as well as animals. The module also introduces the concept of environmental physiology, how organisms respond to their environment.

    • BIOL136Z Behaviour and Ecology Field Biology

      This module provides an introduction to basic natural history, including identification of key groups of plants and animals. It allows students to explore how the environment can impact animal behaviour, distribution and welfare. The module introduces learners to the systematic collection of scientific data in the field, and apply their knowledge to the design of a field research study.

    • BIOL137Z Introduction to Zoology

      In this module you will be introduced to the subject of zoology, learning fundamental skills you will use throughout your degree, and developing subject-specific knowledge as you start your journey to becoming a zoologist. We will cover data and information gathering, data handling and analysis, and data evaluation and presentation. Much of the module will be based in the field and lab, providing you with the data you will use for subsequent analysis and presentation.

    • MBIO161Z Evolution and Behaviour

      Covers the principles underpinning evolution with a special focus on animal behaviour as adaptive traits. Module covers concepts of the genetic basis of inheritance, population genetics, selection, adaptation, function, fitness and speciation. We will use key examples and practical classes to illustrate key ideas and consider the development of some of the ideas in a historical context.

  • Year 2
  • You'll develop a deeper understanding of animal behaviour, comparative zoology, ecophysiology, phylogeny and scientific investigation skills. You'll also tailor your skills ready for the workplace, by specialising through optional modules in conservation biology or the biology of marine organisms from algae to cetaceans. During an overseas field course you'll investigate a wide range of ecosystems and species using field and laboratory investigations, putting concepts covered in modules into context and developing your practical and transferable skills.

    Core modules
    • BIOL205Z Animal Behaviour

      The module addresses why animals behave in a particular way and the methodology involved in studying them. This involves understanding the causation, development, function and evolution of behaviour. We will also discuss how this knowledge might be applied in practical situations.

    • BIOL225Z Professional Development in Biological Sciences 2

      Skills in fieldwork or in the laboratory, as well as other transferable skills, e.g. in data handling, are an important aspect of any biology degree, and can contribute to the employability of graduates. The purpose of this module is to track the continued acquisition of a range of field, laboratory and transferable skills of relevance to each degree programme, and delivered in the other Level 5 modules.

    • BIOL226Z Animal Ecophysiology

      We will investigate the life history and associated normal physiological processes in animals and examine how the environment, including pathogens, affect development, survival and reproduction of animals.

    • BIOL230Z Zoology Field Course

      On this residential field course, and in associated lectures and workshops, students will learn to collect field data in a safe, rigorous and meticulous manner. Students will learn how to design appropriate field experiments, observational techniques, animal and plant identification and taxonomy, data recording and analysis, interpretation of data, and report writing.

    • BIOL231Z Methods in Zoology

      Using a range of activities and data sets relevant to the zoology discipline, this module will equip students to perform laboratory and field studies by applying appropriate methods and with regard to safety and risk assessment where appropriate. The students will also continue to develop skills in experimental design, numeracy, and statistical analysis.

    • BIOL232Z Comparative Zoology

      This module will immerse students in traditional comparative zoology, developing a deep understanding of the morphology, development, and taxonomy of a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate groups. Students will focus on the evolution of definitive morphological and physiological features within each group, including examples from both extant and extinct taxa.

    Optional modules
    • BIOL204Z Principles of Conservation Biology

      Successful conservation is dependent on a thorough grasp of fundamental biological principles. The conceptual aspects of population, molecular, & evolutionary ecology which are central to understanding the dynamics of, and future threats to, extant populations of organisms are reviewed.

    • MBIO228Z Biology of Marine Organisms

      This module will provide an introduction to fundamental aspects of the biology of marine organisms. Particular attention is paid to the diversity of form and function within key groups of marine chloroxygenic organisms and animals and how this allows them to inhabit different marine environments.

  • Optional placement year
  • Core modules
    • APIE303 Biology:Placement

      All students on our degrees have the option of undertaking a (minimum of 6 month) work placement at a company or university anywhere in the world undertaking some kind of work (usually research-based) relating to their programme of study.

  • Final year
  • Your personal research project forms a major part of your final year. Alongside this, you’ll build on advanced skills and concepts in biological disciplines as well as considering speciation and the diversity of life. You’ll select modules from a range of options including behavioural ecology, global change biology, conservation physiology, fish and fisheries and animal welfare which will allow you to tailor your studies and prepare you as a zoologist ready to move onto the workplace or further study.

    Core modules
    • BIOL307Z Advanced Skills and Concepts

      Students will select from a catalogue of short, intensive courses relating to biology, developing skills and concepts to an advanced level. The courses offered will be focused on developing the students' skills sets and career aspirations, enhancing student employability.

    • BIOL315Z Personal Research

      The largest component of the module comprises a research study element that incorporates the design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data. Other elements include a conduct of study component and a communicating science element. Students will also complete a comprehensive introduction to the research report that incorporates a brief literature review of the topic that addresses wider issues of relevance to their field of research study.

    • MBIO324Z Speciation and Diversity

      This module deals with the nature, generation and significance of biological diversity through a discussion of recent species concepts and mechanisms of speciation in a range of organisms, with emphasis on the evolutionary processes at work. This is followed by an investigation of the nature and significance of biological diversity; how it is assessed, and how it is distributed.

    Optional modules
    • BIOL310Z Global Change Biology

      This module provides the student with an in-depth overview of the likely consequences of climate change for plant and animal species biology and distribution over the coming century. From this starting point we will show how an understanding of climate change biology is vital for conservation theory and practice over coming decades.

    • BIOL313Z Animal Welfare and Ethics

      The scientific meaning of animal welfare and the way that it can be assessed in terms of the physiology, behaviour and immunology of the animal will be examined in detail. The impact of public perception of animal welfare on the management of animals by humans in a variety of contexts will be discussed.

    • MBIO317Z Behavioural Ecology

      This module examines the theory underpinning key conceptual models in behavioural ecology (e.g. optimal foraging, ideal free distribution, game theory). These models will be critically discussed in relation to empirical studies.

    • MBIO363Z Fish and Fisheries

      This module explores the biology of fishes and its application to the science of fisheries management. There is a focus on seminal works and recent advances in the primary literature.

    • MBIO364Z Conservation Physiology

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Zoology programme specification 6698

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

120- 128

UCAS tariff 

120 - 128

To include A level Biology at grade B and a second relevant subject (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Environmental Science or Environmental Studies, Applied Science, Marine Science, Psychology, Science in Society, Use of Maths) at grade C.

For candidates that do not have a second science subject at A level, please contact: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma/RQF National Extended Diploma in Applied Science or Animal Managment: 128-144 points (DDM-DDD) - note that this is subject to the exact modules you have studied - please contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk, stating explicitly the full list of modules within your qualification.

International Baccalaureate 30 diploma points overall, to include 5 diploma points in Biology (Higher Level) plus 5 diploma points in second science at Higher Level. English and Mathematics must be included.

Access To Higher Education Science-based diplomas, 33 credits in science-based units at merit including a minimum of 12 credits in biology units.
We would usually expect GCSE English and Mathematics at grade C / 4, or equivalent.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

English language requirements

For candidates that do not have traditional qualifications, our BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences with Foundation Year course provides a route onto this degree.

Please note that we do interview some applicants for this programme, at the Admissions Tutor's discretion.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU To be confirmed £9,250
International To be confirmed £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

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