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BSc (Hons) - Zoology (with Sandwich Year)

Wildlife is an important part of all our lives. If you have a passion for learning about animals, animal care and animal management, and are wondering how to become a zoologist, this exciting and hands-on BSc Zoology course will prepare you for a future defending the planet.

Zoology covers all aspects of animal biology and, as such, a fascinating range of topics. Our strong links with animal and wildlife organisations provide excellent work placement opportunities, which means you could be studying anything from brown bears to snow leopards to dolphins.

Our zoology degree course has been designed by professional zoologists with a real understanding of what the world needs and, likewise, what you need to study to launch your career in zoology. With plenty of opportunities for volunteering alongside organisations such as Cumbria Wildlife Trust, your CV will gain the competitive edge it needs to stay ahead.

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Course Overview

On this zoology degree, you’ll gain an understanding of wildlife monitoring techniques using professional kit, and cover a broad range of topics including evolution, ecology and conservation, with visits to a variety of habitats.

There will be plenty of opportunities for voluntary work with organisations such as Cumbria Wildlife Trust on our zoology course, boosting your CV and giving you hands-on experience across a range of species including butterflies, adders and birds. Our practical focused degree will equip you with not only the knowledge, but the real skills and confidence to become a zoologist.

On this course you will...

  • Explore local nature reserves, rivers and woodland just a stone's throw from the university. Develop practical skills with first-hand experience.
  • Study zoology with access to state-of-the-art labs on campus - a great place to collaborate with course-mates, learn about animals and work with top-quality equipment.
  • Benefit from industry links that provide students with placement opportunities across Cumbria.
  • Experience practical demonstrations, visits, and feedback from professionals.
  • Have a place within the zoology society that meets weekly to assist in local conservation initiatives and discuss current concerns regarding zoology.

Course Structure

What you will learn

Zoology covers all aspects of animal biology and, as such, covers a fascinating range of often highly diverse topics. The modern zoologist needs to be the master of many disciplines. Our degree course has been designed by professional zoologists with a real understanding of what the world needs from zoologists and what zoologists need to pursue a professional career. It mirrors closely the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Biosciences.

In addition to the formal background knowledge all zoologists require, our degree allows you to explore more specialist areas. To encompass the main patterns of employment, you are given the flexibility to focus on a “whole animal” or a “bits of animals” approach. The latter provides the skills required to pursue laboratory and experimental pathways such as disease research, DNA technologies and wildlife forensics. The “whole animal” pathway trains you to become proficient in the identification and study of wild animals, especially British

Year one

You'll start by gaining a broad view of zoological topics, including molecular and cellular biology, animal form and function, ecology and conservation practice which involves visiting the full range of habitats in the region in search of wildlife.

From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to apply a systematic approach to the acquisition of knowledge, underpinning concepts and principles and deploy a range of subject specific, cognitive and transferable skills; evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving well defined problems and communicate outcomes in a structured and clear manner; identify and discuss the relationship between personal and work place experience and findings from books and journals and other data drawn from the field of study.

  • Vertebrate Zoology
    Complementing Invertebrate Biology, this module ensures that you have a full understanding of all of the animal groups that have ever lived. The evolution and unique physiological characters of each group will be covered in detail.
  • Invertebrate Zoology
    This module systematically reviews the invertebrates, highlighting the adaptations that have led to the success of each group. This module will give students the broad background knowledge of invertebrates that any professional zoologist requires.
  • Ecology for Zoologists
    This module will examine the interacting components of such ecosystems and their temporal and spatial dynamics. You will explore the processes by which populations evolve, how communities develop and are maintained, and the modern challenges our ecosystems face.
  • Animal Form and Function
    Students will study the range of ways in which animal species face certain basic issues; how to get oxygen; how to get, digest, process and ultimately excrete food; how to reproduce etc. Also, other challenges are faced by widely differing groups, such as escaping predators.
  • Animal Conservation Practice
    Provides opportunities to see some of the most significant and spectacular habitats and species found in the UK. Main features are visits to a range of conservation sites, opportunities to speak to those working in conservation and seminars to discuss what has been seen on the visits.
  • Core Zoology
    This module develops your skills as a scientist and gives you a firm footing in cellular and molecular biology, genetics and lab practice. In this module, you will also learn how to construct a lab report and communicate using appropriate scientific language.
Year two

Develop professional-standard survey and research techniques which you put into practice during a fieldwork module, currently delivered in West Africa (where your project can add to the knowledge of some of the world's rarest species and help conserve them).

From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to apply and evaluate key concepts and theories within and outside the context in which they were first studied; select appropriately from and deploy a range of subject-specific, cognitive and transferable skills and problem solving strategies to problems in the field of study and in the generation of ideas effectively communicate information and arguments in a variety of forms; accept responsibility for determining and achieving personal outcomes; and reflect on personal and work place experience in the light of recent scholarship and current statutory regulations.

  • Exploring Research
    This module will help to provide you with the skills required to conceive, design, conduct and interpret scientific research. You will be guided in developing your ability to evaluate a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods and when it is appropriate to use them.
  • Zoological Monitoring Techniques
    Students will study how monitoring regimes are designed and then employ suitable methods to monitor a range of species “in the field”. These will include a range of species that are of conservation or economic significance increasing employability of students who complete the module.
  • Animal Behaviour
    An understanding of the behaviour of an animal species is fundamental to managing its requirements in captivity and in the wild. It will introduce students to concepts associated with the science of animal behaviour and considers how they can be applied to animal welfare and conservation.
  • Evolution and Biogeography
    The aim of the module is to explore the mechanisms that have generated today's patterns of biodiversity and it will foster appreciation for the importance of evolutionary thinking in unifying all of the life sciences.
  • British Wildlife
    For anyone wishing to pursue a career with animals or conservation in the UK, a good understanding of British Wildlife is essential. The module will focus on identification skills and how to observe wildlife. This involves learning the relevant aspects of each species' ecology and behaviour.
  • Applied Zoology
    This module helps you develop and document a specialist field investigation relevant to your chosen programme of study. It allows you to learn and apply data analysis techniques and extend theoretical and practical knowledge through accessing specialist literature.
  • Placement Qualificatory Unit
Year three

You will receive guidance during the second year of your studies to help you to find and apply for a suitable placement. A placement is considered suitable if it will give you the skill set to succeed in your chosen career path in the Zoology sector. This might be an academic placement (e.g. in a University or research institution) or a vocational placement (e.g. for an environmental consultancy, a zoo, or a conservation organisation carrying out practical habitat management).

Vocational placements might offer the opportunity to develop skills in entrepreneurship. Work schedules will be developed and verified in consultation with the placement host.

  • Placement Qualificatory Unit
    You will develop suitable professional links and be able to consolidate your professional, technical and personal skills in a workplace. You will demonstrate independent learning and initiative outside a formal teaching environment.
Year four

You'll conduct a year-long research project, which can be a practical project utilising the skills you've developed during the course and can be focussed on the species of most interest to you.

From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to critically review, consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent body of knowledge; critically evaluate concepts and evidence from a range of resources; transfer and apply subject-specific, cognitive and transferable skills and problem solving strategies to a range of situations and to solve complex problems; communicate solutions, arguments and ideas clearly and in a variety of forms; exercise considerable judgement in a range of situations; accept accountability for determining and achieving personal and group outcomes; and reflect critically and analytically on personal and work place experience in the light of recent scholarship and current statutory regulations.

  • Dissertation
    To enable you to undertake an independent piece of in depth research into a topic of your choice. This module provides you with an opportunity to develop your research skills and gain valuable experience in project management.
  • Professional Skills in Zoology
    Gives you a foundation in those practical and core skills in zoology that pertain to you being a professional zoologist. This module brings together the knowledge and skills that you have developed in your degree up until this point, but applying them to new frameworks (such as funding bids).
  • Behavioural Ecology
    Introduces an evolutionary approach towards understanding why animals behave in certain ways. It seeks to explain why different animal behaviours have evolved and what advantages they confer in terms of individual fitness.
  • Entomology and Parasitology (Optional)
    Explores the wide range of body forms, physiological adaptations and lifestyles that have led to the unrivalled adaptive radiation (speciation) of insects and parasites. You will learn skills for survey and identification reviewing a wide range of taxa.
  • Behavioural Applications for Conservation (Optional)
    Students will approach learning through a case-study/seminar/debate format in which you will be able to develop your critical thinking, analytical and communication skills in how animal behaviour can be applied to the conservation and management of animal populations.
  • Population and Community Ecology (Optional)
    The management of animal populations, be it for conservation, exploitation or control, requires an understanding of how populations and communities work. This module gives you a working knowledge of all of the principles and methods of Population Ecology common to Zoological studies.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.