Animal Biology and Conservation

BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: CC31

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years, or 4 years sandwich

Part time: 6-8 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Find a course



Animal species are in decline around the world due to human impact. If you’re excited to solve global conservation and animal issues, our BSc (Hons) Animal Biology and Conservation degree is for you.

We will give you the skills to tackle the urgent global ecological crisis. Our teaching staff, with their real-world experience, will train you in the evolutionary origins, ecology, behaviour, and conservation of wild animals.

This degree gives you real-life employability skills. We’ll prepare you for conservation roles around the world, including in countries where trained conservationists are in short supply.

We’re proud of our nurturing environment with good connections between staff and students. You’ll benefit from research-active tutors and small group sizes.

The need is obvious, so join us at Oxford Brookes to learn the skills to make a difference.

Order a Prospectus Ask a question Attend an open day or webinar

Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Access to outstanding environmental sites

    You’ll have access to a variety of natural and managed landscapes in and around the Oxford area; as well as the Oxford Natural History Museum.

  • CIEEM accredited

    This accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management affirms that the course promotes the highest standards of practice.

  • Employment success

    We offer modules to help you identify interesting career paths and to develop your professional skills. These are supported with the opportunity to gain work experience through a placement year, a work experience module or research project.

  • Strong industry links

    We enjoy strong working relationships with organisations like WildlifeTrusts, RSPB, and animal rescue centres. These benefit our students through guest speakers and work experience opportunities.

  • International exchanges

    Step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Enhance your future prospects. Experience what it’s like to study and live in a different country.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

  • Accreditation(s)

    Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM)

    • CIEEM Accredited Degree Pathway

Course details

Course structure

You'll develop the skills required by conservation practitioners:

  • laboratory
  • field based
  • analytical
  • management.

In year 1, your modules will ground you in core topics including biodiversity, cell biology and the physical environment. A one-week residential field trip will sharpen your ability to identify species. 

In year 2, you will delve into animal behaviour through observation and experimentation. You'll study environmental systems and processes, focusing on the impact of human activity. 

We’ll support you to prepare for your future career, whether that's a job or further education. You have the option to take either a year long industry placement or a work experience module to advance your skills.

Your final year modules will deepen your understanding of key concepts and skills. You’ll cover wildlife conservation, environmental change, and environmental consultancy. The final year project will enable you to showcase your knowledge and expertise by exploring a topic of interest. This can be done with our research teams or with a conservation organisation. 

Students sitting around table in the John Henry Brookes Building

Learning and teaching

Teaching methods include:

  • lectures
  • group projects
  • practical exercises.

Throughout your course you will develop transferable skills such as:

  • public speaking
  • using industry-standard specialised software
  • report writing.

Our teaching staff are experts in research work.

Practical and field work is an important part of the course and you will have the opportunity to participate in research projects.


Our assessment methods are rigorous and engaging and include:

  • essays
  • reviews
  • laboratory or field notebooks
  • scientific reports
  • mock grant proposals
  • industry reports
  • business plans
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

We encourage you to to reflect on what you learn. By using feedback on assignment together with reflective diaries, you can analyse areas to improve.

Field Trips

The course involves field courses in the Cevennes (in southern France), Devon and locally around Oxford. These give our students the opportunity to gain practical skills.

Our students have also had opportunities to study habitats and species management abroad. One example of such an opportunity is a trip to India. Professor Stewart Thompson is leading a project in the Ranthambore National Park in northern India researching the population dynamics of tigers. More locally, there are opportunities to develop your understanding of captive breeding via zoo visits, for example some students have gained work experience at the Cotswold Wildlife Park.

We encourage our students to take part in organised scientific trips overseas with groups. Wildlife African Conservation Team and Operation Wallacea are both fantastic way of gathering fieldwork data for honours research projects. We have links with other conservation organisations that our students can make use of. Through organisations such as the RSPB and Butterfly Conservation, students are able to develop their research skills to address practical conservation issues in the UK.

Our many field work opportunities equip you with the skills you need to further a career in conservation.

Field trip costs: your course tuition fee covers the cost of the compulsory field courses in your course. The cost of any optional field trip (eg visit to Ranthambore National Park in northern India) is not included in your course tuition fee, and a separate fee will apply. 

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Cell Biology and Genetics

    Cell biology is the study of how cells work and how they differentiate to form multicellular organisms. 

    This module is your introduction to cell function - you will study the different types of molecules within cells and build your knowledge about cellular organelles and their functions. You’ll explore the increasing levels of complexity and the diversity of cell types that have arisen through evolution.  

    On this module you’ll also look at genetics. What are genes and how do they work to bring about the traits that we observe in organisms? We will examine cell division in detail and look at how DNA is transcribed into RNA which translates into proteins that do most of the work in the cell.

  • Communicating Science

    For impact, scientific research findings need to be communicated to reach the relevant audience in a timely manner. The relevant audience can be

    • researchers
    • policy makers
    • public. 

    Science can be communicated by written reports to oral presentations. 

    On this module you’ll have Personal and Academic Support Scheme tutorials over your first year. You’ll receive the support and guidance to adjust to the academic demands of university. Also you will develop key skills like:

    • reading
    • critical thinking
    • literature searching
    • reporting 
    • presentation in various formats  
    • presenting to varied audiences.
  • Quantitative Skills for Life Science

    On this module you’ll be introduced to, build upon and practice the key quantitative skills for science. 

    Your key module areas will include:

    • hypothesis testing
    • designing scientific investigations
    • applying mathematical topics 
    • principles and application of statistical methods
    • using statistical software 
    • reporting in scientific research. 

    The timing of this module will help you to practise these skills incrementally on your other first year modules.

  • Biodiversity

    On this module you will explore the diversity of life. Looking at classification and the theory of evolution, that links all biology and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Then you’ll examine major structures and patterns in 

    • plants
    • animals 
    • fungi.

    Looking at how they vary within each kingdom and the interrelationships of some of the phyla. You will learn about how structure is related to function, within the ecological context and you will also look at the importance of each group. 

    By the end of this module you will have a deep knowledge of interactions between plants and animals; the interactions that are both antagonistic and mutualistic, and the wider environment. You’ll also develop your understanding of the functioning of ecosystems and the biosphere.

  • Global Issues in Conservation - A Sustainability Mindset

    This module will start you off on a life-time engagement with how we use science to understand the causes and potential solutions to urgent issues surrounding biodiversity and sustainability.

    You will build your confidence in navigating conflicting scientific ideas and societal solutions and constraints. Helping you to design research and formulate hypotheses as you move through your degree and beyond. You’ll take part in discussions about differing views, preparing you for a working life as changemakers in a more sustainable world. You’ll look at i themes, such as 

    • overfishing
    • palm oil production
    • climate change
    • plastics
    • trophy hunting
    • and meat eating.

    Each week a group will be chosen to present a paper on an agreed topic and other groups will be responsible for leading discussions, summarising and feeding back. This approach will give you ownership over your evidence-based views and interpretations.

  • Field Course: Identification and Methodology

    Develop your key field study skills during a week-long residential field course to an area with a rich natural history, habitat and landscape diversity. Your field-work will comprise of various group activities focussing on identification of terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna - ecological sampling techniques for terrestrial and aquatic environments - quantitative description and analysis of group data, and designing field investigations. 

    This field course is early in the summer vacation, and is preceded by assessed preparatory exercises in Semester Two.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Threatened Species

    Emphasis will be placed upon the role of captive populations and their management, with an exploration of in-situ versus ex-situ conservation as a consequence. Included in this debate will be an in-depth examination of our understanding of conservation genetics as it applies to captive populations, with emphasis placed on the student’s own research of a named threatened species.

  • Animal Behaviour

    The module emphasizes the importance of observation and experimentation to our understanding of behaviour and develops deep reading skills through the study of key primary research papers. Consideration is given to the influences of resource type and quality on animal behaviour, the evolution of behavioural traits and the acquisition of new behaviours.

  • Career Development

    The module aims to provide essential training in professional career management skills designed to assist you in actively planning and preparing for your future career. It will take you through a career development cycle starting with discovering your potential, exploring opportunities (jobs, post graduate study or training), plotting a way forward and making it happen.

  • Environment change

    A study of the environmental systems and processes that highlight interactions between organisms and the physical environment. The module also draws attention to changes in those systems and processes brought about by human activities, how they impact on living things, and the legislative, technological and management responses to those impacts.

  • The Green Planet

    Without plants, life on Earth would look very different to what it is now. Plants provide us with energy and food, shelter, and the oxygen that we are breathing. They form the biggest biomass on earth, outnumbering all other organisms by far. We cannot afford to ignore plants when it comes to tackling global issues like climate change, sustainability, preserving biodiversity, finding new medicines, understanding societal inequalities, and living a healthy life.

  • Field Course: Surveys and Licensing

    This module will develop students competency in designing and executing field sampling techniques for UK flora and fauna, in line with protected species legislation, where applicable. The key focus of this module is on understanding and employing current best practice field techniques for assessing the status of key habitat types and species, with emphasis placed upon the development of taxonomic skills. This creates the opportunities to apply (subject to demonstrating suitable competency) for statutory body (Natural England) licences to survey protected species. By undertaking this module, students will have gained appropriate field experience for employment in field based careers in ecology and conservation.

Optional modules

Data Carpentry

This module introduces students on how to get biologically meaningful answers from data while providing a generic introduction to concepts of ‘big data’ and machine learning. This conceptual framework is delivered via a more practical approach where students learn how to program, analyse, manage and communicate data from diverse biological disciplines using the R language for statistical computing.

Geographical Information Systems

This module gives you a grounding in the concepts, components and functions of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). You’ll develop knowledge and understanding of spatial data, including methods for data capture and spatial analysis within a GIS environment. You’ll acquire extensive practical experience using the industry standard GIS software, developing skills in creating and editing digital maps and incorporating third party sources of spatial data. You’ll be able to use this data for spatial analysis, modelling and decision support, and gain valuable skills for your future career.


This module focuses on patterns of genetic inheritance at different scales from individuals to populations to evolutionary lineages. It will develop an understanding of Mendelian/transmission, quantitative, population, ecological and evolutionary genetics and an ability to analyse and interpret genetic data.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Industrial Placement

The Industrial Placement module lets you gain first-hand experience of applying theoretical and practical science within a professional environment, for example within an industrial biotechnology company or a laboratory. You will gain insight into the work of a professional scientific employer and develop both practical laboratory skills and the ability to self-assess. We will suggest employers but experience tells us that successful students are usually those who are pro-active in searching out their own placements. Many placements do come with a salary, but sadly some employers do not feel they are obliged to offer a salary, and that the expenses they incur by hosting and training you are sufficient outlay for them. This issue of salary will have implications for you and for your funding status. We will give you advice on this during the application process, but you should make sure you understand your situation fully by talking with the Student Finance department.

Year 4 (or year 3 if no placement)

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project

    An individual project related to some aspect of the student's degree subject. The associated practical work may be conducted in a research or industrial laboratory or in the field, depending on the nature of the project.

  • Professional Skills and Techniques

    This module focuses on the development of the professional skills, personalised to your career ambitions. You will select three ‘podules’ from a selection of podules, which draw upon our research expertise and links with external partners. Podules will cover a wide range topics relevant to your degree, such as advanced microscopy, protein biochemistry, species identification, geographic information systems, entrepreneurship or science communication. Each podule consists of an introductory lecture, plenty of hands-on experience, and a seminar in which you will learn more about the application of ‘your’ skill in different contexts.

  • Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation

    The module will identify and deliver the concepts and practical skills used in wildlife conservation, integrating conservation at the landscape scale with other wider countryside land management. This will develop understanding of the use of practical conservation management in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity. The inter-disciplinary nature of the module is emphasised in identifying the role of policy and statutory controls for wildlife management, and the role of conservation science in their development and delivery.

  • Interpreting Ecological and Environmental Complexity

    A residential one-week field course that focuses on developing high level survey design and field work skills and advanced methods of data analysis and interpretation needed to address current and topical ecological and environmental questions. The field course runs in the summer vacation, but is supplemented by timetabled activities in the following semester.


  • Environmental Consultancy

    An opportunity for students to gain real-life experience of environmental consultancy. In small groups, students work for an external client on a consultancy brief that the client has proposed. Following an initial meeting with the client, students write a proposal, carry out the work, produce a report and give an oral presentation for the client. Lectures are designed to support students in this process. 

Optional modules

Science and Humanity

Science has had a huge impact on all aspects of our lives, and the overall aim of this module is to set that influence in its social and historical context. We will address alternative views of the world, how they have been developed or replaced in the context of science and have a clear look at the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific world view. We will address ideas about the value of other life forms and introduce environmental philosophy.

Work Experience

The ‘Work Experience’ module is a supervised work-based learning experience. You will spend a minimum of 60 hours in a working environment that is relevant to your future career path. By learning how to reflect on your learning and professional development, and how to present your insights in a written essay and in a video, you will develop useful skills for your future job applications.

Independent Study in Life Sciences

A study (normally library-based) of a topic of the student's choosing that is relevant to the student's programme but not formally offered as part of the taught course.  A learning contract is agreed between the student and a supervising member of staff in the semester prior to the one in which the study is to be undertaken, and this must be approved by the Subject Examination Committee. Only once the learning contract has been formally approved will the module be registered on the student's programme of study.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


This degree has a strong focus on the UK conservation job market, though many of our graduates end up working internationally too. Throughout the course, we emphasise career development alongside the development of your technical skills. 

Our graduates have gone into a variety of roles such as:

  • conservationist
  • ecologist
  • environmental consultant
  • field trial officer
  • researcher
  • teacher
  • lecturer.

Employers have included the Freshwater Habitat Trust, the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre, Natural England, the Environment Agency, various zoos, and wildlife trusts. 

Some graduates also carry on their studies here at Oxford Brookes. Many students progress onto our MSc Conservation Ecology and MSc Primate Conservation courses.

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29


Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27


Further offer details

We aim to admit students who have the potential to make good scientists, and we believe that qualifications are not the only indicator of future potential. If your combination of qualifications doesn't match our typical offer, please contact the Admissions Office.

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)

International full time

International sandwich (placement)

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

All students are required to have a lab coat which you can bring with you from home or buy once you get to Brookes. There will also be additional costs for learning resources such as books (although these can be acquired second hand and are all available in the library), stationery and for the production of some coursework.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.