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Animal Biology and Conservation

BSc (Hons) - single

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Animal Biology and Conservation is for anyone fascinated by the natural world. The course focuses on evolutionary origins, ecology, behaviour and conservation of wild animals.

A core part of the degree involves laboratory and field work enabling you to develop skills to further your career. These focus on animal identification and survey techniques as well as analytical and management techniques. These skills are required by conservation practitioners. 

The combination of this practical and theoretical knowledge gives you a well-rounded understanding. This enables you to engage with many opportunities at the conclusion of the course.

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112. Preferred subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: 3 years, or 4 years sandwich
  • Part time: part-time study is possible

UCAS code


For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • This course covers a field of study that is both scientifically rigorous and relevant in today’s world.
  • You will be able to put your skills into practice through laboratory work and field work in France and Devon
  • The course develops excellent research practice; you will be taught about data collection and analysis, and research presentation skills.
  • Oxford Brookes has great links with regional environmental organisations. Some of our students have gone on to work with conservation trusts, government agencies, wildlife centres and zoos.
  • Through our strong working relationships with local employers, we help to provide exciting work placements and career opportunities for our students.
  • A pathway within the course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

You can study Animal Biology and Conservation as a single honours degree, either full-time or part-time. As a student, you will benefit from the departments extensive research expertise. You will be exploring conservation ecology, evolution and developmental biology. To gain the key theoretical and practical skills you will need to address questions such as:

  • How do we best conserve rare and endangered animal species?
  • What adaptations help animals cope with life in changing environments?
  • How can conservation respond to climate change?


Year 1 provides a foundation in biodiversity, cell biology and genetics. You will develop skills including:

  • safe field and laboratory working
  • data handling
  • statistics
  • information technology

A feature of your first year is a series of tutorials with your academic adviser. The tutorials are designed to help you adjust to academic life at university and establish good study habits. 


Year 2 and the final year include more in-depth study. Some of the topics explored are:

  • animal behaviour
  • threatened species
  • habitat management
  • field biology skills (including identification, surveying and licensing)

As well as developing your skills as a biologist, you will have the opportunity to gain invaluable professional experience. This will further enhance your career prospects.

Study modules

As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown below.

Module titles marked bold in the lists below are those that need to be taken in order to benefit from accreditation by CIEEM (see 'Why choose this course?', above).

Year 1

You will follow a programme of compulsory modules in Year 1:

Year 2 and final year

You choose from a wide range of subjects, to suit your interests and career aspirations (the modules in bold are compulsory and those required for CIEEM accreditation):

  • The Green Planet
  • Special Study in Life Sciences
  • Environmental Processes, Pollution and Climate Change
  • Data Carpentry
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Field Course: Surveys and Licensing
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Threatened Species
  • Science and Humanity
  • Environmental Change
  • Environmental Consultancy
  • Interpreting Environmental & Ecological Complexities
  • Independent Study in Life Sciences
  • Work Experience
  • Professional Skills & Techniques
  • Project/Dissertation
  • Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation

Work placements

We encourage our students to undertake a work placement with the experience giving you a competitive edge when you apply for jobs. The course has two optional work experience modules. 

Work experience module

On the 'Work Experience' module you will spend at least 115 hours in a working environment relevant to your subject. This is equal to 3 weeks full time work. The module involves reflecting on your interests and career aspirations. By approaching potential employers about opportunities in their organisations you can enhance your employability.

Although it is your responsibility to secure your work experience there's lots of support available. Your subject lead, academic advisor or dissertation supervisor all have a wide range of contacts with a range of suitable organisations.

Industrial Placement

An Industrial Placement helps you get experience of applying science in a practical environment. You will develop practical skills that enhance your employability. On placement you gain an insight into various aspects of working in a scientific environment.

Although it is your responsibility to secure your placement our team will do everything we can to assist you. We can suggest suitable employers through our network of industry contacts. You should look carefully into the financing of placements but this is something we will guide you through every step of the way.

Examples of work experience and placements have included:

  • conservation work for ADAS, the UK’s largest independent provider of environmental consultancy, rural development services and policy advice
  • work for the Cotswold Wildlife Park, helping to construct a database of management considerations for an endangered group of birds (turacos)
  • work at Oxford County Council on implementation of the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) report at a county level
  • work with a local wildlife group to survey and catalogue arachnids in the county

There are also opportunities to work with locally based organisations such as:

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 exampleome 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 abroad

You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Oxford Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year for a semester or a year.
Studying abroad provides an amazing opportunity to add value to your studies by:
  • increasing your employability within an international market
  • boosting your language skills
  • building your confidence in adapting to new situations
  • improving your knowledge of different cultures.
  • While on exchange you will gain credits which count towards your degree.
We have more than 100 partner universities around the world. Funding is available through the Erasmus scheme, and also via some international programmes such as the Santander Student Awards.
There is also a European work placement programme which gives you the chance to work abroad as part of your studies.
For more information, visit our pages on studying abroad and exchanges. 
This is an optional part of the course so any costs e.g travel, associated with it are not covered in your tuition fees.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

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.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Attendance pattern

Most of our modules include lectures and laboratory- or field-based practicals. There are on average 20 hours of lectures and 12 hours of practicals per single-credit module (which equals 150 hours of student effort). This represents a minimum of 12 hours contact per week. We have three residential field courses included in our module mix and these involve more practical time. 

Additional costs

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), stationary and for the production of some coursework.


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.

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.

Teaching and learning

Various teaching methods are used, including lectures, group projects and practical exercises. These are all supported by outstanding library and IT resources.

Throughout your course, we focus on developing transferable skills. Public speaking, using industry-standard and specialised software and report writing often form part of the assessment of individual modules.

The course is taught by specialist staff who are experts in research work. Students have the opportunity to participate in research projects. Practical and field work is a prominent aspect of the course. We tailor our course to develop the skills industry looks for.

Time spent in different learning activities

Year Lectures, seminars or similar Independent study Placement
1 28%72%0%
2 28%72%0%
3 20%80%0%

Approach to assessment

We aim to provide our students with assessment methods that are rigorous and engaging. Some of the assessment methods we use are:

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

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

Breakdown of assessment methods used on this course

Year Written exams Practical exams Coursework
1 39%0%61%
2 35%0%65%
3 30%6%64%

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2018/19: £9,250. 2019/20: £9,250.

Home/EU - part time fee: 2018/19: £750 per single module. 2019/20: £750 per single module.

Home/EU - sandwich placement fee: 2018/19: £1,380. 2019/20: £1,380.

International - full time: 2018/19: £14,000 2019/20: £14,280

International - sandwich placement fee: 2018/19: £3,920 2019/20: £4,000

*Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see:

Typical offers

UCAS Tariff points: 112. Preferred subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography

A-Level: BBC

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

IB Diploma: 30 points



Students studying more than one science subject may receive a lower offer. Typical offers also include:

  • A-level grades BB plus 2 AS-levels at grade C 
  • 1 12-unit vocational A-level grade BB plus 1 A-level or 2 AS-levels grade at C
  • other recognised qualifications, eg BTEC Nationals or Scottish qualifications (equivalent to 112 UCAS points).

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 our admissions tutor.

Specific entry requirements

A-Level: You must have studied science post-16, either at A-level or equivalent level (see our typical offers). Preferred A-level subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Sciences and Geography.

GCSE: 4 GCSEs at Grade 4 (C), or above, including Mathematics, English Language and 2 Sciences

If you do not have a background in science, we encourage you to consider our Life Sciences foundation year, taught at Abingdon and Witney College. Successful completion of the foundation year enables direct entry into Year 1 of many life sciences-related BSc degrees at Oxford Brookes, including Animal Biology and Conservation.

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an  international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our  pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

How to apply

International applicants

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Oxford Brookes operates the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Why Oxford is a great place to study this course

Oxford is surrounded by more than a hundred Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Otmoor, Wytham Woods and Cothill Fen all provide easy access to excellent opportunities for fieldwork. Throughout the course we make full use of what our local environment offers.

Students also benefit from our strong links with local organisations. These include NERC's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the Oxford University Museum with its expert taxonomists.

Oxford is one of the world's great academic cities. It is a key centre of debate with conferences, seminars and forums taking place across education, science, the arts and many other subjects.

In addition to our own excellent libraries and resource centres, our students have access to the world-renowned Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Science Library. Students can gain free entry to the Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.

Support for students studying Animal Biology and Conservation

Our Personal and Academic Support System (PASS) is gaining national and international recognition for its proactive approach to personal tutoring. It recognises that students need to make various adjustments as they move into higher education, whether from school or employment.

The system encompasses three elements:

  • a structured group tutorial programme
  • an academic adviser who will help you to plan your degree programme and future career
  • interaction with other students on your course.

The first stage includes regular seminars covering a wide range of subjects including research skills, understanding assessment criteria and making the most of coursework feedback. Our programme also helps students adjust to university life by developing their transferable skills.

Secondly, our academic staff monitor your progress regularly to check that you are maximising your potential. If you experience academic difficulties we can arrange for you to receive academic mentoring support.

Thirdly, if you are faced with challenges that affect your ability to study, such as illness, bereavement, depression, financial difficulties or accommodation issues, we will work with you in finding a way forward. Please talk to your academic adviser or your student support team.

Specialist facilities

We have amazing laboratory facilities that have recently been completely refurbished and equipped. A new Microscopy Annex includes a state of the art bio-imaging suite used by researchers and students. A high-speed PC cluster to support you in your degree will open before September 2019. The department has a range of specialist equipment. The university has a butterfly lab and a laboratory dedicated to one of the most studied organisms in developmental biology, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. We also have a number of environmentally controlled rooms and cabinets.

The department has a vast array of equipment for fieldwork and laboratory based research. This includes:

  • mass and atomic absorption spectrometers
  • bat detectors
  • moth traps
  • pond nets
  • a wide range of microscopes

Students will also get hands-on experience with chemical analysis and ecological surveys. As well as our outstanding facilities, Oxford Brookes students are able to access the Bodleian library. This provides students with access to the largest university library system in the UK.

Engaging with research in the department is a big part of the course. Our strong external links will mean you will be exposed to cutting edge research. 

General support services

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Professional accreditation

A pathway within the course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). In order to receive this CIEEM accreditation you need to take a particular set of modules. These are marked with * in the module lists under 'This course in detail', above. Those modules are not all compulsory for those not interested in CIEEM accreditation. Please note that IES and CIEEM accreditation is subject to review and can be withdrawn at any time.

Graduates working in a biological discipline may also apply for membership of the Royal Society of Biology.

Career prospects

The course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). This has professional recognition, which should enhance your career prospects once you graduate.

Our graduates have developed careers in a variety of roles in biological conservation. Some of our recent graduates have gone on to work for conservation trusts (eg RSPB) and government agencies (eg Environment Agency). Our students have been employed as ecological consultants and research biologists at wildlife centres and zoos.

Employers also value the transferable skills you gain at Oxford Brookes. Many of our graduates go on to have diverse careers in management, journalism and the media. 

Further study

Many of our graduates will go on to research positions or enrol on specialist Masters Programmes including our MSc Conservation Ecology.

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