Animal Biology and Conservation may be studied as a single honours degree, either full-time or part-time. You will benefit from the department’s research expertise in conservation ecology, evolution and developmental biology to gain the key theoretical and practical skills you will need to address questions such as:
- How do animals with complex body plans develop from a single cell?
- Why do many female animals exhibit mate choice?
- What adaptations help animals cope with life in hostile environments?
- How do we best conserve rare and endangered animal species?
Year 1 provides a foundation in biodiversity, cell biology, physiology and biochemistry. You will develop skills in safe laboratory and field working, data handling, statistics and 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 in-depth study of animal behaviour, animal evolutionary development, threatened species, habitat management and field biology skills, including identification, surveying and licensing. Research skills and professional development provide an essential step in your development as an independent researcher and fundamentally underpin your final-year project and work placement.
The final year modules are designed to build on earlier knowledge and skills with an emphasis on self-management and independent learning.
As well as developing your skills as a biologist, you will have the opportunity to gain invaluable professional experience, which will further enhance your career prospects.
As courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown below.
Standards that are expected in research are also widely taught and practised, and if you wish to develop a research orientation to your studies you may do so through studying modules included in a specified research pathway. The level 6 modules, in particular, provide opportunities to undertake substantial independent research-type activities (eg, drafting a research proposal, consultancy activity, final year project). These activities are designed to develop research literacy.
Research underpins all our teaching and you have the opportunity to get involved with our research groups - including our world leading Evolutionary Developmental Biology and Cell Biology research groups and our Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation.
Module titles marked with * 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).
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):
- Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
- Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation*
- Animal Behaviour*
- Developmental Biology
- Enterprise Skills for Life Scientists
- Environmental Change: Field Work and Research (double)*
- Environmental Consultancy
- Environmental Processes, Pollution and Climate Change (double)*
- Evolution and Animal Development (double)
- Field Course: Surveys and Licensing*
- Geographical Information Systems
- Humans and Other Primates
- Human Structure and Function (double)
- Independent Study in Life Sciences
- Molecular Biology
- Plant Science*
- Primate Societies
- Project (double)*
- Research Methods for Biology and Environmental Sciences*
- Science and Humanity*
- Special Study in Life Sciences
- The Context of the Cell
- Threatened Species*
- Work Experience.
The work experience and final-year project modules not only provide you with opportunities to gain invaluable professional experience in an area of interest to you but also enable you to develop links with biological and environmental organisations, further enhancing your career prospects.
You can also take your degree as a sandwich course with a full year in industry (minimum 9 months) gaining extensive experience in laboratory, fieldwork or related conservation skills and various aspects of the sector.
Recent examples of work experience 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 the Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation, the Environmental Information Exchange, Freshwater Habitats Trust, BBOWT (Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Naturalists Trust) and TVERC (Thames Valley Environment Records Centre).
There are field courses in Oxford, the Cevennes (in southern France) and Devon, and an opportunity to gain real-life experience of environmental consultancy or other work experience.
Our students have had opportunities to study habitats and species management abroad. For example, Professor Stewart Thompson is leading a project in the Ranthambore National Park in northern India researching the population dynamics of tigers and their prey items.
We also encourage our students to take part in organised scientific trips overseas with groups such as the Wildlife African Conservation Team and Operation Wallacea. This is a fantastic way of gathering fieldwork data for honours research projects. In addition, through our links with other conservation organisations such as RSPB and Butterfly Conservation, students are able to develop their research skills to address practical conservation issues in the UK.
More locally, there are opportunities to develop your understanding of captive breeding via zoo visits. Some students have gained work experience at the Cotswold Wildlife Park, for example.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). We have three residential field courses included in our module mix and these involve more practical time. There is an even split between modules that are a hundred per cent coursework and modules that are assessed partly by coursework and partly by a written exam.
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, stationary and for the production of some coursework.
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