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Animal Biology and Conservation

BSc (Hons) - single

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

The BSc in Animal Biology and Conservation focuses on the evolutionary origins, ecology, behaviour and conservation of wild animals. 

At the core of the degree are the acquisition of the laboratory and field based skill sets necessary to the discipline. These focus upon animal identification and survey techniques, accompanied by the analytical and management techniques conservation practitioners require.

This course is designed to provide graduate training in these skills, equipping students with the professional knowledge and understanding required for a career in conservation. Key features are the emphasis on practical and fieldwork and opportunities for work experience.

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. Field work in France and Devon is combined with laboratory work.
  • The university has great links with regional environmental organisations. We help to provide exciting work placements and career opportunities for our students. Some of our students have gone on to work with conservation trusts, government agencies, wildlife centres and zoos.
  • The course provides expert instruction in the scientific methods underpinning effective conservation. These include: species identification and field survey methods in the context of environmental change and legislation This is accomplished via a significant amount of practical work, in the field and laboratory.
  • The course develops excellent research practice including: appropriate data collection and analysis techniques (including multivariate analysis) and research presentation skills.
  • Develops identification skills relating to key species and habitats, linked to an understanding of their biotic and abiotic requirements.
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the applicability of animal biology and conservation study to a broad range of scientific and social issues.
  • Facilitate work-related learning by providing opportunities for students to interact with potential employers; We have very good working relationships which students can benefit from. Some of these are linked to our Centre for Ecology, Environment and Conservation.
  • A pathway within the course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

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 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 in safe field and laboratory 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, 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 help you in any workplace placements you undertake. 

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.

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  as the experience will give you the competitive edge when you are applying for jobs. There are two optional work experience module, work experience over the summer or during the final year and an industrial placement for a year between the second and final year.

Work experience module

The ‘Work Experience’ module is a work-based, supervised learning experience, in which you will spend at least 115 hours in a working environment that has relevance for your subject. This is equivalent to 3 weeks full-time (7.5 hrs/day) or 6 weeks part time (~4 hrs/day) work. As part of the module, you will practice career management skills by reflecting on your interests and career aspirations and approaching potential employers about opportunities in their organisation. These will be integral elements linked to enhancing your overall employability.

We strongly believe that arranging a placement yourself will give you a head start after graduation, as you will have practiced essential career management skills. Ideally, it will be your responsibility to find, apply for and secure your work experience placement. If you get stuck, your subject lead, your academic advisor or your dissertation supervisor will be able to provide you with some contacts in a wide range of suitable organisations.

Cost of the opportunity: There may be some costs such as travel associated with work experience and these are not included in the course tuition fees

Industrial Placement

The Industrial Placement module provides the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of

the application of theoretical and practical science within a professional environment. We will do what we can to suggest employers who may offer placements but experience tells us that successful students are usually those who show themselves to be pro-active in searching out their own placements.

You should also look carefully into what you will be paid as a placement student. Whilst many placements do come with a salary, sadly some companies and institutes 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. It is often hard to predict what a company or institute might be prepared to offer if they do not usually host placements; this should not discourage you from approaching potential hosts but you should likewise not feel bound to accept a non-paid placement if it is not possible in your financial situation. This issue of salary (or no salary) will have implications for you in terms of your finances and also for your funding status. We will guide you as best we can and give you advice on this during the application process, but you should make sure you understand your situation fully by talking about your placement, any salary and what this means for you, with the Student Finance department.

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 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).

Field trips

There are field courses in Oxford, the Cevennes (in southern France) and Devon, and an opportunity to gain real-life experience of ecological 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.

Through the field work opportunities you learn the skills required to apply for many jobs in conservation nationally and internationally.

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, all supported by good library and IT resources. Throughout your course, emphasis will be placed on general transferable skills such as public speaking, industry-standard and specialised software and report writing; these skills often form part of the assessment of individual modules. 

The course is taught by specialist staff who are experts in research work. Their work is included in module content and students have opportunities to participate in research projects.

Teaching is supported strongly by both practical work and fieldwork, enabling you to develop the skills required by the sector, including acquiring licences to survey certain animal groups. You will also acquire the skills needed to conduct industry-standard assessment methods.

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

Assessment methods include essays, reviews, laboratory or field notebooks, scientific reports, mock grant proposals, industry reports, business plans, posters and oral presentations.

One of our aims is to help our students become reflective learners who have an insight into their own learning and development. As well as feedback from your tutors on assignments, group work and project work, we encourage the use of self and peer feedback and reflective diaries.

All modules make use of the Brookes Virtual Learning Environment - typically for locating module resources including lectures and online resources, but often also for quizzes, discussion groups and coursework submissions and feedback.

We are committed to providing students with clear assessment criteria and with useful and timely feedback on all their work. More than 60% of the Programmes is assessed via coursework.  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.

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 including Otmoor, Wytham Woods and Cothill Fen. Easy access to these sites provides excellent opportunities for fieldwork and we endeavour to make full use of the opportunities our local environment offers.

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

Because 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, and 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. The labs have recently been completely refurbished and equipped. A significant addition to the Department was realised in the new Microscopy Annex which includes a state of the art bio-imaging suite used by researchers and students. We have new teaching laboratories and teaching equipment supporting taught modules and student research projects. A high-speed PC cluster to support research, data science and bioinformatics teaching in your degree will be opened before September 2019.

The department has a range of specially designed facilities for students studying conservation related subjects. For example, we boasts both a butterfly lab and a laboratory dedicated to one of the most studied organisms in developmental biology, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Furthermore, we have a number of environmentally controlled rooms and cabinets.

Alongside a range of microscopes enabling study of specimens from the organism to the cell level, the department also has a vast array of equipment for fieldwork and laboratory-based research at its disposal. From mass and atomic absorption spectrometers to bat detectors, moth traps and pond nets, students will get hands-on experience with chemical analyses and ecological surveys.

All staff use the Virtual Platform Moodle extensively and successfully for module delivery and evaluation. All modules place lecture and assignment content onto Moodle (along with the Module Handbook), and add to this to share with or signpost students to further sources of information, including links to websites and publications. Moodle acts as a news platform for some modules and a place for discussion forums, both message-based and Skype (or equivalent) based. All assignment are uploaded through Moodle, often in conjunction with Turnitin and/or Grademark. In addition to the module and programme pages on Moodle, the Department has set up a page linking students to the BioInnovation Hub and employers

We have a fantastic library. Richard Persaud is Subject Librarian for the Programme. He is involved in the development of student literacy through library skills in the 1st year skills modules and library inductions to new students. Richard liaises closely with staff and students in relation to module reading lists and other resource recommendations (books, journals, online talks such as the Henry Stewart Talks) for students, and is proactive in seeking texts that are available as e-books. For sources beyond the scope of our own library, Brookes students are able to access the Bodleian library In addition to this, our Programme has an arrangement that students can join the Cairns library, sited at the JR Hospital, from their 1st year, and through this site they can have access to Bodleian library resources.

The research of the Department is seen as a vital component of effective teaching with a high proportion of staff being research active with strong external links. You will be exposed to current high quality research with many undergraduate projects providing experience of this.

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

Accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) means professional recognition, which should enhance your career prospects once you graduate. 

Our graduates have developed careers in a variety of stimulating roles in biological conservation, for example with conservation trusts (eg RSPB), government agencies (eg Environment Agency), wildlife centres and zoos, with recent graduates being employed as ecological consultants and research biologists. Our students have an excellent record of gaining employment relevant to their degree, and in part their success is fostered by their practical experience where they learn professional standards and the opportunities offered in the course to engage with conservation organisations. Employers also value the transferable skills you gain at Oxford Brookes.

Some of our students elect to use their degree to gain degree-level employment in a diverse range of contexts including 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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