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Animal Biology and Conservation

BSc (Hons) - single

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Managing environment change requires an expert understanding of animal biology and conservation. This scientifically rigorous course is designed for anyone who is fascinated by animals, in particular their evolutionary origins and development, ecology, behaviour and conservation.

We place a strong emphasis on laboratory and field work throughout the course, enabling you to develop the skills you need for your career.

Typical offers

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

Available start dates

September 2018 / September 2019

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 extremely relevant to today’s world. 
  • You will be able to put your skills into practice as a result of the strong emphasis on laboratory and field work including residential courses in France and Devon.
  • You will benefit from great links with regional environmental organisations, providing exciting work placement and career opportunities. For example, some of our students have gone on to work with conservation trusts, government agencies, wildlife centres, zoos and environmental consultancies.
  • You will have opportunities to work with our own research groups and external conservation organisations with whom we have very good working relationships. 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). In order to receive this accreditation you need to take a particular set of modules. These are marked with * in the module lists under 'This course in detail', below.

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.


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.

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).

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):

  • 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*
  • Genetics
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Humans and Other Primates
  • Human Structure and Function (double)
  • Independent Study in Life Sciences
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • 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.

Work placements

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 ExchangeFreshwater 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 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. 

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.

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.

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). 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.

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.

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

*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: Mathematics, English Language and Double Integrated Science (or equivalent) at grade C minimum

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

Full-time students should apply for this course through UCAS.

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 our student support team.

Specialist facilities

The department has a range of specially designed facilities for students studying biology and environmental science related subjects. For example, the developmental biology area 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.

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

A pathway in our Animal Biology and Conservation degree has been accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). Accreditation means professional recognition, which could 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 our specialist MSc Conservation Ecology.

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