Biological Sciences (Zoology)

BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: C300

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years, 4 years sandwich

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington, Headington (Marston Road site)

Department(s): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

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How has animal behaviour evolved over time? What effect is environmental change having on endangered species? If these questions intrigue you, then our BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) degree is for you. You’ll develop detailed knowledge of the biology of animals, from cells and molecules to conservation work.

Zoology seeks to address issues including loss of biodiversity, wildlife conservation, genetically modified organisms, cloning and disease outbreaks. As active researchers in areas such as gene regulation, conservation, biodiversity, and neurobiology, our teaching staff are well-positioned to help you apply fundamental biology to real life issues.

Through academic and practical exercises, you’ll gain skills that are essential in the workplace. We’ll train you in lab and field techniques using modern technology. We’ll also equip you in data handling, computing, report writing, and teamwork.

We’re in the business of creating bioscientists for the future. That’s why we’re investing in our relationships with the local biosciences industry and conservation organisations.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Amazing facilities

    A range of teaching labs with industry-standard equipment and research labs for projects.

  • Course flexibility

    Tailor the course to suit your interests. You can choose from a broad range of modules, starting with a foundation year if you need it or taking a year in industry.

  • Student support

    We pride ourselves on the connection our staff have with our students. This will support your academic and personal development.

  • Strong links with industry

    We enjoy strong working relationships with organisations like environmental consultancies, the Environment Agency, Wildlife Trusts, 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.

Course details

Course structure

Your first year will ground you in core topics like cell biology, genetics, organisms and their environment, evolution and basic science skills. Along with core modules in animal development, evolution, genetics, data carpentry, interrogating genomes and animal behaviour, students can take modules in microbiology, cell biology, threatened species as well as molecular biology.

In Year 2 you’ll start to specialise. You’ll immerse yourself in the study of animal behaviour, animal developmental biology, genetics, and data carpentry. You’ll also be guided into the world of big data.

We’ll support you to prepare for your future career, whether that is a job or further education, with the option to take either a year in industry or a work experience module to build your confidence in the workplace. 

For your final year dissertation, you’ll dig into a topic that fascinates you. This can be done with our research teams or in conjunction with companies.

Student working in a lab

Learning and teaching

Throughout the course we focus on applying fundamental biology to real life issues. You will focus on applying your knowledge in practical settings, either in the lab or out in the field. 

You have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills. These include:

  • molecular techniques
  • bioinformatics
  • advanced light and electron microscopy
  • field-based methods for species and landscape assessment
  • cutting edge methodologies for the study of evolution and developmental biology.

Our teaching methods include: 

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • surgeries.


Assessment is designed to shape and develop learning, not simply measure it. 

Our assessment methods include:

  • essays
  • reviews
  • examinations
  • laboratory or field notebooks
  • scientific reports
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

You’ll reflect on your progress with assignment feedback together with your diaries.

Field Trips

There is a field-course module at the end of your first year where you experience one week of intensive practical field study in the Cevennes region of southern France, an area characterised by a rich natural history, habitat and landscape diversity. The field-work comprises 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. You can thus broaden your UK experiences by encountering unfamiliar assemblages of plants and animals influenced by different regional cultural and social environmental attitudes. As the field trip is a compulsory module the cost is covered within the course fees. Depending on your choice of modules there will be other half-day visits and these are at no extra cost.

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 Sciences

    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.

  • Introduction to Biochemistry A

    This module is an introduction to the chemical principles that underpin cellular functions. You’ll study the chemical concepts that range from stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures through to chemical equilibrium and chemical change, taking in the organic chemistry of cell macromolecules:

    • DNA
    • Proteins
    • Carbohydrates
    • Lipids

    along the way. This will help you build crucial knowledge and skills for the field of biological sciences.

  • Field Course: Identification and Methods

    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.

Optional modules

Global Issues in Conservation (15 credits)

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.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Animal Developmental Biology

    The growth of an animal from a single embryonic egg is a fascinating notion that you shall explore in this module. Through a mixture of practice and theory, you’ll explore developmental themes based on animal development, including the different stages of embryonic growth, tissue specification, biological mechanisms, and gene regulation.

    You’ll be encouraged to investigate deeper into biological development themes to draw fascinating insights about this subject. On completion of this module you will have gained a broad overview of the development process and regulation in animals.  This module will present students with an in-depth introduction to the principles of developmental biology, and provide a broad overview of development processes and their regulation in animals.

  • Animal Behaviour

    In this module you’ll delve into the fascinating science behind animal behaviour. Scientists have long studied the nuances of animal behaviour, investigating the underlying behavioural traits and their variation in animals, which is what you’ll be discovering too in this insightful module.

    You can expect to study a wide range of elements including physiological, morphological and evolutionary mechanisms. You’ll consider the importance of observation and experimentation on our understanding of behaviour, and adaptive behaviour of animals in the wild.

    You’ll turn your attention to the influences of resource type and quality on animal behaviour, the evolution of behavioural traits and the acquisition of new behaviours. Throughout your study you’ll have access to supportive literature and key primary research papers, which shall support your case studies on the importance of animal behaviour in conservation. 

  • Career Development

    In this module, you’ll learn essential training in professional career management skills, designed to assist you in actively planning and preparing for your future career. You’ll explore a career development cycle, starting with discovering your potential, considering opportunities within job roles, postgraduate study or training.

    On completion of this module you’ll feel confident about competing in the graduate job market, whether you are applying for work placements or graduate jobs. You can expect to get hands-on with practical involvement from the university’s Career Consultants and employers.

    After completion of this module you should have a clearer idea of where your career values lie, and a greater understanding of how you may realise your career aspirations.

  • Genetics

    Explore how genetics has revolutionised our understanding of genetic inheritance on many levels, from individuals to population and evolutionary connections from our ancestors to descendants.

    In this fascinating module, you’ll gain an insight into how certain genes are transferred from parents to offspring, in addition to exploring quantitative, population, ecological and evolutionary genetics. You’ll practice your abilities to analyse and interpret genetic data, enabling you to enhance your general numeracy and research competence skills, increasing your employability into science institutions as a result. 

  • Data Carpentry

    In this module, you’ll learn how to manage ‘big data’ and machine learning techniques for drawing meaningful Biological Science conclusions. You’ll get interactive and hands-on with the fundamentals of programming and analysis across biological, statistical and computer science elements.

    In addition, you’ll get up to speed on managing and communicating data from diverse biological disciplines using the R language for statistical computing. On completion of this module you’ll gain highly transferable skills from across a range of disciplines, making you an asset for both research and employment.  

  • Interrogating Genomes

    You’ll learn to turn biological data into meaningful information in this module. Interpretation of data in the biological science world is more important than ever, and bioinformatics is an increasingly integral part of modern biological research.

    As part of your study, you’ll be introduced to computational thinking in biological sciences, enabling you to analyse, interpret, visualise and present data sets. You’ll use your programming skills to tailor bespoke solutions to biological problems, make new discoveries, develop capacity for considering data-driven results, and reveal new insights from your findings.

    You’ll be introduced to the two most important molecules in cell biology, RNA and DNA, from a bioinformatics perspective. On completion of this module, you’ll be well placed to forge a career with excellent employment prospects within life sciences, biotechnology, or the pharmaceutical industry. 

Optional modules

Surveys and Licensing (15 credits)

This module will develop your skills in designing and executing field sampling techniques for UK flora and fauna, giving you appropriate experience for employment in ecology and conservation. You’ll focus on understanding and enacting current best practice field techniques for assessing the statues of key habitat types and species while staying in line with protected species legislation where applicable. This creates the opportunity to apply for statutory body (Natural England) licences to survey protected species. 


The Green Planet (15 credits)

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.

In this module, you’ll explore how important plants are in tackling global issues like climate change, sustainability, preserving biodiversity, finding new medicines, understanding societal inequalities, and living a healthy life. You'll study the fundamental biology of plants: how they grow, reproduce, and interact with bacteria, viruses, animals, and abiotic stresses like heat or drought. You will learn to appreciate the diversity of flowers, and how pollination drove their evolution.

You will discover how plants produce energy, oxygen, sugars and other components that are essential for life on Earth, as well as about cutting-edge research, gaining knowledge of pollen biology using a scanning electron microscope. In addition, you’ll be given the chance to create a science article all about your chosen plant genus. 

Threatened Species

Study the biological realms of our global plight to rescue our world’s critically endangered species from extinction. You’ll be introduced to the challenges of saving endangered species, most importantly, the role of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and captive populations.

You'll investigate conservation genetics and how these specific environments are managed, while exploring in-situ versus ex-situ conservation. You’ll create a research project about a specific threatened species of your choice and consider how climate change increasingly impacts how populations use landscapes. You’ll draw links between biodiversity and key approaches to conservation landscapes.

You’ll interact with species reintroduction programmes, managing island flora and fauna, and you'll explore the ethical and educational aspects surrounding ex-situ collections.

You will gain an in-depth understanding of how biologists play an integral part in saving today’s endangered species.

Cell Biology

You'll unravel key research ideas that are helping today’s biologists solve some of the biology world’s biggest questions. The fundamental concept of cell biology is the understanding of how organisms develop and how they interact and respond to their environment.

You’ll investigate molecular cell structures from animals, plants and fungi through a combination of practical experimental laboratory techniques and theoretical research. You'll be introduced to fascinating established methods such as fluorescent microscopy of living cells. You’ll explore recent advances in cell biology such as novel treatments and therapies for diseases, cell processes such as cell division, and the impact of the environmental on biological systems.

You’ll also take a closer look at the composition of a cell – its’ components and intrinsic functions. By the end of this module, you will have an excellent grasp of cell biology, which will allow you to progress to more advanced and specialised topics. 

Molecular Biology

In this module, you’ll be introduced to cell biology at a molecular level. Your study will incorporate exploration of the fascinating science behind combined genetic and molecular approaches leading to fundamental biological concepts and cellular processes.

Through a combination of practical work and theory-based activity, you’ll be trained in laboratory techniques and introduced to experimental evidence central to your understanding of genetic engineering, and modern molecular tools.

You’ll pay particular focus to the history of evolution (phylogeny), the study of relationships between living organisms and their physical environment (ecology), and how genetic variation is passed down to successive generations (evolution), all of which shall complement the BIOL5015 Genetics.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Work placement (compulsory for sandwich year students only)

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. 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.

Year 4 (or year 3 if no placement)

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project

    This is the culmination of your degree, and your chance to delve into the world of research to pioneer your own breakthrough. As part of this module you’ll have the opportunity to create an individual piece of research related to your degree subject, working alongside a supervisor from the Department of Biological Sciences at Oxford Brookes University. You’ll be encouraged to explore opportunities to develop your project outside of the University, under the guidance of your tutor. You’ll participate in formal sessions that are designed to help you consider possible project choices and provide you with the necessary knowledge to search for outside project opportunities. 

  • Professional Skills and Techniques

    You’ll focus on the development of your professional skills and personalise your career ambitions. You’ll select your study elements, which will allow you flexibility and draw upon your research expertise and links with external partners. Some of the wide range of topics you’ll cover will be relevant to your degree, such as advanced microscopy, protein biochemistry, species identification, geographic information systems, entrepreneurship or science communication. You’ll gain hands-on experience on how to competently perform techniques, and you’ll hear from professionals working in the sector, who will provide an insight into their career. You will learn how you can make a difference in the world and existing job market with the new knowledge and skills you’ll gain. Self-reflection is encouraged on this module, and you’ll get the chance to demonstrate your learning through a written report, talk, poster, leaflet, protocol, or oral viva.

  • Animal Neurology and Behaviour

    In this module, you’ll explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying behaviour in animals. This will include taking a close look at memory acquisition, learning and cognition, perception and consciousness at an individual level as well as in a social and ecological setting. To begin with, you’ll investigate the mechanisms behind what drives animal behaviour. You’ll be introduced to an overview of the structure, development and evolution of the nervous systems of different groups of animals. You’ll then delve deeper and explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal communication processes responsible for the homeostatic regulatory systems and production of complex behaviours. Furthermore, you’ll look at major technological advances that have played a highly powerful role in the treatment of neurological disorders.

Optional modules

Interpreting Ecological and Environmental Complexity (15 credits)

Interested in how ecosystems impact our environment? In this module, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a one-week residential field course trip which will invite you to consider the connections between topical ecological and environmental systems. You’ll be encouraged to develop high level survey design, and put your data analysis and interpretation skills into action. The field course trip will run over the summer break, and shall be supplemented by scheduled activities in the following semester.  

Advanced Genetics and Genomics

You'll learn about major theoretical and technological advances in Genetics and Genomics, and their significance in addressing challenges in biological and medical research. You’ll focus on the variation of population history, selection inference, and analysing variation in complex traits. You’ll also explore the use of comparative genomics and the evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms (phylogenetics) to make connections between evolutionary relationships, and investigate genome evolution.

Your learning journey will encompass microbiomes in human health and ecosystems, and the study of gene function. You’ll get hands on with key techniques such as retrieval of data from public resources, population statistics, genome-wide association studies, gene annotation, transcriptome analysis, transcription factor binding prediction and characterisation of epigenetic modifications. You’ll devise a research programme addressing a current challenge in biological and medical science.

Advanced Cell Biology and Bioimaging

Immerse yourself in most exciting research and developmental topics surrounding microscopic cell biology and bio-imaging analysis. In this module, you will gain an in-depth insight and appreciation of the molecular mechanisms at play in the cell biology of mammals, yeast and plants. You’ll investigate some of the techniques underpinning the latest associated research in the field, and dive into an exploration of fundamental biological processes in topics such as cell signalling and interacting proteins, the endomembrane system, and the cell cycle. Innovative advanced experimental bio-imaging has opened up new avenues to implement highly powerful experimental methods for investigation of cell biology. Light microscopy techniques will allow you to probe important biological questions, observe living cells of animals and plants, and measure intracellular processes including protein interactions in different biological situations.

Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation

If you’ve ever been interested in the strategies behind conserving wildlife, this module is for you. You’ll study and identify key concepts which will support your ability to formulate solutions for protecting biodiversity at the local and landscape scale. You’ll focus your learning on core conservation issues, with consideration of controversies and alternative approaches to the practical issues involved in land management for successful conservation.  You’ll build on your foundational knowledge from previous modules. As your study progresses you will gain a practical and theoretical understanding of wildlife conservation and the environmental issues that threaten species. 

Science and Humanity

Science has had an impact on all aspects of our lives, and overall, you’ll learn how to set that influence in its social and historical context, in this module. You’ll 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. You’ll explore ideas about the value of other life forms and consider environmental philosophy. You’ll take a refreshing perspective on modern contentious ideas and possibilities such as Genetic Modification, organic farming, fracking, stem cell research, manipulation of the human genome and designer babies. In addition, you’ll turn your focus to the political, economic, and moral context of the current environmental crisis. 

Evolution and Animal Development

The shape, size and colour of each animal are produced during its development. This means that in order to study the evolution of animal biodiversity we need to study the evolution of development. In this module, we will not only discuss animal evolution at various timescales and levels, but we will also follow the development from egg (cell) to adult in a variety of animal species and compare the developmental programmes involved.

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. The topic will normally extend the learning achieved during Stage 2, and for a full time student the module can only be undertaken during the final year of study. 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.


Our BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) degree prepares you to take on interesting roles in a variety of industries.

Previous graduates have gone on to work in animal welfare, controlling pests and diseases, drug development, teaching, and research. The degree is also a gateway into careers in management, journalism and the media, finance, law, computing, and leisure.

Typically, our graduates go to work as:

  • researchers
  • lab technicians
  • conservationists
  • teachers
  • lecturers
  • zoo keepers
  • ecologists
  • environmental consultants.

While some graduates work internationally and across the UK, many take up posts in the Oxford area. The city is surrounded by organisations like veterinary practices, wildlife trusts, and the RSPB.

Many graduates carry on their studies with us or other institutions. Our Msc Conservation Ecology has been particularly popular. Some continue onto PhDs, including internally funded PhDs.

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


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.

There are some additional costs for the course including the purchase of a lab coat, safety goggles, stationery such as a lab notebook, printing and text books (though the library will have some copies). If the student opts for the placement year then there will be living costs associated with this year but we encourage students to seek a placement with a bursary or a paid placement to mitigate this. Work experience also may also incur travel costs.

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.