Animal Behaviour

Key Facts

Code C120
  • Typical A-level offer

    BBC-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

  • Course Length

    3 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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How and why do animals behave as they do? Animal behaviourists use rigorous, scientific methods to answer such questions. They receive a broad training in the biological sciences before studying animal behaviour in depth and detail. The scientific study of animal behaviour provides amazing insights into the ways in which animals survive and reproduce within their dynamic environment, is essential for the successful conservation and management of rare and endangered species, and is key to improving the welfare of captive and domestic animals.

 Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS): 91% student satisfaction (NSS 2016)

92% of undergraduates from IBERS who graduated in 2015 were in employment or further education six months after graduating (DLHE 2015)

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Employability
  • Teaching, Learning and Assessment


    Passionate teaching staff who are expert in their field 

    You’ll be taught by experts in behaviour who conduct research ranging from global patterns of animal behaviour, through studies of behaviour in individual animals, down to studies of the molecular basis of behaviour. Our behaviour lecturers are enthusiastic teachers too: you may already have seen some of them on TV documentaries, or listened in to them on your favourite science radio show.

    Fantastic facilities 

    As a future behaviourist, you’ll need access to top-notch research and teaching facilities. We have modern, well-equipped teaching laboratories, lecture theatres, and seminar rooms as well as unrivalled wildlife and countryside. You’ll also benefit from other facilities including: 

    • A modern aquarium housing cold-water and tropical, marine and freshwater species 
    • A university woodland with over a hundred purpose built nest boxes and homes for nature 
    • Beautiful habitats on our doorstep, including marine, moorland, mountain, grassland and coast, providing you with a fabulous variety of fieldwork and recreational opportunities 
    • Charismatic species such as red kites, bottlenose dolphins, and more..  
    • A wonderful museum full of historic zoological specimens  
    • And if you’ve still more appetite for field work, you can take the residential field course in animal behaviour too.

    A prize-winning institute that can help you achieve your full potential

    • Our students have won the “Biology Student of the Year” award at the European Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Awards, and the Welsh Ornithologists’ Union Student Prize!
    • Our Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) received the ''Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology'' award at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards. 
    • Our Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) in conjunction with Bangor University had the 5th strongest submission in the UK for the Research Excellence Framework assessment (2014).

    International opportunities 

    If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take the chance to study abroad during your degree? We have exchange agreements with universities in Europe, USA, Canada, and elsewhere, so you can apply to spend all or part of your 2nd year studying behaviour overseas. You’ll miss Aberystwyth, but you’ll love the new perspectives international study can bring. 

    Want to study in Welsh? 

    Students can elect to study a number of IBERS modules in the medium of Welsh. Ask the department for further details.

    Our Staff

    The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

    Course Content

    Welsh medium modules available

    Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

    Year 1 Core (70 Credits) You must take the following modules

    Semester 1

    Biology Of The Cell BR10310
    Genetics BR11310
    Animal Diversity BR11500
    Biological Molecules And Methods BR11710

    Semester 2

    Animal Diversity BR11520
    Metabolism BR12010
    Molecular Laboratory Skills BR12210

    Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 1

    Sgiliau Astudio A Chyfathrebu BG12410

    Study And Communication Skills BR12410

    Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 2

    Llystyfiant Ac Ecosystemau BG12920

    Vegetation And Ecosystems BR12920

    Year 1 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 2

    Amrywiaeth Microbau BG12110

    Microbial Diversity BR12110

    Year 1 Options Choose 10 credits. Where modules are offered bilingually: choose your preferred language if applicable

    Semester 1

    Biological Thought And Discovery BR12510

    Semester 2

    Datblygu A Rheoli Cynefinoedd Ym Mhrydain BG10810

    The Development And Management Of British Habitats BR10810

    Year 2 Core (40 Credits) You must take the following modules

    Semester 1

    Ethology BR21620

    Semester 2

    Applied Animal Behaviour And Welfare BR20510
    Zoo Science BR24310

    Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 1

    Profiad Gwaith BG24200

    Work Experience BR24200

    Semester 2

    Profiad Gwaith BG24210

    Work Experience BR24210

    Year 2 Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 1

    Dulliau Ymchwil BG23400

    Research Methods BR23400

    Semester 2

    Dulliau Ymchwil BG23420

    Research Methods BR23420

    Year 2 Options Choose 50 credits

    Semester 1

    Companion Animal Health BR21310

    Advances In Invertebrate Zoology BR22410

    Marine Biology BR22620

    An Introduction To Geographic Information Systems (gis) BR24810

    Semester 2

    Arolygu Ecolegol BG21420

    Ecological Surveying BR21420

    Freshwater Biology BR22020

    Vertebrate Anatomy BR23710

    Final Year Core (40 Credits) You must take the following modules

    Semester 1

    Animal Bioethics BR30510
    Behavioural Neurobiology BR31510

    Semester 2

    Advanced Animal Behaviour BR30220

    Final Year Options This CORE MODULE is offered bilingually: choose your preferred language

    Semester 1

    Traethawd Estynedig BG32300

    Dissertation BR32300

    Semester 2

    Traethawd Estynedig BG32330

    Dissertation BR32330

    Final Year Options Choose 50 credits. Where modules are offered bilingually or in EITHER semester: choose your preferred language or semester if applicable. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

    Semester 1

    Animal Behaviour Field Course BR32710

    Interpretation And Environmental Education BR33510

    Parasitology BR33820

    Population And Community Ecology BR33920

    Semester 2

    Biodiversity Of Birds BR31320

    Threats To Natural Ecosystems BR34210

    Wildlife Conservation BR34520

    Both Semesters

    Cyfathrebu Ymchwil BG31710

    Communicating Research BR31710


    What professions do our students go into?

    Many of our students go on to postgraduate study at Masters or PhD level, aiming for careers in pure or applied science, or science communication. Others have gone on to careers as scientific animal technicians and medical laboratory assistants. During their studies, many of our students have volunteered for conservation projects such as the Pine Martin Recovery Project and Iberian Lynx captive breeding program, or for organisations such as the RSPB.

    What do I gain from studying Animal Behaviour?

    Our degree at Aberystwyth University teaches you a broad range of skills such as observation, research, analysis and reflection.You will also be studying in a department that has invested over £55 million in infrastructure of student facilities. The department has played host to the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)’s Easter postgraduate conference in recent years, and some of our students have attended or helped organise these meetings

    Teaching, Learning and Assessment

    Your first year will provide a broad grounding in biology, and training in the skills needed to succeed in your studies. Subject areas will include:

    • The evolution and diversity of life
    • Animal physiology
    • Diagnosis and control of animal diseases
    • Wildlife forensics
    • Study and communication skills, and many others.

    In your second year you will undertake specialist modules in animal behaviour, and gain essential scientific skills. Subject areas will include:

    • -          Ethology, the scientific study of animal behaviour
    • -          Modern zoo science
    • -          Veterinary health
    • -          Quantitative and qualitative procedures for data analysis
    • -          Good research design and planning

    In your third year, subject areas will include:

    • The behaviour and welfare of domesticated animals
    •  The physiological mechanisms behind animal behaviour
    • A compulsory dissertation research project
    • Optional modules chosen from a selection including wildlife conservation, advanced topics in animal behaviour, and a residential animal behaviour field course

    Further information:

    • Synthesize information from scientific literature
    • Understand and explain the implications of developments in subjects such as parasitology
    • Scrutinise data in terms of quality and quantity
    • Respond to new data through laboratory investigation
    • Develop your practical skills in animal handling which augment your theoretical knowledge

    How will I be taught?

    Your course will be delivered through lectures, workshops, tutorials and practicals.

    You will receive training in concepts, research and methodology relating to science of animal behaviour. This will be undertaken by laboratory research and experimentation, as well as hands on exercises.

    You will be assessed through;

    • Essays
    • Practical exercise
    • Oral presentations
    • Worksheets
    • Reports
    • Statistical exercises
    • Dossiers
    •  Posters
    •  Portfolios
    •  Wikis
    • Reflective diaries
    •  Literature reviews
    •  Magazine articles
    •  Filed notebooks
    • Exams

    Entry Requirements

    A Levels BBC-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

    GCSE requirements (grade C min):
    English or Welsh, Mathematics and a Science subject

    BTEC National Diploma:

    International Students

    International Baccalaureate:
    30 points overall with 5 points in Biology at Higher Level

    European Baccalaureate:
    65-70% overall with 75% in specified subject

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