BSc Animal Behaviour

A BSc Animal Behaviour student weighing a bag of feed

Animals are amazing – and Animal behaviour explores what they do, and why and how they do it. From fish to birds, invertebrates to mammals, animal behaviour students study the ecology & evolution of behaviour, and its anatomical and neurobiological basis. You will learn practical field & lab skills, as well as analytical techniques needed to examine behaviour in detail. These skills are demanded in a broad range of professions. 

Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is a great place to study animal behaviour:

  • Enthusiastic teaching staff that conduct research across the spectrum of animal species and behavioural responses. 
  • Fantastic laboratories & equipment, including radio-tracking equipment, nest boxes, laboratories & aquaria, plus a historic specimen collection. 
  • Amazing local habitats including coastlines, estuaries, woodlands, and hills, allowing access to species such as red kites, chough, grey seals, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises.

 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)


If you are fascinated by watching animals behave and want to know more, then animal behaviour is for you. Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is the very best place to make your journey of discovery… 

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


You will be fully supported with developing your employability skills throughout the degree scheme. The degree will allow you to develop your ability to evaluate best practice in zoo design and management and communicate animal behaviour science effectively as well as developing a range of transferable skills highly valued by employers. You will join a department that has excellent facilities to support your studies; £55 million pounds has been invested over the last five years in IBERS infrastructure. Many students as part of their supervised final year project have access to highly specialised facilities. These facilities enable students to develop their specialist skills and knowledge preparing them for a successful transition into the workplace.

IBERS staff have close links with many learned societies which provide a route for students to network with others in their discipline and explore funding opportunities and recognition for their work. Guest lecturers and expert external teachers also contribute to the curriculum to pass on their expertise and knowledge. You will also benefit from the unique biodiversity of west Wales where your practical skills can be further developed.

The department has resources on the virtual learning environment, Aberlearn Blackboard to support your development and has a dedicated Twitter feed to keep students informed of developmental opportunities and work experience. Students have participated in a work experience module to help them identify and reflect on the employability skills they are developing through their work experience.

The department has a close working relationship with the Careers Service who can help and support you sourcing work experience opportunities locally and nationally. You can also participate in the Year in Employment Scheme (YES) to gain graduate level work experience and IBERS students have successfully gained placements with a number of employers including West Midlands Safari Park and Chester Zoo.

As a specialist branch of Zoology, your BSc in Animal Behaviour opens up a range of exciting opportunities for employment and further training. You will be a strong candidate for work as an ecologist, conservationist, animal welfare officer, gamekeeper, wildlife researcher or research scientist. Graduates also find work in the media, scientific journalism, teaching and a variety of graduate level professions.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will I learn?

In the first year you will gain a solid grounding in animal biology. As you study topics like genetics, animal diversity, metabolism and anatomy among many others, this course will help you hone your scientific practice and laboratory skills and train you in research and communication skills.

In the second year you will have the opportunity to study fascinating topics such as animal behaviour and welfare, and zoo science. You will become acquainted with the principles and practice of a range of basic quantitative and qualitative procedures of data analysis, coupled with an understanding of good research design and planning. 

In the third year you will have the opportunity to tailor your course through optional modules such as wildlife conservation, avian biodiversity and threats to natural ecosystems. You will take the Animal Behaviour Field Course, which is a residential course based away from Aberystwyth. This will give you valuable hands-on experience of handling mammals, birds and insects in the context of behavioural research. A compulsory dissertation will allow you to perform in-depth research under the guidance of a supervisor. Your project may be based on laboratory experiments or fieldwork exercises, comprise a computer modelling exercise, or involve a critical review of published scientific literature.

Among many skills, you will learn to: 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; and respond to new data through laboratory investigation. You will also develop practical skills in animal handling which augment your theoretical knowledge.

How will I be taught?

The course will be delivered through a balanced programme of lectures, workshops, tutorials, and practicals. Some aspects of the course will rely on student-centered e-learning, supported by computer workshops. You will receive thorough training in concepts, research and methodology relating to the science of animal behaviour. You will explore this learning in laboratory research and experimentation, as well as hands-on exercises.

 You will be assessed through numerous methods including essays, practical exercises, oral presentations, worksheets, reports, statistical exercises, dossiers, posters, portfolios, wikis, reflective diaries, literature reviews, magazine articles, field notebooks and exams. In all these areas you will need to demonstrate scientific rigour and apply a systematic approach to the problems with which you are presented.

You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

You will also have the opportunity to complete a Personal Development Plan (PDP) at Aberystwyth. This is a structured process of self-appraisal, reflection, and planning, which will enable you to chart your personal, academic and professional development throughout your time at university. By recording your academic performance, and highlighting the skills you already have and those you will need for future employability, the PDP portfolio will equip you with the necessary tools to plan effectively, develop successful approaches to study, and consider your future career options and aspirations.

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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

Key Information Set

Key Facts

UCAS Code: C120

Typical A-level offer
BBC-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

Further details on entry requirements

Course Length: 3 Years

Related Courses: