BSc Microbiology and Zoology

The information on this page relates to September 2016 entry. For 2017 information, including grade requirements, please check our prospectus.

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Our Zoology and Microbiology degree will give you a solid foundation in the distinct but interrelated disciplines of zoology and microbiology. You will study the microorganisms that surround and inhabit humans and other animals, whilst you develop the scientific and analytical skills demanded in a broad range of professions.

Here’s why we think Aberystwyth is a great place to study zoology and microbiology.

  • Passionate teaching staff that conduct research in all areas of zoology and microbiology.
  • Fantastic modern laboratories, microscopy suite, historic specimen collection, and aquarium. 
  • Wonderful local habitats including coastlines, estuaries, woodlands, and hills.

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Top 10 in the UK for student satisfaction in the subject area of Microbiology (NSS 2016)
Top 15 in the UK for student satisfaction in the subject area of Zoology (NSS 2016)

 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 the interactions between microbes and animals, then studying zoology and microbiology 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 zoology and microbiology who conduct research ranging from the molecular, through organismal, to global scales. Of course, our lecturers are qualified teachers as well as active researchers. 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 budding scientist, you’ll need access to top-notch research and teaching facilities. We have modern, well-equipped teaching laboratories, lecture theatres, and seminar rooms. You’ll also benefit from other facilities including: 

  • An advanced microscopy and bio-imaging laboratory
  • A modern aquarium housing cold-water and tropical, marine and freshwater species
  • A wonderful museum full of historic zoological specimens
  • A Mass Spectrometry and Analytical Unit Unrivalled environment for studying zoology and microbiology. Whether you prefer laboratory or field-based study, Aberystwyth has the facilities you need. 

There are 5 well-equipped teaching laboratories as well as research laboratories where you will have the opportunity to conduct final year research projects. Within a stone’s throw you’ll find: 

  • Beautiful habitats, 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
  • Farms with livestock to support study of impacts of microbes on animal health
  • Opportunities to take a residential field course away from Aberystwyth too

A world renowned teaching and research institute 

  • IBERS (the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) is one of the largest and best resourced institutes of its kind in Europe.  
  • IBERS was awarded the “Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology” award at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards. 
  • IBERS students won the “Biology Student of the Year” award at the European Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Awards in 2011, and were finalists in 2013. Could you be the next winner? 
  • Top 10 in the UK for research intensity in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment (2014).
  • 78% of research assessed to be world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2014 REF.

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 zoology and microbiology 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

Semester 1

Biological Thought And Discovery BR12510

The Biosphere BR13210

Semester 2

Disease Diagnosis And Control BR13010

Year 2 Core (50 Credits) You must take the following modules

Semester 1

Applied Molecular Biology And Bioinformatics BR20620

Infectious Diseases BR22310

Semester 2

Immunology BR22220

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

Semester 2

Sgiliau Ymarferol Microbioleg BG23010

Practical Skills In Microbiology BR23010

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 30 credits. Where modules are offered bilingually choose your preferred language if applicable

Semester 1

Ethology BR21620

Advances In Invertebrate Zoology BR22410

Monitoring The Environment BR22810

Principles Of Veterinary Science BR23110

Semester 2

Ecoleg Microbau Dyfrol A Daearol BG20810

Aquatic And Terrestrial Microbial Ecology BR20810

Evolution And Molecular Systematics BR21720

Vertebrate Anatomy BR23710

Advances In Human Biosciences BR24610

Final Year Core (20 Credits) You must take the following module

Semester 2

Microbial Pathogenesis BR33720

Final Year Options You must take ONE of the following CORE modules

Semester 1

Parasitology BR33820

Veterinary Infectious Diseases BR34120

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: choose your preferred language if applicable. One module listed runs in both semester 1 OR 2. (Note: due to limited spaces on field courses, attendance must be agreed in advance with the module co-ordinator)

Semester 1

Bioinformatics And Functional Genomics BR31420

Evolution Field Course BR32810

Microbes In Industry And Research BR33620

Semester 2

Biochemistry And Pharmacology BR31220

Environmental Animal Physiology BR32420

Gene Expression And Developmental Genetics BR33320

Both Semesters

Cyfathrebu Ymchwil BG31710

Communicating Research BR31710


Career Prospects

Graduates of the Zoology and Microbiology degree at Aberystywth are ideally equipped for careers in the rapidly growing area of the green economy. Your knowledge of animals and habitats will be useful in many careers related to ecology, environmental consultancy, conservation, scientific journalism, and teaching. Your expertise in microbiology will make you a strong candidate for work as a biomedical scientist, haematologist, toxicologist, or technical brewer.

Transferable Skills

Studying for a degree in Zoology and Microbiology will equip you with a range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. These include:

• research and data analysis skills
• enhanced mathematical and computational skills
• effective problem-solving and creative thinking
• the ability to work independently
• time-management and organisational skills, including the ability to meet deadlines
• the ability to express ideas and communicate information in a clear and structured manner, in both written and oral form
• self-motivation and self-reliance
• team-working, with the ability to discuss concepts in groups, accommodating different ideas and reaching agreement

Year in Employment scheme (YES)
The University operates a Year in Employment Scheme (YES), which offers you a fantastic opportunity to take a year out between your second and third year to work in an organisation in the UK or overseas. YES provides a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, both personally and professionally, and can help you to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. The University’s Career Service will help you to explore your options and secure a suitable work placement.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

What will I learn?

In the first year you may study subjects such as biological molecules and cells, metabolism, and genetics, and will investigate microbes, vegetation and ecosystems. You will look at the major animal vertebrate and invertebrate groups, focusing on locomotion, nutrition, endocrinology, cardiovascular respiratory systems, and homeostasis. You will be introduced to the diversity of microbial life and the importance of microorganisms as pathogens, as mutualists in biotechnology, and in ecosystem function.You will also undertake a series of linked experiments and laboratory practicals that will develop the applied skills required for research.

In the second year you may study subjects such as molecular biology and bioinformatics. You will be introduced to the major pathogens affecting plants, animals and humans, and to the mechanism of innate and adaptive immune responses in health and disease. 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. You will also undertake a period of work experience which will enhance your employability skills and enable you to reflect on your future career development.

In the third year you may study subjects such as parasitology and microbial pathogenesis. A selection of optional modules will allow you to tailor your course in your preferred direction; topics include gene expression, biochemistry and pharmacology, veterinary science, and environmental animal physiology. 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.

On this course, you will develop an impressive cache of subject expertise and scientific skills which will be of enormous benefit in any zoological, biological or other scientific profession. The course will also prepare you for more general graduate employment, as your practical experience in research, analysis, data handling and reporting will be an enormous asset in any career path you choose.

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 heavily on student-centred e-learning, supported by computer workshops. You will receive thorough training in zoological and biological concepts and practical scientific methods.

You will be assessed through numerous methods including essays, practical exercises, oral presentations, worksheets, reports, dossiers, posters, portfolios, reflective diaries, literature reviews, magazine articles, and exams.

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.

The lectures, seminars and the Department's supportive staff will greatly assist you in your zoological and biological training. You will also benefit from the many opportunities within the department and the university to develop your academic rigour and professionalism so that, upon graduation, you are perfectly positioned for the next stage of your career.

Student Views

Studying Zoology at Aberystwyth is one of the best choices I ever made. For starters, you have wildlife right on your doorstep! IBERS has a wide range of courses available and enthusiastic lecturers who bring the course to life (even in a 9am lecture!). It is great being around so many like-minded people and having the ability to gain knowledge in new aspects of Zoology, including lab work, environmental monitoring, dissections and trips to the zoo. Aberystwyth is one of the friendliest places to be at university - I have tried so many new things and learned a lot. Yes, it can be hard work sometimes, but it's definitely worth it. Lucy Inez Witter

Key Information Set

Places available in Clearing

0800 121 40 80 (Freephone)

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Key Facts

UCAS Code: CC35

Please note that the tariff below may not apply during Clearing. Contact us on 0800 121 40 80 or fill in the form above for more information.

Tariff Required: 290 - 330

Entry Requirements: GCSE: grade C in English or Welsh and Mathematics and a science subject. A level: grade B in Biology or Human Biology required. Lower tariff points offers will be given to students studying more science subjects at A level, in addition to Biology or Human Biology.

Course Length: 3 Years

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