BSc Zoology

Puffin with fish in its beak

Zoology is the science of animal life, whether it be microscopic or massive, aquatic or terrestrial. Zoologists study animal diversity, evolution, behaviour, anatomy, physiology, and ecology, and 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 a zoology degree:

  • Passionate teaching staff that conduct research in all areas of zoology.
  • Fantastic modern laboratories, microscopy suite, historic specimen collection, and aquarium. 
  • Wonderful local habitats including coastlines, estuaries, woodlands, and hills, allowing access to species such as red kites, chough, grey seals, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises.

Top 15 in the UK for student satisfaction in the subject area of Zoology (NSS 2016)
92% student satisfaction on our Zoology degree scheme (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 millions of other animal species with which we share the planet, zoology 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 expert zoologists who conduct research ranging from the molecular, through organismal, to global scales. Our zoology lecturers are passionate teachers too, and 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 zoologist, 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: 

  • A modern aquarium housing cold-water and tropical, marine and freshwater species 
  • An advanced microscopy and bio-imaging laboratory
  • A wonderful museum full of historic zoological specimens 

Unrivalled wildlife and countryside 

Perhaps you’ll be the kind of zoologist who likes to do their science in the field rather than the lab, and there’s no better place for that than Aberystwyth.

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! 
  • And if you’ve still more appetite for field work, you can take a residential field course away from Aberystwyth too.

A world renowned teaching and research institute

  • Our zoology students have won the “Biology Student of the Year” award at the European Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Awards, and the Welsh Ornithologists’ Society Student Prize
  • 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. 
  • 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 overseas. You’ll miss Aber, 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

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

Semester 1

Advances In Invertebrate Zoology BR22410

Semester 2

Evolution And Molecular Systematics BR21720

Vertebrate Anatomy BR23710

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

Semester 1

Ethology BR21620

Marine Biology BR22620

Monitoring The Environment BR22810

Understanding Biological Research BR24410

Semester 2

Ecoleg Microbau Dyfrol A Daearol BG20810

Aquatic And Terrestrial Microbial Ecology BR20810

Freshwater Biology BR22020

Immunology BR22220

Tropical Zoology Field Course BR23820

Zoo Science BR24310

Final Year Core (20 Credits) You must take this module

Semester 2

Environmental Animal Physiology BR32420

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 70 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

Tropical Rainforest Ecology And Conservation (trec) Field Course BR30120

Animal Bioethics BR30510

Behavioural Neurobiology BR31510

Conservation Genetics BR31810

Animal Behaviour Field Course BR32710

Evolution Field Course BR32810

Freshwater Biology Field Course BR32910

Marine Biology Field Course BR33010

Interpretation And Environmental Education BR33510

Parasitology BR33820

Population And Community Ecology BR33920

Semester 2

Biodiversity Of Birds BR31320

Fish Biology, Fisheries And Aquaculture BR33220

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 specialist skills such as the ability to use molecular techniques to isolate genomic DNA and manipulate and statistically analyse zoological data 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 for example, the Genomics Facility which has the largest DNA sequencing capacity in Wales. 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. 

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.

On graduating you will be qualified for career-paths specifically related to the discipline. In addition, your Zoology Degree will have taught you a broad range of skills such as observation, research, analysis and reflection which are demanded by employers in a variety of graduate professions.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This course is designed to enable you to tailor your studies into areas of particular interest. You will be able to focus either on the whole animal, population and conservation biology, or on more applied aspects of Zoology such as parasitology and immunology.

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, reproductive strategies, feeding and digestion. You will also undertake a series of linked experiments that will develop the basic practical skills required for research.

In the second year you may study subjects such as invertebrate zoology and vertebrate anatomy; investigate the theoretical background for understanding the theory of evolution; and discover how animals behave within their natural environment. 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 environmental animal physiology and will look at invertebrate and vertebrates living within aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. You will have the opportunity to go on a residential field course away from Aberystwyth; several thematic options and locations are available to you, depending whether your interests lie in marine or freshwater biology, animal behaviour or evolution. A selection of optional modules will allow you to further tailor your course in your preferred direction. 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 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, field notebooks 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

I love learning about all aspects of Zoology. It's not just about the cute cuddly mammals, but everything from the tiny bee hummingbird to the bizzare nudibranchs and the great whales. As zoologists we learn how creatures function inside, how their behaviour contributes to their survival and how each individual ultimately relates to the intricate ecosystem in which it lives. It is this, along with the astounding diversity of animals, that captivates my attention and makes Zoology so exciting to study. Robyn Jade Womack

Studying Zoology is really interesting and I love that it covers wide range of animal-related topics. In my first year my basic knowledge was improved by studying Animal Diversity and Vegetation and Ecosystems. They are fascinating modules, but the second year is even better! Learning about animal behaviour in Ethology and studying Zoo Science has been fascinating, fun and insightful. I’m glad I came to Aberystwyth to study Zoology. I look forward to what I will learn in the third year and to where my Zoology degree will lead me after Aberystwyth. Sophie Rance

During my time at Aber I took a wide range of modules from Animal Behaviour to Genetics. I especially enjoyed Invertebrate Zoology and found a special passion for invertebrates. The lecturers were always willing to help and guide me through and this meant my confidence and interest grew in all the subjects I was taking. I loved the atmosphere, it felt calm and relaxed, and as much as I loved the learning. The situation of the University helped: mountains, rivers and the seafront to keep you busy and enjoying nature
Hannah – currently studying for a PhD

Studying at Aberystwyth changed my life. I met some amazing friends, colleagues and even my future husband! I now have my dream job and believe undoubtedly that I would not have achieved this without Aberystwyth University
Lizzie - Ecologist, Darwin Ecology Ltd

I have an unconditional love for Aberystwyth, I fully enjoyed my 3 years there and I have Aberystwyth University to thank for everything I have succeeded in since. The perfect undergraduate degree is made up of a fabulous course, at an inspirational university, combined with the perfect seaside location and friendly atmosphere – these things together lead to a fulfilling and satisfying university experience
Lucy– PhD at Royal Veterinary College

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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: C300

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

Further details on entry requirements

Course Length: 3 Years

Related Courses: