Animal Behaviour

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You are viewing this course for September start 2024

Animal behaviourists apply their scientific skills to understand how and why animals behave in the ways that they do, in order to improve animal welfare, enhance conservation, and further our knowledge of the natural world. On the BSc Animal Behaviour degree at Aberystwyth University you will develop a solid foundation of transferable scientific skills, as evidenced by our Royal Society of Biology accreditation. Equipped with these skills, you will investigate the mechanisms, development, function, and evolution of animal behaviour in a range of pure and applied contexts. You will develop advanced skills in animal behaviour research and ultimately conduct your own independent behaviour research project. You’ll do all this within the wild and beautiful setting of West Wales, which is home to bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic grey seals, pine martens, otters, ospreys and red kites. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to intensively investigate animal behaviour on residential field courses further afield.

Course Overview

Why study Animal Behaviour at Aberystwyth University?

Our course:

  • provides a solid foundation of skills and knowledge in the biosciences which will be invaluable to you within and beyond the field of animal behaviour
  • is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology in recognition of its quality
  • includes lots of specialist animal behaviour content taught by staff who conduct scientific research into animal behaviour
  • includes an optional residential field course dedicated to the investigation of animal behaviour through small group project work
  • places behaviour in context with modules addressing health and welfare taught by practising veterinarians, and optional modules developing knowledge and skills in conservation
  • includes a substantial, independent research project in your final year, during which you will benefit from one-to-one academic supervision
  • is highly suited to students wishing to improve their employability within fields such as animal conservation, animal care and welfare, or animal behaviour research, but also develops skills desirable in a broad range of other graduate professions.


  • Our students benefit from international exchange agreements with universities in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, so you can apply to spend all or part of your second year studying animal behaviour overseas
  • You can choose to study a number of our modules through the medium of Welsh. Check out the modules tab for more information.

Aberystwyth has excellent facilities for animal behaviourists, including:

  • a modern aquarium housing cold-water and tropical, marine and freshwater species 
  • access to a range of small and large domestic animals for animal behaviour research purposes via our university farms, riding school, and veterinary education centre
  • access to an extensive woodland neighbouring our campus with over 100 purpose-built nest boxes supporting the study of birds and other wildlife
  • wild and beautiful habitats on our doorstep, including marine, moorland, mountain, grassland and coast, providing a huge variety of fieldwork and recreational opportunities
  • opportunities to view common and rare UK animal species such as bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic grey seals, pine martens, otters, ospreys and red kites
  • an extensive collection of zoological specimens housed within our museum.

Research-led teaching! 

You’ll be taught by a passionate team of animal behaviourists who are also active research scientists. Their research informs our teaching, and provides excellent opportunities for your own final year research project. Our animal behaviour lecturers are also enthusiastic and innovative teachers!

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff in the Department of Life Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry. The Department has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

Modules September start - 2024

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.


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Cell Biology * BR17520 20
Comparative Animal Physiology BR16720 20
Disease Diagnosis and Control BR15420 20
Ecology and Conservation * BR19320 20
Genetics, Evolution and Diversity BR17120 20
Skills for Wildlife Scientists * BR15720 20


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Animal Behaviour BR21620 20
Behavioural Ecology BR23920 20
Research Methods * BR27520 20
Vertebrate Zoology BR26820 20
Veterinary Health BR27120 20


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
An Introduction to Landscape Ecology and Geographic Information Systems BR25520 20
Invertebrate Zoology BR25420 20
Tropical Zoology Field Course BR23820 20


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Advanced Animal Behaviour BR30220 20
Behaviour and Welfare of Domesticated Animals BR35120 20
Research Project * BR36440 40


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Animal Behaviour Field Course BR34920 20
Behavioural Neurobiology BR35320 20
Global Biodiversity Conservation BR33420 20
Parasitology BR33820 20
Population and Community Ecology BR33920 20
Veterinary Pharmacology and Disease Control BR36820 20
Wildlife Conservation BR34520 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


What do I gain from studying BSc Animal Behaviour?

Graduates of BSc Animal Behaviour at Aberystwyth University:

  • are skilled behavioural scientists, with strong theoretical and practical knowledge of animal behaviour
  • have direct insight into animal behaviour research thanks to their final year research projects, and our degree’s emphasis on research-led teaching
  • may have international experience if they undertake academic exchange
  • are confident and insightful critical thinkers, capable of working independently and as part of a team. They have strong scientific and data analysis skills that are desirable within and beyond the field of animal behaviour
  • are members of a supportive community of Aberystwyth University behaviourists past and present
  • gain a year’s membership of the Royal Society of Biology after graduation to help them establish their careers.

 What professions do our students go into?

Our graduates have skills desirable in a wide range of careers both within the field of animal behaviour and beyond. They have:

  • undertaken postgraduate study at Masters or PhD level, aiming for careers in animal behaviour research
  • gone into ecological consultancy, or practical animal care roles as canine carers or scientific animal technicians
  • established careers in science communication, environmental education, and teaching
  • taken on scientific roles outside of animal behaviour, for example as medical laboratory assistants, due to their broad base of transferable scientific skills.

Our animal behaviour degree is also suitable for entry into a variety of graduate training programmes.  

What work experience opportunities exist whilst studying? 

During their studies, many of our students have volunteered for conservation projects locally and abroad such as the Pine Martin Recovery Project and Iberian Lynx captive breeding programme, or for organisations such as the RSPB. Many students also volunteer in zoos, or help out on our scientific research projects.

Find out about the various opportunities that our Careers Service offers.

You can also enhance your employability prospects with GO Wales and YES (Year in Employment Scheme) managed by our Careers Service. 

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn?

The breakdown below will provide you with an illustration of what you may study during the three-year degree scheme.

During your first year you’ll be introduced to:

  • the evolution and diversity of animal life
  • the biology essential to understand animal behaviour, including animal physiology, genetics, cell biology and ecology
  • animal handling, examination and testing for the diagnosis and control of animal diseases
  • practical scientific procedures to tackle wildlife forensic problems
  • scientific writing and presentation skills, taught in small group tutorials with your tutor
  • transferable skills in graphing, data handling, analysis and interpretation.

During your second year you will undertake specialist study of:

  • animal behaviour in the field and laboratory, developed through two specialist modules
  • the interaction between health and behaviour in a veterinary context
  • designing and planning research investigating animal behaviour
  • quantitative and qualitative procedures for analysing data and guiding scientific interpretation.

In your third year, you will undertake advanced study in:

  • an independent research project, available to all students
  • recent advances in animal behaviour
  • the behaviour of domesticated animals in the context of their welfare
  • additional subjects of your choice, such as the neurobiological mechanisms of behaviour, wildlife conservation, and a residential field course for intensive study of animal behaviour.

How will I be taught?

The course will be taught through lectures, interactive seminars, computer workshops, field visits and courses, laboratory practicals, small group tutorials and one-on-one supervision of your independent research project.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed using a wide variety of different methods. Some modules are assessed partially through traditional exams, but we also employ a wide variety of different coursework elements including essays, posters, oral presentations, videos, wikis, practical data analysis tasks, field notebooks and magazine-style science articles.

Student Testimonials

I really enjoyed the course, and the chance to study a variety of animals and explore various career pathways, before deciding to focus on dog behaviour and training. In some modules, we were able to choose the topic we have to present or write about, allowing me to focus on a topic I was particularly passionate about. Modules focusing on zoo and wild animals allowed me to explore potential careers in these areas, and modules that included group work and presentations helped improve my confidence. Rebecca - Canine Carer for the Dogs Trust

I assist with conducting a variety of floral and faunal surveys, translocation and construction/demolition supervision for protected species including bats, great crested newt, reptiles, dormouse, badgers and other related ecological work at sites all across England and Wales. I thoroughly enjoyed my course. It was varied, challenging and always left me wanting go beyond the lectures and learn more. The animal behaviour field course module in particular was perfect for learning how to study animals in the field, working as a team and getting results promptly. These are essentials skills in my current job and will continue to be relevant in my career. Adam – Field Ecologist, Aspect Ecology Ltd

I absolutely loved studying Animal Behaviour at Aberystwyth University. The staff were always friendly and approachable. My lecturers helped me to achieve my full academic potential and the diversity of modules prepared me with a broad spectrum of. So thank you Aberystwyth University. Sarah – The National Trust Learning and Community Heritage Trainee

I enjoyed all my modules, but especially animal behaviour and behavioural ecology and I was lucky enough to be allowed the flexibility to design my own third year dissertation project on environmental enrichment for otters at Sealife, Birmingham. I moved to Bristol in 2012 to study for a PhD and have been using camera traps in urban gardens to study the spatial and social behaviour of foxes. My time at Aber gave me a solid grounding in science and introduced me to academic research. I absolutely loved my time in Aber! Jo – PhD student, University of Bristol

Typical Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff 120 - 104

A Levels BBB-BCC with B in Biology

GCSE requirements (minimum grade C/4):
English or Welsh, Science and Mathematics

BTEC National Diploma:
DDD-DDM in a specified subject

International Baccalaureate:
30-28 with 5 points in Biology at Higher Level

European Baccalaureate:
75%-65% overall with 7 in Biology

English Language Requirements:
See our Undergraduate English Language Requirements for this course. Pre-sessional English Programmes are also available for students who do not meet our English Language Requirements.

Country Specific Entry Requirements:
International students whose qualification is not listed on this page, can check our Country Specific Entry Requirements for further information.

The University welcomes undergraduate applications from students studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma or T-level qualifications, provided that relevant subject content and learning outcomes are met. We are not able to accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas or T-levels as a general qualification for every undergraduate degree course.
Our inclusive admissions policy values breadth as well as depth of study. Applicants are selected on their own individual merits and offers can vary. If you would like to check the eligibility of your qualifications before submitting an application, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for advice and guidance.

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