Animal Behaviour

Animal Behaviour Code C120

Apply Now

How and why do animals behave as they do? Animal behaviourists use rigorous, scientific methods to answer such questions. Through 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.

Course Overview

Royal Society of Biology Accredited Degree

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 exceptional 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, 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. Check out the module tab for more information!

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.


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
Research Methods * BR25620 20
Behavioural Ecology BR23920 20
Ethology BR21620 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

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


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

What work experience opportunities exist whilst studying? 

Click here to find out about the various opportunities that our Aberystwyth University Careers team offer.

Enhance your employability prospects with GO Wales and YES (Year in Employment Scheme) managed by our Careers department. 

Course Content

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

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, Behavioural Neurobiology, and two residential field courses. Students on this degree currently have the option to study the Animal Behaviour Field Course in the UK, and the Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Conservation Field Course in Borneo.

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

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 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 applications from students studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma. 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 are studying a qualification not listed on this page, please get in touch with the Undergraduate Admissions Office for further advice. For further information, contact

Back to the top