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Biological Sciences (Zoology) with Professional Training Year (BSc)

Entry year


Study the broad field of animal biology or specialise in a particular area with our flexible and interdisciplinary Zoology degree.

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Course overview

Zoology is the study of all kinds of animals, including their anatomy, physiology, genetics, and their adaptations for survival and reproduction in different environments. This is vital knowledge if we are to maintain healthy natural environments, control pests and diseases, conserve biodiversity and preserve endangered species.

Our Biological Sciences (Zoology) degree is aimed at anyone interested in the broad field of animal biology. It is a truly interdisciplinary course that draws on the research strengths found throughout the School, and, as well as covering the evolution and diversity of the main animal groups, you will also have the opportunity to study modules in ecology, physiology and genetics. We have particular expertise in behaviour and brain function, and you will study both behaviour and neuroscience as part of this course.

The course content is closely linked to the research interests of our staff (many of whom are leaders in their field); this allows you to experience the excitement of learning in an active research environment, and helps to ensure that the topics you cover are highly topical, and of relevance and importance in today’s world.

As part of this course you will spend your third year on placement at a field centre, zoological or botanical institute, museum, industrial research laboratory, or other approved establishment of your choice. This offers a great opportunity to gain first-hand professional research experience, and it has been shown to greatly enhance your degree and subsequent employment prospects. Many placements are in the UK, but our students also take up placements in international locations, including Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Australia, Madagascar, and the USA.

Our Zoology degree also includes ample opportunities for practical field work, enabling you to develop valuable field research techniques. As well taking part in field research projects throughout your time at Cardiff, you can also choose from our specialised, project-based field courses in the UK and further afield.

As with all of the degrees in the School of Biosciences, our Zoology course offers the flexibility to tailor the course to your own interests and career aspirations. Your degree title also remains flexible up until your final year, so that you can either continue with BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) to graduation, or switch to another of our bioscience degrees during your first two years of study. 

Your final degree title will depend on your module selection, and your Personal Tutor will guide you through the options available to you.  You may also have the option of switching to our four-year MBiol integrated master's degree, which forms an excellent basis for a future career in scientific research.

This course provides an excellent foundation for a broad range of careers and offers strong training for research scientists. Our graduates have gone on to a range of exciting and fulfilling careers in both scientific and non-scientific related fields, including marine ecology, biology, field-based or zoo-based research and conservation, environmental law, biomedical research, scientific publishing, journalism, teaching and veterinary science. Many also choose to further their studies by pursuing a master’s degree or PhD.

Distinctive features

The School of Biosciences offers access to a wide range of exciting training opportunities, with a conservation-focused research centre in Borneo, and strong involvement in the University’s flagship Sustainable Places Research Institute and Water Research Institute. We also attract substantial external research funding and this will enable you to make use of the latest equipment, techniques and facilities in your project work.

Field work is an important element of Zoology, and with a variety of natural environments - from rural countryside to the Welsh coastline - virtually on your doorstep, Cardiff is the perfect location in which to develop and hone your skills as a field researcher.

You may also be interested in the following courses:

  • BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) with Preliminary Year and Professional Training Year
  • BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) 
  • BSc Biological Sciences
  • MBiol Biological Sciences (integrated master's degree)
  • BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) with Preliminary Year
UCAS codeC301
Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration4 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year

Entry requirements

AAB-ABB to include Biology or Chemistry and a second science subject. If only taking Biology or Chemistry and no second science subject AAB-ABB including an A in Biology or Chemistry.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDD in the RQF Extended Diploma in Applied Science, with D in all of the Core/Mandatory Units

IB Diploma with an overall score of 34-32 including grade 6 in Higher Level Biology or Chemistry OR IB Diploma with 655 at Higher Level including 6 in Biology or Chemistry.

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Biosciences admissions criteria pages.

If you are an overseas applicant and your first language is not English, please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our accepted qualifications.

GCSE English Language C/4, GCSE Maths C/4

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£20,950None

Tuition fees for international students are fixed for the majority of three year undergraduate courses. This means the price you pay in year one will be the same in years two and three. Some courses are exempt, including four and five year programmes and Medical and Dental courses. Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Costs for sandwich years

During a sandwich year (e.g. year in industry, placement year or year abroad) a lower fee will apply. Full details can be found on our fees pages.

Additional costs

Field courses which take place abroad incur an additional cost – primarily to cover student travel and accommodation. We strive to keep these to a minimum, for example we maintain our own Field Station and staff in Borneo, whose costs are not recovered from charges to students. We also offer some excellent Wales-based field courses which do not incur additional costs.

No additional charges are made for other aspects of tuition, although some services (such as student printing on demand) may incur a charge.

Course specific equipment

No specific equipment is required. The University will provide IT facilities (in a communal space), laboratories equipped with specialist equipment, and all specialist software required for the course.

We recommend that students have access to a personal laptop computer or equivalent.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This BSc course is full-time over four academic years. Year one is made up of six 20-credit modules, with three 40-credit modules taught in year two. Year three is spent on a professional placement and, in the final year, the research project carries 30 credits and is accompanied by three 30-credit modules.

Year one modules involve lectures and supporting tutorials providing background theoretical knowledge as well as practical classes. All of our degree schemes share a common year one, which covers all aspects of the biosciences and has the big advantage of giving you flexibility of degree choice. Classes provide students with IT skills for biologists and an understanding of statistical analysis of data, and coursework is used to develop written and oral communication skills.

In year two, extensive laboratory practicals help to develop practical skills and the ability to critically evaluate experimental data. Set assignments and reading are used to promote self-directed learning and the analysis of primary research literature.

The third year is spent on a work placement related to your degree. During this placement you will undertake all aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and, finally, data presentation.

The final year requires much more independent study, and all students must produce a substantial research-based (laboratory, literature, pedagogic or scientific engagement) report.

Throughout the course we strive to offer as wide a choice as possible to allow you to tailor the degree to your study goals.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

The first year is a common year, covering all aspects of the biosciences. This reflects the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of bioscience research, and has the added advantage of offering you flexibility of degree choice.

The modern, modular syllabus is delivered through lectures, tutorials, presentations, and practical classes carried out in spacious, well-equipped laboratories. It provides a firm foundation in all the biological disciplines, including biological chemistry, cell biology, microbiology, genetics, evolution, anatomy and physiology, animal and plant biology, and ecology, as well as focusing on developing practical and academic scientific skills. Modules may begin by overlapping with A-level studies, but will soon progress to greater depth and scope.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Skills for ScienceBI100120 credits
Structure and Function of Living OrganismsBI100220 credits
Organisms and EnvironmentBI100320 credits
The Dynamic CellBI100420 credits
Biological ChemistryBI101420 credits
Genetics and EvolutionBI105120 credits

Year two

The second year allows for more specialisation, and builds on the knowledge and practical skills gained in the first year. There will be a focus on data analysis and scientific communication, as well as advanced laboratory and field techniques. Understanding of experimental design, literature review, statistical analysis and critical analysis skills will act as a foundation for further study in year three.

In year two, you will take two core modules Applications of Genetics  and Animal Diversity and Adaptation

And you will choose a third module from a choice of 9 available modules, leaving you free to pursue particular areas of interest. Available module topics include, genetics, cell biology, biochemistry and ecology and conservation.

Students on the ecology and conservation module will have the opportunity to undertake one of our project-based field courses, which run in a variety of locations both in the UK and abroad.

During year two, you can also choose to switch to the four-year degree with a Professional Training Year, which is taken after the second year, subject to an appropriate training place being identified.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Molecular Ecology and EvolutionBI212110 credits
Genes to Genomes: From Microbes to MammalsBI220320 credits

Year three: Sandwich year

The Professional Training Year (PTY) provides you with an opportunity to spend 9-12 months in an academic, clinical or industrial/commercial research laboratory, or other approved establishment, in order to gain first-hand research experience.

You will undertake different aspects of research, including experimental design, data acquisition and analysis and, finally, data presentation with the production of a project report and presentation.

Our Professional Training Year Coordinators will support you in finding a suitable position that is relevant to your career aspirations, and a tutor will keep in touch and visit you during your placement.

Many placements are in the UK, but we have also had several placements in other locations, particularly in Europe through the EU ‘ERASMUS’ scheme in which Cardiff is a partner, but also Southeast Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and the USA.

Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. However, we have always been successful in placing the vast majority of our Professional Training Year students.

A placement report, written by you, will count towards your final degree assessment.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Sandwich YearBI9999120 credits

Year four

Our final year curriculum enables you to specialise in more detail within one of the major research themes of the School. This approach immerses you in the research culture of the biosciences, by means of research-driven teaching and a final year project that allows you to investigate a topic in much greater depth.

Application of core knowledge to the solving of problems and critical evaluation of models, ideas and current debates is a primary focus of the third year. This stage of the course will involve an extensive degree of self-directed study in order to develop skills in independent work and lifelong learning, which will help to prepare you for the professional environment.

As well as a 30-credit research project, you will complete three 30-credit modules including Biodiversity & Conservation Biology and Evolution and Adaptation another from an almost free choice of 15. Modules cover a range of topics including systems biology and modelling, plant science, biodiversity, synthetic biology, advanced cell biology, bioinformatics and functional genomics, and genes and genomes.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

We provide a student-centred educational experience based on academic excellence and informed by world-leading research. We seek to support every learner in an inclusive learning culture.

Core knowledge and understanding is acquired via lectures, practical classes or field work, research seminars, workshops and tutorials, whilst advanced knowledge and understanding is acquired through independent study, group work and project work.

You will be expected to undertake independent study and increasing independence of learning is expected as the course progresses.

Selected elements of the course may be available through the medium of Welsh and you can also request a Welsh-speaking Personal Tutor for pastoral and academic support should you wish.

Students with disabilities will be fully supported in co-ordination with the University’s Disability and Dyslexia Support Service.

How will I be supported?

All of our academic staff are experienced researchers in their respective fields and are passionate about sharing their knowledge and expertise with students.

Your primary interaction with academic staff will be during lectures, laboratory practical sessions, workshops or small-group teaching sessions (tutorials). You will also be allocated a Personal Tutor who will provide pastoral support and academic advice throughout the course.

Our lecturing staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students who have specific queries about course material, or a booking system for meetings. You can also contact them via email, as well as speaking to them during the teaching sessions.

Each degree also has a degree scheme co-ordinator who can advise on academic issues, and each year of study has a year co-ordinator who can advise on administrative issues related to the course. There is also a convenient Education Office with a friendly and experienced team who can answer most administrative queries.

Feedback
Feedback on your study, work, and progress will take many forms, from formal written comments on submitted work to more informal conversations and advice during classes and practicals.

Throughout the course, we will provide detailed feedback on all assessed coursework. This is normally provided through a dedicated online system enabling you to conveniently access your feedback via a computer or tablet device.

You will also have the opportunity to discuss your academic and personal development progress with your Personal Tutor, and to discuss examination essay papers in order to improve your performance. During practical work and the research project, you will receive regular feedback from the supervising academic.

How will I be assessed?

First and second year modules are usually assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. All modules include coursework assessments, which may take the form of written practical reports, structured reports, class tests, structured answer tests, group work, poster and oral presentations and computing/statistical problem-solving exercises. Assessments may be summative and count towards the final module mark, or formative, helping you to learn and practice key skills and knowledge through feedback.

Examinations at the end of each module comprise a machine-marked, structured answer section (assessing breadth of knowledge) and a written answer section (assessing depth of knowledge in specific topics).  

During the Professional Training Year you will produce a placement report, which will count towards your final degree assessment.

In the final year, taught modules are assessed by examination and extended analytical coursework. Your final year research project is assessed by a supervisor’s evaluation and a written report.

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

 

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Analyse, synthesise and summarise material relevant to a broad range of subjects within the Biosciences from a variety of sources, and appraise it critically.
  2. Discuss current issues of research, investigation and/or debate within a selected number of areas of focus.
  3. Discuss the relationships between structure/formation and function/regulation of molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organisms and populations.
  4. Discuss the key areas in which the Biosciences feature in society at the global level, in order to contribute to the ongoing debate over issues of contemporary global importance.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Analyse, synthesise and summarise information critically from a variety of sources.
  2. Synthesise an argument or point of view, based on solid data and evidence that can be communicated clearly and concisely.
  3. Discuss issues from a number of perspectives and values and arrive at a considered critical judgement stating assumptions and limitations.
  4. Construct grammatically correct documents in an appropriate academic style and format, using and referencing relevant ideas.
  5. Discuss the importance of academic and research integrity

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Receive, and respond to, a variety of sources of information: textual, numerical, verbal, graphical.
  2. Interpret and manipulate numerical data.
  3. Solve problems by a variety of methods.
  4. Determine the validity and rigour of statistical outcomes.
  5. Utilise a variety of digital media that are of key relevance to the modern work environment.
  6. Apply contemporary techniques in research to solving biological problems.
  7. Record data and results in a methodical and accurate manner.
  8. Interact in a professional work environment, working in teams and collaborative groups.
  9. Conduct a range of field and practical laboratory skills in an accurate and consistent manner.
  10. Show manual dexterity within the scientific practical setting.

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Communicate scientific, and other, information appropriately to a variety of audiences, including the general public, using a range of formats and approaches and employing appropriate scientific language.
  2. Cite and reference work in an appropriate manner, ensuring academic integrity and the avoidance of plagiarism whether intentional or not.
  3. Use the internet and other electronic sources critically as a means of communication and a source of information.
  4. Identify individual and collective goals and responsibilities and perform in a manner appropriate to these roles, in particular those being developed through practical, laboratory and/or field studies.
  5. Recognise and respect the views and opinions of other team members, and work effectively within a group-based environment, both as a leader and a member of a team. .
  6. Use negotiating skills.
  7. Evaluate their own performance as an individual and a team member.
  8. Evaluate the performance of others.
  9. Discuss the interdisciplinary nature of science and of the validity of different points of view.
  10. Demonstrate the skills necessary for independent lifelong learning (for example working independently, time management, organisational, enterprise and knowledge transfer skills)
  11. Identify, and work towards, targets for personal, academic, professional and career development
  12. Demonstrate an adaptable, flexible and effective approach to study and work.
  13. Build on knowledge and understanding of the role and impact of intellectual property (IP) within a research environment.
  14. Demonstrate leadership and planning skills for setting, and meeting, achievable goals within the workplace.
  15. Work collaboratively within a team environment. 
  16. Discuss the interdisciplinary nature of science and of the validity of different points of view.
  17. Develop a research project, including management of resources, time and workload.
  18. Set reasonable objectives and identify strategies to achieve these within an agreed timescale.
  19. Learn new techniques and approaches within the laboratory or field working environment.
  20. Summarise a wide body of literature and apply it to shaping a research plan and analysing results.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Our Biological Sciences (Zoology) degree aims to furnish you with the skills that today’s employers are looking for. Our graduates enjoy successful careers in science-related fields such as conservation, environmental management, scientific research, science communications and journalism, marine biology, agro-industry and wildlife management. Many others go on to study PhD or master’s degrees.

Our graduates also have many transferable skills that are attractive to a wide range of employers in more general areas of industry, commerce, public service, administration and management. Finally, a degree in the Biological Sciences can act as a stepping stone to further training in professional areas including teaching, medicine, dentistry, nursing, veterinary science, and accounting.

In 2016/17, 93% of the School’s graduates who were available for work reported that they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating. Experience has shown that students who have completed a Professional Training Year are particularly well-placed to obtain degree-related employment at the end of their studies.

Placements

This course includes a sandwich year which is spent on professional placement gaining relevant first-hand research experience. Your year will usually be spent with a single organisation, and you will carry out your own research project, undertaking all aspects of research, including data acquisition, analysis and presentation.

Our students find placements in a range of organisations, including research institutions, museums, field centres, zoos, wildlife trusts and other environmental organisations - recent examples include the Environment Agency, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (Hamburg) and the Bimini Shark Lab (Bahamas). Many students choose to undertake placements at universities both inside and outside the UK, including France, Italy, Germany, Malta, Spain, USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Our Placement Coordinators will help you to choose and arrange a suitable placement, and we make every effort to ensure that your placement offers practical research experience and training that is appropriate to your degree and career aspirations.

Throughout your placement year, you will continue to receive support from us. Your placement year will be assessed and will count towards your final degree. Some placement students receive a salary while on placement and others may receive a stipend (e.g. Erasmus studentship); if you do not receive a salary you will usually be eligible to apply for a student loan.

The ‘sandwich’ year is available to all students and is not dependent on you achieving certain grades in years one and two (though we would expect you to be doing well in order to be a competitive applicant for placements). You can also enter the University on a three-year BSc course, then choose to switch to a four-year sandwich programme in year two if you wish.

Finding a placement is a competitive process and success cannot be guaranteed. However, we are usually successful in helping our sandwich year students to secure relevant and rewarding placement positions.

Our Zoology degree also includes ample opportunities for practical field work, and students on the second year Ecology and Conservation module can choose from several specialised, project-based courses that run in a variety of locations throughout the world. Our field courses typically include tropical ecology (Borneo, Malaysia), marine ecology (Caribbean and Malaysia), river ecology (Wales) and woodland ecology (Wales). Please note: availability of individual field courses can be affected by travel constraints or staff availability.

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