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Biological Sciences (Zoology) with Preliminary Year and 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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Orangutan in trees

Course overview

Our Biological Sciences (Zoology) degree with Preliminary Year and Professional Training Year is a five-year course. The Preliminary Year covers key topics in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics and leads to a BSc in any of the subjects offered by the School of Biosciences. The preliminary year is designed for students who lack a sufficient background in science, and it will provide you with the knowledge and understanding needed to thrive in the year one curriculum and beyond.

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 a sandwich 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

  • Enjoy a flexible course structure that enables you to tailor your degree to match your interests and aspirations.
  • Enhance your career prospects and gain professional research experience with a sandwich year placement.
  • Develop your field research skills with one of our popular project-based field courses. Opt for one of our UK-based courses or choose to travel further afield to locations such as Tobago or Borneo.
  • Experience the excitement of learning in active research environment, with teaching staff who are leading researchers in their field.
  • Make use of the latest equipment, techniques and facilities in your project work.
  • The School of Biosciences offers exciting training opportunities with a conservation-focused field centre in Borneo and strong involvement in the University's Sustainable Places Research Institute.
UCAS codeC303
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration5 years
ModeFull time with sandwich year
  1. School of Law and Politics

    Law Building

    Museum Avenue

    Cardiff

    CF10 3AX

  2. Inc

    Students' Union

    Park Place

    Cardiff

    CF10 3QN

  3. School of Welsh

    John Percival Building

    Colum Drive

    Cardiff

    CF10 3EU

  4. School of Music

    Music Building

    31 Corbett Road

    Cathays

    Cardiff

    CF10 3EB

  5. Salon

    Students' Union

    Park Place

    Cardiff

    CF10 3QN

  6. Jobshop

    Students' Union

    Park Place

    Cardiff

    CF10 3QN

  7. Cardiff Business School

    Aberconway Building

    Colum Road

    Cathays

    Cardiff

    CF10 3EU

  8. School of Medicine

    Main Hospital Building

    University Hospital of Wales

    Heath Park

    Cardiff

    CF14 4XN

  9. Pool Room 0.22

    Cochrane Building

    Heath Park

    Cardiff

    CF14 4YU

  10. Pool Room 0.24

    Cochrane Building

    Heath Park

    Cardiff

    CF14 4YU

The rich ecology of Wales provides the perfect environment to develop and hone your skills as a field researcher, and you can then take these skills with you around the world.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements shown are for students starting in 2019. Entry requirements for 2020 will be available in August 2019.

AAB-ABB. (This programme is designed for applicants who do not have the required qualifications to study a Biosciences degree.)

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 any subject other than Applied Science (and variations of Applied Science), with D in all of the Core/Mandatory Units

IB Diploma with an overall score of 34 points OR IB Diploma with 655 in 3 Higher Level subjects

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

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

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

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page 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.

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 five academic years. It begins with the Preliminary Year which covers key topics in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, and will underpin future studies.

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 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Preliminary year

Year one

Year two

Year three: Sandwich year

Year four

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:

Transferable/Key Skills:

  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

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 – recent examples of placement destinations include universities in 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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