MSc Animal Behaviour


Streatham Campus, Exeter

The only taught MSc programme in the United Kingdom allowing both psychology and biology students to investigate animal behaviour, our MSc in Animal Behaviour is designed to provide you with a strong background in a broad cross-section of research methods used in the study of animal behaviour, cognition, ecology, conservation and welfare. We also welcome applications from students from other areas of the natural and social sciences with a strong interest in Animal Behaviour and preferably previous exposure to statistical methods.

Animal Behaviour is a broad and multidisciplinary research discipline. The purpose of the programme is to give you the opportunity to advance and expand your knowledge across the main areas of current research in animal behaviour and to gain expertise in the research and statistical methods being taught by research-active faculty who are experts in each of the areas. You will have the opportunity to learn how to formulate and test relevant research questions, as well as learning to critically evaluate the research carried out by others in the field.

You will undertake your own original research in the research apprenticeship which is a special benefit of our programme. It starts early in the course with the selection of the topic and supervisor, and continues with the development of a research proposal and application to the ethics committee. Data are usually collected in term 3, although this may vary depending on the requirements of the project. It enables you to develop your research skills by working alongside experienced researchers and writing up their research in the form of a journal article for potential publishing. Many students work with researchers in Psychology or with other researchers at Natural England, Paignton Zoo or other organisations in the UK and abroad. Further information can be found on the Psychology website.

The programme will give you an insight into the varied means of performing animal behaviour research in a wide array of locations with wild and (semi-)captive animals – in urban and rural field settings, laboratory, zoo or under human management. On successful completion of the MSc you will have the skills to pursue a PhD or follow a career working in zoos, research centres, nature reserves, wildlife and other animal-related offices, education, scientific media and the expanding field of eco-tourism. We have long-standing experience teaching this course, and examples of our graduate destinations include PhD research, research assistants, zoo research officers, lecturers, animal keepers, technicians, warden trainee, staff in a research centre, an animal welfare charity, a wildlife filming company, a scientific editorial, education and wildlife officers.

The teaching and learning methods are a mix of lectures, seminars, research talks, practicals and field courses. Overall an active learning style is emphasised and individual interactions between students and staff fostered throughout the programme. The University's and School's teaching facilities, such as an online learning platform, computer and A/V suites, 24/7 library, study spaces, animal labs and specialised equipment, support the learning process effectively. Taught classes take place in the first two terms of the year, with class times scheduled across the week on average on four days a week leaving you a fifth day for preparatory work on your research placement. For part-time students this will be less and depend on the selection of taught modules taken in each of the two years. Furthermore, you have the option to apply to the Psychology Internship Scheme, one of the School's Employability activities, to gain further research and practical experience under the supervision of a member of staff.