- Our MSci provides an opportunity to work on a project focused on a specialised area aligned with one of our leading research groups
- Study aspects of behaviour in wild, domestic and captive animals
- Understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of natural behaviour: how current and past environments and ecology influence behaviour, how behaviour is shaped by underlying gene-environment interactions, and why we see variation among individuals, species and species groups
- Experience extensive fieldwork in the UK and international locations
- The programme highlights the value of studying animals in their natural habitats
11th in the world for Ecology
ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021
Top 20 in the UK for world-leading research in Biological Sciences
REF 2021, based on 4-star research
90% of our research in Biological Sciences is internationally excellent
Based on research rated 4* and 3* in the Research Excellence Framework 2021
Entry requirements (typical offer)
|Qualification||Typical offer||Required subjects|
|A-Level||AAA||A in a science subject*|
|IB||36/666||HL6 in a science subject*|
|BTEC||DDD||Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE A-level Science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Environmental Sustainability, Fish Management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology|
|GCSE||C or 4
B or 5
C or 4 in English Language
B or 5 in Mathematics
|Access to HE||30 L3 credits at Distinction Grade and 15 L3 credits at Merit Grade||To include at least 15 L3 credits at Distinction Grade in a science subject|
Specific subject requirements must still be achieved where stated above. Find out more about contextual offers.
|Other UK, EU and International equivalences|
NB General Studies is not included in any offer.
Grades advertised on each programme webpage are the typical level at which our offers are made and provide information on any specific subjects an applicant will need to have studied in order to be considered for a place on the programme. However, if we receive a large number of applications for the programme we may not be able to make an offer to all those who are predicted to achieve/have achieved grades which are in line with our typical offer. For more information on how applications are assessed and when decisions are released, please see: After you apply
*Accepted science subjects: Biology/Human Biology; Chemistry; Economics; Environmental Studies; Geography; Life and Health Sciences (Double Award only); Marine Science; Physics; Psychology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths; Nutrition and Food Science
The four-year MSci Animal Behaviour programme mirrors the BSc Animal Behaviour programme during the first three years, but also includes an additional fourth year during which you will undertake a research project, an advanced statistical modelling module and a literature review. The research project will focus on a specialised area aligned with one of our leading research groups. The remainder of your time will be spent on a two-week intensive field course in which your scientific field-research, debating, and presentation skills will be further developed.
Throughout this programme you will be exposed to a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques used to study animal behaviour. We will provide you with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of animal behaviour. The programme covers the evolution and adaptive function of behaviour in the wild, its physiological and neuronal control, and how animals develop socially and cognitively through experience.
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Gain broad experience of zoology, ecology, and evolutionary biology while learning about the main concepts underlying the scientific study of animal behaviour. Study the major milestones in behaviour research and explore current topics of outstanding interest. In practical classes, learn how to collect data on behaviour and to analyse and interpret results in a rigorous scientific manner.
Discover how behaviour is influenced by genes and the environment in which an animal develops, and how behaviour is regulated by hormones and neuronal mechanisms. Learn evolutionary approaches to the study of behaviour, with a focus on how natural selection shapes the behaviour and life histories of animals in their natural environment. Experience a residential field course to gain an understanding of habitats and biodiversity.
Undertake a research project with a member of academic staff. Tailor your degree to your interests, gaining expertise in your chosen area. You will also take a residential field course to gain practical experience of research in the wild.
Tuition fees for 2023 entry
UK students: £9,250 per year
International students: £27,000 per year
Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations.
You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, e.g. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen.
The University of Exeter has over £2.5 million in scholarships available for students applying to study with us in 2023 - including our Global Excellence Scholarships* for international fee paying students and financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower income households and other under-represented groups to help them access, succeed and progress through higher education.
* Terms and conditions apply. See online for details.
We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations.
These field courses not only allow you to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world situations in superb locations, but also provide a fantastic opportunity to forge lasting relationships with fellow students and academics.
Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a range of options such as visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or witnessing the impact of climate change, farming and tourism on the Swiss Alps.
Please note, whilst a compulsory field course is included in the tuition fee, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. Field course destinations are subject to change.
Learning and teaching
Learn from experts
We believe that every student benefits from being part of a culture that is inspired by research and being taught by experts. You will discuss the very latest ideas in seminars and tutorials and be an active member of a research team. Our academics bring their results from the laboratory and the field directly to their teaching, and our students also help to collect this data.
We have very close links with a wide range of conservation organisations in the UK and overseas, such as the British Trust for Ornithology, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Marine Conservation Society. These links mean you will benefit from frequent guest lectures, placement opportunities and project work.
Your first year does not count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. All marks after your first year count towards your final classification.
Modules are assessed using a variety of methods including essays, exams, presentations, laboratory reports and a dissertation.
Taking modules outside of your programme
Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or widen your intellectual horizons.
Proficiency in a foreign language
You can boost your employability by using up to 30 credits each year to study a foreign language. If you study the language for more than one year you may be entitled to have ‘with proficiency in’ added to your degree certificate. The Foreign Language Centre will be offering modules in French and Spanish language from complete beginners up to advanced levels, plus German and Mandarin Chinese from beginner’s level.
If you achieve at least 60 credits in a language via our Foreign Language Centre you may be able to have the words ‘with proficiency in’ and the language added to your degree title.
Further details can be found on the Foreign Language Centre web pages.
Proficiency in Law
Students on this course are now able to add ‘with proficiency in Law’ to their degree title, by gaining a strand of additional legal knowledge and skills that adds value to their degree.
The ‘With proficiency in Law’ modules being offered to non-law students provide a theoretical and technical basis for understanding the regulatory and legal frameworks that you might encounter within your main field of study. These modules lend themselves strongly to students wishing to develop their skillset to work across the environment and sustainability sector and in wider business.
If you accrue at least 60 credits in elective law modules you will have ‘with proficiency in Law’ added to your degree title.
- Personal Tutor: You will have a Personal Tutor available for advice and support throughout your studies.
- Study skills: Help with essay writing, research skills, time management, presentations and more.
- All first-years will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second-year and PhD Biosciences students in Cornwall, which span a range of key areas, such as
- Social and pastoral care
- Key skills
- Discipline specific support
- These groups allow you to benefit from advice from your more experienced peers, helping ease your transition into university life.
- The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you can then suggest subsequent session topics, so sessions are tailored to your direct needs.
- Social media groups, such as on Facebook and Google, are also used for continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
- There are direct links between session content and modules, which immediately follow lectures where possible.
Our facilities include:
- Teaching laboratories
- Computing suites
- Field equipment for research projects
- Library and online resources
The Biosciences staff at the Penryn Campus are extremely helpful and always willing to go above and beyond to make sure we have the correct support. Generally any issues we have can be sorted and the lecturers care about (and can recognise) every individual student. I feel honoured to have studied under such leading scientists.
Biosciences undergraduate student, Penryn Campus
Employer-valued skills this course develops
A degree in Biosciences will help you to develop a wide range of essential skills such as analytical problem solving, team work and organising and communicating information. Many of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area.
Supporting your career in Biosciences
Each year Biosciences students are able to access a huge range of opportunities to support their future career options. Sector related careers and employability sessions are put on for the students over the course of their programme which include: career talks and networking events with visiting alumni and employers from a range of backgrounds, employability seminar series events hosted by employers, ‘Dragons Den’ style assessment days, mock interviews and an annual Careers Fair where students can develop networking skills.
We have a dedicated, award-winning Careers Service ensuring you have access to careers advisors, mentors and the tools you need to succeed in finding employment in your chosen field on graduation. We offer the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award which include employability-related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.
The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Whatever path you wish to follow, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.
Many of our graduates are employed in discipline relevant roles in the UK and overseas including laboratory-based positions, conservation management, ecology, teaching and nursing. Others use the skills gained on their course to enter widely different career paths in law, business or management. Whatever you choose to do after graduation, your Biosciences degree will stand you in good stead, with excellent employment prospects and transferable skills.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates from our Biosciences undergraduate programmes*.
Recent graduates are now working as:
- Conservation professionals
- Biological scientists
- Environment professionals
- Laboratory technicians
- Welfare and housing associate professionals
- Web design professionals
- Public relations professionals
- Photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators
- Archivists and curators
Recent graduates are now working for:
- Cornwall Science Community
- Darwin Ecology
- Ecology Solutions
- Fishtek Consulting
- Harris Lamb Property Consultants
- Natural England
- Society for the Protection of Turtles
- UKSTEM Ltd
- World Wildlife Fund
Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes*.
- MPH/MRes/PhD Biological Sciences
- MPH Medical Studies
- MRes Ecosystem and Environmental Change
- MSc Conservation and Biodiversity
- MSc Environment and Human Health
- MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- MSc Immunology
- MSc Marine Environmental Management
- MSc Surveying and Land/Environmental Management
- MSc Toxicology
*This information has been taken from aggregating the responses from full-time, first degree, UK domiciled students who completed 2017/18 and 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes surveys. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.