MSci Animal Behaviour
|Typical offer||A*AA-AAB; IB 38-34; BTEC D*DD-DDD|
|Location||Cornwall (Penryn Campus)|
Animal Behaviour video
Find out more about the Animal Behaviour programme from staff and students.
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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 two projects. Each of these will focus on a specialised area aligned with one of our leading research groups, and it is expected that one will be carried out in partnership with an external organisation. 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.
Animal behaviourists aim to understand natural behaviours; how they vary among individuals, species and species groups; how current and past environments and ecology influence behaviour; and the underlying gene-environment interactions that result in various behaviours. The programme highlights the value of studying animals in their natural habitats, utilising the expertise of staff members who run long-term studies of iconic species in the wild. This approach is underpinned by field courses in the second and third years.
Throughout the programme, an interdisciplinary approach is encouraged and 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.
- You will identify natural behaviour patterns, understand how behaviour varies among individuals and species (wild, domestic, and captive) and explore how current and past environments and ecology influence not only behaviour, but also the underlying gene-environment interactions that shape it
- Learn the value of studying animals in their natural habitats, utilising the expertise of staff members who run long-term studies of iconic species in the wild, an approach underpinned by field courses in the second and third years
- Take an interdisciplinary approach throughout the programmes, gaining a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques used to study animal behaviour
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 may also take a residential field course to the Azores, Borneo, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, India, Tenerife or Yukon-Alaska* to gain practical experience of research in the wild.
The fourth year provides an opportunity to work on an advanced literature review and a research project, both focused on a specialised area aligned with one of our leading research groups. You will also spend two weeks on an intensive field course on which your scientific field research, debating and presentation skills will be further developed.
- BSc Animal Behaviour
- BSc Animal Behaviour with Professional Placement
- BSc Animal Behaviour with Study Abroad
*Field course destinations are subject to change. Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs.
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.
The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted, or replaced as a consequence of the annual review of this programme.
You may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.
You may take elective modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme in stages 2 and 3 of the programme as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.
If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking intensive fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment can be considered. This could include replacing a fieldwork module with an alternative in agreement with the Director of Education.
You are also permitted to take the five-credit module LES3910 Professional Development Experience in any year. Registration on this module is subject to a competitive application process. If taken, this module will not count towards progression or award calculation.
Entry requirements 2019
A*AA-AAB; IB 38-34; BTEC D*DD-DDD
GCE AL grade B or IB HL5 in one of the following subjects: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology or Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths, and GCSE Maths at grade B or 5.
Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE AL science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Fish Management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology
International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programme for Biomedical, Life and Environmental Sciences.
Please read the important information about our Typical offer.
For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.
Learning and teaching
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.
Learning and teaching is through lectures, seminars, tutorials, field work, laboratory sessions and independent study with internationally recognised, research-active staff. You will have the opportunity to undertake challenging independent research projects dealing with questions and issues at the cutting edge of life science research. Regular research seminars, by our staff and visiting lecturers, bring you the latest issues on a wide range of research topics.
In your final year you will become an active member of our research team. 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.
We frequently introduce new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. You can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.
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.
Foreign Language Centre Penryn
Undergraduates based in Penryn can boost their 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 in Penryn 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 about the FLC can be found on our website
Further details about the FLC can be found on our website
We pride ourselves on providing a very high standard of care and support to our students. You will have a Personal Tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information.
At the University of Exeter we are committed to creating a supportive learning environment in which you will be able to reach your full potential – whatever your ambitions may be. One of the best examples of this has been the introduction of a successful peer tutoring scheme, run by Biosciences students in Cornwall, for students.
As a first year student, you will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second year and PhD students, which span a range of key areas, such as social and pastoral care, key skills, employability and discipline specific support. One of the main aims of these groups is to give you the opportunity to gain advice from your peers who have been in your position before, and can help ease your transition into university life.
The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you then have the opportunity to suggest subsequent session topics. This allows the sessions to be tailored to the direct needs of you and your fellow students. Social media outlets, such as Facebook and Google groups, are also utilised to host dedicated pages that promote continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
In its first year, more than 70 Biosciences students took part in the peer mentoring scheme, being coached by students who are further along in their course and who act as guides to study and university life and offer an additional layer of support. Despite its success, the scheme is continually evolving. In order to ensure you make the most of the groups, there are now more direct links between session content and modules, they will immediately follow lectures where possible, and a large scale awareness campaign will take place at the beginning of the academic year to encourage as many students as possible to participate.
The peer mentoring scheme gives you a wonderful opportunity to help shape your time at University and truly make your mark – your future really is in your own hands.
From the beginning we asked the students to help shape the peer mentoring project. This is a scheme that is run by students, for students, so it is important that we know it is reaching its full potential. I think a lot of students feel that getting advice from their fellow students is both worthwhile and beneficial, and we are keen to actively promote this as much as possible.
But more than that, we want to make sure students are full engaged and thinking not only about their time here, but also their career options once they leave. It is more important than ever to be switched on about making the most of opportunities such as work experience and volunteering, as well as meeting the challenges their studies present.
Already, this scheme has proved popular and successful, and we will ensure that it is always designed with students as the primary focus – we rely on the students not only telling us what is useful but also how to drive it forward.
Dr Andy Pye Senior Academic, Pastoral Tutor and Educational Enhancement Link Advisor Biosciences, Penryn Campus.
Field work video
Find out the importance of field work to undergraduate programmes in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. View full size.
Field Course Fortnight
We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations. Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a number of options including understanding the ecology and evolutionary biology of Switzerland or the Pyrenees, studying tropical biodiversity in Borneo, learning about special ecosystems of North Cyprus, visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or watching grizzly bears fish for salmon in Alaska, to name but a few.
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.
Find out more
Visit our Fieldwork page for more information.
A degree in Animal Behaviour from the University of Exeter will provide you with a wide range of skills which will be useful for your future study or employment. Our BSc Animal Behaviour will help you develop skills in: scientific methods of data collection; researching, analysing and assessing sources; written and verbal communication; managing and interpreting information; and developing ideas and arguments.
A career in the field of animal behaviour is both challenging and enjoyable. On graduation you will be well placed to apply your knowledge to a research career, or to the management, conservation and welfare of wild, captive and domestic animals. You may wish to pursue further study through a Masters or PhD, or a career:
- in the field of ecological consultancy
- as a research officer, assistant or technician (field or lab) in a university, non-profit organisation (including wildlife NGOs), government organisation, business, or zoo
- in the field of ecotourism
- as a science teacher
- as a wildlife film maker
Developing your skills and career prospects
Biosciences provide a range of support and opportunities to help you develop skills that are attractive to employers. Visit our Careers and Employability web page for more information.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Biosciences undergraduate programmes in Cornwall. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2012/13. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
Assistant Field Director
Media and Communications Manager
Practical Countryside Ranger
Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre
African Horseback Safaris
Orang-utan Health Project
University of Exeter
The Royal Parks
Oxford Real Farming Conference
Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree in Cornwall. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2012/13. Please note that, due to data protection, the subjects of study and institutions are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
|Conservation and biodiversity
Survey and land management
Conservation science and policy
Evolution of pathogens
Food security and sustainable agriculture
Sustainable tropical agroforestry
|University of Exeter
Queen Mary, University of London
University of Rennes
University of Reading
University College London
Find out more
Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise the employment prospects of our graduates employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website.
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. The career focused activities done recently are an example of this where lecturers are willing to put in a lot of effort to help us. 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