MSci Animal Behaviour
|Typical offer||AAA; IB 36; BTEC: 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 2020
AAA; IB 36; BTEC: DDD
GCE AL grade A or IB HL6 in one of the following subjects: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Life and Health Sciences (Double Award only), Marine Science, Physics, Psychology or Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths, and GCSE Maths at grade B or 5, plus GCSE English Language at grade C or 4.
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.
If your academic qualifications or English language skills do not meet our entry requirements our INTO University of Exeter centre offers a range of courses to help you reach the required language and academic standards.
International Foundation programmes
Preparation for entry to Year 1 of an undergraduate degree:
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
- 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.
- Modern language courses
- 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,
- and 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.
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.
Global field courses
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 will help you to develop a wide range of essential skills such as analytical problem solving, team work and organising and communicating information. A number of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area, or by training as a teacher. 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.
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. Our graduates compete very successfully in the employment market, with many employers targeting the University when recruiting new graduates.
Supporting your career in Biosciences
Each year Biosciences students are able to access a huge range of opportunities to support their future career options. Recent events have included career insights with visiting alumni, mock interviews with visiting employers and alumni, postgraduate routes with a Biosciences degree, the Life and Environmental Sciences Careers Fair, and nature and conservation training courses.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Biosciences undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
Recent graduates are now working for:
- Aberystwyth University
- Ambios Ltd
- Badger Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- Eden Project
- Full Fat TV
- Mondelez International
- Newbury Investments Ltd.
- Stand Up for Nature
- Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust
- University of Exeter
- Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Recent graduates are now working as:
- Conservation Film-maker
- Content Editor and Video Creator
- Health Safety and Environment Technician
- Lab Technician/Research
- Media Officer
- Publishing Assistant
- Research Assistant
- Research Writer Internship
- Staff Writer
- STEM Technician
- Trainee Accountant
- Trainee Countryside Education Officer
- Trainee Teacher
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. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17.
- BVetMed Graduate Accelerated
- MPhil Biological Sciences
- MRes Tropical Forest Ecology
- MSc by Research in Biological Science
- MSc Climate Change Science and Policy
- MSc Conservation and Biodiversity
- MSC Conservation Science and Policy
- MSc Ecological Consultancy MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- MSc Marine Environmental Management
- MSc One Health (Infectious Diseases)
- MSc Zoo Conservation Biology
- PGCE Secondary Science
- Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (Frontline)
The University of Exeter also 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 after graduation, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.
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