Course details

Study options

Full-time: 4 years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

72 (September 2020 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BSc (Hons)

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

Few professions are as fulfilling as zoology. Your future could lie in safeguarding endangered species, improving habitats or promoting a greater understanding of animals in the wild and in captivity. Our BSc (Hons) Zoology with Foundation Year opens up exciting opportunities for you.

You can also study Zoology as a Joint Honours subject.

A man and a women in aquatic research facilities.

Foundation Year - helping you to achieve more

Including a foundation year as part of your four-year study programme will give you a head start in your academic and professional life. The foundation year offers the chance to strengthen your skills, knowledge and confidence – with extensive support from our expert staff – before you advance to stage one of your honours degree. It could also be beneficial if you are planning a career change and want to get to grips with aspects of subjects which are new to you.

Our degrees with a foundation year are continuous, meaning that you won’t need to apply again once you have successfully completed the first year.

No.1in the UK for student satisfaction in Biosciences with teaching and feedback**Guardian University Guide 2020

Gain the skills and confidence to move forward

Our foundation year gives you a solid platform for studying Zoology at honours degree level. You’ll build academic, research and data handling skills along with your knowledge of cellular biology, chemistry, geoscience, and organisms and their environment. 

Once you complete the foundation year successfully, you can progress smoothly to the honours degree, without applying again. This means you can achieve the highly regarded BSc (Hons) qualification in four years, benefiting throughout from the excellent student support which is a hallmark of our University.

Taking a foundation year at the start of your course is a wise move for anyone mapping out a new career direction or changing their choice of subject at university.

I feel the biggest impact was the foundation year, it helped me to adjust to university life and the structure, and has definitely helped me to become a better person socially and in my studies.

Jake Holness
Current student, BSc (Hons) Zoology

A fascinating and rewarding subject

This hands-on and wide-ranging degree will equip you with the intellectual, professional and technical abilities that employers expect of graduates. We cover topics such as animal biology, wildlife conservation, ecology and animal behaviour, together with the sciences which underpin zoology including genetics, biochemistry and statistics.

The course entails an engaging combination of lectures, practical laboratory sessions, tutorials and fieldwork. You’ll also have the chance to conduct an independent research project into a zoology-related subject that particularly enthuses you.

Build your practical skills in the field

This is a highly practical degree, so fieldwork will be a cornerstone of your study experience. We introduce you to a broad spectrum of survey techniques for a wide range of species.

Among recent examples, our students have explored animal interaction at Twycross Zoo and contributed to ecological initiatives in Majorca. Those taking our optional Tropical Marine Biology module have even conducted investigations in the Maldives.

an aerial shot of the Maldives.
Maldives Octopus - Image Group

In touch with leading employers

Our thriving employer collaborations will bring you into contact with some of the biggest names in zoology. We count zoos, wildlife parks, museums, conservation organisations, ecological consultancies and government bodies among our partners. In an exciting new development, we have joined forces with the National Sea Life Centre to open a  on campus.

As part of the course, you will have the opportunity to go on a work placement or internship within zoology-related industries. This will create an impressive addition to your CV, showing prospective employers that you have relevant and meaningful professional experience. We provide full support to help you make the most of this opportunity.

Voluntary work in the wider community will also enrich your practical skills. You could get involved in protecting nature reserves or revitalising green spaces for the benefit of the public.

A course underpinned by pioneering research

Our teaching team will engage and inspire you to achieve more. Passionate about their subject and committed to your success, they have an international profile for quality research. They publish influential papers, address global conferences, serve on the editorial boards of scientific journals and are regular media commentators.

The many groundbreaking research studies underway at Derby cover topics such as the evolution of animal mating strategies; disease-causing agents in corals; bioremediation of freshwater ecosystems; the welfare of captive orangutans; and the genetics and conservation of natterjack toads.

We also regularly welcome professionals from the world of zoology and related fields who deliver guest lectures on latest theories and developments.

an iceberg

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

Specialising in securing clean environments, nature recovery, and resilience to natural hazards, we work collaboratively to safeguard our planet for future generations.

Learn more about our research Learn more about our research

What you will study

You’ll study modules such as:

  • English 
  • Maths
  • Study Skills in Science - The module will help you understand university systems and processes, the study skills you require to succeed and the role you have in your own learning, in particular referencing, rules and responsibilities, time-management, and team-work
  • Principles of Cellular Biology - You will be introduced to the key concepts that underpin biological sciences. The module will provide you with a theoretical understanding of the fundamental bioscience areas of cellular biology, biochemistry and genetics
  • Organisms and their Environment - This module develops a basic understanding of ecology, biodiversity and environmental sustainability, through the study of interactions between organisms in natural environments and those modified by man
  • Research Methods and Data Handling - You will develop a working knowledge of both quantitative and qualitative data handling skills

Optional modules

  • Principles of Chemistry - The module gives you an overview of some of the basic chemical principles that form the foundations of chemistry. You will learn about the fundamental building blocks of chemistry, exploring the states of matter, its structure and organisation
  • Foundations in Geoscience - This module offers a place-based introduction to the field of Geoscience. You will gain a multidisciplinary understanding of geography and geology and how these subjects can be applied to understand real world issues at the local scale
  • Fundamentals of Human Anatomy and Physiology - This module will provide you with a theoretical understanding of physiology and anatomy of the relevant body systems. You will explore these concepts for a range of body systems in relation to what these systems consist of and how they function

If you already have level 2 English and Maths, you will not be required to take English and Maths core modules.

  • Induction Module (Zero credits) - This module provides you with an introduction to studying at the University of Derby. It is designed to provide an online environment in which you can become proficient in the skills required for HE study 
  • Ecology - You will be introduced to the interactions between organisms and their environment. This module includes both tutorials and fieldwork
  • Evolution of Life - You will be introduced to the process of biological evolution and to the variety of living plants and animals. You'll focus on the first groups of organisms to evolve, prior to the colonisation of land
  • Genetics - You will gain a broad introduction to, and basic understanding of, the key concepts in classical and molecular genetics
  • Human Biology - You will explore the relationship between structure and function in the human body, and study the inter-dependence of life support systems and the interaction of the biological state with the environment
  • Invasion of the Land - You will focus on groups of organisms that have adapted to life on land, including terrestrial fungi, lower and higher plants, insects, spiders and amphibians, reptiles and mammals
  • Chemistry of Life - You will be introduced to the basic concepts of chemistry and how molecules are used in the functioning of the cell unit and its biochemical processes
  • Research Methods - You will learn about planning and conducting research including analysis of data using statistics. This helps to prepare you for your own independent studies research carried out at Stage 3
  • Invertebrates - You will examine the range of form and function among the major invertebrate groups and the possible evolutionary relationships between them. The module will also explore life-history strategies and invertebrate communities (in plankton, leaf-litter and freshwater)
  • Vertebrate Biology - This module examines the range of forms of vertebrates and considers the evolutionary relationships within the group. It considers evidence from morphology, anatomy, and behaviour to support the evolutionary hypotheses
  • Independent Research and Professional Development (Zero credits) - This module will prepare you for your Independent Studies research project undertaken at level 6. It will also address your current professional development with a focus on increasing awareness of graduate skill and career pathways

Optional modules:

  • Biological Basis of Animal Behaviour - You will explore the study of animal behaviour including physiological mechanisms and evolutionary function. There will also be a field trip to a zoo
  • Field Biology - You will look at terrestrial, aquatic or marine environments, where you will build on the ecological and biological concepts that you are learning during your second year. There is a subsidised European fieldtrip, currently to Mallorca, but there is also a Derby-based option
  • Human Reproduction - You will cover a range of topics in the field of human reproduction, including developmental genetics, infertility, sexually transmitted diseases and sex determination
  • Microbiology - You will learn about microbial structure and function, and how this relates to the harmful and beneficial effects of microbes. An appreciation of microbial diversity will be developed, through exploring microbial roles in a range of settings such as environment, biotechnology, and health
  • Rainforests, Deserts and Oceans - You will look at the interactions of organisms within biomes, and review issues associated with the sustainable exploitation of different biomes. This module includes a fieldtrip
  • Molecular Biology - You will develop an understanding of the molecular basis of fundamental biological and forensic processes, such as transcription and translation. You will be introduced to the current techniques and approaches in molecular biology applied in a forensic and evolutionary context

This course offers an ‘Industrial Placement Year’ giving you the opportunity to enhance your practical skills by putting theory into practice, network in your industry and stand-out in the graduate job market. The placement year takes place in your third year, once completed, you would return to University to complete your final year of studies.

  • Applied Professional Practice
  • Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice
  • Independent Studies for Conservation, Biology and Ecosystems - You will undertake an independent piece of work of your choosing (subject to approval). This module represents an opportunity to exercise initiative, creative thinking, and organisational skills, and is a continuation of personal skill development initiated at Levels 4 and 5

Optional modules:

  • Applied Entomology - This module focuses on insects in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. You will explore physiology, lifecycles, behaviour and classification and look at how insects are used in four core areas of applied entomology; veterinary and medical entomology, agricultural entomology, environmental entomology and forensic entomology
  • Behavioural Ecology - You will focus on two of the main topics in this field: sexual selection and the evolution of altruistic behaviour. By introducing students to current areas of research and controversy in behavioural ecology, it is hoped that they will develop an appreciation of the nature of research in this area
  • Habitat Management - Ever increasing pressures are being placed on the natural environment whilst at the same time there is a necessity to maintain global biodiversity. It will only be possible to achieve both in a crowded world by carefully managing selected areas for their wildlife. Such management, if carried out scientifically, has the potential not only to maintain or enhance biodiversity but to restore it
  • Oncology and Immunology - Subjects covered will include the genetics of cancer biology, carcinogenesis and epidemiology, virology and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance. The teaching team will include experts from medicine and research, and careers in these fields will be emphasised
  • Science Communication - Effective communication of scientific information to a wide audience is vital social, economic and political tool for society. You will explore the spectrum of delivery methods in modern society including newspapers, museums, TV and the internet. You will discover the challenges of ineffective communication through a series of case studies
  • Vocational Module - The student has freedom to select an appropriate host organisation to undertake a placement within a company, voluntary body or public establishment. The project should be selected so as to generate benefit to the host organisation. An integral part of the student experience is the compilation of a report based on deep reflection of personal experiences acquired during the placement
  • Wildlife Conservation - Biodiversity loss is seen by governments as one of the most important concerns facing the continued healthy survival of human populations in an increasingly crowded world. This module critically examines methods used to create the conditions under which wildlife can continue to exist in natural environments alongside human societies
  • Ecological Consultancy - You will examine key elements and skills required to start a career in ecology. You will be introduced to a series of survey techniques including phase 1 habitat surveys and survey techniques for a range of species and taxonomic groups.  This content will be complemented by site assessment and report writing skills designed to ensure that learners can meet the exacting requirements of a professional report
  • Tropical Marine Biology - You will gain a broad understanding of coral reef ecology covering both theoretical and practical aspects. This module includes fieldwork where you will see one of the most biodiverse habitats in the world and understand how the coral reefs in particular are being effected by climate change. Please note that there is an additional cost element due to the field work involved
  • Advanced Methods in Zoology - This module draws on the expertise of members of staff and trains students in various areas of research, addressing skills that are rarely taught within zoology degrees. Indicative example topics that may be included: advanced statistics using programme R, an introduction to GIS, in particular home-range analysis and habitat selection using the same software programme R, and Imaging methods – including the use of our Scanning Electron Microscope
  • Student Initiated Module

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

University of Derby student drinking coffee

How you will learn

You’ll be taught through lectures and tutorials, supported by hands-on practicals and fieldwork. You could study rutting red deer, or spend a week completing a project in the Mediterranean. You’ll also conduct an independent research project to develop your analytical skills in an area of your choice.


Assessment is varied and includes computer-based assessments, scientific posters and oral presentations, professional reports, essays, making short videos, fieldwork and laboratory reports, as well as traditional written examinations. Many assessments can be tailored to suit your own interests and career goals.

Work placements

We offer full support to you if you decide to do a work placement in year three, which we strongly recommend. Work placement allows you to apply in a working environment the skills and knowledge you have gained on your course. This will give you more desirability in the eyes of potential employers. There is also a vocational module so you can gain credits by doing work related to your degree.

Entry requirements

September 2020 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points72 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-levelN/A
Specific requirements at GCSE

GCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at L2 as part of your course of study.

IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionN/A

Alternative entry qualifications:

We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*



£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


This degree provides the ideal preparation for a career as a zoologist, ecologist, marine scientist, environmental consultant or nature conservationist. You could follow in the footsteps of our recent graduates who are now making their mark in zoos, wildlife parks, wildlife trusts, the RSPCA, the Environment Agency, veterinary practices and environmental consultancies.

Because the course combines knowledge of zoology with skills in analysis, data interpretation, communication, report writing and project management, your career scope will be broader still. You could consider roles in research, teaching, the museum sector, the media, the scientific civil service and areas such as biomedical science.

If your ambition lies in postgraduate study – such as medical qualifications, a masters degree or a PhD – this course also provides a firm foundation for success.

You could choose to continue learning at Derby with our MSc Conservation Biology, on which certain combinations of modules will make you eligible for membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

Programme leader

Dr Maren Huck

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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