We've designed our BSc (Hons) Zoology to produce knowledgeable graduates who can tackle global challenges. You'll get fieldwork opportunities in the UK and abroad and hands-on laboratory experience. And you'll benefit from our links with zoos and wildlife groups.
This is a truly hands-on course. We will give you the intellectual and practical skills you'll need to understand the complexities of the animal kingdom. You'll learn about behaviour, ecology, conservation and genetics.
Fieldwork opportunities in the UK and overseas
Use of our Aquatic Research Facility, glasshouse, insectary, and specialist laboratories
Research-active lecturers in fields such as coral reef conservation, evolution of primate behaviour, and climate change
Course content aligns to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Accredited by the Royal Society of Biology
Accredited degree pathway status from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
Placements and internship opportunities with our partner organisations. This course can be studied with or without an Industrial Placement Year
Biology and Zoology - your questions answered
Programme Leader for Biology Dr David Elliott answers your frequently asked questions about Biology and Zoology. You can also watch exclusive subject content by signing up to Derby on Demand.
Zoology at Derby
We are at a decisive moment in our history. Human progress is disturbing the natural balance of our environment. This is despite global efforts from government officials and policy makers to promote coexistence between humanity and our ecosystems. We need leaders who are bold and innovative in their approach if we are to restore and protect for future generations.
Are you passionate about protecting endangered species? Safeguarding habitats? Enhancing the knowledge and understanding of animals in the wild and in captivity? If so, then this course is for you.
Our focus is on equipping you with strong intellectual, technical, research and personal skills. We will help you to build an impressive CV and meet the needs of employers. We have mapped the content of our courses to the priorities of global initiatives, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This ensures you graduate with the scientific skills and knowledge needed to transform the issues of today.
Our Zoology course focuses on animal biology. And we cover topics such as wildlife conservation, ecology and animal behaviour. You’ll also cover sciences that underpin zoology, including genetics, biochemistry and statistics.
Zoology is a practical subject, so you will learn in the laboratory, field and classroom. Whatever you are studying, we will encourage you to link with employers, from short-term work experience to a full year in industry.
You’ll join a community of staff and students dedicated to applying their passion, knowledge and skills to help safeguard the survival of Earth’s natural environments and animal populations.
Some of our Zoology and Biology students tell us about the moments that inspired them to study the course.
98%of students agreed that staff are good at explaining things**BSc (Hons) Zoology - National Student Survey 2022
Top 20for Zoology**The Guardian University Guide 2023
2ndin the UK for Student satisfaction with the course**Zoology subject area - The Guardian University Guide 2023
6thin the UK for student satisfaction with teaching**Zoology subject area - The Guardian University Guide 2023
11thfor careers 15 months after graduating**Zoology subject area - The Guardian University Guide 2023
13thin the UK for student Satisfaction**Biological Sciences subject area - The Complete University Guide 2023
You'll be working with lecturers and tutors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. They are carrying out research designed to offer fresh perspectives on important issues. Their wide-ranging work includes research into:
Improving the resilience of coral reefs to climate change
The evolution of primates
Insect reproduction and behaviour
Coral reef systems and megafauna
Dr Michael Sweet, Associate Professor in Aquatic Biology, is one of the lecturers you will work with on the course. Before coming to Derby, he travelled the world working on a variety of projects:
Biodiversity index surveys in the Philippines and Malaysia
Radio tracking Sumatran rhinos in Borneo
Being a game ranger in mainland Africa and Madagascar
Michael is now the manager of our Aquatic Research Facility and teaches on several of our undergraduate modules. He is also involved in a major research project looking at diseases that affect coral reefs.
Fieldwork is a vital element of this course. Every stage of your studies will be enriched with fieldwork opportunities. The cost of mandatory fieldwork is included in your course fee. Through our fieldwork programme, we have introduced students to a variety of survey techniques for a wide range of species, such as:
Studying animal interaction at Twycross Zoo
Conducting ecological projects in Mallorca
Undertaking scientific investigations in the Maldives (for students on our Tropical Marine Biology module)
Investigating plant adaptations at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew
You’ll also have access to Cuckoos Tor, a site on the edge of the Peak District National Park and owned by the University of Derby that is dedicated to long-term research and ecological experiments. Current projects include restoration ecology, natural flood risk management, community engagement with biodiversity, and sustainable land management - and you’ll be able to get involved.
You'll also have opportunities to apply for work placements and paid internships. All of this means you'll be well placed to launch your career, either in a graduate job or in further study or research.
Our second-year students went to Mallorca for a week as part of their optional Field Biology module. They went on short excursions, explored plant diversity, searched for invertebrates, went on scenic hikes and located wild goats. And, all the time, surrounded by stunning island landscapes.
This course was one of the first of its kind in the country to receive accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology. This accolade carries significant weight within the sector. It is only granted after a rigorous independent assessment.
The Royal Society acts as a single unified voice for biology. It advises the government, influencing policy, advancing education and professional development. And it encourages public interest in the life sciences.
The Royal Society only accredits degrees that offer students a solid academic foundation in subject knowledge, technical abilities and transferable skills. This means that, when you graduate, you’ll meet the requirements for Associate Membership of the Society (AMSB). Following appropriate professional experience, you can then apply for full membership. This is recognised widely throughout the industry and by potential employers.
We also have accredited degree pathway status from the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM). CIEEM approval means this course offers you the knowledge and practical skills required by employers for a wide range of applied practitioner roles.
Kirk's passion for Zoology gained national exposure
BSc (Hons) Zoology student, Kirk Mason received his first taste of fame after a short video of his was featured on BBC’s popular nature show Springwatch.
You’ll benefit from excellent opportunities for work experience and internships. We have our partnerships with organisations such as Sea Life, Derby Museums and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. We encourage you to undertake work experience throughout your degree. This will give you real insights into zoology and related areas.
You could also get involved in voluntary work with zoology-related industries and the wider community. This could include helping to safeguard local nature sites and improving the region's green spaces.
We are currently working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derby City Council on rewilding Allestree Park. This is the UK’s largest rewilding space which has involved a community consultation to find out what local people want. Some of our students are already working on independent studies projects in the park, with one test-driving the citizen science protocols for monitoring the changes in the park as the rewilding continues.
We have also just won two associate Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, lasting two years, to predict the trajectory of rewilding ecosystems. This will enable you to learn about the remote sensing and modelling we use for this. It will also enable staff to further stretch their research impact in a complex and growing subject area, as well as providing the chance to apply cutting edge, technical research to commercial activities.
We have also been working for several years with Down to Earth Derby, on nature-based regeneration and connecting communities with nature and growing food. A major project we are working on at the moment, with the Eden Project, is a community garden on part of Sturgess Fields, a site owned by the University between Kedleston Road and Markeaton Street sites. The plan is to create a New Commons that will be managed with the community. There are lots of opportunities for you to work on here, both in creating and maintaining the site, undertaking ecological monitoring and getting involved in community education programmes.
Ben secures highly sought-after zoo internship
BSc (Hons) Zoology student, Ben Thornley’s dedication to studying and gaining work experience has paid off with an exceptional summer internship. He has successfully secured himself a paid Large Mammals Internship with Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Ibrahim Fetin carried out his third-year research project on blacktip reef sharks at Sea Life.
You'll learn from a research-active teaching team. They are pursuing important studies into diverse topics including:
The evolution of animal mating strategies
Disease-causing agents in corals
Bioremediation of freshwater ecosystems (using living organisms, such as microbes and bacteria, to improve the environment)
The welfare of captive orangutans
The genetics and conservation of natterjack toads
Our staff publish influential papers and conduct research locally, nationally and globally.
Zoology Programme Leader Dr Maren Huck completed her postdoctoral research at the Owl Monkey Project in the Formosa province of northern Argentina. She worked with Professor Eduardo Fernandez-Duque (then University of Pennsylvania, now Yale University).
Owl monkeys are unusual. They are the only night-active true monkeys, and also belong to a handful of mammal species that are pair-living and genetically monogamous. And the male is the main carer for the infants.
Maren is still collaboration with Eduardo and other colleagues on the project. They continue to investigate the evolution of pair-living, monogamy, and male care, as well as other aspects of owl monkey behaviour. They do this using a database that spans more than 20 years of fieldwork. This even involved one of our Zoology students volunteering and collecting data for her final-year project on owl monkeys in Argentina.
Abbie secures her dream job at the Natural History Museum
It’s a Zoologist’s dream. Working at the Natural History Museum exploring climate change and biodiversity research. And that is BSc (Hons) Zoology graduate Abbie Herdman’s job.
We're in the fortunate position of having a wealth of expertise and knowledge to help tackle some of the world's greatest challenges. Take a look at examples of how we are responding to the climate emergency.
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.
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.
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.
Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.
Dr Maren Huck is the Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Zoology and also the subject lead for "with-Foundation" programmes in Environmental Sciences. Her teaching focuses on animal behavioural ecology and related topics.
"Completing a research placement at Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre was an incredibly strong and positive addition to my studies at the University of Derby. It really helped develop my CV, enhanced my PhD applications and gave me a head start in my career pathway." Ben Mcilwaine, BSc (Hons) Zoology graduate
Our focus is on ensuring you develop strong intellectual, technical and personal skills to build an impressive CV and meet the needs of employers. With opportunities for internships, volunteering and placements, our hands-on approach to study will ensure you’re ready for the world of work.
Recent graduates have gone on to work in areas such as:
Zoos and wildlife parks
Scientific Civil Service
Others have progressed to teaching and lecturing careers after completing postgraduate study, or have advanced to gain veterinary and medical qualifications
Through our Professional Development Package, you'll gain valuable skills, including:
Scientific writing and use of scientific software
Written and verbal communication
Research and statistical analysis
Data handling and analysis
Personal motivation, organisation and self-reflection
To boost your employment skills, you can access the University's Careers and Employment Service. The team can connect you with employers to help find opportunities for work placements, part-time jobs, and volunteering. Our careers consultants are also on hand to guide you through the career options for your degree, CV writing, or starting your own business - and we commit to helping you for three years after you graduate to find a job.
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.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
You will receive a dissection kit, goggles and a laboratory coat. All equipment and consumables needed for your experimental/ fieldwork are provided by the University. This is subject to consumables being costed for the Independent Study and approved by your programme leader
Free membership of the Royal Society of Biology for a year after graduation
Students studying the three year course will receive free membership of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) during their studies until they graduate
Costs (Excluding food) of non-residential mandatory fieldtrips in optional modules are covered, previous destinations have included Kew Gardens, Sea Life Centre and Hardwick Hall Woodlands. Residential fieldtrips are subsidised by the University.
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
If not already owned, appropriate footwear for fieldwork such as Wellington/Walking boots - approximate cost is between £5-£50
If not already owned, appropriate outdoor clothing such as a waterproof jacket and trousers - approximate cost is between £50-£100
Two bound copies of your Independent Study - approximate cost is £12
Most assessments are submitted electronically but where a hard copy is required printing will cost approximately 5p per page
Optional costs not included in your fees
Recommended textbooks - approximate cost is £60
Additional international fieldtrip costs for optional modules as follows: Field Biology L5 (Majorca) - approximate cost is £480, Tropical Marine Biology L6 (Maldives) - approximate cost is £1,900
Travel to work experience/placements - cost is dependent on your placement venue of choice
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.