Animal Behaviour BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year, 4 years with placement)


January, September


Why do animals behave the way they do – and how can you use this knowledge to manage, conserve and protect species? Find out on the UK’s longest-established Animal Behaviour degree. Recognised by the Royal Society of Biology, our Cambridge-based course offers an integrated, scientific approach, with hands-on lab experience, field trips in Europe and Uganda, and an optional placement year. You could make the difference between future generations seeing species live or reading about them in history books.

Full description
Being at ARU helped crystallise my love for the natural world. Today I'm here surrounded by papers on primate genetics and schedules for filming another BBC piece
Ben Garrod - BBC presenter and alumnus


We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

Studying animal behaviour could make the difference between future generations seeing live examples of a species, or reading about them in a history book. It could help you to manage and enhance the habitats of zoo animals, or to educate the public on the importance of animal welfare.

What you’ll learn on this course could take you into a career relating to domestic and captive animal management, animal training and behavioural rehabilitation, or zoo education to name but a few. The transferable scientific skills you’ll develop could also open up a career in the field or the laboratory – perhaps for a government agency or an environmental consultancy. 

Our Animal Behaviour degree also acts as a foundation for you to become a Certificated Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB). To follow this career path you'll also need to undertake practical training under the supervision of practising CCABs before presenting case studies and a further clinical examination prior to certification. For more information please also see:,,

Graduation doesn’t need to be the end of your time with us. If you’d like to continue your studies we offer a range of full-time and part-time postgraduate courses including Masters in Animal Behaviour: Applications for Conservation and Applied Wildlife Conservation.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Optometry, Medical and Life Sciences
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in courses related to Optometry, Medical Science and Life Sciences. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including thinking critically, researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate numeracy and ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. In addition to these fundamental study skills, Students will be given an introduction to the various scientific disciplines underpinning the life sciences. Fundamental mathematical skills will be covered in order to support students’ other subjects and give them confidence in manipulating data. Students will be introduced to molecular and cellular biology, and how these fields are applied to real-world investigations. Students will also study the biology of micro and macro organisms, with reference to both human and animal structures. Students will be introduced to the core concepts of chemistry, with a particular focus on organic chemistry, and will also be given a grounding in the core principles of physics, applied to living organisms. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Critical Thinking; Maths for Scientists; Cellular Biology; Biology – Physiology; Chemistry; Physics for Life Sciences.

Year one, core modules

  • Animal Physiology and Behaviour
    The ways in which animals cope with the demands of everyday life, from feeding, moving and respiring to sensing the outside world and each other are as diverse as the animals themselves Within this module you will examine the ways in which an animal’s anatomy, physiology and behaviour allow them to adapt for survival and reproduction. You will examine the variety of ways in which an animal's anatomy and physiology are adaptations to the many tasks it faces to survive. Particular emphasis will be placed on comparing the solutions evolved to similar tasks by the various animal groups both vertebrate and invertebrate. Through a series of integrated lectures, practical sessions and active learning, you will examine main themes of cell biology, homeostasis, communication, locomotion and the function of the different organ systems in a variety of different organisms. Our study of animal behaviour will investigate the philosophy and multidisciplinary origins of the scientific study of behaviour. A synthesis of the fields of psychology and animal behaviour will be presented to you using a framework of proximate (developmental and mechanistic) and ultimate (functional and phylogenetic) explanations. You will also investigate behaviour through evolutionary processes, gene expression and environmental contributions. You will develop a strong scientific foundation in animal physiology and behaviour and the ecology of the animal. You will also develop transferable employability skills including self-management, organisational skills, resilience, critical thinking. IT, teamwork and communication & literacy; necessary in subsequent modules and biological careers.
  • Introduction to Ecology and Conservation
    Ecology is the science of how organisms relate to each other and their surroundings. Without a thorough understanding of ecology, we cannot develop effective conservation actions to ensure species and habitat protection. You will be introduced to the key aspects of these crucially important issues, building your knowledge of terminology and the role of ecological science in creating a sustainable planet. You will explore organisms and their environment, the interactions between them and the concept of the ecological niche. To start with you will consider key taxonomic groups such as birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, with some focus on species found in Britain. You will then explore the key conservation and management issues for each major group and for exemplar species. You will also consider changes in the distribution and abundance of wildlife, for example the challenges around invasive species, climate change, pollution and habitat loss and fragmentation. Next you will take a broader look at ecology across a range of taxa including plants, invertebrates and vertebrates. You will learn through a variety of lectures, practical lab work and team-based learning. You will enjoy hearing from guest speakers and participating in field trips, such as visiting nature reserves and a grey seal colony. You will therefore build the basic skills and knowledge required for a range of careers in ecology, conservation or wildlife biology.
  • Principles of Biology
    Biology is a wide-ranging scientific field, and encompasses the study of all life on Earth. A thorough understanding of the underlying principles of biology will pave the path for your course and is crucial for in a career in the biological sciences. We will start at the beginning of life on Earth, exploring theories of the origins of life and the various theories of evolution. You will study organisms from all the major groups of life, including microbes, plants and animals, and how they arose. We will integrate core principles from other scientific disciplines, particularly chemistry, physics and geology as they are fundamental to understanding biology. You will learn via a combination of theory, laboratory, computer and field practicals developing graduate skills in diverse and fascinating topics from the molecule to the animal. These may include DNA extraction, genetics, microbiology, and plant and animal biodiversity, and gaining skills in microscopy and computational analysis of data. You will also examine scientific research ethics and the broader philosophy of science. In short you will be prepared not only for the rest of your course and be equipped with practical scientific skills which will make you a better biologist, but will also become a confident scientist in a wide range of different practical settings.
  • Quantitative Techniques and Tools for Biologists
    Quantitative skills are essential for understanding biological systems and undertaking biological research and are relevant to a wide range of graduate employment opportunities. These skills will also allow you to critically evaluate whether quantitative information is being honestly and clearly communicated, whether in a scientific, commercial or political context. You will develop your skills in a range of mathematical and statistical techniques and software tools. As you do so you will develop your ability to analyse data, construct and use graphs, write and run code, think logically to solve problems, and report quantitative information effectively. Mathematical topics in which you will build competency are size & scale, ratio & proportion, using formulae & equations, modelling and describing rates of change. Statistical topics in which you will build competency are understanding data and sampling, descriptive statistics, estimation, null hypothesis significance testing and the Generalized Linear Model. Types of software in which you will build competency are spreadsheets (such as Excel or Google sheets) and statistical programmes (such as SPSS or R). Material introduced during interactive lectures and tutorials is reinforced with hands-on computer practical sessions. There is an emphasis throughout on the use of real datasets within a biological context and reference to a wide range of biological examples.
  • Personal and Professional Development - Level 4
    At Anglia Ruskin University we strive to ensure that you receive an outstanding academic education and student experience - and understand that, whilst embedding employability skills within the credit-bearing curriculum is important, it is only part of the set of achievements needed to obtain employment. This zero-credit module will be used to track and verify the progress you've made with respect to key employability skills and endeavours. You'll work closely with your personal tutor, Students' Union Volunteering Service, Study Skills Plus, and Faculty Employability Advisor to engage with co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities and activities to enhance your personal attributes.

Year two, core modules

  • Animal Learning and Training
    Animal learning and training has developed to date with a common emphasis on physical force and punishment in the training of companion, domestic and working animals, techniques which have been widely denounced by professional animal behaviourists. Through our exploration of the theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches related to animal learning and training, you will develop ‘positive’ training methods which are fundamental to the modern aims of increasing animal health and welfare in social, working and captive environments. As you progress in your understanding and application of animal management and training skills you will develop a moral and social sense that is important to animal welfare. By gaining a detailed knowledge of the terminology and concepts related to learning theory, you will gain insight into the biological and mental processes that underpin animal behaviour. You will learn how the natural perceptual abilities of animals and their species-typical behaviours influence the success of a range of behavioural modification techniques, including an animal’s ability to learn responses to cues, event markers and rewards. You will gain a thorough understanding of simple, associative and instrumental learning and will be given the opportunity to observe and apply training techniques in field trip locations, such as animal training and captive animal environments. You will benefit from these career-related events and field trips through the opportunity to listen to and meet guest speakers, from whom you will learn the professional network in the field of animal behaviour. From meetings with prospective employers you will gain the commercial awareness necessary for the employment opportunities for graduates that have learnt the modern methods of animal learning and training utilised in this module.
  • Biological Bases of Behaviour
    The brain is the organ that strongly affects the behaviour of animals and here you will learn about the 'machinery of behaviour' which is a core part of how the natural world functions. You will explore the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the nervous system and also the relevant components of the endocrine (hormone) system each of which can affect behaviour. You will compare the structure and function of the nervous system in a number of different species. An important topic for any student of behaviour is the relationship between thinking, consciousness, learning and memory, and how these relate to the physical 'machinery' of the brain. You will also review the localised behavioural functions of the brain and explore its anatomy. There is a wealth of diversity in brain size and you will explore brain specialisation in dedicated practical sessions. You will analyse whether behavioural characteristics, such as group sizes and learning abilities, are related to brain size in different species, and by doing so you will gain statistical and critical thinking skills. We will investigate mechanisms associated with motivation and emotion, exploring how these are thought to be mediated by the brain and endocrine system. Throughout this module you will benefit from practical laboratory sessions, lectures and active learning sessions and gain analytical and transferable communication skills important in being a good scientist.
  • Vertebrate Biology
    Vertebrates account for fewer than 1% of known species of animal life and yet they (including humans) are some of the most successful and widely adapted animals on earth. They occupy terrestrial, arboreal or marine habitats and have several different forms of locomotion. In this module you will focus on evolution, embryology and developmental genetics, and the comparative anatomy and physiology of vertebrates within a taxonomic framework. You will learn cladistical analysis (species classification) to help you to understand the evolution and taxonomy of vertebrates, exploring why they have evolved in certain ways, using skull analysis to support your learning. You will learn the processes of dissection to allow you to make comparisons of different anatomical structure and function and evaluate the differences you discover. You will also develop key employability skills including critical thinking, teamwork, resilience as well as self-management, IT and communication. Vertebrate biology provides detailed knowledge of the embryological processes and developmental genetics and vertebrate structural, functional and anatomical adaptations all leading to a variety of careers in the life sciences.
  • Ruskin Module
    Ruskin Modules are designed to prepare our students for a complex, challenging and changing future. These interdisciplinary modules provide the opportunity to further broaden your perspectives, develop your intellectual flexibility and creativity. You will work with others from different disciplines to enable you to reflect critically on the limitations of a single discipline to solve wider societal concerns. You will be supported to create meaningful connections across disciplines to apply new knowledge to tackle complex problems and key challenges. Ruskin Modules are designed to grow your confidence, seek and maximise opportunities to realise your potential to give you a distinctive edge and enhance your success in the workplace.
  • Practical Skills for Animal Behaviour
    Practical skills are a key part of your training as a behavioural scientist. You will develop your knowledge in directing research and increase your skills base through a range of practical sessions. You will build on your current understanding of techniques and applications, such as behavioural recording, behavioural physiology, and behavioural testing. You will also gain key research skills, analytical techniques and tools directly relevant to the scientific jobs market, for example jobs in ecological consultancy, wildlife monitoring, or academic research. You will learn to define and develop research questions, find and review relevant literature and identify and understand various methods of data collection and analyse. You will also learn how to design experiments, taking ethical considerations and health and safety issues into account, culminating in the write up of a research report. You will have lectures, workshops, practical sessions and a number of field trips and will work in small group or individual sessions with an assigned supervisor, who will guide you through a mini research project applying the techniques you have learned.Thus, you will acquire experience in self-management, team work, communication, data-analysis and the application of IT, project management, and critical thinking. The knowledge and experience gained in this module will support you in your future career goals, regardless of industry, giving you the confidence to uphold and support your arguments.
  • Evolutionary Bases of Behaviour
    Evolution is a key driver in determining animal behaviour. The evolution of behaviour is a broad subject, encompassing the evolutionary history of the behaviour, the genetic underpinnings, and the current function of the traits we see today. You will explore the genetic basis of behaviour, how it develops in individuals, and how it is modified over time through process of learning. You will discuss the organisation of behaviour, covering topics such as migration, communication, and the ultimate problems of survival and reproduction. Through your lectures you will explore how researchers have reached their conclusions in the study of behaviour and learn to interpret their data and figures, exploring what this means in the context of behavioural biology of the specific animal system. The ability to critically interpret this biological data is a key skill for those who are interested in a career in research, while data interpretation more broadly is an important transferable skill for a broad range of careers.
  • Biological Research Skills
    Learn how to plan research projects in preparation for the rest of your studies. These skills will be key to your final year where you will develop your own research project. You will be introduced to the knowledge and skills needed to ask critical biological questions and plan a project to discover the answers in a scientifically valid, ethical and safe way, through lectures. You will then consolidate your knowledge and practice what you have learnt during hands-on workshops. The quantitative, communication, critical thinking and IT skills that you’ll gain from this module are applicable to a wide range of graduate employment opportunities.
  • Personal and Professional Development - Level 5
    At Anglia Ruskin University we strive to ensure that you receive an outstanding academic education and student experience - and understand that, whilst embedding employability skills within the credit-bearing curriculum is important, it is only part of the set of achievements needed to obtain employment. This zero-credit module will be used to track and verify the progress you've made with respect to key employability skills and endeavours. You'll work closely with your personal tutor, Students' Union Volunteering Service, Study Skills Plus, and Faculty Employability Advisor to engage with co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities and activities to enhance your personal attributes.

Year two, optional modules

  • Animal Health and Disease
    Animal health and disease are broad and fascinating topics. We will focus on the contribution of nutrition and parasites to health and disease, discussing how animals interact with food from a biochemical point of view, how changes in nutrition can affect health, and how animals deal with parasites. Nutrition is a crucial factor in animal health - after all, you are what you eat. Therefore, what should we feed animals in our care? We will also discuss how different parasites affect animal health, the effects these parasites have on the health of their human caretakers, and how diseases can spread through a population and between species. You will learn through a combination of lectures, practical sessions, including laboratory analysis, problem solving and computer simulations, giving you ample opportunity to delve into the world of animal health and disease from different angles. In doing so you will hone your skills in nutritional analysis, parasite identification and assessment of parasite burden. These skills are applicable to careers in a range of sectors, such as analytical laboratories in the pet food industry, zoos, and animal rescue centres. We will also discuss how evolution has provided the world with a fascinating diversity of highly adapted pathogens, and ask fundamental questions such as how hosts avoid parasites and whether parasites can actually change the behaviour of animals. Knowledge about nutrition and disease is fundamental for anyone planning on working closely with animals, whether your own pet, in zoos, or wildlife in general.
  • GIS and Spatial Ecology
    Modern technological developments that enable us to study the natural world include Geographical Information Systems (GIS), an invaluable tool which allows us to monitor a variety of aspects in nature, including species distribution. You will learn valuable practical skills in the use of GIS within biological sciences, includes the concepts of the system and the training on how to use the tools. You will learn how to use the software and the various techniques during practical sessions and will also apply your knowledge to relevant case studies. During your practical sessions, you will explore a variety of online spatial data resources relevant to the study of terrestrial and marine organisms in the context of ecological and behavioural studies and wildlife conservation, at both local and global scales. These include species distribution, protected areas, habitat maps, physical and climate data, and remote sensing. You will be introduced to free-to-use Open Source GIS software (QGIS) and will also learn to apply your Global Positioning System (GPS) skills to capture locations in the field and map them. The latest developments in tracking device technology will also be covered, and you will learn how to represent and analyse data acquired from these devices. Knowledge of GIS and the uses of these techniques are valuable practical skills, both on this course and in your future employment in a wide range of industries due to the transferable nature of the software. Furthermore, the skills you develop in data management and analysis, scientific writing, problem solving and critical thinking will prepare you for a wide range of careers.
  • Mammalogy
    There are approximately 6,400 known species of living (extant) mammals on the planet. They range in size from tiny shrews to the blue whale - the largest animal that’s ever lived. Mammals are found right across the planet, from orcas and leopard seals in the Arctic Ocean to Bactrian camels in the Gobi Desert; from semi-aquatic desmans in mountain streams to moles burrowing beneath our meadows. You will learn about the biology of the mammals and consider mammalian taxonomy, morphology, physiology, ecology, distribution, evolution, and behaviour. A key theme of the study of mammalogy is the analysis of underlying similarities and differences between mammalian taxa (also known as comparative zoology), based on an understanding of mammalian evolution and adaptive radiation. You will explore and make comparisons between mammals adapted for terrestrial, aquatic, fossorial (underground) or arboreal (living in trees) lifestyles. You will learn how to identify all extant Orders of mammals, on the basis of distribution and morphology, in particular, the anatomy of their skulls and dentition, whilst exploring the large collection of skulls and other bones held in our labs. You will gain hands-on experience through weekly practical classes. You will develop your understanding of mammalogy through team-based learning, supported through on-line videos, active learning sessions and laboratory-based practical classes. The online videos, accompanying notes and other materials are accessible via Canvas, allowing you to learn about the exciting diversity of this order of animals at your own pace. This module will thus provide you with key skills within the field of mammalogy, as well as relevant skills in team-work, problem solving, and critical thinking. These are transferable skills that would be relevant for a wide range of careers.

Year three, core modules

  • Behavioural Ecology
    Behavioural ecology has been an established discipline within the natural sciences since the 1970s, bringing together the theoretical understanding of evolution and ecology with the observational practices of early ethologists. The underlying premise is that the survival value of behaviour depends on environmental circumstances, both physical and biological. You will explore this premise across four major themes: communication; finding resources and avoiding being eaten; living with others of the same species; and producing the next generation. You will discover the different analytical approaches used by behavioural ecologists, through a wide range of examples and in what context these have been used. You will also examine cost-benefit analysis to predict optimal behavioural strategies, which is a key feature of research in this field. Through this module, you will take a research-focussed approach, critically evaluating and discussing relevant primary literature from a range of sources. You will acquire a skill base relevant to a range of careers, including any roles that require data interpretation and analysis. In addition, the quantitative and critical evaluation skills you will develop are applicable to a wide range of graduate employment opportunities. You will develop your understanding of this subject through lectures, workshops, group discussions, research seminars, practical exercises and reading textbooks and journal articles.
  • Cognition, Evolution and Behaviour
    How do animals learn? Can they count? Do they think like us? You will be taught an advanced knowledge and understanding of the study of animal cognition, combining ‘proximate’ and ‘ultimate’ perspectives. We will discuss two main topics: physical cognition, covering space, time, number, physical causation; and social cognition, including social knowledge, social learning and cooperation. Through a series of lectures and discussion sessions, you will develop key skills, such as critical evaluation and synthesis. You will learn how to approach your critical evaluation through breaking down concepts into their core components to see how each have an effect. You will then evaluate the evidence for specific cognitive abilities in non-human animals, involving: development of a conceptual definition of that ability; identification of alternative explanations; critical evaluation of existing studies in the literature; and drawing conclusions about our current state of knowledge on that cognitive ability. This type of approach is relevant to most other fields of scientific research. The knowledge you will gain in this module will prepare you well for any career in pure or applied animal behaviour, including welfare and conservation.
  • Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare
    From pest control to captive breeding and the management of wild populations, you will apply your theoretical knowledge regarding the science of animal behaviour and show how behavioural theory and research can be applied to a wide range of practical problems. You will apply your learning of behavioural research to both vertebrate and invertebrate husbandry. You will discuss the historical, philosophical and development of the science of animal welfare, including the variety of ethical approaches to the use of animals by humans for varying purposes. There are a number of methods on how to assess animal welfare through behavioural and physiological indicators, and we will address these controversies and review specialist techniques. You will be taught by lectures and active learning sessions, with guest lectures from industry-relevant professionals (e.g. RSPCA, laboratory animal welfare organisations, companion animal specialists). The knowledge gained here will help to prepare you for careers in both animal-focussed industries, and postgraduate scientific research. You will build your understanding of the application of the scientific study of animal behaviour and its relationship with other measures, particularly with respect to the evaluation of welfare, in a range of animal management scenarios. In addition, you will learn many relevant transferable skills such as critical thinking, IT, word processing, self-management and organisation skills.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    You will create in a substantial piece of individual research and/or product development work, focused on a topic of your choice. You could choose your topic from a variety of sources including research groups, previous/current work experience, your current employer, a suggestion from your tutor or a topic you are specifically interested in. You will identify problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop hardware, software and/or media artifacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your finding using a variety of media. Regular meetings with your project supervisor will ensure your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Work placement (optional placement year)

  • Work Placement Life Science
    Your Work Placement module cover a period of 38 weeks. It's a pass/fail module which does not affect your progression from level 5 to level 6 of your course. If you started your course in September, you'll commence your placement at any point from 1 July to 30 September. If you started your course in January, you'll commence your placement at any point from 1 February to 31 March. The module is designed to give you an opportunity to analyse and evaluate industrial organisational structures, industrial roles and functions and industrial self-awareness. It covers human relationships, team relationships, problem evaluations, solutions and analysis and an evaluation of an industry/business sector. The aim of the module is to allow you to use the academic skills developed during your first two years of university study to support learning during your work placement. The module aims to give you experience of work in an industry and/or business environment including familiarisation with a professional work environment. The module will be underpinned by employability skills training, reflective assessment and support from academic tutors. You'll be expected to reflect on your experience orally and in writing, and demonstrate how you have applied theory and learning to date in a work-based environment. The assessment aims to support and develop your ability to demonstrate your professionalism, leadership and managerial skills to a prospective employer while also learning key communication and personal skills.

Year three, optional modules

  • Population Ecology and Wildlife Management
    Population ecology is the study of the factors that affect a population, and how and why a population changes. Knowing how populations will respond to interventions is vital to wildlife management. You will explore the first principles of population ecology and the quantitative methods used, prior to seeing how these theories are applied practically in wildlife management. We will study the demography and dynamics of wildlife populations and you will be guided in how to use the mathematical tools and models to understand population change. Population ecology can also be explored in the wider context of current developments in population genetics, evolutionary biology and animal behaviour. Through the study of examples, you will review and assess the factors which are important in the population dynamics, management and conservation of wild populations. The current scientific literature is a critical resource; you will read scientific papers relating to marine and terrestrial ecosystems, looking at both exploited and threatened populations that are conservation priorities. You will work in groups to address practical challenges in population ecology, developing skills in teamwork, problem solving and the application of IT. An important theme throughout the module is the development of critical thinking skills and their application in understanding the advantages and limitations of population models when applied to real world ecological systems. These are skills that are relevant to a wide-range of careers in biology and ecology, as well as in other industries.
  • Tropical Ecology and Management
    The tropical regions of our world have always held a fascination for biologists due the amazing and varied biodiversity that can be found there. You will be able to experience some of this firsthand on the tropical ecology field course, which forms the core of this module. You will also have a series of classroom-based learning sessions with a mixture of lectures and interactive learning. On the field course you will work in groups to undertake fieldwork on a range of aspects of tropical ecology and you will visit one or more locations to observe, record and interpret various aspects of tropical fauna, flora and habitats. Through your experience of the country where the field course takes place and the classroom-based sessions, you will be made aware of a range of anthropogenic influences and pressures on tropical habitats (e.g. effects of population growth, tourism, economic development etc) and how these relate to conservation. The field course normally takes place in the time of between levels 5 and 6 (years 2 and 3) and is self-funded. The field trip can be challenging physically, and you will find yourself living in more basic conditions than you may be used to. If you are interested in researching in the tropics or in conservation-based careers more generally, this module provides very valuable practical experience. You will gain a greater understanding of complex ecosystems and conservation issues as well as the very different cultural contexts that can be found in the tropics. The fieldwork you will practise in this module are valued in ecological consultancy and research-based jobs. You will also gain further practice in transferable skills such as teamwork, data analysis and written communication skills that are useful in a wide range of employment.
  • Zoos and Zoo Animal Management
    Zoos and Zoo Animal Management addresses the question "What are zoos for?" You will discuss the current and historical role of zoos including their purpose as recreation, education, conservation and research centres. The module has at its core a field course to major European zoos, designed to introduce you to zoos, the animals they keep, how they are exhibited, and the reasons for keeping them. On your return to the UK, the module is taught through a series of team-based learning sessions. Through these sessions and your experience of the zoos on the field course, you will consider the history and philosophy of wild animal collections and the various roles played by zoos in modern society. Zoos today face both biological (e.g. captive breeding) and non-biological (e.g. finance and public relations) problems relating to the management of collections of wild animals in captivity. You will explore these problems from several perspectives, ranging from the animals’ welfare to the perceptions of the general public when visiting zoos. From this module you will understand the complexity of the political, ethical and legal aspects of keeping wild animals in captivity. Taking Zoo and Zoo Animal Management will provide you with the opportunity to interact with zoo professionals, work in teams, and present ideas to a specialist audience. Such opportunities and skills strengthen the employability skills of graduates who might want to work in a zoo or other conservation-based environment. The field course, which is compulsory for the module, normally takes place in the summer vacation period between level 5 and level 6 and is self-funded.
  • Human-Animal Interactions
    The relationships between humans and animals are complex, and the actions of humans towards animals in domestic, working, captive and natural contexts can profoundly influence the behaviour and welfare of animals. Through the exploration of what underpins human behaviour towards animals, you will develop graduate skills to effectively influence career professions such as animal caretakers, captive animal and animal rescue centre staff and veterinary nurses. You will gain an understanding of the relevant aspects of human psychology as they relate to human-animal interactions, and thereby learn how to effectively manage human behaviour in relation to animals that are pets, therapy animals, working animals, farm, research or captive/wild animals. We will explore factors that influence the human-animal bond, including how animals affect human physical, physiological and mental health. You will develop your ability to employ survey techniques as tools to utilise the understanding of human-animal interactions and to design information and guidance to improve negative attitudes towards animals and enhance positive attitudes. Working in teams throughout the module, you will collaboratively construct and apply your knowledge of the different topics with the module content. Utilising guest lecturers from appropriate professional environments, the influence of legal and ethical frameworks on human-animal interactions will be considered and evaluated. You will gain an understanding of the factors which strongly influence human-animal relationships, such that you will be able to relate effectively to staff engaged in work within captive animal environments, rescue centres, other professionals e.g. vets/vet nurses, the general public, and those with negative attitudes towards animals.
  • Wildlife Conservation
    Conservation science applies scientific methods to the challenges of maintaining and restoring global biodiversity and ecosystem services. We shall critically evaluate current research underlying conservation biology and explore the multi-dimensional issues faced by professional wildlife biologists. You will examine real-life conservation problems, including their important socio-political dimensions and the ways in which conservationists set out to find solutions to these issues. You will evaluate the principle that protecting biodiversity is not only about protecting species, but also about protecting functioning ecosystems, habitats, evolutionary and ecological processes, and genetic diversity. Conservation genetics is an increasingly important area within this discipline - and you will discuss the application of new genetic technologies in conservation, including the management of captive breeding of endangered species. Identifying priorities for the conservation of global biodiversity and assessing the successes and failures of conservation initiatives are key areas that you will critically examine. You will also explore how to make conservation initiatives more effective by discussing the principle that human interests must be included during conservation planning. The complexity and multi-faceted nature of wildlife conservation will be explored using a range of examples. A substantial part of the scheduled teaching will include group discussion and active learning sessions. You will learn, through a combination of lectures and practical exercises, how to plan conservation projects and apply for funding. This approach will help you develop key skills in grant writing, team-work, communication, and critical analysis, which are applicable to a range of careers in conservation and wildlife management.
  • Animal Communication
    Animals communicate in many ways, from scent to touch, using visual displays, and sounds. These signals can be physical or biological in terms of how they are produced or received. We will explore the cognitive underpinnings of animal communication, and examine the processes animals use to convey information to others. We will see how the receivers can factor this into their decision making and subsequent behaviour. You will explore fundamental questions in animal communications, such as how do signals evolve, how are they produced and which functions do they serve? Animal communication is a rapidly growing field of research in a variety of disciplines including animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, neurobiology and animal cognition. You will consider how an understanding of animal communication can impact on many aspects of animal behaviour, such as emotional expression, learning, and sexual behaviour. You will be exposed to tools and skills that will allow you to conduct independent research in this area - through lectures, practical demonstrations and exercises. We will consider the similarities and differences between animal and human communications as well as evaluating theories of language evolution. The experience gained in this module will support you in your future career goals, regardless of industry, giving you the ability to research a problem, think critically, and present your arguments.


We’ll assess you in a number of ways, with most modules including a combination of written assignments and exams. For some modules, you may be asked to present or produce a poster, portfolio or workbook.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Engineering is one of the largest of the four faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full-time or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate.

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science, technology and engineering fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Additional study information


This course gives you the opportunity to take a work placement year between years 2 and 3 of your studies. You’ll get experience of seeking and securing a job and working in an industry relating to your course. You’ll also get the practical experience and industry contacts to benefit your studies and enhance your long-term career prospects.

Although they can’t be guaranteed, we can work with you to find a placement using our contacts with a large number of employers. You’ll have regular contact with one of our course tutors and be supported by a supervisor from your placement company. Together they’ll monitor your performance and give you feedback.

To find out more about placement opportunities, email us at

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


UK students starting 2021/22 (per year)


International students starting 2021/22 (per year)


Placement year


Additional costs

  • Walking boots - £60
  • Waterproof coat - £50
  • Wellingtons - £25
  • Waterproof trousers - £20
  • Poster printing - £20
  • Cost of printing dissertation/individual project

Additional field trip costs

Field trips that are a compulsory part of your course have no additional cost. Optional residential field trips have an additional cost, as indicated below. You may be eligible for a grant to cover the costs of optional field trips. 

  • Isle of Rum field trip - £350
  • International diving trip - £1200
  • Netherlands zoo trip (Zoos and Zoo Animal Management module) - £350 
  • Uganda field trip (two weeks) (Tropical Ecology and Management module) - £2100 
  • Millport (Practical Marine Biology module) - £500

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

UK students (and EU students starting a course before 1 August 2021) can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes EU students starting a course before 1 August 2021.

Government funding includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a range of ARU scholarships, which can provide extra financial support while you’re at university.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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BTEC modules

We require a final grade of DMM in the BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management.

We require the following eight mandatory units and an additional seven optional units to be completed, with at least four of these to come from the recommended units below.

Compulsory/recommended Unit
Mandatory Unit 1:Animal Breeding and Genetics
Mandatory Unit 2: Animal Biology
Mandatory Unit 3: Animal Welfare and Ethics
Mandatory Unit 4: Practical Animal Husbandry
Mandatory Unit 5: Animal Behaviour
Mandatory Unit 6: Animal Health and Diseases
Mandatory Unit 7: Work Experience in the Animal Sector
Mandatory Unit 8: Investigative Research Project
Recommended Unit 9: Practical Skills in Animal Science
Recommended Unit 10: Animal Metabolism
Recommended Unit 11: Advanced Animal Nutrition
Recommended Unit 17: Principles of Animal Nursing
Recommended Unit 18: Aquatic Animal Health and Husbandry
Recommended Unit 20: Human and Animal Interaction
Recommended Unit 21: Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry
Recommended Unit 23: Zoological Animal Health and Husbandry
Recommended Unit 24: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Management

City and Guilds modules

We required a final grade of Distinction in the City and Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Animal Management.

We require you to have studied at least ten of the following modules. Some of these will be compulsory on your City and Guilds course.

Compulsory/recommended  Unit 
Recommended Unit 3202: Undertake and Review Work-Related Experience in the Land-Based Industries 
Recommended Unit 303: Animal Health and Husbandry
Recommended Unit 304: Animal Feeding and Nutrition
Recommended Unit 305: Animal Behaviour and Communication
Recommended Unit 306: Biological Systems of Animals
Recommended Unit 307: Animal Welfare and Breeding
Recommended Unit 308: Wildlife and Ecology Conservation
Recommended Unit 309: Wildlife Management and Rehabilitation
Recommended Unit 315: Animal Nursing
Recommended  Unit 316: Zoological Collections
Recommended  Unit 318: Fundamentals of Science
Recommended  Unit 319: Inheritance and Genetics
Recommended  Unit 320: Chemistry for Biology Technicians
Recommended  Unit 321: Cell Biology and Genetics
Recommended  Unit 322: Biochemistry and Microbiology
Recommended  Unit 324: Science Investigation and Report Writing
Recommended  Unit 328: Ecological Concepts and Application
Recommended  Unit 329: Population Surveys, Ecology and Conservation
Recommended  Unit 367: Undertake a Specialist Project in the Land-Based Sector

Important additional notes

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of face-to-face and online learning from September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. A small number of our courses require additional technical specifications or specialist materials. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning. Our website also has general information for new students about starting university in 2020-21.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Apply now

UK and EU students

Apply for 2021

UCAScode: C120, C121

Apply through UCAS

International students

Applicants from outside the UK and EU, apply to ARU

Apply direct

Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

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