Undergraduate School


C300 BSc Zoology
C309 MBiol, BSc Zoology (Integrated Masters)

Society of BiologyZoology (Integrated Masters) - has received interim accreditation by the Society of Biology.

This course offers:

  • Zoology at Leeds has consistently scored highly in the National Student Survey and is one of the top-rated zoology courses nationally
  • the chance to study in a Faculty ranked 4th in the UK for research in biological sciences by the leading scientific journal ‘Nature’ based on the numbers of staff producing research that was “world leading or internationally excellent”
  • field courses in every year, including to South Africa, the Mediterranean and within the UK

What is Zoology?

Leaf-cutting ants (Hughes Lab) Zoology is the study of animals, how they evolve, move, behave, develop and function. We consider five core areas to be central to the understanding of zoology, and we base our courses around these themes:


What is the history of life on earth, how did it get started, how do animals evolve, how do we know which species is related to which?

Animal Behaviour

Why do animals interact in the way they do, how do they forage, find mates, avoid predators?


How do animals work, how are they adapted to the environment they live in, what are their adaptations for running, swimming, flying?


How do you get from a fertilised egg all the way up to the final animal, what are the links between development and evolution?

Field work

Field work. A good zoologist knows how to identify the organisms around them, and is able to collect data while watching real animals in real situations. We believe that small group teaching in field environments is the most valuable method of learning that we can give.

Why study Zoology?

Snowy Egret photographed in California .Copyright Prof. J AltringhamMost of us are drawn to zoology by a fascination with animals, and a curiosity-based drive to understand how they function, behave and evolve. However, the study of zoology is more important in the 21st century than ever.

Most animal species are poorly understood and many still have not even been formally named. Animals are going extinct every day, yet we do not even know what they are, let alone how they work or what their place is in their ecosystems. Recent technological developments have given zoologists fantastic new tools for exploring the evolution and interaction of animals at unprecedented levels. While zoology is one of the most ancient of sciences, the incorporation of these new tools, together with its topical real-world importance, makes zoology one of the most exciting and modern subjects to study today.

  • Zoology gives us the information to assess animal biodiversity, conserve and manage wildlife populations. It is therefore a subject that is essential to dealing with the threats of climate change, intensification of landscape usage and invasive species.
  • Some animals are vectors of disease or pests of agriculture, and zoology helps us to manage their populations.
  • An understanding of physiology allows us to establish the effects of environmental pollution on animals and predict the thresholds of pollution that have to be avoided.
  • The combined understanding of physiology and behaviour underpins animal welfare and the veterinary sciences.
  • Animals are also important model organisms, providing insights into genomics, physiology and behaviour which have led to many advances in the medical sciences, as well as many biological principles such as evolution.

Entry Requirements

2014 entry requirements

BSc Zoology - UCAS code C300

A Level or Advanced Higher: AAA-ABB from 3 A2/Advanced Higher including Biology and preferably another science or science-related subject. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

We consider applications on an individual basis and an offer will depend on the information given on your UCAS form. Applications are assessed from a combination of the following; the balance, nature and quality of A2, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalents); the referee's comments and your personal statement.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (QCF): DDD in Applied Science or Animal Management. Applied Science must include distinctions the following units: Fundamentals of Science, Mathematical Calculations for Science, Biochemistry and Biochemical Techniques, Genetics and Genetic Engineering, Chemistry for Biology Technicians. Animal Management must include distinctions in the following units: Animal Biology, Animal Nutrition, Animal Breeding and Genetics, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Biochemistry and Microbiology.

International Baccalaureate: 35-34 (with 18-16 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAAAB-AAABBB including an A in higher level Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Cambridge Pre-U: D3/D3/D3-D3/M2/M2 including Pre-U Biology plus one other science or science-related subject.

Science subjects: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
Science- related subjects: Computing, Environmental Science, Food Science, Geography, Geology, ICT, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics and Sports Science.

BSc (Hons) Zoology with Industrial Placement

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Industrial Placements

BSc (Hons) Zoology with Study Year Abroad

If you are interested in this programme, apply via UCAS for the standard BSc programme above. We will provide you with further details of the placement and study abroad schemes in year one, and you can transfer at the end of year two (subject to academic performance).

Read more about Study Year Abroad

MBiol, BSc Zoology (Integrated Masters) - UCAS code C309

A Level or Advanced Higher: AAA from 3 A2/Advanced Higher including Biology and another science or science-related subject. If Biology is the only science subject then an A grade is required. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

International Baccalaureate: 35 (with 18 at higher level) including 6 in higher levelL Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAAAB including an A in higher level Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Cambridge Pre-U: D3/D3/D3 including Pre-U Biology plus one other science or science-related subject.

Applications are assessed from a combination of the following; the balance, nature and quality of A2, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalents); the referee's comments and your personal statement.

Science subjects: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics.
Science- related subjects: Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, ICT, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics and Sports Science.

Duration of the course 3 Years Full Time (C300)
4 Years Full Time (C309)
An Industrial Placement or Study Year Abroad will add a year to the duration of the course
English language requirements If English is not your first language, please check our minimum English language requirements. UG brochure 2014
Admissions policy Download our Admissions Policy for 2014 entry. (PDF format). This includes information on the application process, our admissions intake and the selection process.

Admissions enquiries

Carolyn Giles
Tel: 0113 343 2829
Email: fbsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk

Admissions tutor

Dr Henry Greathead
Tel: 0113 343 3063
Email: h.m.r.greathead@leeds.ac.uk


Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School

Programme Leaders

Dr Alison Dunn

Course brochure

Download a course brochure

BSc Course structure

In the first and second years, lectures, practicals and tutorials are the most important forms of teaching. You will have lectures and tutorials each week, and regular laboratory sessions. In the final year, you will be able to choose your favourite topics to study under the guidance of leading experts; your research project will take up about one third of your time with the rest devoted to lectures and tutorials. Formal examinations are held twice a year, in January and May/June, to spread the assessment load.

Qualification Course Title Duration
BSc Zoology 3 years
BSc Zoology with industrial placement year 4 years
BSc Zoology with a study year abroad 4 years
MBiol, BSc Zoology 4 years
MBiol, BSc Zoology with industrial placement year 5 years
MBiol, BSc Zoology with a study year abroad 5 years


Shoal of fishAll degree programmes are modular and offer wide choice.

Modules may be core (you have to take them), optional (you can choose from a list of alternatives) or elective (you have a free choice); the balance depends upon your year and programme of study. We offer a wide range of modules. Examples include:

Zoology Year 1

The Diversity of Life

This module will cover the full range of life on Earth; plants, animals and micro-organisms, how they are classified, how they evolved and how they interact. The course will look at the origins of life, its diversity, and the way that the environment has shaped the evolution of organisms over geological time. To gain an understanding of these concepts, you will learn about systematics, taxonomy, evolution, physiology and morphology. These topics will allow you to understand the complexity of life on Earth as it is today, and in the past.

Ecology in a Challenging World

The module will explore the major challenges facing mankind (climate change, harvesting natural resources and human population growth) and the way they are underpinned and can be addressed by the principles of ecology. A combination of lectures and group projects will be used to describe both the theoretical and practical approaches used to address these challenges and to reveal the links between problems and approaches.

Lives of Carnivores

Many of the most charismatic and ecologically important animals have a carnivorous lifestyle. Carnivores are represented in most animal groups, with extant species ranging from white sharks to African hunting dogs, and extinct species include famous examples such as T. rex. In this module you will discover the science behind our understanding of the biology of these exciting animals and learn about their relevance to the different areas of zoology, from physiology and behaviour to conservation and evolution.

Zoology Year 2

Animal Behaviour

The module covers the basic evolutionary, ecological, developmental and neuroethological processes underlying animal behaviour. It will teach the methods used to study behaviour, the ability to apply the concepts and an appreciation of the need for a rigorous scientific approach to behavioural questions.


Evolution pre and post Darwin, biological timescales, geophysical & climatic evolution, neodarwinism: from genes to macroevolution. Molecular evolution: Genetic change, classical population genetics, molecular population genetics, evolutionary genomics. Intraspecific evolution: Evolution at the level of the individual, sex and mating systems, sexual selection, the evolution of life histories. Interspecific evolution: phylogenetics, uses of trees, coevolution (host-parasite, plant/pollinator). Speciation: The restriction of gene flow, speciation in the face of gene flow Adaptive radiations. Evolutionary developmental biology: Multicellularity & modularity, animal body plans I, II, III. Macroevolution by example - the chordate/vertebrate story: The radiation of chordates, vertebrate origins and fish, macroevolution and the origins of Tetrapods, evolution of tetrapod diversity, locomotor diversity in the tetrapods, running with dinosaurs, bird evolution: feathers & flight, mammalian evolution.


The course will provide an introduction to parasitology with an emphasis on those that cause diseases of medical and veterinary importance. The main content will be delivered through the use of specific examples. These will include single celled microparasites such as Malaria, Toxoplasma, Trypanosoma, Leishmania, and Giardia and macroparasites such as Schistosoma, Ascaris, Geohelminths, and the filarial nematodes. The overall aim is to have an understanding of this group of organisms, which are responsible for disease on a global scale. Particular examples will be expanded to illustrate the particular characteristics of this group of organisms, their structure and diversity, their complex life cycles and transmission strategies, the basis for disease pathogenesis and their interaction with host and vector populations and approaches to chemotherapy and control.

Zoology Year 3

Social Insect Biology

Social insects are one of the most successful groups of organisms. They include dominant herbivores, keystone predators and ecosystem engineers. In areas of the tropics the total biomass of ants alone outweighs that of all land vertebrates by four times. They include some of the most ecologically damaging invasive species, pests that cause billions of pounds of economic damage and more benign species that are indirectly responsible for much of the food on our table. They are also one of the outstanding groups for studying subjects as diverse as symbioses and phenotypic plasticity, as well as being one of the pinnacles of social evolution. This module will provide students with a firm understanding of the major aspects of social insect biology and the insights social insects can provide into general problems in behaviour, ecology and evolution.

Bats: Biology and Behaviour

Bats are arguably the most diverse and successful order of mammals. With almost 1,000 species, 25% of all mammals species are bats. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and on many remote islands. Flight and echolocation make bats unique and a study of these abilities is a fascinating example of functional adaption linking structure, physiology, biomechanics, behaviour and ultimately ecology. Bats exhibit enormous diversity in many aspects of their biology making them ideal for illustrating aspects of mammalian biology from evolution and adaptive radiation through physiology and feeding to behaviour, social structure, population ecology and conservation. This course will use bats to describe and illustrate many of the important processes that drive mammalian evolution.

Conservation Biology

The module begins with a consideration of the meaning and value of biodiversity, including rarity, the extinction process and its consequences, the meanings and measurement of biodiversity and the consequences for its loss. This leads on to considerations of habitat loss and its consequences and the impact of global climate change on current and future conservation of the world's biodiversity. The module then extends into areas of interdisciplinary study that are important to conservation practice and management of habitats. This section includes specialist lecture topics dealing with sustainable land use and the important role of economic forces in the conservation of scarce ecosystems.

Behavioural Ecology

Throughout the course, we will focus on functional questions about animal behaviour. The students will be directed toward, and taught about, areas of current research and the methodologies involved in research. The course will be concerned with vertebrate and invertebrate models. The module covers some of the major areas of behavioural ecology which may include: sexual selection, sexual conflict, sperm competition, sex allocation, frequency dependent strategies, collective behaviour, how animals form and live in groups, parasite manipulation of behaviour.

Current Module Details

This link takes you to detailed information (on another part of the University of Leeds website) about this degree for the 2012/13 academic year. Please bear in mind that programme details may change and that entry requirements refer to previous years.

Research Projects

Bat Final year students choose an individual project from a wide range of topics to suit their interests and career aspirations. The project is an original laboratory, literature or computer-based study, supervised by an academic member of staff. These projects are an important way for students to learn about independent scientific research and develop important skills for future employment.

Recent examples include:

• A study of strike behaviour in scorpions

• Shoaling behaviour in sticklebacks

Weaving resistance: alternative parasite resistance mechanisms in weaver ants

Weaver ants are characterised by their ability to build nests using larval silk. They are also one of the few ant species which do not possess an antibiotic-producing metapleural gland, which would appear to leave them susceptible to parasites. This investigation used lab colonies to test the susceptibility of weaver ants to two types of entomopathogenic fungi, Metarhizium and Aspergillus. No evidence was found that the silk had any anti-fungal properties and in fact the silk was found to be heavily contaminated with Aspergillus. The ants however were surprisingly resilient against infection with high survival rates against both fungal parasites. Grooming behaviour may be a possible explanation for this, with an increased rate of grooming occurring after fungal application. Although weaver ants lack the antibiotic production of the metapleural gland, which characterises other ants, they appear to have evolved alternative mechanisms of resisting parasites.

Reproductive activity and timing of swarming in Myotis bats

Many temperate bat species mate in late summer and autumn in the caves in which they will hibernate later in the year. Mating is a spectacular event called swarming, when hundreds or even thousands of bats chase each other around the cave entrance and inside the cave in what may be a lek. Different species arrive at the caves at different times during the period August-October. This project looked to see if the peak of swarming activity for each species coincided with the peak reproductive condition of the males.

Diet, Familiarity and shoaling decisions in Guppies

Published in one of the field's leading journals Animal Behaviour (Morrell, LJ, Hunt, KL, Croft, DP & Krause, J. (2007) Diet, familiarity and shoaling decisions in guppies. Animal Behaviour 74: 311-319) Animals are known to derive benefits from associating with familiar individuals, and familiarity is important in the structuring of animal groups. In fish, individuals are known to preferentially shoal with others they have previously spent time with (familiar individuals). Recent work suggests that one mechanism used in fish shoaling decisions may be local olfactory cues; individuals prefer to shoal with conspecifics that have experienced a similar recent environment to themselves. Here, we present the results of an investigation into the role of diet-based cues in the social decisions of domestic guppies (Poecilia reticulata). In guppies, previous diet strongly affected shoaling decisions. When fish were fed a bloodworm diet, they preferred to shoal with familiar individuals, and those that had been fed a similar diet. Flake food-fed fish, on the other hand, preferentially associated with fish fed on bloodworm, and showed a strong preference for unfamiliar fish over familiar ones, when both shoals were flake food-fed. These results suggest that several factors may interact to influence shoaling decisions. Further experiments revealed that bloodworm-fed fish strongly preferred the olfactory cues of their own diet over flake food odour whereas flake food-fed fish showed no preference for one odour type over the other. Fish on blood-worm diets, however, showed faster growth rates. We suggest potential explanations for the preference for unfamiliar fish by flake-food fed individuals.

MBiol Course Structure

To find out more about how the MBiol differs from the BSc programme, download our PDF guide to MBiol degrees.

Current Module Details

This link takes you to detailed information (on another part of the University of Leeds website) about this degree for the 2012/13 academic year. Please bear in mind that programme details may change and that entry requirements refer to previous years.

Visit the Undergraduate School pages to find out more about studying in the Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate School.

Please be aware that course details do change from time to time. ...

... If in doubt, please contact us to verify course content and availability. Whilst the University endeavours to ensure that the information on this website is accurate at the date of publication it does not accept liability for any inaccuracies. The University reserves the right to change or cancel its courses or services at any time without liability even after students have registered at the University. The University's contract with its students does not confer third party benefits for the purposes of Contracts (Right of Third Parties) Act 1999.


Teaching and Assessment

Out in the field in ScarboroughOur approach to teaching and learning is based around developing your knowledge and skills, and training you to be independent and to think critically. This means that you will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials with additional timeallocated to private study, project work, laboratory practicals and fieldwork, the balance of which will vary through your course and as you become more confident and experienced. At Leeds you will learn in many different ways:

Typical timetable (3 year BSc)

A typical week:

  • in year one includes twelve hours of lectures, a three hour practical session in the lab, additional workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study.
  • in year two includes nine hours of lectures and nine hours of practicals, with a one hour tutorial or workshop, plus private study.
  • in year three week includes nine hours of lectures and extended time in a research laboratory, plus private study.


We use a variety of assessment methods including:

  • multiple-choice testing
  • practical work
  • data handling and problem-solving exercises
  • group work
  • discussion groups (physical and online)
  • computer-based simulation
  • essays
  • posters and oral presentations

Current assessment details for each individual module can be accessed via the programme catalogue.


Zoology graduates enjoy excellent career prospects as their training opens up opportunities in scientific and non-scientific careers alike. Our Zoology programmes foster the development of transferable skills highly valued by employers throughout the world.

"My current position is Researcher at the BBC Natural History Unit, making wildlife films for television. My first job in the unit was in 2006 on Springwatch. Since then I have worked on an award-winning children's series called Extreme Animals, Autumnwatch and have researched and filmed a huge variety of wildlife stories all over the UK for short films for The ONE Show."

Valeria Fabbri-Kennedy, Zoology graduate 2005

Valeria with BBC Natural History Unit signZoology Careers

View scientific careers

Zoology graduates become science teachers, ecologists, forensic scientists, genetic counsellors, dieticians, agricultural scientists, conservationists, geneticists, veterinary scientists, marine biologists and many more.

View non-scientific professions

Our graduates acquire skills of numeracy, analytical thinking, and creativity in problem solving and data-handling, all of which equips them for jobs in non-scientific careers e.g. sales and marketing, accountancy, finance, patent work and journalism

View further study

Many graduates embark on further study e.g. PhD, PGCE, MSc or medicine.

Careers Support

Faculty careers events

We organise regular careers workshops especially for biological sciences students. We also organise an annual Bioscience Careers Networking Event, offering a chance to meet bioscience employers, speak to alumni, attend workshops and get masses of information. Browse the careers fair photo gallery.

University Careers Service

Our on-campus Careers Centre is one of the largest in the country, with experienced advisers and strong relationships with graduate recruiters. The Careers Centre will help you to find out how to develop your employability right from the start and provide support after you graduate. Find out what the Careers Centre has to offer.

Gaining work experience

Work experience is increasingly important in a competitive job market and Leeds offers many opportunities to gain experience and develop skills valuable to employers, including our industrial placement and year abroad schemes, laboratory placement schemes, and volunteering via Leeds for Life.

Industrial Advisory Board

Our Industrial Advisory Board gives employers the chance to input directly into programme and module content. This ensures that our programmes include appropriate training and skills so that our students and graduates are desirable to a broad range of graduate employers.

Join a global network of Leeds graduates

A remarkable variety of opportunities result from our relationships with our graduates, including access to the Leeds Graduate Careers Network.

Recent graduate jobs include:
Recent graduate employers include:
  • Assistant Ecologist
  • Assistant Editor
  • Business Analyst
  • Ecological Consultant
  • Executive Assistant
  • Paramedic
  • Policy Manager
  • Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Project Fundraising Officer
  • Research Technician
  • Scientific Meetings Coordinator
  • CAB International
  • Cresswell Associates
  • Department for Culture, Media & Sport
  • Land Care Associates
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Sydney
  • Vestas Offshore UK Ltd
  • Zoological Society of London

Read about more BSc Zoology graduates...

See more graduate profiles.

Careers resources

For more information on our approach to graduate employability, please see: www.leeds.ac.uk/employability

Field Courses

We see great value in the learning opportunities offered by practical field courses and offer five field courses for undergraduates in locations as diverse as North Yorkshire, the Mediterranean and Africa.

Not only are field courses highly enjoyable, but participants benefit from:

  • Applying university-learnt techniques in real life situations
  • Individual and team working
  • High staff /student ratios
  • Tutor support on location
  • First-hand experience of collecting and analysing data
  • Opportunies to develop individual research skills
  • Skills development valued by employers after graduation

Students on Scarborough Field Course Field Courses we offer:

Year 1:

Coastal and Uplands Habitats, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Year 2:

Marine Zoology Field Course, Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire.

Mediterranean Ecology Field Course

Terrestrial Ecology and Behaviour Field Course, Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales.

Year 3:

African Ecology Field Course (South Africa).

Butterfly - Meditteranean field course

What will it cost?

2012 entry - Any field courses that are compulsory for your degree programme will be free of charge, however, for optional field courses you will be charged relevant out of pocket costs (principally travel, subsistence, accommodation and insurance), for which there may be help available.


Recent field course case studies:

Africa Field Course 2007

Natalie Coles (BSc Zoology) African field course 2007

Amy Backhouse BSc Zoology African field course 2008



Students' Experiences

Victoria Leggett

Vicky Leggett"The highlights of my course have been the field trips and also my third year research project. My project is bringing a new aspect to science, with the potential to be published"


Jennifer Coughlin

Jennifer Coughlin"I chose to study Zoology at the University of Leeds because of its excellent reputation for supporting its students, its great facilities, and its friendly and professional academic staff, who are respected internationally for their research and knowledge."


See more student profiles.

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