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Course Overview


How do animals and humans decide what to do and when to do it? How much of this is driven by free will and how much by unconscious processes? Find out by studying behavioural biology.

Behavioural Biology is an interdisciplinary degree and field of science that examines the bidirectional interactions between behaviour and biology. An organism’s genetic, physiological and immunological processes drive behaviour, just as an individual’s behaviour will impact on its physiological and immunological state.

Our Behavioural Biology degree differs from our Animal Behaviour degree as the focus is predominantly on Tinbergen’s questions on the mechanisms and functional significance of behaviour, and less on the evolutionary and development principles.

LEARNING MODE On Campus Learning
DURATION 48 months
What You'll Study

Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses that can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.

All students take eight courses in the first year. On this degree you will take six compulsory courses and two electives. The two electives can be selected from any discipline in the university.

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (NT1001)
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Introductory Psychology I: Concepts and Theory (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Chemistry for the Life Sciences 1 (NT1020) – 15 Credit Points
The Cell (NT1501) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 2 (NT1512) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

In year two six courses are compulsory and two are electives.

Compulsory Courses

Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (NT2018) – 15 Credit Points
Advanced Psychology A: Concepts and Theory (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Genes and Evolution (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology (NT2020) – 15 Credit Points
Advanced Psychology B: Concepts and Theory (NT2517) – 15 Credit Points
Principles of Animal Physiology (NT2510) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from second half-session courses of choice.

At level 3 you will take eight courses: six compulsory and two electives. The electives can be selected from the range of courses offered in the university and include Animals in Captivity, Life History Evolution and Environmental Physiology.

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (NT3011) – 15 Credit Points
Biological Psychology (NT3014) – 15 Credit Points
Behavioural Biology (NT3505) – 15 Credit Points
Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology (NT3502) – 15 Credit Points
Consciousness (NT3504) – 15 Credit Points
Field Skills in Animal Behaviour (NT3810) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 15 credit points from courses of choice at level 3.

In year 4, the honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing advanced courses of your choosing.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (NT4016) – 45 Credit Points
Cognitive Neuroscience (NT4510) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 60 credit points from courses of choice, at least 30 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences at level 4.

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Behavioural Biology?
  • Unique programme offering study in the parallel fields of biology and psychology: biologists, psychologists and neuroscientists focus on similar questions about the brain and behaviour but they approach the questions differently. The Behavioural Biology programme bridges these traditional fields and provides a new way of viewing an individual’s behaviour from multiple perspectives.
  • Teaching from researchers in biology, psychology and medical fields gives access to the cutting edge facilities and a diverse range of expertise.
  • The curriculum is based on popular equivalent programmes in the USA.
  • Academic and transferrable skills are built in to the learning experience to maximise employability.
  • Links with Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park provide an unrivalled opportunity to directly interact with a diverse range of animal species.
  • Cross-institutional links increases access to a wide range of resources typically used in medical sciences, such as in-vivo imaging, histology and tissue cultures.
  • You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work and a compulsory final year research project.
  • At our regular careers events you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.


Graduates in Behavioural Biology can expect employment opportunities in industries such as pharmaceuticals and applied medicine, veterinary practice, government education and research programmes and animal welfare.

Entry requirements


SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.


Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL*.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB*, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

English Language Requirements

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Northampton University it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:


IELTS Academic:

OVERALL – 6.0 with: Listening – 5.5; Reading – 5.5; Speaking – 5.5; Writing – 6.0


OVERALL – 78 with: Listening – 17; Reading – 18; Speaking – 20; Writing – 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL – 54 with: Listening – 51; Reading – 51; Speaking – 51; Writing – 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL – 169 with: Listening – 162; Reading – 162; Speaking – 162; Writing – 169

How to apply


This programm by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test

Documentation required

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes.
  • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

After you apply

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
Terms and conditions of admissions
  • The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

    Northampton University admissions terms and conditions