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Animal Behaviour, BSc

Animal Behaviour, BSc

Course Overview


Why do wolves hunt in packs while cats hunt alone? Why do birds sing? Why do some animals have multiple mates and others only one? If these questions interest you, read on!

Animal Behaviour is an interdisciplinary degree and field of science that examines the interactions between behaviour and biology. An organism’s evolutionary history and current environmental conditions drive behaviour, and feedback from behavioural decisions in turn drives evolutionary processes.

Our Animal Behaviour degree differs from our Zoology degree in that it includes courses from Psychology in the first two years. It also differs from the Behavioural Biology degree as this programme focuses more on the organism as a whole and less on neuroscience.

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.

How You'll Study

Combine practice and theory

Typically, one third of your class time is practical and many courses include full-day practical classes and field visits. Most students take at least one residential field trip during their degree; these trips bring the subjects to life and provide the opportunity to make great friendships and get to know staff members.

Research experience

You are actively involved in scientific research throughout your degree. In Year 4, you conduct independent research which can be pivotal to your career choice whether it be in dolphins, water voles, rare plants, tropical forest ecology, climate change in the Arctic, or any one of a diverse range of other exciting topics!

Engaging and inspiring teaching

Our teaching methods are diverse, innovative and based on research on how students learn. For example, we use problem-based learning approaches, creative presentations, peer and self-assessment, presenting posters in public meetings, writing and editing wikis, writing grant proposals, science writing for publication, and the creation of portfolios using multi-media.

Opportunities for Study Abroad and work-related learning

You can take advantage of an optional year-out on a work placement in any of our degree programmes. Study Abroad is encouraged for students in their second year; we have established partnerships with institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and numerous countries in Europe.

All students take eight courses in the first year. On this degree you take seven compulsory courses and one elective, which can be selected from any discipline in the university.

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (NT1001)
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 1 (NT1012) – 15 Credit Points
Introductory Psychology I: Concepts and Theory (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology and Environmental Science (NT1511) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 2 (NT1512) – 15 Credit Points
Introductory Psychology II: Concepts and Theory (NT1509) – 15 Credit Points
The Cell (NT1501) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice.

In year two you will take six compulsory courses and two electives. Both electives can be selected from any discipline in the university.

Compulsory Courses

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

Optional Courses

Select one of the following options:

  • NT25F4 Fish and Shellfish Biology Field Course
  • NT25F3 Parasitology Field Course
  • NT25F2 Coastal Biodiversity Field Course
  • NT25F1 Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecology Field Course
  • NT25F1 Littoral and Sublittoral Marine Biology Field Course

Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice.

Year three consists of eight courses; six compulsory and two elective.

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (NT3011) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Management and Welfare (NT3309) – 15 Credit Points
Behavioural Biology (NT3505) – 15 Credit Points
Field Skills in Animal Behaviour (NT3810) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credit points from second half-session courses of choice.

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
Advanced Behavioural Ecology (NT4539) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 60 credits 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 Animal Behaviour?
  • Unique programme offering study in the fields of biology and psychology – understand behaviour from all angles: evolution, development, mechanisms and adaptive significance.
  • Teaching from researchers in biology and psychology gives access to the cutting edge of both subject areas.
  • Academic and transferrable skills are built in to the learning experience to maximise employability.
  • Links with the Edinburgh Zoo provide an unrivalled opportunity to directly interact with a diverse range of animal species.
  • In the REF 2014, the Northampton University was 15th across the UK in Biological Sciences for research impact and 1st in the UK for Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science. (Times Higher Education rankings by subject for REF 2014.)
  • You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work and a compulsory final year research project.
  • We host regular careers events, where 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 Animal Behaviour can expect employment opportunities in industries such as pharmaceuticals and applied medicine, conservation and natural resource management, education and research, marketing, social media and software development, and business.

This degree may also be a good choice as a pre-medical degree programme for international students interested in medicine, veterinary science or dentistry. Interdisciplinarity is one of the key graduate attributes you will achieve with this degree. Regardless of the career(s) you will consider after your degree, this skill is highly sought by employers and rarely obtained at the undergraduate level.

Recent graduate employers include:

  • Fife Council
  • Lanta Animal Welfare
  • The Slovak Wildlife Society

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