BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour
Why study Animal Behaviour at Liverpool John Moores University?
- Study the behaviour of wild and captive animals, with opportunities for overseas fieldwork
- Regular field trips and visits to observe the behaviour of animals, including residential fieldwork at Level 4 to Millport, Isle of Cumbrae in Scotland
- Optional residential fieldwork (partially self-funded) at level 5 (possible destination Cairngorms National Park, Scotland) and level 6 (possible destination Coto Doana, Spain)
- Taught by animal behaviour experts at the forefront of modern research
- Opportunities for work-related learning, study abroad and/or a year-long sandwich placement
- Specialist lectures from visiting animal behaviour experts
- This degree is available to study following a foundation year
- International Foundation Year course available offering direct progression onto this degree programme - visit LJMU's International Study Centre to find out more
About your course
Studying BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour at Liverpool John Moores University will give you an opportunity to learn from experts in animal behaviour and complete work-related learning with a variety of animal-related organisations, such as zoos, wildlife parks, conservation NGOs and rescue centres. The degree develops your understanding of the science of animal behaviour in relation to evolution, ecology, physiology, neurobiology and genetics, preparing students for a career in science, animal welfare, animal behaviour research, the emergency services or conservation.
This course gives you the understanding to answer questions such as 'how and why does behaviour vary between individuals, groups and species' and 'how is behaviour shaped by the past (evolutionary history) and the present (the environment), and regulated by genes, physiology and neurobiology?'
Modules cover animal behaviour in a range of environments from natural behaviour in the tropics and temperate habitats; terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems; through to the behaviour and welfare of domestic and captive animals.
Regular field work underpins the development of theoretical knowledge, giving students the practical skills to engage in the study of animal behaviour. An important part of the programme is the training in scientific observational methods. Students will have opportunities to try out their techniques on wild animals in the UK and abroad, as well as on captive animals in the world famous Chester Zoo, Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Blue Planet Aquarium and Knowsley Safari Park, which are all close by, along with a range of natural habitats and protected areas.
There is a core residential field trip in Level 4 and an optional residential field trip during Level 5. Students can also take part in an advanced field skills expedition during Level 6 the possible destination is the superb Coto Doana area in southern Spain to observe first-hand how animals behave in their natural habitats. You can also choose to study at a different university for one semester in our Study Abroad Programme.
On top of your academic studies, you will have the opportunity to undertake a short (4-6 week) work-based placement and/or a year's sandwich placement in the UK or abroad. Placements give you a chance to put your skills and knowledge into practice, as well as developing personal and subject-related skills and acquiring new skills to enhance your CV. They could even lead to employment with the same organisation or through the contacts you make. The first year of the course is very similar to LJMU's Zoology programme and as these are sister degrees you can transfer between programmes if you complete Level 4 successfully.
"I found the course incredibly interesting and it really sparked my love and curiosity for science. It covers many different aspects of animal behaviour so when you graduate you can choose which path you would like to take whether it is wildlife conservation, animal training or the behaviour and welfare of pets or production animals"
Professional organisations such as the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) offer membership.
Fees and funding
* Practical and field activities underpin all programmes in the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences. PPE is provided for all necessary practical work. There are no costs for day field trips for core and optional modules. Residential field trips associated with core modules are subsidised and include travel and half-board accommodation costs. Any residential field trips for optional modules are also subsidised, but will have costs involved. Locations may be subject to change and also subject to national and international travel restrictions.
A DBS check is not required for your application, however a DBS may be required for modules where there is a work based learning placement option. Work based learning placements that do not require a DBS check are available.
You will enjoy varied career opportunities both in the UK and overseas
You might, on the other hand, prefer to practise as a professional animal behaviourist after some further postgraduate study and clinical training.
Recent LJMU graduates have secured full-time employment in roles such as Research Officers, Animal Colony Managers and Animal Welfare Coordinators. Organisations that have hired our graduates include: Combe Martin Wildlife Park, Chester Zoo, Dolphin Quest, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Genus, Newquay Zoo, North Clwyd Animal Rescue, RSPCA and Reaseheath College.
Other graduates have opted for postgraduate study (teacher training, MSc, MPhil or PhD), pursuing a career in science and academia or other competitive undergraduate courses (such as medicine, veterinary science or midwifery). Some have also set up their own businesses (including a pet behaviour consultancy) or have taken non-animal related graduate employment.
Student Futures - Careers, Employability and Enterprise Service
A wide range of opportunities and support is available to you, within and beyond your course, to ensure our students experience a transformation in their career trajectory. Every undergraduate curriculum includes Future Focus during Level 4, an e-learning resource and workshop designed to help you to develop your talents, passion and purpose.
Every student has access to Careers Zone 24/7, LJMU's suite of online Apps, resources and jobs board via the LJMU Student Futures website. There are opportunities for flexible, paid and part-time work through Unitemps, LJMU's in-house recruitment service, and we also offer fully funded Discovery Internships.
One-to-one careers and employability advice is available via our campus-based Careers Zones and we offer a year-round programme of events, including themed careers and employability workshops, employer events and recruitment fairs. Our Start-Up Hub can help you to grow your enterprise skills and to research, plan and start your own business or become a freelancer.
A suite of learning experiences, services and opportunities is available to final year students to help ensure you leave with a great onward plan. You can access LJMU's Careers, Employability and Start-up Services after you graduate and return for one-to-one support for life.
LJMU aims to make international opportunities available to every student. You may be able to study abroad as part of your degree at one of our 100+ partner universities across the world. You could also complete a work placement or apply for one of our prestigious worldwide internship programmes. If you wanted to go abroad for a shorter amount of time, you could attend one of our 1-4 week long summer schools.
Our Go Citizen Scheme can help with costs towards volunteering, individual projects or unpaid placements anywhere in the world. With all of these opportunities at your feet, why wouldn’t you take up the chance to go abroad?
Find out more about the opportunities we have available via our Instagram @ljmuglobalopps or email us at: email@example.com.
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What you will study on this degree
Please see guidance below on core and option modules for further information on what you will study.
Further guidance on modules
Modules are designated core or optional in accordance with professional body requirements, as applicable, and LJMU’s Academic Framework Regulations. Whilst you are required to study core modules, optional modules provide you with an element of choice. Their availability may vary and will be subject to meeting minimum student numbers.
Whilst you are required to study core modules, optional modules may also be included to provide you with an element of choice within the programme. The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to meeting minimum student numbers.
Where changes to modules are necessary these will be communicated as appropriate.
Fundamentals of Scientific Research
This module aims to develop your research skills and covers problem solving, scientific writing, data handling and statistical analysis.
Practical Skills for Animal Behaviour
The aim of this module is to develop theoretical, practical and analytical skills to conduct animal behaviour fieldwork, with particular emphasis on how to sample behaviour, assess animal resource and threat abundance and distribution, as well as overall habitat characteristics.
Evolution and Inheritance
This module introduces you to the fundamentals of evolution and genetics, with a focus on key concepts that impact animal behaviour and conservation.
In this module you will be introduced to the diversity of animal behaviour. You will learn to describe the behaviour of a wide range of animal species in relation to reproduction, foraging and social behaviour and to identify common behaviours in selected species, explaining their purpose.
This module provides you with a basic understanding of ecology and ecological characteristics of a range of habitats. You will study basic concepts, such as species and succession, communities and ecosystems, biotic and abiotic elements, nutrient cycling, populations and diversity and adaptations of organisms to their environment. Part of this will be achieved through field visits to a range of habitats.
This module provides you with an introduction to the major physiological processes and homoeostasis in animals. Adopting an adaptive approach, this module follows the development of animal organ systems according to influential environmental drivers.
Research Skills and Employability
This module covers all aspects of handling and analysing scientific data and the development of employability/graduate skills. You will consider the fundamentals of analysing and interpreting scientific data using examples relevant to all biosciences. Additionally, it will allow you to prepare a better career plan in science, as well as becoming self-aware of your employability skills.
This module enables you to examine how ecological and evolutionary factors affect the survival and reproductive behaviour of animals. The role of ecological and evolutionary selection pressures to maximise inclusive fitness in wild animals is stressed. Particular emphasis is placed on the design and interpretation of a behavioural time budget study on zoo animals.
Brain, Hormones and Behaviour
The aim of this module is to gain an overview of the function of the nervous and endocrine system, how it is interconnected, how it is influenced by the environment and how it affects animal behaviour. You will also receive practical training in up-to-date methods used in this field and to learn how the achieved skills can be applied to own behavioural studies and studies on conservation and animal welfare.
This module provides a background to the topic of animal communication, from its evolution and function, to its flexibility and adaptation to human dominated landscapes. The systems and modes of animal communication will be examined, along with the wide range of communication across the animal kingdom. The module will explore how animal communication compares to human language, the means through which animals communicate and what they are communicating to each other.
Animals in Motion
This module aims to provide a comprehensive background and understanding of animal locomotion and movement. You will investigate the process and mechanisms of motion from its physiological bases through whole animal mechanics, and group level migrations. This module will investigate animal motion in all its forms and at all scales. You will also study the fundamental physiology and anatomy of movement and use these to explore the full range of animal motion and its purposes.
Animal Field Skills
This module enables you to examine different methods used for animal censuses and surveys, including sampling techniques.
Companion Animal Behaviour
The aim of this module is to evaluate the behaviour and welfare of companion animals. The module focuses mainly on dogs, specialising in the varied roles our companion animals are faced with in modern society and the impacts these may have on their welfare.
This module will be taught through lectures to teach you about technology and their applications in conservation. Computer practicals will be used to teach you how to process and analyse the data collected, workshops look at building and setting up the technology, and fieldtrips allow you to gain experience in using the technology.
Sandwich Year - Animal Behaviour
The aim is to provide students with an extended period of work experience at an approved partner that will complement their programme of study at LJMU. This will give students the opportunity to develop professional skills relevant to their programme of study as well as the attitude and behaviours necessary for employment in a diverse and changing environment. This extended placement forms a key part of a sandwich degree. All placements need to be assessed and approved prior to commencement in line with the LJMU Placement Learning Code of Practice. The Code of Practice requires students to conduct themselves in a professional and responsible manner during the placement - failure to do so may lead to the placement being terminated prematurely. Placements are normally for one calendar year on a full-time basis. Split placements of a shorter duration may be permissible. There is an expectation that a minimum of 1200 hours will be spent in the workplace.
Study Year Abroad - Animal Behaviour
The aim is to provide students with an additional year of study at an approved overseas partner that will complement their programme at LJMU. This is an additional year of full-time study at an approved higher education institution. The modules to be studied must be agreed in advance, and must be appropriate for the student's programme of study. Assuming successful completion of this year, mark-bearing credit will be awarded by the Faculty Recognition Group. The grade conversion scale to be used will be made available in advance of the year abroad.
Study Semester Abroad - Animal Behaviour
The aim is to provide students with a semester of study at an approved overseas partner that will replace one semester of their LJMU programme at level 5.This is a semester of full-time study at an approved higher education institution which will replace one semester of level 5 study at LJMU. The modules to be studied must be agreed in advance, and must be an appropriate substitute for the modules being replaced. Assuming successful completion of this semester, mark-bearing credit will be awarded by the Faculty Recognition Group. The grade conversion scale to be used will be made available in advance of the semester abroad.
The research project will be in any area appropriate to your programme of study on a topic of your choice. The module provides an opportunity for you to independently develop and demonstrate project planning, time-management and organisational inter-personal skills, along with scientific and practical working methods in a research or applied context.
This comparative module covers how the endocrine and nervous systems work together to control health and disease. Combining problem-based learning and practical sessions, you will cover topics such as sexual differentiation, sleep, stress, depression and the long-term endocrine changes caused by psychoactive substances.
Advanced Field Skills Expedition
This module provides an introduction to biological issues in ecosystems during a residential field trip abroad. You will critically evaluate biological issues in selected habitats and design and carry out field-based studies to investigate biological questions.
Animal Learning and Cognition
This module enables you to investigate learning and cognition in animals and link these abilities to the ecological and social environment of an individual and species. Animal learning and cognition is discussed with respect to current (proximate factors) and evolutionary conditions (ultimate factors).
Zoo Conservation and Genebanks
This module provides you with an understanding of the role of ex situ conservation in maintaining global biodiversity and the methods used in maintaining ex situ collections of animals and plants.
This module builds on neurobiology-related concepts taught during the level 5 Physiology of Life module. The module provides you with an insight into how molecular, cellular and organ components contribute to form the body's most complex system and how different factors can produce dysregulation of the nervous system.
This module enables you to understand the importance of behaviour and welfare to the effective management of a range of captive animals (wild and domestic). Behavioural problems are identified and possible methods of solving or ameliorating are considered.
Applied Animal Behaviour
This module provides an in-depth discussion of selected topical issues in animal behaviour. The module demonstrates how research in animal behaviour can be used to inform management of animals in a range of contexts.
Current Topics in Primatology
This module provides an overview of current topics in primatology, including evolution, ecology and behaviour of primate species, using a mixture of lectures and seminars, along with fieldwork, practical and workshop elements.
Animal Social Systems
The aim of this module is to apply aspects of evolution and ecology to the interpretation of animal social behaviour and social systems. The module focuses on survival and reproductive strategies, social organisation and mechanisms of behaviour.
This module provides relevant, stimulating and career-orientated experiential learning to encourage you to develop transferable skills relevant to the work environment and to foster initiative and independence of thought.
Teaching and work-related learning
Excellent facilities and learning resources
We adopt an active blended learning approach, meaning you will experience a combination of face-to-face and online learning during your time at LJMU. This enables you to experience a rich and diverse learning experience and engage fully with your studies. Our approach ensures that you can easily access support from your personal tutor, either by meeting them on-campus or via a video call to suit your needs.
Teaching is via a combination of lectures, fieldwork, laboratory work, workshops, tutorials, and online with emphasis on either a research project and/or work-related learning in the third year. This independent study is an important aspect of the course as it gives you a chance to put into practice skills and knowledge gained in Levels 4 and 5.
This course provides plenty of opportunities for first-hand experience of working in the animal behaviour field via an optional year-long sandwich placement between Levels 5 and 6, and/or a short 4-6 week work-related learning placement in Level 6.
A placement tutor will help you find the right placement, either in the UK or overseas, and once you start, you will have regular support from a supervisor.
Support and guidance
Dedicated personal tutor, plus study skills support
There will be times during your course when you need guidance and advice related to your academic studies or more personal matters. For this reason, you will be allocated a personal tutor for the duration of your course. You will be able to discuss course material informally as part of a small tutorial group and also have one-to-one progress review meetings. You will also be allocated a supervisor for your project or work-related learning, and your year-long placement if you choose the sandwich option.
The school is fully committed to promoting a learning environment that supports a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) and has a Disability Support Coordinator, an EDI Coordinator and a School EDI Working Group. Personal Tutors also play a vital role in promoting awareness of support services for students.
Assessment varies depending on the modules you choose, but will usually include a combination of exams and coursework.
End of year exams may include a range of question types such as multiple choice, short answer, interpretative, problem-based learning and essay, whereas coursework assessments are made up of phase tests, fieldwork/practical reports, data handling, oral presentations, poster presentations, group discussions, essays or the evaluation of practical skills. While most of your assessments will be based on individual work you will also complete some group work.
Feedback on coursework assessments is normally provided within three weeks of submission and may be via Canvas (our virtual learning environment), face-to-face or in writing. We believe that constructive feedback is vital in helping you identify your strengths as well as the areas where you may need to put in more work.
Where you will study
What you can expect from your School
You will study at the Byrom Street site in the university's City Campus in the heart of Liverpool. You will have access to first class teaching facilities, laboratories and study areas. The Avril Robarts library is within easy walking distance and here you'll find all the information you need to support your studies.
Please choose your qualifications below to view requirements
Minimum points required from qualifications: 112
GCSEs and equivalents
Prior to starting the programme applicants must have obtained Grade C or Grade 4 or above in English Language and Mathematics GCSE or an approved alternative qualification below:
- Key Skills Level 2 in English/ Maths
- NVQ Level 2 Functional skills in Maths and English Writing and or Reading
- Skills for Life Level 2 in Numeracy/English
- Higher Diploma in Maths/ English
- Functional Skills Level 2 in Maths/ English
- Northern Ireland Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number
- Wales Essential Skills Level 2 in Communication or Application of Number
- Minimum number of A Levels required: 2
- Subject specific requirements: A Level Grade C or above preferably in Biology or other relevant Science.
- Is general studies acceptable? Not acceptable
- Average A Level offer: BBC
- Are AS level awards acceptable? Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- Maximum AS Level points accepted: 20
- National Certificate (RQF): Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Certificate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- National Diploma (RQF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- National Diploma subjects / grades required: D*D* if studied on its own or to the total of 112 UCAS points if combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Diploma (RQF): Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- National Extended Diploma subjects / grades required: DMM in a relevant scientific area.
- Access to Higher Education Diploma acceptability: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- Further information: Access programme must have been taken in a relevant subject area, minimum overall Merit.
- International Baccalaureate: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- Additional information: 26 Points. A specific grade may be required in Science.
- Irish Leaving Certificate: Acceptable on its own and combined with other qualifications
- Grades / subjects required: 112 UCAS points from a minimum of 5 subjects
- Welsh Baccalaureate: Acceptable only when combined with other qualifications
- T Level requirements: 112 UCAS points in a related subject area. Contact Faculty Admissions for details.
- Are Level 3 NVQs acceptable? Acceptable when combined with other qualifications
Alternative qualifications considered
Please contact the University if you have any questions regarding the relevance of your qualifications.
No interview required (UCAS application form only)
6.0 (minimum of 5.5 in each component) or equivalent English language proficiency test.
Reduced offer scheme
As part of LJMU’s commitment to widening access we offer eligible students entry to their chosen course at a reduced threshold of up to 16/8 UCAS points. This applies if you are a student who has been in local authority care or if you have participated in one of LJMU’s sustained outreach initiatives, e.g. Summer University. Please contact the admission office for further details.
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
UCAS is the official application route for our full-time undergraduate courses. Further information on the UCAS application process can be found here https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/study/undergraduate-students/how-to-apply.
The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.
Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.
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