We have a large and internationally recognised School of Biosciences offering expertise that is the foundation of our research-led teaching.
You will encounter a broad range of topics on our courses, ranging from studies on the three-dimensional structure of individual molecules through to the study of whole ecosystems. We pride ourselves in our 'enquiry-based learning' strategy that will equip you with the skills to achieve full potential in your future career.
We increasingly incorporate new areas of science relating to biology, such as bioinformatics, and the School has major high-technology facilities for research in genomics, structural biology and optical imaging.
Specialist field courses for those involved in the study of animals, plants and ecological aspects are also available.
Zoology is the study of animal life across all levels of organisation; from the evolution and adaptations of whole organisms to the activities of animal cells and the biochemical processes that maintain them. In recent years the development of new technologies has resulted in a particular emphasis on the study of cellular and molecular levels of animal organisation and activities.
For a description of modules see Biological Sciences Module Information. The modules described here are the ones that we currently offer and will give you a good idea of the range of subjects that we teach. However as our undergraduate teaching is research led and we constantly review our teaching to ensure that the modules that we offer are up to date there may be changes to module titles and content.
In Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology you will study the diversity of animal species, and their adaptations, including complex behavioural strategies, reproductive and survival strategies and how these can be understood in the context of evolution. Along with all of the other students on the Biological Sciences programmes you will take other modules (listed below) designed to introduce you to all aspects of this broad subject discipline.
First year modules
Biochemistry - Fundamental biochemical processes taking place inside cells
Genetics I - Storage of genetic information, gene expression and regulation, mitosis and meiosis, gene linkage and chromosome mapping.
Microbiology and Infectious Disease | Watch video - Broad introduction to microbiology with a focus on infectious disease, covering bacteria, fungi, protists, archaea and viruses.
Cell Biology and Physiology - Tissues, organelles, reproduction and development.
Plant Sciences and Environmental Biology Watch video - Part 1: Development, cell biology, physiology of plants and their responses to environmental change. Part 2: Assessing and quantifying biological diversity and the interactions b etween ecosystems and their inhabitants
Skills for Biosciences - Laboratory skills, transferable skills training including basic mathematics, IT, literature search and scientific writing.
Module Outside the Main Discipline (MOMD) - allows you to explore content from other academic programmes of this university in the form of a stand-alone module. More information on MOMD can be found here.
The key second year module for zoologists is Animal Sensory Systems, Neurobiology and Behaviour; this module takes an evolutionary and comparative approach to the study of animal behaviour and its underlying mechanistic control by the nervous system. You choose 4 other optional modules from the list below: Ecology, Cell and Developmental Biology and a field course, particularly Adaptations to Aquatic Environments, are good choices for a zoologist.
Second year modules
Key second year module:
Animal Biology - This module explores how the central nervous system translates sensory stimuli to behaviour. Topics include comparative neurobiology, biological timekeeping, sensory biology, learning and behaviour and others.
Other Second Year optional modules
Microbes and Man - The impact of microbes on humans, bacteria, fungi and viruses, common themes of infectious disease mechanisms.
Cell and Developmental Biology - Development of multicellular organisms, interaction between cells and the cellular matrix, regulation of stem cell function.
Genetics II - Organisation of genes and genomes, generation of genetic diversity, gene transmission and analysis of problems in transmission and molecular genetics.
Human Evolution, Adaptation and Behaviour - This module explores some of the most important features of human evolution, such as bipedalism, racism, leadership and how infectious diseases have shaped human evolution in the distant past and during modern times.
Human Structure and Function - Human anatomy and how it relates to its function and evolutionary origin.
Plant Sciences: from Cells to the Environment | Watch video - Plants interact flexibly with their environment. This module explores the cellular and molecular features facilitati ng such interactions, including interactions with parasites. The module introduces the model plant Arabidopsis, and you will design and test hypotheses in specific experiments
Field Course: Alpine and Glacial Ecology in Norway | Watch video
Field Course: Adaptations to Aquatic Environments | Watch video
The final year is made up of a combination of taught modules and independent study. It is here that the link between the teaching and the research in the school is particularly important. The final year allows choice from a range of specialised topics in zoology, which are informed and inspired by the research being carried out in the school.
Central to the final year is the research project, which makes up one third of the credits earned in the final year. This allows you to join one of our many research groups, providing the fascinating opportunity to experience research first hand and to contribute to current research projects.
Project work is not limited to the laboratory; some students will do more ecology- or behaviour- based projects involving field work that may be in a UK zoo or further afield. Current field courses in the final year lead you to a research site in Florida, or, in alternate years, to Trentham Estate where you will study behavioural ecology and sociobiology of free roaming Barbary macaques.
Final year modules
Choose a research project and at least 2 final year modules from:
Cellular Neurobiology | Watch video - Neuronal function and neural development, synaptic function, transmitter receptors and ion channels.
Adaptation to changing environments - This ecology-oriented module examines behavioural, physiological and molecular mechanisms of adaptation to environmental stress. It examines animals’ mechanisms to respond to changes occurring on varying timescales and over diverse geographic areas
Living in Groups: Collective Behaviour in Animals | Watch video - This module explores features and rules of group behaviour in animals. Introducing formal concepts such as Social Network Analysis, the module defines fundamental rules that govern collective behaviour, and how individuals partake in making and communicating decisions.
Other Final Year optional modules
Bacterial Gene Regulation - How genes are switched on or off in response to external stimuli, how control of gene expression can be explored experimentally.
Eukaryotic Gene Expression - Control of gene transcription, chromatin structure, pre-mRNA processing, mRNA translation and degradation.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology - Microbial communities, how they compete, and behave socially.
Genetics III: Genetic Variation in Humans and other Eukaryotes - Genetic variation in humans and model organisms, dynamics of chromosome organisation during mitosis and meiosis, genome instability.
Plant Science in the 21st Century | Watch video - Plant growth and development in relation to food supply, biofuels and climate change. Research-based module with emphasis on analysis of the current research literature.
Structures of Destruction - Bacterial and viral pathogens explored from the perspective of their molecular structures, protein misfolding and amyloid diseases.
Cancer Biology - Regulation of cell division and aberrations in malignant tumours, genetic bases of tumourigenesis, programmed cell death.
Human Evolution - Genetics and genomics, development of bipedalism, development of society and how humans’ activity applies selective pressure on the evolution of HIV.
Human Reproductive Biology and Development - A comprehensive view on reproductive biology, stem cells and embryonic development. Topics include gametogenesis, gamete maturation and transport, infertility and controversies surrounding reproductive technologies.
Molecular and Cellular Immunology | Watch video - Evolution of the immune system, innate immunity, cell biology of immunity, structural basis of discrimination between self and non-self.
Biodiversity and Conservation Management - Examining the scientific basis of conservation, the threats facing biodiversity and how those threats are assessed, why population size is critical and how biodiversity is maintained either in nature or at a backup location.
Conservation Practice: Genes to Ecosystems - Examining the scientific basis for conservation and its genetic foundation.
Molecular Basis of Bacterial Infection | Watch video - Evolution of bacterial virulence, antibiotics and antibiotics resistance, genomic data in analysing pathogenicity.
Number of A levels required: 3
Typical offer: AAA–AAB
Required subjects and grades: Biology/Human Biology A level and one other from Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, ICT, Maths, Physics, Psychology or Sports Studies/PE. Five GCSEs at grade C (minimum) in Double Award/Integrated Science, English and Mathematics.
General Studies: We do not accept General Studies, Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies, Applied Science, Communication and Culture, Critical Studies, Global Perspectives, Science in Society and World Development.
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (Applied Science) is accepted only in combination with a science subject at GCE A2 level at grade B or better. Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.
International Baccalaureate Diploma: minimum 32 points. 6, 6, 5 at HL to include Biology and one other science at HL. 5 points in each of SL English and Maths if not offered at GCSE or equivalent.
Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements
Standard English language requirements apply
Learn more about international entry requirements
Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.
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