Undergraduate Course

Zoo Biology

School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University

Course Options
  • BSc (Hons)Full-timeSeptember3 yearsGBP 12900 year
  • BSc (Hons)SandwichSeptember4 yearsGBP 12900 year
Course Information

This course represents a unique opportunity for you to study a wider range of species than those covered in traditional Animal Science degrees. Your learning will focus on the biology of exotic species, namely non-domestic and non-UK wildlife, and how to apply this to all aspects of the management and conservation of captive populations.

About this course

This course will give you a sound knowledge and understanding of animal biology, with a particular focus on zoo species.

Your lectures will cover major scientific principles, including anatomy and physiology, behaviour, genetics, ecology and nutrition. You’ll apply these principles to the management and conservation of zoo species and focus on the key aspects of animal welfare, breeding and management within the zoo sector and associated industries.

The course combines the study of zoo animals, their management, and how this can contribute towards the conservation, education, research and
recreation goals of zoos.

A combination of theoretical and practical studies ensures that your knowledge, understanding and technical skills are developed throughout the course. You will acquire a creative approach to studying scientific problems and resolving conflict in the animal sector.

NTU is a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). We are also a teaching provider for the International Species Information System, and we teach zoo record keeping via the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). 

You’ll learn from a combination of lectures, seminars, group exercises and project work. There is also an opportunity to focus your studies on the species of most interest to you. This is all complemented with practical classes – these will give you a range of fundamental laboratory and field techniques, including the ability to handle a wide range of animal species safely.

Sessions take place in laboratories, lecture theatres, and our Animal Unit and specialist roundhouse. Throughout the course you’ll hear from external industry professionals through guest lectures and visits to a range of zoological and wildlife parks. Your assessment will be based on coursework and formal examinations.

You’ll also be encouraged and supported to gain important relevant industry experience at appropriate organisations throughout the course. Our students have previously worked in various roles at zoos such as Woburn Safari Park, Bristol Zoo and Paignton Zoo, and for conservation organisations such as Dao Tien Endangered Primate Centre (Vietnam), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey), Cheetah Outreach (South Africa) and UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve (South Africa).

Developed in conjunction with representatives from industry, the course is designed to maximise your potential in a broad range of animal-related careers.

These include various roles within zoos both in the UK and abroad, working in areas such as conservation education, research, and zookeeping.

What you'll study

Year One

  • Anatomy and Physiology

Gain a broad understanding of animal structure and function across a range of species.

  • Exotic Animal Husbandry

Learn successful approaches to zoo animal husbandry and the constraints imposed by captivity. Animal handling skills are also developed.

  • Animal Behaviour

Study patterns of behaviour and the reasons why animals behave as they do, both in captivity and in the wild.

  • Principles of Animal Science

Understand key biological and chemical principles of relevance to Animal Science including growth, nutrition, reproduction, and animal health and welfare. You will also develop a range of practical laboratory skills necessary to underpin your future studies.

  • Introduction to Zoology

An introduction to the study of animal life. You will study topics including evolution, species diversity, biodiversity and ecology.

  • Zoo Professional Development

Enhance transferable and professional development skills which are essential to your academic growth. You will undertake work experience and continuing professional development (CPD) hours, and receive guidance on writing CVs and covering letters.

Year Two

  • Zoo Animal Health and Disease

Learn the principles of animal health and disease. The module covers a range of pathogenic organisms and looks at a variety of common diseases, their symptoms, treatment and prevention.

  • Management of Reproduction in Exotics

Understand genetics, reproduction and breeding. You will explore the factors affecting reproductive success in captive and endangered species, and how these can be addressed through knowledge of reproductive physiology and anatomy.

  • Research Skills

Explore the principles of scientific investigation in relation to Animal Science. Topics covered include experimental design, data generation and collection, and data analysis. Teaching is supported in the laboratories and Animal Unit.

  • Biological Basis of Behaviour

Explore the way in which animals behave in relation to their environment. You will learn and understand key areas of mammalian physiology and pharmacology, and how this relates to behaviour.

  • Zoo Nutrition

Explore the issues facing the feeding of captive animal populations, specifically looking at the restrictions placed on dietary provision in captivity.

  • Zoo Organisation

Learn about the background and historical development of zoos and the legislation relating to them. Understand the organisational structure of zoological collections and the implications for their management.

Year Three

This is a placement year for students on the four-year course.

Final year

  • Adaptive Physiology

Study the physiological challenges presented by different environments and the adaptations that enable animals to overcome them.

  • Issues Relating to Exotics

Discuss and critically analyse topical issues relating to exotic species. You will develop an understanding of the importance of ethical theories and scientific method in formulating your views.

  • Zoo Animal Management

Evaluate the complexities and limitations of managing zoo species in captivity. You will explore zoo animal welfare, natural behaviours, and methods to measure, evaluate and increase these.

  • Zoo Conservation and Education

Understand the role of zoos in the contexts of in-situ and ex-situ conservation. Explore how education within zoos can contribute towards conservation.

  • Dissertation

You will undertake an independent research project. This is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at a subject of personal interest to you within the field of exotic species.

Entry Requirements For This Course

We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our courses. If you're not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.

Foundation courses

If you need to do a foundation course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you're already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our foundation courses page.

English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please email our international team for advice.

Don't meet the entry requirements?

Consider a Foundation or Pathway course at School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University to prepare for your chosen course:

Course Contact Details


Student Administration


+44 (0)1636 817099

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