From animal lovers to sustainability warriors, zoology attracts all kinds of students in love with the natural world. Combining elements of biology, psychology, and environmental science, zoology teaches you how to care for and conserve animal life.
Whether you’re interested in trips to remote and exotic locations, or late nights in laboratories trying to master evolution and extinction, zoology has a wide variety of specialisms for you to follow.
Despite the name, a degree in zoology will do more than just qualify you to work in a zoo. The science, research, data, analysis, and behavioural skills you’ll learn can make you attractive to a wide variety of organisations including charities, government agencies, universities, and research centres.
Biology is the most important subject if you want to study zoology. Almost every university will require this, and many will also ask for maths or another science, like physics or chemistry. Psychology may also be useful, particularly if you are looking to specialise in the behavioural side of zoology.
When it comes to showing that you’re the right type of student for zoology, you’ll want to show your passion and compassion for the natural world, but also your scientific skills like research, analysis, theory, data, and technology use.
A levels – Entry requirements range from CCD to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBB.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from AABB to AAABB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BBB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Write a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
A degree in zoology will equip you for a range of careers which will give you the chance to make a difference in the world. Whether you’re protecting animals from natural and manmade threats, researching cures, preventing disease, or fighting extinction, you can be sure that zoology will give you a feel good factor that many people don’t get from their job.
As global warming and urbanisation grows, the demand for nature-focused specialists will increase. Ecology and conservation are important policies in almost every country. While jobs in zoos and wildlife parks are highly contested, there are many other areas where a zoology graduate will be highly sought after. The same goes for jobs not directly related to the natural world, where your combination of empathy and expertise will put your CV at the top of the pile.
Some modules you may study are:
- Extinction and evolution
- The psychology of primates
- Laboratory skills
- Genes and cellular control
- Marine biology
- Animal behaviour
- Disease, immunity and parasites
- Patterns of life and evolution
Most graduates will pursue a career as a:
And, with a little more training, or a slight change of direction, zoology graduates can also pursue jobs as:
Zoology will take you from the lecture theatre to the laboratory, with field trips at home and abroad throughout your study. As a subject which could take you into a hundred different careers, a zoology degree is a varied and diverse experience.
You’ll spend around 13 hours per week in the classroom or laboratory, which is about average for most degrees. If you’re new to zoology, which most first year students will be, you should prepare to conduct a lot of research and further reading in your spare time.
You will master animal behaviour through textbooks and tutors, experience wildlife first-hand during placements, and learn how to analyse biology and DNA in high-tech lab environments. Learning so many skills in a three or four year period can be intense, so be prepared for this.
Most zoology degrees will result in a BSc degree after three or four years, more if you choose to accept the option of placement years that many universities offer. With such high competition for animal-related careers, taking the opportunity to stand out with real work experience will give you a much needed edge.
The same goes for which area you choose to specialise in, which you will have the opportunity to do after your first year of study. You’ll be able to pursue paths like marine biology, conservation, animal behaviour, ecology, evolutionary biology, and many more.
Zoology undergraduates can expect the following tasks during their studies:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- overseas field trips
- hearing from industry speakers
- placements and sandwich years
- project and teamwork
Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
Discover more about apprenticeships in agriculture, animals, horticulture and the environment
Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.