MSci Zoology / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course description

Our MSci Zoology course will enable you to achieve an integrated master's degree while you study for a BSc, giving you significant research experience that will be invaluable for a PhD and a career in research.

This course will help you to understand the behaviour, physiology, conservation, ecology and evolution of animals. Zoologists use a wide range of approaches to do this, from applying genetic techniques to observing animal behaviour to using quantitative statistics to answer cutting-edge questions about the natural world.

As such, you will study fundamental concepts from a range of disciplines in your first year before going on to study more specialised zoology topics in your second and third years.

In Year 4, you will undertake a major research project in one of the University's more than 200 research labs to achieve your undergraduate master's award.

Field studies form an important part of our teaching and you will attend two field courses - one in the first year and one in the second year - including the possibility of visiting South Africa.

Our course has Advanced Accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology , which recognises academic excellence in the biosciences and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future.

Continuation onto the MSci course is dependent on certain academic criteria.

Special features

Study in the field

Travel to locations in the UK or countries such as South Africa on a field course .

Foundation year available

You can prepare for the full degree course if you do not have the appropriate qualifications for direct entry by undertaking our foundation course first.

Flexibility to transfer between courses

You can transfer between most of our biological sciences degree courses at the end of your first year or, in some cases, later.

Teaching and learning

You will benefit from a wide range of teaching and learning methods that suit the content and aims of each course unit.

These range from lectures and tutorials to practicals and research projects.

Find out more about how you will learn and see a typical Year 1 timetable on our teaching and learning page.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment methods vary widely to suit the nature of the course unit and each level of study. 

  • Lecture units are usually assessed by written exam (multiple choice or essay-based), which are held at the end of an academic semester in either January or May/June.
  • Field courses are usually assessed via oral and written presentations, group work and/or projects.
  • Practical units are usually assessed by experimental report and/or short written assignment and/or written exam.
  • The proportion of independent study assignments increases during each year of study.

Year 1

Lecture units are usually assessed by e-learning activities during the unit and multiple choice exams at the end of the semester. 

Year 1 contributes 6% to your overall degree mark.

Year 2

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam.

Year 2 contributes 19% to your overall degree mark.

Year 3

Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam.

You will also take two 'honours' papers and examinations comprising essays and data-handling problems.

The three MSci-specific units are assessed through different means such as e-learning, reports and poster and oral presentations.

Year 3 contributes 37.5% to your overall degree mark. To continue on to the final year of the MSci course, you must meet certain academic criteria in Year 3.

Students who fail to meet this criteria will graduate with a three-year BSc degree.

Year 4

The whole year is dedicated to the research project assessed through a scientific talk, written abstract, poster presentation and a report in the format of a journal. There will also be a project performance mark.

Course unit details

This course is modular. You will study compulsory course units and choose some optional units.

Most units are assigned 10 credits and you will take 120 credits each year.

Course content for year 1

You will gain a broad introduction to biological sciences, covering key concepts such as:

  • genetics
  • biodiversity
  • molecular biology.

You will study on a field course in either Scotland for marine biology or South Africa for animal behaviour.

Year 1 also provides an introduction to the essential data handling and laboratory skills required for all biological scientists.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 1 BIOL10000 10 Mandatory
Molecular Biology BIOL10221 10 Mandatory
From Molecules to Cells BIOL10232 10 Mandatory
Introduction to Laboratory Science BIOL10401 10 Mandatory
Biodiversity BIOL10511 10 Mandatory
Genes, Evolution and Development BIOL10521 10 Mandatory
Writing and Referencing Skills (online unit) BIOL10741 0 Mandatory
Biochemistry BIOL10212 10 Optional
A History of Biology in 20 Objects BIOL10381 10 Optional
Microbes, Man and the Environment BIOL10532 10 Optional
Field Course in Marine Biology I BIOL10602 10 Optional
Field Course in Animal Behaviour and Diversity BIOL10642 10 Optional
Non-Residential Field Course in Ecology & Behaviour BIOL10662 10 Optional
Body Systems BIOL10811 10 Optional
Drugs: From Molecules to Man BIOL10822 10 Optional
Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience BIOL10832 10 Optional
Fundamentals of Chemistry CHEM10111 10 Optional
Introduction to Ecology EART10602 10 Optional
Science & the Modern World HSTM10221 10 Optional
Bodies in History: An introduction to the History of Medicine HSTM10272 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 20 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

You will continue your studies in greater depth and begin to specialise in subjects such as animal behaviour, animal diversity and animal physiology. You will also write a dissertation.

In the Research Skills unit, you have the opportunity to carry out techniques that are widely used in current biological science research.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 2 BIOL20000 10 Mandatory
Organismal Biology EDM BIOL21051 10 Mandatory
Dissertation BIOL21090 10 Mandatory
Principles of Developmental Biology BIOL21172 10 Mandatory
Animal Diversity BIOL21221 10 Mandatory
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology BIOL21232 10 Mandatory
Animal Physiology BIOL21281 10 Mandatory
Animal Behaviour BIOL21432 10 Mandatory
Ecology and Conservation EART25001 10 Mandatory
The Biology of Being Human BIOL20982 10 Optional
The Dynamic Cell BIOL21121 10 Optional
Cell Metabolism & Metabolic Control BIOL21132 10 Optional
`Omic Technologies & Resources BIOL21152 10 Optional
Fundamentals of Bacteriology BIOL21181 10 Optional
Principles of Infectious Disease BIOL21192 10 Optional
Immunology BIOL21242 10 Optional
Parasitology BIOL21252 10 Optional
Endocrinology BIOL21261 10 Optional
Human Anatomy & Histology BIOL21291 10 Optional
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action BIOL21321 10 Optional
Motor Systems BIOL21332 10 Optional
Sensory Systems BIOL21341 10 Optional
Organismal Genetics BIOL21371 10 Optional
Environmental Microbiology EART21102 10 Optional
Evolution and Palaeobiology EART22101 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 25 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

You will take two papers and six lecture units specific to zoology. 

You will prepare for the papers through tutorials with current BSc students.

The remaining 40 credits will come from the following MSci units:

  • Research Project Proposals (10 credits)
  • Bioinformatics Tools and Resources (10 credits)
  • Experimental Skills (20 credits)

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Academic Tutorials Year 3 BIOL30000 0 Mandatory
MSci Project Literature Review and Research Proposal BIOL33000 10 Mandatory
MSci Experimental Skills Module BIOL33012 20 Mandatory
Post-Genome Biology (L) BIOL31301 10 Optional
Evolution of Genes, Genomes & Systems (E) BIOL31391 10 Optional
Comparative Developmental Biol (L) BIOL31451 10 Optional
Chemical Communication in Animals (L) BIOL31461 10 Optional
Advanced Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology (E) BIOL31471 10 Optional
Conservation Biology (E) BIOL31482 10 Optional
Biotic Interactions (L) BIOL31511 10 Optional
Living with Climate Change (L) BIOL31541 10 Optional
Advanced Developmental Biology (E) BIOL31642 10 Optional
Clocks, Sleep & the Rhythms of Life (E) BIOL31681 10 Optional
Learning, Memory & Cognition (E) BIOL31692 10 Optional
Hormones & Behaviour BIOL31721 10 Optional
MSci Bioinformatics Tools and Resources BIOL33011 10 Optional
Computational Approaches to Biology BIOL33021 10 Optional
MSci Reproducible Data Science BIOL33031 10 Optional
Advances in Palaeobiology EART30882 10 Optional
Displaying 10 of 19 course units for year 3

Course content for year 4

You will undertake a 120-credit research project over a period of six to seven months in research laboratories or a field station run by University staff to complete the work needed for your MSci award.

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
MSci Research Project BIOL40010 120 Mandatory

What our students say

Find out more about what it's like to study at Manchester on the  Biology, Medicine and Health Student Blog .

Facilities

Learning facilities

Our modern teaching labs are equipped for a range of biological and biomedical techniques. The following are just a few of the techniques you could undertake during your degree:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • DNA sequencing
  • gel electrophoresis
  • spectrophotometry
  • dissection and histology
  • electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG)
  • immunofluorescence microscopy.

Our computing facilities include access to over 200 PCs in dedicated clusters and e-learning tools including online lecture notes, discussion boards, lecture podcasts and quizzes.

Our experimental grounds include a variety of plants and controlled growing conditions used in research. These facilities complement resources at the Manchester Museum where you have access to important natural history collections and a tropical frog conservation centre .

You will also have access to the University's other facilities for undergraduate students .

Research facilities

As a final year student, you have the opportunity to undertake a project in the labs of our world-class bioscience researchers.

To support our research, we have extensive  research facilities equipped with high-quality technology.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk