University of Chester

Programme Specification
Animal Behaviour BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2014 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Animal Behaviour

Animal Behaviour

University of Chester

University of Chester

Primarily University of Chester, Chester campus.

A few modules may be delivered at Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

3 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

Biosciences 2007

Department of Biological Sciences

Friday 1st January 2010

The Aims of the Single Honours programme are to:  

  • To introduce students to the importance of animal behaviour and welfare in animal conservation.
  • To equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them to study and understand the behaviour of animals in their natural habitats.
  • To allow students to acquire a range of key concepts, principles and practical skills relevant to a broad range of topics including: animal behaviour, welfare, conservation, ecology, physiology and evolution.
  • To enable students to develop key practical, professional and transferable skills.
  • To provide a degree programme to produce graduates with marketable skills and knowledge.
  • To draw upon staff expertise in research and teaching and links with other institutions (e.g Reaseheath College, Chester Zoo, Blue Planet Aquarium) to provide a range of learning experiences for students to follow their interests.
  • To equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to progress to postgraduate study.
  • To foster an appreciation of the role and value of research and of a scientific approach to study.
  • To foster an appreciation of and sensitivity to animal welfare and related ethical issue.

Knowledge and Understanding On completion of the programme, successful students should be able to:
(i) adopt a systematic and rigorous approach to academic study (ii) demonstrate extensive knowledge and a critical understanding of relevant theoriesand concepts in the field of animal behaviour
(iii) demonstrate an understanding of key ideas, especially in the following areas: genetics, evolution, behavioural ecology, conservation, physiology, research ethics, animal welfare, health and disease.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills On completion of the programme, successful students should be able to:
(i) adopt a systematic and rigorous approach to academic study
(ii)integrate and synthesise knowledge and understanding from different areas of thesubject domain, including the manipulation and presentation of data
(iii) bring a critically and theoretically informed perspective to relevant issues andcurrent developments (as appropriate) in the study of animal behaviour
(iv) evaluate scientific arguments identifying strengths and weaknesses in the design and methodology of scientific research andthe treatment of data.
(v) design procedures to carry out research on topics in the field of animal behaviour, specifically the formulation and testing of hypotheses, the interpretation of data and report writing

Practical Skills On completion of the programme, successful students should be able to:
(i)be able to exercise a range of practical skills related to laboratory and field work as appropriate (ii) recognise and exercise skills in the handling and maintenance of animals

Key Skills
On completion of the programme, successful students should be able to:
(i)demonstrate a degree of autonomy and independence in relation to learning (ii) demonstrate appropriate teamwork skills,
(iii) demonstrate appropriate problem-solving skills,
(iv) demonstrate appropriatecommunication skills (both oral and written)
(v) demonstrate appropriate skills in ICT
(vi) demonstrate appropriate numeracy skills

Transferable Professional Skills
On completing this programme students:
(i) should be able to display a mastery of typical graduate level skills
(ii) should have experience of the workplace and an understanding of the typical qualities expected in graduates by employers

In all Single Honours programmes students 120 credits of study each year, where each single module has a value of 20 credits. Modules are assessed on a 4,000 word-equivalent basis - a one-hour examination equating to 1,000 words.

In planning the programme we have taken account of the advice published by Academic Quality Support Services regarding level-related characteristics.  In respect of subject knowledge, the emphasis at Level 4 is on ‘knowing about’, at Level 5 on linking complex elements of knowledge to one another, and at Level 6 on analysis, synthesis and reflection.  Learning outcomes have been written to incorporate appropriate level characteristics. Progression in both key skills and subject specific skills is also ensured. The modules at Level 4 can be seen mainly as providing a foundation for study at Levels 5 and 6 and provide a comprehensive review of key concepts and skills for students with a range of backgrounds. There are three core modules at this level which are also found in other biological programmes of study. The character of level 4 work and the expectations placed on the student are given below: 

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
BI4110 4 Essential Physiology 20 Comp
BI4111 4 Genetics and Evolution 20 Comp
BI4114 4 Data Handling and Project Design 20 Comp
BI4118 4 Introduction to Animal Behaviour 20 Comp
BI4122 4 Animal Handling & Care 20 Comp
BI4128 4 Wildlife Ecology 20 N/A
BI4141 4 Global Biodiversity: Concepts & Threats 20 Comp
BI5110 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
BI5113 5 Experiential Learning 20 Optional
BI5118 5 Behavioural Ecology 20 Comp
BI5119 5 Adaptations to the Environment 20 Optional
BI5121 5 Field Ecology 20 Comp
BI5124 5 Animal Health and Disease 20 Optional
BI5126 5 Wildlife Crime and Conservation 20 Optional
BI5135 5 Population biology and Conservation 20 Optional
WB5002 5 Introduction to Entrepreneurship Skills 20 Optional
WB5005 5 Global Perspective - Learning from Experience 20 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
BI6110 6 Dissertation 40 Optional
BI6112 6 Research Project 20 Optional
BI6129 6 Animal Behaviour and Conservation 20 Optional
BI6130 6 Conservation and Environmental Impact 20 Optional
BI6131 6 Applied Learning Theory and Behaviour Modification 20 N/A
BI6132 6 Physiology and Behaviour 20 N/A
BI6133 6 Recent Advances in Animal Behaviour 20 N/A
BI6134 6 Animal Cognition 20 Optional
BI6135 6 Ethics, Animal Welfare and Applied Animal Behaviour 20 Optional
BI6136 6 Evolution and Human Behaviour 20 Optional
BI6137 6 Video and related techniques in recording animal behaviour 20 N/A
BI6143 6 Wildlife Forensics - Detection and Investigation 20 Optional
BI6168 6 Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainability 20 Optional
BI6169 6 Stress and Welfare Assessment in Animals 20 Optional
BI6170 6 Animal Parasitism: Medical, Veterinary and Ecological Aspects 20 Optional
BI6171 6 Applied Conservation Genetics 20 Optional
BU6017 6 Managing New Business Ventures 20 Optional

Students graduate with BSc Honours on completion of Level6 having obtained 360 credits (120 per year).
Students may obtain an exit award of Dip HE on completion of Level5 having obtained 240 credits (120 per year).
Students may obtain an exit award of Cert HE on completion of Level4 having obtained 120 credits.

A minimum of 240 UCAS points, of which 200 points must be obtained from GCE and/or VCE A Levels (12 or 6 unit awards), including grades CC in two subjects. The remaining points may be achieved from GCE and/or VCE A/AS Levels, VCE double award, or Level 3 Key Skills certification

The department recommends the following subjects as suitable for entry:
A2 Level: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Science
AS Level: Biology, Human Biology, Social Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Science
VCE A Level: Science

  • BTEC National Diploma/Certificate: merit profile
  • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects
  • International Baccalaureate: 20 points
  • European Baccalaureate: a minimum of 60%
  • QAA recognised Access course, Open College Units or Open University Credits


The benchmark statements in biology have been used as an important reference point in the construction of this programme’s learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment. Particular reference has been made to  the threshold statements - these being the minimum requirement described in the benchmarking statements by The Quality Assurance Agency (2007). Any individual student will take the equivalent to 18 modules in total, which will include core and optional modules. The structure and content of the core modules is such that  all students will have the opportunity to develop the "skills and attributes acquired by the biosciences graduate …… for a career in biosciences or elsewhere, and make them valued by employers." (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2007.  Biosciences). The particular sets of statements that have been consulted and referenced are: generic standards, organisms, and ecology and environmental biology.

Students encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list that follows describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.

Students encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list that follows describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.

A distinctive feature of this programme is the fact that it capitalises on the strong links between the University and Reaseheath College near Nantwich. Some modules  are taught at Reaseheath College and make use of their extensive facilities and animal collections. A bus is laid on for students to travel from Chester to this college.


These feature in most modules as an effective way of imparting important content, themes and pointers for further study. They are used to set a framework for further study and inspire students of the value of the discipline. However, they are supplemented by a variety of other methods of teaching and learning as described below.

Practical classes

The majority of modules at Levels 4 and 5 include practical classes. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their data handling and analytical skills as well as their practical skills (e.g. handling equipment). An important aspect of practical work is also the opportunity it offers for groups work encouraging working with others. At level 6, the amount of practical work is limited, although the dissertation module normally involves practical work in laboratories or in the field.


Seminars are used most often in Level 6 optional modules in which group sizes are relatively small and students tend to be more confident. Selected topics of the module content are chosen to provide the opportunity for more in-depth study and dissemination of ideas.  Amongst other key skills, students are able to practise oral communication skills in a relatively informal context.

When students have specific queries that have not been addressed during formal teaching sessions, they can contact module tutors directly. In practice, these discussions tend to focus on assessment issues, including feedback on formative essays and performance in examinations. A system is in operation whereby students can make appointments to consult tutors.   

Intranet-based support materials

The University has an intranet (IBIS) available to all students on or off campus. This offers access to a wide range of facilities including Learning Resources, the Library and all modular support materials. Staff are committed to using IBIS for making additional support materials available for students. The department has recently invested in the on-line Encyclopaedia of Life Sciences which is an excellent additional resource for undergraduates. 

Directed reading

As reading is central to the process of knowledge acquisition in higher education, module tutors provide reading lists to guide their students to appropriate material. Increasingly, these lists include references to the Internet and electronic sources, as well as more traditional book and journal references.

Group work

The QCA Key Skills document lists ‘working with others’ as one of the six categories of Key Skills that needs to be demonstrated in higher education.  Throughout the programme, working with others has been incorporated at each level. In many modules, particularly in practical work in the laboratory or field, students are encouraged to work in groups and to share ideas. The assessment in certain modules is based on group assignments.  

In the main, teaching and learning activities take place on the campus.  Timetabling is arranged centrally, except for individual tutorials. There is some flexibility for students to change groups for laboratory classes and group tutorials to suit part-time students and those who have family commitments or transport difficulties. This is in accordance with the University's widening access and participation strategy.  It is possible for all students to access support materials at home via the ‘IBIS at home’ facility.

In line with benchmarking and the Department's Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy, the need for students to become effective as independent learners is planned for and encouraged. The programme structures its learning outcomes so that this will happen progressively over the three-year programme.  At Level 6, students have the opportunity to do an extensive piece of independent research (equivalent to one or two modules) that requires them to plan, implement, analyse data and report the study.


Assessment Criteria 

The University's over-arching level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme.   

In addition, all students who pass any part of a degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 2 and above should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.

In relation to double marking, we follow a policy of ‘monitoring’, whereby a second marker looks at a 25% sample of coursework or examination scripts (minimum 6 scripts), including all failed assignments, and records comments on perceived consistency, standards, and other characteristics of the marking on a form.  The second marker discusses any concerns with the first marker: the first mark stands unless there is a discrepancy greater than 5%.  The marks of individual scripts are not altered - except for those with fail marks, which may be raised - unless the whole batch of scripts is remarked.

Late work is penalised in accordance with the University’s Late Work Policy if a formal application for an extension has not been made and approved by the Head of Department (or Deputy).  Assessment Methods and Feedback Each module is assessed on a 4,000 word-equivalent basis, with a one-hour examination equating to 1,000 words. The module descriptors include information on assessment methods; nearly all modules involve more than one method of assessment.  At the modular level, assessment is tied to learning outcomes so that assessment modes indicate those outcomes that are being assessed. Generally, the balance over the entire programme between coursework and examinations is 50:50.  If a student fails this module overall, he/she will be reassessed in the failed component(s).  In addition, any component mark below 20% will be deemed to cause an overall failure even if the average total is 40% or above.  This rule is to be read in conjunction with the Regulation whereby students are reassessed only in “components failed first time (identical or equivalent components)”. The mark resulting from reassessment on failed components is then added to the marks from components that were passed at the first attempt. At the modular level this is interpreted by the following statement, which will be placed on the module descriptor for all modules in this programme and communicated to the students:  

Formative assessment and feedback

All students receive written comments on coursework and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors.  Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module but typically takes the form of a written assignment done under time constraints, marked by the module tutor. Formative feedback is staggered throughout the year but typically resides between 1/3 and 2/3 of the weeks during which the module runs. The programme also makes use of on line formative feedback

Reassessment Methods   

Reassessment will address the learning outcomes not achieved in the failed components. For modules forming part of programmes in the Department of Biological Sciences, reassessment will normally take the form of a written examination. The module descriptors indicate how each module is reassessed.

The programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and practical (transferable) skills to embark on careers within the areas of animal handling and welfare, conservation, teaching, further training for specialist careers or postgraduate studies. Whilst it is expected that many students in each cohort will initially embark on such career pathways, the embedded transferable skills throughout the programme make the graduate highly employable in a variety of directions. The degree will also enable students to progress to study at a higher level.

Careers in animals science fall into the following areas:

Animal nutrition research and advice, Animal welfare, Animal breeding, Veterinary support, Animal food retailing, Technical support, Horseracing management, veterinary nursing, Farm management, Sales reps (animal health products), Education officers, Gamekeepers, Countryside managers, Animal nutritionist, Zoo keeping, Animal behaviourist.

It is estimated that about 50% of students will move into careers not in the area of animal science. For these students the general graduate level characteristics listed earlier will stand them in good stead. more specifically the following attributes fostered in this programme should be of use to students in many careers.

The ability to write and communicate coherently, logically and with a style and format appropriate to audience

The ability to sift evidence and evaluate arguments

The ability to collect, present and draw consistent conclusions from data

The ability to work to deadlines individually and as part of a team

The ability to use ICT

The ability to plan work, manage time and resources.

The programmes of study in the Dept of Biological Sciences fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  The  University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

  • Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

  • Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

  • There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.

  • The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.

  • Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.

  • Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.

  • In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.

  • All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

  • All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

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