University of Chester

Programme Specification
Zoo Management BSc (Hons) (Level 6 only)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Science (Level 6 only)

Zoo Management

Zoo Management

University of Chester

Reaseheath College 

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year for full-time and 3 years for part-time

3 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

The QAA Biosciences subject benchmark statements (2015) has been used to inform the academic development of the programme.


Department of Biological Sciences

Thursday 16th April 2015

The educational aims of the BSc Zoo Management (Level 6 only) are as follows:

  • To provide a high quality academic and practical programme of study in Zoo Management, with learning opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds both in their place of work and through the specialist animal facilities at Reaseheath College.
  • To provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills employers in Zoo Management industries need, using teaching, learning and assessment strategies that develop professional experience concurrent with academic development.
  • To offer flexible delivery modes and study patterns to meet the needs of students from a variety of backgrounds and employment patterns.
  • To provide a high quality academic and practical programme of study in Zoo Management that remains relevant, valid and responsive to the needs of employers and students, by maintaining and expanding effective partnerships with students, employers, professional bodies and sector skills councils.
  • To provide a degree programme that provides students with the academic skills and confidence to engage in further learning throughout their lives.
  • To provide students with the knowledge and understanding required to recognise the importance of zoos and zoo management to the conservation of species and habitats, but also as a source of research, entertainment and education.
  • To produce graduates with the marketable skills and knowledge necessary to compete for employment in a related field of work.

The development of knowledge and understanding of principles and concepts associated with zoo management is fundamental in providing a platform by which to analyse evaluate, critique, synthesis and reflect. These core values formulate the emphasis of study at level 6. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an extensive and systematic understanding of key aspects of topics relating to zoo management, specifically the acquisition of detailed knowledge at the coal-face of discipline areas  - specific to wildlife conservation (RC6502), enclosure design (RC6507), enrichment and training (RC6505), and zoo education (RC6512)
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the ethical issues related to the management of captive animals, and awareness of the wider social and environmental implications of managing animals in captivity (RC6505, RC6507, RC6512).
  • Demonstrate an ability to utilise historical and existing knowledge to critically comment upon current research, devise and sustain arguments, solve problems and synthesis new ideas (all modules, but specifically RC6506, RC6502, RC6505).

At level 6 study, students are expected to progressively shift from demonstrating description, knowledge recall and understanding towards an ability to handle cognitive complexity, to evaluate, apply knowledge and technical skills in novel situations, and devise creative and new approaches to solving problems. Therefore, upon successful completion of the programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to assume greater responsibility for their own learning, both independently and collaboratively (all modules).
  • Develop and appreciation of ones own uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge specific to themes in conservation and captive animal husbandry and management (all modules).
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate the arguments, theories, assumptions, abstract concepts and scientific evidence (data) in order to make informed judgments, synthesise new knowledge and identify a range of appropriate solutions to a given problem(s), including those typically encountered within themes of scientific enquiry, wildlife conservation and the husbandry and management of exotic zoo species (all modules, but specifically RC6506).


All students should be expected to evidence the development and enhancement of practical and professional skills during their studies. Emphasis is primarily placed on the development of soft skills that can be transferred to the employment sector as a graduate (e.g. communication, time management and team working  skills, problem-solving abilities). Technical skills should be demonstrated specific to the discipline, and will include utilising a variety of platforms to communicate research, show competencies in the handling, management and interpretation of data, use of information technology in a variety of formats to create, design, analyse and report, and reflect on their own learning and performance with the view to enhance their own abilities. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to deploy a range of established techniques, including skills utilised in the observation and recording of animal behaviour (RC6505), design of animal enclosures (RC6507), the effective communication of information to a range of specialist and non-specialist audiences (RC6512) and the collection of data, experimental design and data analysis (RC6506)
  • Demonstrate an ability to manage ones own learning, and to make use of primary sources of literature to formulate new ideas and draw conclusions (all modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to work effectively both independently and collaboratively, and manage resources effective for learning (all modules).


Upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate a range of information through a number of pathways, to a range of specialist and non-specialist audiences (all modules).
  • Demonstrate accurate and coherent written communication, which is founded on evidenced-based reasoning and the critical analysis/evaluation/reflection of this (all modules).

The Zoo Management BSc is designed with flexibility for employment in a range of industries involving the monitoring and/or promoting of captive animal welfare.

Students will undertake the equivalent of 120 credits overall, equivalent to five, exclusively at Reaseheath College. The programme is designed so that academic knowledge and understanding underpin the development of work-related skills and their application both using the zoo based facilities on the Animal Management Centre, but also later in a work-based environment. The curriculum is designed around a programme core of knowledge, understanding and skills in Zoo Management.

The curriculum is built over one level of study designed around two programme core modules in Zoo Animal Enclosure Design (RC6507) and Behavioural Enrichment & Training (RC6505) along with optional modules that may reflect specific industry pathways, but also the career aspirations of the students. These optional modules place emphasis on conservation, specifically the complexity of issues surrounding the practice (RC6502), but also the specific conservation of certain taxa that are readily represented through ex-situ conservation within the captive environment (RC6503, RC6504, RC6510 & RC6501). A further option enables students to contextualise many of these themes and focuses on how these can be communicated through zoo education and science (RC6512). These optional modules are designed to provide scope for specialism in further career or education opportunities.  Students will also conduct novel research in the form of a 40 credit dissertation (RC6506). This module will enable students to utilise the animal centre facilities based on the Reaseheath campus, in addition to working closely with the keeper staff that manage the animals accommodated on the centre.

The programme core modules are designed to develop essential knowledge and understanding of the management of zoo animals, and the ethical and legal issues associated with keeping animals in zoos. The dissertation module allows the students to get first hand experience of the process of research itself. Skills in the application of academic knowledge to develop professional skills in captive animal environments are developed through the optional module activities.

Employability skills should be a core part of a student’s University experience. Employability skills encompass the attributes that help graduates to secure employment, enable them to respond to the changing demands of the workplace and contribute positively to their employer’s success. Their own progress is in these skills, therefore, essential as outcomes in programmes of study. Employability skills include self-management, team work, business and customer awareness, problem-solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy, and application of information technology. Furthermore, an entrepreneurship/enterprise broadly defined as the ability to demonstrate an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk-taking are attributes which can make a significant difference to the success of any business.


Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC6501 6 Biology & Conservation of Birds 20 Optional
RC6505 6 Behavioural Enrichment and Training 20 Comp
RC6506 6 Dissertation at Reaseheath 40 Comp
RC6507 6 Zoo Animal Enclosure Design 20 Comp
RC6508 6 Research Project at RHC 20 N/A
RC6512 6 Scientific Communication & Zoo Education 20 Optional

Level 6: modules are either 20 or 40 credits. A candidate successfully completing level 6 will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of an honours degree*.

Candidates having previously acquired 120 credits at Level 5 study, in a related discipline, will be eligible for the Top-Up.

(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education: The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland—August 2008)



The candidates will have successfully completed the FdSc in Animal Management (either the Behaviour and Welfare pathway or the Zoo Management pathway). Alternatively, academic credits (120 or equivalent) awarded via studies undertaken in similar disciplines will be considered. Kite-marked Access to Science courses, Open College Units and Open University Credits are also accepted.

Applications are made directly to the University of Chester.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Certified Learning (APCL) and Accreditation of Experiential Learning (APEL) 

Appropriate consideration will be given to applicants previously certified and/or being assessed for award classification within an accepted biological/life science discipline.  Similarly, any applicant who has not received certification for prior learning experiences, but has worked within the discipline, will also be considered. Acceptable work-based experience could include one, or a combination of several, of the following: consultancy, rehabilitation, park/reserve warden, countryside management, pest control, environmental protection.

The University will assess whether the learning derived from experience and/or prior certificated study is equivalent to that of the learning derived from the programme of study.  This evidence may include a combination of skills and learning outcomes, in addition to the level and relevance of the subject knowledge and understanding to be evidenced by the applicant. Prior accredited learning must be supported by a transcript indicating the number, and level, of credits, achieved, and the titles of the courses for which they were awarded.

An applicant not accredited on a certificate or transcript, would be asked to map their experience against the module, and/or programme learning outcomes, to provide a clear, evidenced paper submission.  Conversely, applications stating certified learning experience must be accompanied by the certificate awarded for the qualification. In most cases, these must have been achieved within five years of the date of application.

The Biosciences (2015) benchmark statement has been used as an important reference point in the construction of the 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.

Any individual student will take the equivalent to 6 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 which reflects the demands of a buoyant employment market (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2015, Biosciences). The particular sets of statements that have been referred to during the development of the programme are: generic standards,  organisms, and ecology and environmental biology. Within these domains, examples of topics to be covered (as suggested by the QAA benchmark statement) include:

  • Generic Standards: the accessing, manipulation and interpretation of primary sources of research; planning and execution of independent work, including hypothesis testing, data collection, and data analysis; demonstrating time management, problem solving and advanced numerical skills; demonstrating strategies for maintaining and enhancing knowledge and skills in the biosciences.
  • Organisms: structure and diversity of organisms, physiology and mechanism for life processes, classification and taxonomy, interactions between organisms and their environment.
  • Ecological and Environmental Biology: structure of ecosystems and associated processes, biogeography and other distributional patterns, population processes and dynamics, biodiversity and community structure, human interactions and subsequent environmental impacts.

Students undertaking studies in this programme should be able to readily demonstrate knowledge and understanding  of the topics described above upon entry, with the view that these are subsequently enhanced at Level 6. It is expected by the QAA that more specialised areas will be offered at Level 6, and there is provision for this in the non-core modules. Specific research based topics are specifically developed within modules studied prior to entry onto the programme, and it is expected that these skills are applied  as appropriate during completion of the dissertation or research project modules, in addition to other project work.

Applied modules enable students to utilise the myriad of concepts and perspectives to compare, contrast, analyse and critique, to inform new knowledge and to problem solve. Students will be expected to engage in a number of platforms whereby these skills underpin the philosophy of the module. An example of this can be seen in the RC6505 Behavioural Enrichment & Training module, whereby students are required to utilise their prior and existing knowledge to critically reflect upon enrichment strategies employed within zoological collections, and subsequently synthesise new ideas that may enhance good working practices.

The more generic "soft" skills identified in the benchmark statements, including time management, reflective practice, team work, communication, use of data, information technology, information retrieval and presentation, are all explicitly embedded in the majority of modules presented within the programmes, either assessed formatively through classroom based activities, or alternatively through components of assessment. Furthermore, such skills are enhanced through the provision of a non-credited "Study skills" session, which comprises a dedicated additional hour on the weekly timetable that provides students with opportunity to further develop transferable skills.

It is intended for the BSc Top-Up year to offer university education closely linked to employment. The BSc Zoo Management has been designed both for part-time study by people employed in Animal Management industries and for full-time study by people aspiring to careers in Animal Management. All modules have been designed for delivery as university-based for students able to attend full-time or part time and where we can offer appropriate work-related experience through the expertise of staff and the animal centre facilities at Reaseheath College. The aims, learning outcomes and content for both forms of study are identical, with a core emphasis on the development of students’ cognitive, key and professional skills, and the application of academic knowledge and understanding in Animal Management work settings.

Students will 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 below describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.


These feature in most modules as an effective way of imparting important content, themes and pointers for further study. They will be used to set a framework for further study and inform 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/Fieldwork

The majority of practical skills developed in students at Level 6 has been founded on practical classes delivered at Levels 4 and 5. At Level 6, skills in data collection, manipulation, and analysis are required to be demonstrated through the Dissertation and Research Project modules. Depending on the nature of the project being undertaken, students may also be required to employ their technical laboratory skills, or animal restraint and handling competencies in order to collate the necessary data for analysis. Nonetheless, some modules, for example RC6505 Behavioural Enrichment & Training, typically enable students to engage in ad-hoc practical classes to enhance their skills further. A distinctive feature of this programme, is the opportunity for students to develop work-related skills through the provision of modules including RC6507 Zoo Animal Enclosure Design, where students are charged with using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to design animal enclosures to a professional standard, yet in accordance to a realistic budget and resource base.   

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

The University has a VLE (Portal/Moodle)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 the VLE interface for making additional support materials available for students.

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. Primary reference lists, comprising key texts, can be found in the module descriptors, which form the centre point of any module. Additional reading is also provided in the module handbooks to promote further reading around the subject area. With the expectation of increasing autonomy at Level 6, it is not uncommon for students to be expected to engage in weekly directed reading, whereby students are required to disseminate information from primary sources of scientific research in order to address directed questions/scenario based exercises.

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 ‘Sharepoint Portal'.

Independent research 

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 across the programme.  At Level 6, students have the opportunity to do an extensive piece of independent research (equivalent to two modules) that requires them to plan and implement a research project, analyse data and report on their 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 4 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 the preparation of coursework, which can include essays, laboratory/field exercises and presentation, students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes, particularly where an examination would be inappropriate.  However, the institutions are aware that examinations have an important role to play in summative assessment, and give academic credibility to the degree programme. 

The programme uses a wide range of forms of assessment including:

  • Essays and written assignments - testing the ability to write within word limits, convey ideas with clarity and accuracy, reference to an academic standard and the ability to conduct private study and research.
  • Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions.
  • Dissertation - testing the ability to conduct individual primary research and communicate ideas and information effectively in an academic manner and within word limits.
  • Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key survey and census skills, analyse ecological data and present material in a clear, effective manner
  • Short-based seminar exercises
  • Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises
  • Close analysis of texts
  • Literature reviews
  • Critical Reviews
  • Online multiple-choice and short answer exams

Specific details of the programme of assessment, according to module, can be found in the matrix below.

Formative assessment and feedback

All students receive written comments on assessed components of work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors during group workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Additionally, some tutors have adopted the use of GradeMark software by which to provide more timely feedback to students.  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. The programme also makes use of on-line formative feedback in the form of electronic marking and self-evaluation forms

Reassessment Methods   

Reassessment will address the learning outcomes not achieved in the failed components. Reassessment will normally take the form of the resubmission of all failed component(s) of the modular assessment strategy. Here students will be expected to resubmit the coursework or re-sit the exam in its original format, albeit using a different perspective or suite of questions.

It is intended that graduates of the BSc Zoo Management will have:

  • A comprehensive and systematic Knowledge and understanding of the application of ethology, physiology and research methods to the ethical management of animals in captivity.
  • Ability to apply academic knowledge and techniques to practical solutions in Animal Management work places.
  • Skills of academic enquiry to generate potential solutions to problems in Animal Management and cognitive skills to critically evaluate these to arrive at solutions fitted to context.
  • An understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge in Animal Management work contexts.
  • Skills to effectively communicate information, arguments, and critical analysis, in written and oral form, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Confidence and transferable skills to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable them to assume responsibility within Animal Management organisations.
  • The characteristics and attributes that will enable progression onto further education and training, specifically postgraduate study, should they wish.


The programme will serve as a unique platform by which to project graduates of this programme into employment within the industry. Beyond developing core generic skills in time management, project design and implementation, communication and team work, students undertaking study on this programme will have a unique opportunity to develop industry-specific skills, primarily through the practical application of theory via utilising the 125 species currently accommodated on the animal centre. In addition, students will engage with relevant information technology and other tools to enhance their skills in enclosure design, collection planning and record keeping. Thus, the combination of subject theory and its practical applications will stand students in good stead for employment within the sector.

Careers in zoo management typically fall into the animal keeper/husbandry roles within both small and large exotic animal collections. Additional, more bespoke careers can be sought in falconry, aquatics, animal training, behaviourist, zoo education and research. It is envisaged that graduates in possession of this qualification, in addition to undertaking  postgraduate study at level 7, may demonstrate the competencies required to be successful in their chosen careers at a more senior level, for example as senior keeper, head keeper and curator within an animal establishment.

Both Reaseheath College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  Both institutions 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 delivery is 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 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 also enhances equal opportunity, fairness and independence 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 roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of both institutional Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

Reaseheath College offers specific support for students with specified learning needs, encompassing all physical abilities, in conjunction with the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) on campus.  In collaboration with student support services, and safeguarding task groups, the college's equality and diversity policy aims to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the College have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.


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