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Subject Summary: Part II Zoology

Zoology is a highly interdisciplinary subject, bridging many levels of organization from cellular and molecular to whole organisms and ecosystems. The Part II Zoology course covers a wide range of topics unified by the overarching theme of evolution, including animal behaviour, conservation science, ecology and evolution, and cell and developmental biology. The course offers a great degree of flexibility and variety; students choose four modules from eighteen modules (some of which are interdepartmental).

The modules are organised in six major themes:

  • Behaviour
  • Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology and Conservation Science
  • Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics
  • Palaeobiology

Students undertake a two-term research project during Michaelmas and Lent term (or two one-term projects), giving practical experience in laboratory and field work. There is also the opportunity to participate in our exciting new tropical field course.

Another option is to take Biological and Biomedical Sciences (Zoology). Students choosing this option take four Zoology modules, plus a fifth module as a minor subject (this can be from another department, or one of the Zoology modules offered as a minor subject). Instead of undertaking a research project, students write a dissertation, which takes the form of a literature review.

More details can be found at NST-II-Zoology and NST-II-Zoology/BBS

Programme Specification: Part II Zoology

This course is taught within the Department of Zoology, by members of staff of that Department together with some from other University Departments and external organisations.


  1. to provide a broad multidisciplinary course in Zoology;
  2. to train students in a wide range of science-based skills that provide the learning base for future careers in disciplines such as health sciences, agriculture, environmental management, biotechnology, publishing, journalism, teaching, research and management;
  3. to offer a modular course of lectures and associated seminars, research projects, optional field course and excursions, supported by supervisions where appropriate;
  4. to promote training in practical and conceptual skills in sub-disciplines ranging from molecular cell biology, through behaviour and neurobiology, to the ecology, evolution and conservation of populations;
  5. to provide constructive feedback on students' progress by assessing individual students throughout the year in their project work, participation in seminars and written work for supervisions;
  6. to provide an optional Zoology-based course in statistics in the Michaelmas Term enabling students to apply quantitative methods to complex biological problems;
  7. to provide professional training in effective verbal and written communication skills including practical experience of research talks;
  8. to provide training in writing research project proposals.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. think critically in terms of their learning and research;
  2. evaluate critically the published literature;
  3. assess and implement the practical techniques necessary to solve a particular biological problem;
  4. quantify and analyse data collected during a research project;
  5. communicate with expert and non-expert audiences, both orally and in writing.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, journal clubs, excursions and an optional field course.We also run a series of special seminars for Part II students on topics such as postgraduate study, careers and study skills, and encourage students to attend Departmental research seminars. 


Assessment of this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 2, 4, 6 and 7 and learning outcomes 1-5);
  • two reports each of no more than 5,000 words based on two research projects or one report of no more than 7,500 words based on a single research project. Students also give a 15 minute assessed oral presentation on their research project (for aims 2, 4, 6 and 7 and learning outcomes 1-5);
  • a research project proposal of no more than 2,000 words (for aims 2, 4, and 7 and learning outcomes 1-5).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.