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Foundation Degree in Animal Conservation

Level 4-5
Course Code:
North Devon Campus
Two years, full-time. Three years, part-time

This innovative and exciting foundation degree gives you the opportunity to study both land and marine animal conservation, making excellent use of the surrounding habitats we are fortunate to have on our doorstep, including Exmoor National Park, North Devon Biosphere Reserve and Lundy Island.

Work with external organisations on current conservation projects in the area, for example, the North Devon AONB Coastal Creatures and culm management with the National Trust. There may also be the opportunity to go on a trip overseas and take part in conservation survey work.


The Foundation Degree in Animal Conservation gives students in North Devon the opportunity to study this exciting topic. You will learn by taking part in practical conservation field work, laboratory work, and behaviour observations as well as seminars, lectures, tutorials and access to the Petroc VLE to support and enable independent research. Students will graduate with a range of core competencies to enable employment or progression to full BSc qualifications.

Modules include:
- Animal Anatomy & Physiology: Develops your knowledge and understanding of the structure, functioning and maintenance of the animal's body. Support and movement, body transport systems, acquisition of materials, removal of waste, and reproduction are all investigated and their roles are examined in maintaining the overall organism.

- Animal Behaviour: Focuses on the explanation of behaviour in relation to function, causation, development and evolution, along with the concept of genes for behaviour. Students will learn how to observe and record animal behaviour and how to summarise and present data.

- Ecology & Conservation: Covers evolutionary theories, mechanisms of evolution, and the consequent impacts this has upon our understanding of ecology. The dynamic nature of change within environments is also reviewed, using local site visits and surveys, and wider international examples.

- Developing Graduate Skills: Develops the qualities and transferable skills necessary for appropriate academic work and employment, including the ability to relate professional practice to underlying theory and principles. You will undertake a minimum of 50 hours of work experience.

- Animal Health & Disease: Reviews regional, national and global factors affecting the health of wild and domestic species, disease transmission, causal agents and the interventions required to manage the risk of contracting and spreading disease.

- Zoological Conservation: Focuses on the roles of zoo conservation, and how this is undertaken, as well as considering the ethical, legal and ecological factors involved. Zoo animal husbandry and behaviour is analysed in light of conservation and welfare.

- Practical Conservation Skills: You will develop and be assessed on your practical sampling techniques for flora and fauna in a range of habitats, statistical analysis of this data, and evaluation of the results.

- Marine Animal Biology & Conservation: Focuses on the variety of marine animals, their biology and their conservation. The unit will identify the evolutionary pathways and classifications of marine animals, as well as current conservation threats and conservation measures which have been undertaken to protect and enhance habitats and species.

- Behavioural Ecology: Focuses on the evolution of animal behaviours, including adaptation, communication, feeding behaviour, mating behaviours, coping with predators adaptively, and reproductive tactics. Where possible the lessons will involve observing wild animal behaviour to apply knowledge.

- Applied Zoological Science: Develops understanding of the physiological and behavioural needs of animals, subsequent challenges within a zoo environment, and the suitability of captive environments.

- Experimental Design & Analysis: Students will complete a research project from proposal, to final report, with the support of tutors and peers.

- Wildlife Management & Rehabilitation: Provides an understanding of the complex and varied factors affecting wildlife, including reasons affecting resources, their funding, their management and how these issues impact upon the species themselves. Students will apply their resource management knowledge to a range of habitats. Ecological, legal and ethical rehabilitation factors will also be considered.
Assessments for the course focus on identifying if you are both theoretically and practically able to perform at this level within this field of study. Assessments range from ecological field surveys and reports, plant and animal identification tests, laboratory write-ups, presentations and essays.
Five GCSEs at Grade C/4 or above

A-levels or vocational qualifications are accepted, at a minimum of 64 UCAS tariff points.

Substantial and relevant work experience in an appropriate sector is also accepted. Entry is welcome from mature students with relevant experience in place of these qualifications.
The local environment offers a unique opportunity to study both environmental and animal conservation. We will use the beach and sea, Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks, the extensive dune structure of Braunton Biosphere Reserve (Burrows) and Lundy Island as our 'outdoor classrooms'.

Onsite resources include learning resource centres, with specialist support for Higher Education students, biology laboratories and classrooms.
Students will be invited to an induction day prior to the start of the course; they will need to bring a method of recording information and taking notes (laptop/tablet, notebook).
You must have a pair of wellies, a good pair of walking boots and suitable clothing for working outside in all weather.
For local trips in North Devon, you will be expected to arrange your own travel arrangements to and from the site (lots of students car share); for trips that are further afield, Petroc will provide transport.
Entrance to zoos etc. will not be covered by the course, but we will where possible, arrange a discount.
Our library holds all of the recommended texts for this course, however, there may be some additional books you wish to purchase. These can normally be bought online, second-hand at a reasonable price.
There will be fees associated with printing and photocopying. For your poster presentations, we will require you to print these A2 (usually around £10) and an assignment must be printed and bound.
There is also the opportunity to go on optional external trips and conferences, which are highly recommended.
Please contact the HE Team on 01271 852335 for more information.
Q: How much will this course cost?
A: For more information about course fees, please visit

Q: Do I get to handle animals?
A: On this course, you do not spend regular time handling animals, although opportunities do arise through surveys and the work placement.

Q: How many days a week is the course?
A: It is run over two days per week. We also recommend each week you allow time for reading and your coursework.

Q: What jobs could this course lead on to?
A: This course makes sure all students meet the local organisations throughout the two years, allowing students to get a feel for the job market locally. This includes working with National Trust and Northam Burrows rangers, AONB project officers, and Devon Wildlife Trust ecologists. The course also encourages students to go to conferences and talks at Plymouth University and Exeter University and shows them opportunities within research.

Q: What advice would you give to budding conservationists?
A: Work experience, work experience, work experience! When you apply for a job, it isn't enough to have a qualification. You need to demonstrate soft skills and practical experience. Regular work experience will help give you the edge.
Also, look at other important skills; being computer literate is very important. On the course, we give you the ability to do an Excel course, which will help you in whatever role you choose.

And finally, working in conversation isn't always glamorous; be prepared to wear wet weather gear, and regularly don a pair of wellies and get stuck in. Being physically fit and healthy is very important, as you can spend all day outside working away.

Course Fees

Annual Fee: £7400