BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology (Including Foundation Year)

If you don't have the right qualifications to apply for the BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology, this course offers an alternative route into degree study. You’ll start by completing a foundation year, which provides well-structured support, before progressing to the first year of the degree.

Wildlife biology is the study of organisms, their behaviour, ecology, environment and management. You will study big game tracking, conservation genetics, wildlife management, ecology, vertebrate zoology, marine and freshwater biology and more.

There is a strong field element, providing opportunities for immersive learning on three continents. You will study the wildlife and habitats of different landscapes in South Africa; develop your scientific skills on UK field trips, and have the option to apply research techniques in the tropical forests and coral reefs of Asia or Central America.

2022/23 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for delivering our courses in the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to change during the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. Whether you’re on-campus full time, part-time with online study, or full-time online, USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
45FF Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
45FF Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A

The intention of the foundation year is to build up your science knowledge. Beyond that, scientific understanding and scientific study approach are very much the focus. 

Foundation Year: International Wildlife Biology Degree

  • Foundation Biology
    This will provide a basic knowledge of living things, and the processes which enable them to survive and reproduce. You will gain an appreciation of the evolutionary processes which lead to the modern diversity of the living world and explore basic biochemistry and cell structure. 

  • Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology
    This will provide a basic overview of the structure and function of the major organ systems of the human body. Lectures cover basic structure and function, and include examples of disorders and abnormalities associated with each system.

  • Key Skills and Professional Development
    This module introduce you to the key kills required to complete a science degree and engage in lifelong learning. These include identifying learning strategies, critical thinking, academic writing/practice, presentation skills, preparation for employment, and professional conduct. 

  • Scientific Data Literacy
    This will provide you with the understanding and ability to apply simple mathematical tools to obtain, interpret, manipulate, present and explain the significance of scientific data and the role mathematics plays in the sciences. This is designed to develop and support your application of numerical literacy and data handling set in the broad context of science.

  • Foundation Chemistry
    This introduces the fundamental concepts of inorganic and organic chemistry. It enables you to use the symbolism and calculations involved in qualitative and quantitative descriptions of chemical reactions.

  • Physical Science
    This introduces you to fundamental concepts in the physical sciences. You will explore units, measurement and errors, atomic structure, the electronic structure of atoms, the stability of the nucleus and radioactivity. 

Year One: International Wildlife Biology Degree

  • Big Game Tracking (South Africa field course)
  • Biological Research Skills
  • Microorganisms and the Dynamic Cell
  • Principles of Ecology
  • Evolutionary Botany and Zoology
  • Genetics and Evolution

Year Two: International Wildlife Biology Degree

  • Patterns in African Biodiversity (South Africa field course)
  • Conservation Genetics and Wildlife Management
  • Ecological and Wildlife Assessment
  • Vertebrate Zoology
  • Environmental Modelling for Wildlife Management

Optional (one of two):

  • Ethology
  • Tropical Ecology and Conservation (Tropical field course)

Year Three: International Wildlife Biology Degree

  • Wildlife Research Project - 40 credits
  • Marine and Freshwater Biology
  • Advanced Ecology

Optional (two of three):

  • Global Ecological Change
  • Humans and Other Primates
  • Agriculture, Evolution and Biotechnology


You'll be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, computer exercises, practical classes, UK and overseas fieldwork.

The number of weekly hours you will receive per week will vary depending on the modules studied and year of study. Generally, you will have 48 hours of direct contact per (20-credit) module over an academic year, equating to around 12-15 contact hours per term week.

Outside of this time, you will be expected to commit around 80 hours to study guided by your lecturers and self-directed learning on each module (but more for your third year project). A further 70+ hours are normally required for students to prepare and complete assessments for each module. Residential field courses have more contact hours, supporting our hands-on approach to field learning.

Throughout the international wildlife biology course we invite guest lecturers from the ecological and conservation sector to help support your knowledge and understanding of contemporary wildlife biology scenarios. This is also a great opportunity to meet with potential employers, along with field trips and collaborations on third year projects.

Research-informed teaching

Your studies will be underpinned by the latest research undertaken by the University’s Applied Sciences Research Group which collaborates locally, nationally and internationally with partners from industry and academia to provide world-leading knowledge and impact. For you, this means you will be taught by academics who are at the forefront of their specialist field. 


You will be assessed using a combination of different assessment types, to support all facets of your learning and development. These include scientific reports and papers, oral presentations, critical reviews, digital outputs, problem solving and data analysis tasks,  in-class and online tests, laboratory exercises, practical competencies, field reports and written examination.

Assessment methods vary depending on the module and year of study. A number of modules are assessed through coursework and written examination, while other modules are continuously assessed with coursework only. 

The breakdown of assessment methods for this course is: 9-27% practical assessment, 19-59% coursework, and 32-54% written examination.


The BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology degree is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).

Field Trips

Current field course destinations include South Africa (four weeks), which is a compulsory element of our degree program, and our tropical ecology field course in Mexico (two weeks, optional). Additional costs apply to both these field courses.

The South Africa field trip takes place in private nature reserves located in different ecological biomes – grasslands and savannahs – and is designed to provide an immersive experience of the biodiversity of Southern Africa.

You will study the wildlife and ecology of these regions using a range of field and research skills and techniques, including interpretation of tracks and signs (game tracking) and species identification, behavioural studies, and biodiversity and habitat assessments, and apply these to scientific studies and wildlife conservation management scenarios.

In Mexico, the focus is tropical forests and marine systems, such as coral reefs. You will have the opportunity to apply your scientific knowledge to mini research projects alongside local practitioners.

Please note, the exact locations of our overseas field trips may vary each year, and are based on an area’s ongoing suitability for teaching and learning, and the overall cost of the trip.

The wildlife biology course has modules with significant fieldwork elements, which come with certain physical demands. If you have a disability that is likely to be affected by physical demands, please get in touch with the course leader Dr Elke Scheibler as soon as possible.

All applicants are encouraged to attend a University Applicant Day to discuss the field courses with our staff, including current additional costs and the nature of the activities that are undertaken.

There may be additional costs associated with this course


By studying International Wildlife Biology, you will benefit from the huge investment in scientific teaching and learning facilities that has taken place at our Glyntaff Campus. Most of your campus-based teaching will take place here, and includes our fully-equipped purpose-built laboratories, computer rooms with specialist software to support your learning.

You will have the opportunity to gain additional qualifications that will enhance your career opportunities, such as the industry-standard ESRI certificate Learning ArcGIS Desktop, and a PADI Open Water diving qualification.


Featured Lecturer:
Dr Tracie McKinney

Dr Tracie McKinney

Dr Tracie McKinney is a biological anthropologist with expertise in non-human primate responses to anthropogenic disturbance.

Tracie is particularly interested in how wild primates deal with human disturbance, including habitat alteration, ecotourism, provisioning, and crop-raiding.

Dr McKinney's field research focuses on mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) and white-faced capuchins (Cebus imitator) in Costa Rica.

McKinney is a member of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group section for Human-Primate Interactions, working on primate tourism and primates in agroecosystems; and a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. See her latest research here.


Dr Anthony Caravaggi, course leader, specialises in conservation biology. An active researcher, his work focuses on increasing our understanding of the various aspects of species-specific and community ecology. Dr Caravaggi uses field studies, remote-sensing and contemporary and historical data, along with R code and GIS software, to answer robust questions related to species distributions, community ecology, habitat selection, and anthropogenic impacts. Dr Caravaggi's work has implications for and informs conservation and management processes, policy, and commercial enterprises.

Dr Elke Scheibler is a behavioural eco-physiologist with research interests that include behavioural plasticity in changing environments especially in rodents, and antelopes. Dr Scheibler is interested in interdisciplinary approaches answering research questions in the area of wildlife biology and ecology, eco-physiology, chronobiology, animal welfare of wild, farm and pet animals in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Dr Luis Cunha is a molecular ecologist specialised in soil ecology. Most of his research projects are related to the evolutionary ecology, phylogenetics and population genetics/genomics of invertebrates. His latest research project focus on the study of biodiversity signatures in historical anthropogenic ecosystems, and the role of humans as niche constructors. He is also interested in using the genetics of commensal animals (relationship with humans) as proxies to track and infer ancient human migrations/dynamics across South America.

Dr David Lee is a wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist with academic and research interests that include the application of biodiversity survey and analytical techniques to evaluate avian and mammalian species and community responses in modified landscapes, particularly in tropical forest and UK upland ecosystems, and inform stakeholder-driven conservation and restoration management strategies.

Dr Rhian Newman is interested in the interactions between people and the environment, in particular how anthropogenic influences alter ecosystem functioning and individual species. Dr Newman's research looks to combine both behavioural and physiological responses when examining the species level impact of particular stressors.

Dr Tracie McKinney is a biological anthropologist with expertise in nonhuman primate responses to anthropogenic disturbance. Tracie is particularly interested in how wild primates deal with human disturbance, including habitat alteration, ecotourism, provisioning, and crop-raiding.

Dr Emma Hayhurst is a molecular microbiologist at the University of South Wales with expertise in anti-microbial resistance. She is interested in the transmission and detection of antibiotic resistance in the environment and the clinic, and in the wider issue of reducing inappropriate prescriptions through improved diagnostics, public engagement and improvements in public health.


See our latest wildlife ecology research here.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 3 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C/Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

Typical A-Level Offer

EE to include a relevant Science subject but exclude General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer


Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Pass Pass Pass or BTEC Diploma Pass Pass in a relevant subject

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points from Higher Levels

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass Access to HE Diploma in Science with a minimum of 48 UCAS Tariff points

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13800 

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit/Equipment *
Students undertaking courses that contain elements of outdoor fieldwork must wear appropriate outdoor clothing, which includes suitable wet weather gear, rugged boots/shoes and hat/gloves. The location and weather will determine the nature of clothing/footwear worn, and therefore the cost, and students will be informed of these requirements at the start of their studies. Please note that inappropriate clothing/footwear may prevent students from participating in an activity. The School of Applied Sciences subsidises the cost of compulsory fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Although kept to a minimum, some overseas compulsory fieldwork may have additional costs applied. Optional fieldwork modules are typically at the cost to the student. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course. Students will need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. Please note that some fieldwork may require visas and vaccinations, which are at the cost to the student and will vary depending on individual circumstances.
Field Trip * £1100 - £1300
This module includes fieldwork presently conducted in S. Africa and represents 2 modules of study which run consecutively over the summer vacation period in between your 1st and 2nd year. The School subsidises the cost of the trip by £600 per student per module. Additional costs to the student are presently approximately £1,100 to £1,300 plus flights but depend on accommodation used and exchange rates at the time.
Field Trip £2200 - £2500
Up to two and a half weeks in a tropical location including marine and terrestrial study sites. Recent study centres have included Mexico, Honduras and Borneo. Additional £350 for scuba diving qualification if not already held.
Other *
Please note that students who successfully secure a placement in industry or abroad to complete their projects would be expected to pay their own travelling costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.

UK students
Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly. 

International and EU students
Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Apply now

Admissions statement

Successful completion of this foundation course will enable you to progress on BSc (Hons) International Wildlife Biology degree. Here you will gain a range of traditional and contemporary scientific laboratory, field, analytical and research skills that are applicable to working in ecological consultancy, wildlife conservation organisations, education, or postgraduate research with us.