skip to content

Department of Zoology


Course Overview

In the third year of the Natural Sciences Tripos, students have the chance to specialise in an area of interest to them. Part II Zoology offers a great degree of flexibility and variety; students choose four modules from sixteen; these modules (some of which are interdepartmental) cover a diverse range of topics, including animal behaviour, evolution, conservation science, ecology and cell and developmental biology. This allows you the freedom to choose modules that complement each other and your interests, and to explore interdisciplinary links.

Students undertake a research project throughout the year, giving practical experience of lab or fieldwork. There is also the opportunity to participate in our exciting 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). Instead of undertaking a research project, students write a dissertation, taking the form of a literature review.

The Department of Zoology also contributes to the Part II Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour course. This interdepartmental course combines modules from the departments of PDN, Psychology and Zoology for those who wish to study an interdisciplinary neurobiology course. From the Department of Zoology, the modules on offer are ZM5 Evolution and behaviour: genes and individuals and ZL3: Evolution and behaviour: populations and societies. 

We will provide a nurturing, supportive and stimulating environment for your Part II studies. Part II students are welcomed as valued members of the Department, they are invited to research seminars, and can join members of staff in the Tea Room. We want you to excel in your third year at Cambridge, so we provide additional training in understanding the scientific process, essay-writing, experimental design, preparing a research project or dissertation, and giving a research talk. We also prepare you for the future with a careers session and advice on applying for postgraduate study.

If you are taking the MVST, then we can enhance your training in several ways, by showing you how healthy bodies develop and function; teaching you more about the processes that trigger cancer; explaining how evolutionary principles underpin the design of a new flu vaccine, and account for constraints on immune function; revealing consistent patterns in animal form through comparative anatomy; and highlighting how rapid man-made changes in our world have substantial implications for human and animal health.


Department Contacts

Part II students are treated as full members of the Department, which is unusually large and diverse, and there is a tradition of easy and informal access to members of the teaching staff and others. The friendliness of the Department is often one of the first things a student will mention about the course.

Professor Walter Federle is the current Part II Zoology and BBS Zoology Course Organiser.

Francesca Anthony, Teaching Office Coordinator, organises many practical aspects of the course. She is available to give you advice and information on any aspect of the course, and to deal with any day-to-day problems that may arise. You should feel free to contact her as your first port of call when you have any questions or difficulties connected with the Zoology course. You can contact her via the Teaching Office at

 is the librarian and can help with any matters related to the library or online access to journals/books.