Monash University

Undergraduate - Area of study

Students who commenced study in 2014 should refer to this area of study entry for direction on the requirments; to check which units are currently available for enrolment, refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your area of study.

print version

This area of study entry applies to students commencing this course in 2014 and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course entry in the Handbook. Any units listed for this area of study relate only to the 'Requirements' outlined in the Faculty of Science component of any bachelors double degrees.

Managing facultyFaculty of Science
Offered bySchool of Biological Sciences
CoordinatorDr Dave Chapple (School of Biological Sciences)


  • Unit codes that are not linked to their entry in the Handbook are not available for study in the current year.


Animals are of enormous interest to us, perhaps because we are also animals, and understanding the development and evolution of animals helps us understand ourselves. Animals are integral components of natural systems and they also have a major impact on us as pests competing for our food and as parasites. Zoologists study the diversity of animals, their evolution, form, function, behaviour and ecology. They investigate the interactions of animals with plants, which ultimately are the source of nutrients and shelter, and with microbes, which enable many animals to effectively utilise plants as food. They investigate animals as bioindicators of the health of ecosystems.

Research in zoology can be undertaken at the level of the whole animal down to the level of cell biology, biochemical processes and their genetic control. A knowledge of zoology can be used to understand how animals work, how they solve environmental challenges and how they interact with each other. Much of this information is relevant to the management, protection and conservation of animals and provides skills needed in many careers related to these themes. Examples of careers available to students that study zoology include biotechnology, ecological/environmental consulting, government departments (e.g. environment, parks, primary industry and sustainability), animal husbandry and welfare, research and teaching.

Studying zoology at Monash University begins with general biology in first year, where the basics of animal evolution, diversity, structure and function are covered. In second year there is a greater focus on these topics in two units that deal with animal diversity and animal structure and function specifically. In third year we develop this understanding further with units focused on animal behaviour and the biology of Australian vertebrate animals. Other units on evolution, ecology, marine biology and environmental management complement the development of broader understanding of the role and importance of animals in our world.

Learning outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  • describe animal diversity and the evolutionary development of the major animal groups, explain how morphology is related to animal function and ecology, how genetic and environmental effects underlie variation in animal behaviour and how foraging, social and reproductive behaviour of animals promotes their survival and reproduction in the environments in which they have evolved
  • describe how the diversity and biology of animals is influenced by the history, biogeography and ecology of the biogeographical region
  • demonstrate advanced practical skills in experimental methods relevant to the zoological sciences, including animal identification, animal physiology techniques, morphological techniques and quantitative field methods
  • integrate and apply principles of experimental design and data collection and interpretation
  • demonstrate, in the context of the discipline, the graduate attributes of effective communication, quantitative literacy, information and communication literacy, inquiry and critical thinking, and ethical, social and international understanding
  • undertake further study, research and employment in zoology.


Level one

Level two

Level three

  • BIO3011 Research methods in biology
  • BIO3021 Marine biology
  • BIO3052 Animal behaviour
  • BIO3082 Plant global change biology
  • BIO3091 Ecology of Australian vegetation
  • BIO3111 Ecological management
  • BIO3122 Freshwater ecology
  • BIO3132 Biology of Australian vertebrates
  • BIO3820 Tropical terrestrial biology
  • BIO3990 Biology in action research project
  • GEN3030 Developmental and cellular genetics
  • GEN3040 Genomics and advanced molecular genetics
  • GEN3051 Medical and forensic genetics
  • GEN3062 Evolutionary and ecological genetics
  • GEN3990 Genetics in action research project

Sequence requirements

Minor sequence in zoology (24 points)

Major sequence in zoology (48 points)

Requirements for honours in zoology

Additional information

Level one

Coordinator: Dr Gerry Rayner

Students studying zoology in their first year will take BIO1011 plus BIO1022 and/or BIO1042. The focus in first year is to provide the basic knowledge on the structure and evolution of animals, their cellular and molecular composition, some fundamentals of ecology and the metabolic and homeostatic systems that enable them to survive. Examples are drawn from a wide range of invertebrate and vertebrae animals to illustrate and explain the principles of animal design and function.

Level two

Coordinator: Dr Dave Chapple

Students planning to complete a major sequence must complete BIO2231 and BIO2242 before proceeding to level three zoology. There is also the option to include BIO2022 in the major. Alternatively, completion of the level two zoology units can comprise a minor in the zoology area of study. Level two zoology builds upon first year to examine the diversity and evolutionary development of animals in more detail, and comprehensively investigates the distinguishing features of the different animal groups. There is further development of the themes of homeostasis through the physiological systems of circulation, excretion and respiration. Students also examine how animals move using locomotory structures in different environments, how they obtain and process nutrition and the variety of reproductive strategies they use. The teaching in the units available at level two is a combination of lectures and practical activities, including laboratory sessions examining live animals and prepared specimens of different kinds. Skills in animal identification and functional anatomy are also gained through hands-on practical activities.

Level three

Coordinator: Dr Dave Chapple

The final year of the zoology area of study builds upon the knowledge gained in earlier levels and continues it in BIO3052 and BIO3132. In these units we investigate animal communication, development of behaviour, behavioural ecology and the way in which vertebrate animals deal with the environmental challenges of living in the Australian habitat. These units combine lecture, practical and project work with some time spent in the field seeing animals in action. Both units are required for completion of the zoology major, along with one or two from a variety of other units offered by the school, including BIO3021, BIO3011, BIO3111 and BIO3122.


In addition to the requirements listed above, students must meet the entry requirements for the science honours program relevant to their course of enrolment. See the entries for:

  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)
  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Full details regarding the course structure for honours in this area of study are outlined in course 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science.

Relevant courses

Single degrees

  • 3544 Bachelor of Environmental Science
  • 0050 Bachelor of Science
  • 3550 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Global Challenges)
  • 3520 Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research)
  • 1120 Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)

Double degrees

  • 0530 Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science
  • 3537 Bachelor of Arts (Global) and Bachelor of Science
  • 3528 Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Science
  • 1469 Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science
  • 3517 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science
  • 3711 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 1633 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education
  • 4642 Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4646 Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4650 Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Science
  • 4638 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • 0086 Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws

Honours degrees

  • 0051 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science
  • 2188 Honours degree of Bachelor of Science (Science Scholar Program)