Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 3 x 1 hour lectures per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Individual project  30%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Theory examination  70%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module students will be able to use the primary literature to expand their interest in animal behaviour and to provide objective, qualitative and quantitative descriptions of animal behaviour.


The module introduces the basic principles of animal behaviour (ethology), by considering Tinbergen's four questions, with a focus on the mechanisms and ontogeny of behaviour. The importance of adopting an objective approach to the description and interpretation of behaviour is emphasised.


The module discusses the basic principles of ethology under four headings: causation of behaviour, development (ontogeny) of behaviour, evolution of behaviour and function of behaviour, i.e. Tinbergen's four questions: what causes behaviour, how does it develop during ontogeny, how did it evolve and what is its function (adaptive significance). The main focus of the course is on the development and causation of behaviour with discussion of the genetic basis for behaviour, hormonal influences, physiological mechanisms involved and the motivation for and maturation of behaviours. Topics covered include phylogeny of behaviour, genotypic influences on behaviour, sensory adaptations and stimulus filtering, effect of hormones on behaviour, models of motivation and learning. Scientific methods for investigating behaviours are also discussed. The relevant text is Barnard (2004).

Reading List

General Text
Alcock, John (2009.) Animal behavior :an evolutionary approach /John Alcock. 9th ed. Sinauer Associates Primo search Barnard, C. J. (2004.) Animal behaviour :mechanism, development, function, and evolution /Chris Barnard. Pearson Education Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5