Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 1 x 4 Hour Field Trip
Lecture 33 x 1 Hour Lectures
Practical 2 x 4 Hour Practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   40%
Semester Assessment Skills development assignment:  Data analysis, graphing, summarizing task (<1000 words).  20%
Semester Assessment Full laboratory report  (2000 words)  40%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  40%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss core concepts in animal behaviour, and supporting empirical evidence for them.

2. Apply scientific methods to collect, analyse, and present data relating to animal behaviour.

3. Critically interpret data on animal behaviour in the light of hypotheses.

4. Demonstrate engagement with research literature to further their knowledge of animal behaviour.

Brief description

This module considers how animals behave within their natural environment, and why they behave in these ways. Its focus is on scientific ideas of broad applicability. The module takes a comparative approach across a broad range of animal taxa, and considers animal behaviour from the points of view of its causation, function, evolution and development.


Introductory lectures will consider the pioneering work of Tinbergen and other early ethologists, and introduce their scientific approach to the study of animal behaviour including careful, objective observation. The four questions devised by Tinbergen as a framework for the study of animal behaviour – those of its function, causation, development, and evolution – will be considered, as will their inter-relationship, and current interpretation.

Building on these scientific principles, examples will be developed illustrating the function, evolution, development and causation of behaviour. These will be drawn across a wide variety of animal species (representing both invertebrates and vertebrates). Examples will likely include coverage of predator - prey interactions and evolutionary arms races; foraging and economic decision making; animal conflict and assessment; mating systems and tactics; natural and sexual selection; communication; social behaviour. Students will be encouraged to debate developing topics in ethological research. In all cases, detail of the scientific method behind key discoveries will be discussed.

Practical classes will provide students with the opportunity to objectively observe animal behaviour, and test hypotheses in the field and laboratory. Students will have the opportunity to present their findings through a range of formats.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will collect behavioural data in practical classes and will be required to handle, graph, and analyse those data using standard software packages.
Communication Scientific written communication skills will be developed and assessed, including accurate method reporting, clear graphing and presentation of data, discussion of hypotheses relating to animal behaviour.
Improving own Learning and Performance This will not be assessed, but coursework assignments are designed to provide clear guidance and formative feedback on core scientific skills, and the opportunity to apply improved capability in that area in later assignments.
Information Technology Data collected in practical classes will be handled and prepared using standard spreadsheet and graph plotting software.
Personal Development and Career planning Not an assessed component of this module, although the module itself provides a firm grounding for a career in animal behaviour, zoology, or related fields.
Problem solving Not a significant component of this module, although students will need to employ problem-solving skills in practical sessions and subsequent analyses.
Research skills Students will gain skills in behavioural experimentation, and will collate and analyse the data that they collect as part of assessed coursework for this module. They will also be required to conduct literature research in and around animal behaviour.
Subject Specific Skills Behavioural observation & experimentation in varied settings. Data gained through these techniques will form the basis of assessed coursework.
Team work Students will work in teams during practical exercises and will thus have the opportunity to develop their teamworking skills. However, these will not be assessed during this module.


This module is at CQFW Level 5