Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Behavioural Neurobiology
Academic Year
Semester 1
BR14110 or BR13320 Or BG13320
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Data analysis and discussion task 2  (1500 words)  30%
Semester Assessment Data analysis and discussion task 1  (1500 words)  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written exam  40%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  60%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Candidates must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify key processes that lead to the production of behaviour, and critically compare those processes across different types of behaviour, different taxa, and through time.

2. Analyse and critically interpret data using their knowledge of physiological processes underlying behaviour.

3. Evidence engagement with the research literature in behavioural physiology.

Brief description

This module focuses on the physiological processes that underlie animal behaviour. It will draw examples from a broad range of vertebrate and invertebrate taxa where mechanisms of behaviour are particularly well understood, but its aim is to uncover general principles in the mechanisms that underlie behaviour across taxa. Teaching will focus on an in depth analysis of example systems of particular interest, and assumes a prior knowledge of basic physiology from prerequisite modules.


Introductory teaching will recap on the work of classical ethologists to frame mechanistic studies of behaviour within the broader field of study. It will also outline the factors that make particular behaviours and/or organisms suitable for this kind of study. Following this introductory material, content will be structured into three blocks:
1. Basic mechanisms of simple behaviour. This lecture block will focus on describing well-understood examples of simple sensory processing and subsequent decision making, recapping and elaborating upon basic neurophysiology and placing it within the behavioural context.
2. Learning and memory. This lecture block will advance student understanding of basic behavioural mechanisms by considering how those mechanisms can be modified through the processes of learning and memory to achieve flexibility and adaptive modification.
3. More advanced behaviours and modulations. This block will consider more complex behaviours such as strategies for orientation and navigation, and will consider the adaptive modulations driven by biological rhythms on a variety of timescales.
Within each lecture block, examples will be chosen to illustrate key concepts regarding neural mechanisms of behaviour. However, these examples will be elaborated to illustrate broader physiological concepts of relevance, such as muscle physiology, energetics of behaviour, homeostasis. This will consolidate and contextualize learning from earlier stages of study, whilst maintaining a core focus on neurophysiology.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students will be required to accurately handle and analyse data.
Communication Students will communicate scientific ideas through written assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Not an assessed component of this module in of itself, though assignments will provide feedback that students can act upon to improve their performance later in the module.
Information Technology Students will be required to use standard IT for data handling, analysis, graphing, and word processing.
Personal Development and Career planning Not an assessed component of this module.
Problem solving Students will need to handle, analyse, and interpret data, which will require an element of problem solving.
Research skills Students will be required to analyse data, and to search and critically appraise the published literature.
Subject Specific Skills Students will be required to further their knowledge of behavioural physiology through engagement with the literature.
Team work Not an assessed component of this module, though students may be required to work as a team in data collection tasks.


This module is at CQFW Level 6