Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Behavioural Ecology
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Online Test 1  (40 questions)  30%
Semester Assessment Online Test 2  (40 questions)  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   40%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.   100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Be conversant with the principles of natural and sexual selection.

2. Use economic models to explain and predict behaviour in the context of evolution.

3. Discuss theoretical and empirical evidence for key topics in behavioural ecology.

4. Demonstrate their engagement with research literature in behavioural ecology.

Brief description

Behavioural Ecology considers the behaviour of organisms through the lens of evolutionary biology. It will consider a range of behaviours in a variety of taxa, applying evolutionary theory to understand the adaptive advantages of those behavioural strategies and how they have been favoured by natural and sexual selection.


Lectures will help students to think in evolutionary terms about behaviour. These will begin with lectures providing a grounding in evolutionary biology, before introducing economic models such as optimality and game theory to explain behaviour in evolutionary terms. After establishment of the essential background, successive lecture blocks will deal with selected topics taught by staff with special interests or research expertise in those areas. These will reflect the current state of the field, but are likely to include: kin selection & inclusive fitness, parental investment; sex allocation, mate choice, sexual cannibalism; reproductive strategies, dispersal & migration; predator-prey interactions; and behavioural ecology of microbes. Practical sessions will allow students to observe animal behavior in the field and laboratory, and to apply evolutionary thinking to interpret what they see.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not an assessed component of this module.
Communication Not an assessed component of this module.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will apply evolutionary thinking to examples of behaviour that they observe personally in practical tasks.
Information Technology Not an assessed component of this module.
Personal Development and Career planning Not an assessed component of this module.
Problem solving Evolutionary thinking tests will require students to apply principles they have learnt during the course in new contexts.
Research skills Students will be required to engage with the research literature, and interpret animal behavior in the light of evolutionary theory.
Subject Specific Skills Students will be required to further their knowledge of behavioural ecology through engagement with the literature; and to apply evolutionary reasoning in online tests.
Team work Not an assessed component of this module, but practical work may require students to collect data in teams.


This module is at CQFW Level 5