ZOOL20020 Animal Behaviour

Academic Year 2023/2024

Do you want to comprehend how and why animals behave the way they do? Do you want to learn how we can carry out lab and field research and test hypotheses about behaviour using the scientific method? This class will give you a comprehensive overview on the complexities of animal behaviour, and will allow you to appreciate the techniques used to record animal behaviour both in the lab and in the field.
Using examples drawn from all animal life (invertebrates to humans), this course will provide students with an overall review of the fundamentals of animal behaviour. Following a detailed introduction into proximate and ultimate causation of behaviour, the course will cover key behavioural phenomena: sexual reproduction, selection and mating systems, kinship and cooperative breeding, habitat selection, movement, migration, and territoriality, aggression and game theory, group living and anti-predator behaviour including vigilance and foraging behaviour, and animal personalities. The practical element of the course will allow students to develop the skills necessary to measure behaviour in addition to allowing an exploration of some aspects of behaviour through experimentation.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students will be able to:
1. Understand how the phylogenetic history and the current environment influence the behavioural repertoire of a species;
2. Explain how internal processes (genetic inheritance, gene expression, hormonal changes and neurobiology) coupled with the environment (development, experience and learning) result in various behavioural phenomena;
3. Have a full understanding of the fact that, while the study of animal behaviour is important as a scientific field on its own, this science has made important contributions to other disciplines with applications to the study of human behaviour, to the neurosciences, to the environment and resource management, to the study of animal welfare and to the education of future generations of scientists;
4. Determine and use the correct behavioural recording technique to examine a variety of different behaviours;
5. Critically evaluate and synthesise information from the scientific literature on animal behaviour;
6. Work individually and as part of a small group to investigate (and collect empirical data about) various behavioural aspects of a species.

Indicative Module Content:

Course contents
Lecture 1 – Introduction
L2 – Principles of Animal Behaviour
L3 – The evolution of behaviour
L4 – Hormones and neurobiology
L5 – Molecular genetics and development
L6 – Learning
L7 – Animal personality
L8 – Sexual segregation
L9,10,11 – Antipredator behaviour
L12 – Cultural transmission
L13 – Sexual Selection
L14 – Mating Systems
L15 – Kinship
L16 – Cooperation
L17 – Foraging
L18 – Communication
L19 – Habitat selection, territoriality, and migration
L20-21 – Behaviour genetics and bacterial
L22 – Navigation
L23 – Migration

Lab1 – Animal Personality
Lab 2 – Experimental design
Lab 3 – Antipredator behaviour
Lab 4 – Sampling Animal Behaviour
Lab 5 – movement behaviour

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This class is a perfect balance between theory, practice, and hands-on experience.
The lecturer will drive the students through the complexity of animal behaviour, delivering lectures able to explain the key concepts but also showing a plethora of examples (videos, pictures, examples across the animal kingdom).
Computer-based labs will allow students to learn key techniques needed to collect behavioural data in the field. Among the others, students will revise videos and will learn how to interpret animal behaviour.
The lecturers will provide continuous feedback on the labs, the assignments, and there will be more than a chance to prepare for the final exam (i.e., in class mock exam with the lecturer).

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Lab write-ups & Lab MCQs Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Exam. paper 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The labs' assignments will be reviewed within 1-2 weeks from their submission, and students will receive individual feedback on Brightspace to make sure they can understand their mistakes and be better prepared for the following assignment. Furthermore, overall feedback will be provided in class. The final exam will be an MCQ and students will have access to the correct answers a few days after the final exam.

Suggested textbook
Lee Alan Dugatkin (either 3rd or 4th edition)
Principles of Animal Behaviour

Additional readings
Relevant scientific literature will be suggested at the end of each lecture.

Name Role
Dr Julia Jones Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Virginia Morera-Pujol Lecturer / Co-Lecturer