BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Animal Behaviour

Unit code BIOL21432
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Animal Behaviour aims to provide a detailed overview of the study of animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. The unit will provide a comprehensive understanding of the neurobiological and hormonal mechanisms underpinning animal behaviour and critically examine how evolutionary theory can help us understand why animals behave the way they do. You will be introduced to foundational concepts in neurobiology (e.g. learning, neuronal control of behaviour, sensory systems and communication), animal behaviour (e.g. foraging, predator prey interactions, sexual selection) and evolutionary theory (e.g. kin selection and cooperation, conflicts of interest, evolutionary strategies).

 

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Genes, Evolution and Development BIOL10521 Pre-Requisite Recommended
Fundamentals of Evolutionary Biology BIOL21232 Co-Requisite Recommended
BIOL21432 Pre-requisite is BIOL10521

 

 

Aims

The unit aims to provide a detailed overview of the study of animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective. The unit will provide a comprehensive understanding of the neurobiological and hormonal mechanisms underpinning animal behaviour and critically examine how evolutionary theory can help us understand why animals behave the way they do. The unit will introduce students to foundational concepts in neurobiology (e.g. learning, neuronal control of behaviour, sensory systems and communication), animal behaviour (e.g. foraging, predator prey interactions, inbreeding avoidance strategies, sexual selection, play) and evolutionary theory (e.g. kin selection and cooperation, conflicts of interest, evolutionary strategies).

 

Teaching and learning methods

- The majority of the teaching process will be lecture-based.

- In addition, students will be required to complete a report during the unit based on an eLearning activity, and also sit a closed book MCQ test:

eLearning activities - Jumping Spider and Cooperative Behaviour: For the Jumping Spiders, students view the online videos, assess the spiders’ behaviour, and perform statistical assessment of the behaviours used data compiled from all students.

 

Knowledge and understanding

An in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms and evolutionary pressures that shape animal behaviour. Students will understand the link between the nervous system/hormones and behaviour, how selection acts on behaviours, and how selection can lead to behaviours ranging from competition to cooperation.

Intellectual skills

The ability to critically assess animal behaviour and evolutionary processes.

Practical skills

The ability to perform behavioural observations and draw conclusions by statistically analysing data.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Using logic and critical thinking skills to develop and test evolutionary idea and statistical skills to analyse data.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students will use statistics to analyse data for research assignments. Students will also learn how to interpret and analyse data presented in published studies.
Group/team working
Students will work together to collect data for research assignments.
Innovation/creativity
Presenting data requires creativity. Students will learn how to present their data succinctly in a visually appealing manner.
Research
Students will participate in research assignments that critically examine animal behaviour.
Written communication
Students will write research reports that summarize scientific literature and report the finding of their in class research assignments.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Written exam 70%
  • Exam - 1.5 hours 70%
  • Measuring animal behaviour video observation, data collection and short answer 30%

Feedback methods

Reports marked with detailed comments and returned within two weeks.

Recommended reading

·         Wyatt, T.D. 2017. Animal Behaviour: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.

·         Alcock J. 2013. Animal Behaviour. 10th ed. Sinauer.

·         Manning A. and Dawkins M.S. 2012. An Introduction to Animal Behaviour. 6th ed. Cambridge University Press.

·         Breed M.D. and Moore J. 2013. Animal Behaviour. Academic Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 78

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ben Chapman Unit coordinator

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