BI1AB1-Animal Behaviour

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: BI1BG3 Practical Biochemistry
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof Richard Sibly


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module provides an overview of the general principles of behaviour, covering topics such as altruism and fighting.


This module aims to provide a general introduction to the study of animal behaviour and shows how facts about behaviour are established. Attention is given to how and why central hypotheses are formulated, how experiments are designed to distinguish between hypotheses, and how the results are analysed and interpreted.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

•Describe and justify some of the main theoretical approaches in animal behaviour

•Describe research findings in selected areas of animal behaviour

Additional outcomes:

The practicals help students develop a deeper understanding of behavioural ecology.

Outline content:

This module provides a general introduction to the study of behaviour. Both the classical ethological and the selfish-gene approaches are described. In order to understand behaviour, it is necessary to consider its role in increasing the chances that an individual will survive and reproduce. Such considerations are relevant to man and domesticated animals as well as to 'wild' species. Topics covered may include: To what extent are behaviours genetically determined and to what extent do they depend on developmental experience? Why have some behaviours evolved in some situations but not others? How have altruistic behaviours evolved, and which individuals receive help? Why do animals fight and which individuals do they fight? In what circumstances do learning and communication have survival value? Suggestions for further reading are provided and the student is encouraged to read around the lectures.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study 60
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 80
Set exercise 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

A-one-and-a-half-hour examination

The written exam is a 50 question multiple choice exam.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The set exercise is an infographic reporting the results of practicals.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August/September only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 26 September 2018


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