Module code: BMS3096

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

SANTORELLI L Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECTS Credits



FHEQ Level 6

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 114

Lecture Hours: 24

Tutorial Hours: 6

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 70
Examination WRITTEN EXAM (90 MINS) 30

Alternative Assessment

In case the student could not perform one or more practicals for justified absence, alternative materials and appropriate instructions are provided in order to complete the required exercises for the coursework

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

Have you ever wondered why animals behave in the way they do? In this module we will be introduced to some of the most peculiar animal behaviours, and we will learn how to analyse them under the lens of natural selection. The study of animal behaviour gives us a great insight on how animals shape their environment and are shaped by it, and we will learn how important it is for an animal to choose the right strategy whenever foraging, escaping a predator, communicate with others or mating.

Through a series of practicals, lectures and documentaries, we will learn to recognise, quantify and analyse the most significant animal behaviours. This module is designed for students that are curious and fascinated by understanding in depth how animals, and ourselves as humans, behave and look the way they do. 

Module aims

Have an overview of the variety of different behaviours in vertebrates and invertebrates

Comprehend how natural selection has shaped the behaviours of all the considered organisms

Apply the knowledge in order to understand how proximate and ultimate explanations can be used to provide a theoretical framework

Be able to measure behaviours and to critically analyse the adaptative reasons behind the expression of these behaviours

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Gain knowledge of a range of different types of behaviours in vertebrates and invertebrates animals K
002 Understand the value and the mechanisms of natural selection in shaping the different behaviours KC
003 Critically evaluate the ultimate and proximate reasons behind animal behaviours KC
004 Have the theoretical and practical knowledge to measure and analyse animal behaviour KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction to the study and definition of animal behaviour
Quantification and analysis of different animal behaviours
The importance of signals and communication
How sexual selection affected morphology and behaviours
Kin selection, altruism and social behaviour
Game theory and evolutionary stable strategies
Artificial selection, domestic animals and animal welfare

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Give the students the opportunity to understand why animals behave in a certain way and which are the selective pressures that determine these behaviours 

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures (approximately 24 h, 2-3/week)
Journal clubs and vision of documentaries (6 h)
Practical activities (including measurement and analysis of behaviours; group presentation. 3x 2h)

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is intended to allow the students to demonstrated that they have been capable of critically analyse the information they have received on how and why animals behave in a certain way, as well as to be confident in the process of measuring and processing data linked to these behaviours

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

A series of coursework including a report, a reflection, a group presentation.
An exam, consisting of and a set of five short essay questions, out of which the student will be required to answer three in 90 minutes.

Formative assessment and feedback

Written and verbal feedback is offered to drafts of each assignment before it get submitted

Reading list

Reading list for ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR :

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biomedicine with Data Science BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.