Module code: BMS3096

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 give 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, communicating 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 to understand in depth how animals, and eventually us, behave and look the way they do.

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

SANTORELLI Lorenzo (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 114

Lecture Hours: 24

Tutorial Hours: 6

Practical/Performance Hours: 6

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Biological Sciences students on the general pathway can take either BMS3096 or BMS3099 but not both.

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

  • Artificial selection, domestic animals and animal welfare

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

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is intended to allow the students to demonstrated that they have been capable of critically analysing 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 project writ-up, a group presentation and an online blog

  • An exam, consisting of and a set of four essay questions, out of which the student will be required to answer two in 1.5 h time.

Formative assessment and feedback

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

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 this 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 adaptive reasons behind the expression of these behaviours

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of different types of behaviours in vertebrates and invertebrates animals K
002 Understand the mechanisms of natural selection in shaping different behaviours KC
003 Critically evaluate the ultimate and proximate reasons of animal behaviours KC
004 Have the theoretical and practical knowledge in order to measure and analyse animal behaviours and to write a research project KCT
005 Develop digital skills in order to communicate scientific facts about animal behaviours to a wider audience using blogs KCT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

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, project writing, group presentation, writing blog. 3x 2h)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS3096

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences 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 2020/1 academic year.