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.

Module provider

School of Biosciences

Module Leader

SANTORELLI Lorenzo (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 13

Independent Learning Hours: 90

Lecture Hours: 17

Seminar Hours: 2

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 17

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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

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.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Project based on ethogram 40
Coursework Website 25
Coursework Short-answer questions 35

Alternative Assessment

In case students could not attend the ethogram practicals for justified absence, access to the data and appropriate instructions are provided in order to complete the required exercises for the assessment.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is intended to allow the students to demonstrate 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:
Ethogram project (40%, LO 1,3,4)
Building a website in pair (25%, LO 1,2,5)
Short answer questions (35%, LO 1,2)

Formative assessment
For the ethogram  assessment, students will be allowed to submit a draft and receive formative feedback before the final submission.
Further feedback will be provided during quizzes

Written feedback will be provided following submission of each component. Further tutorials will be provided to discuss issues with students. The discussion board will be monitored, and any comments or questions will be prompted answered.

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 KP
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 KCPT
005 Develop digital skills in order to communicate scientific facts about animal behaviours to a wider audience using blogs KCPT

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

  • Journal clubs and vision of documentaries 

  • Practical activities (including measurement and analysis of behaviours, project writing, group writing blog.

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

Other information

Resourcefulness & resilience: The assessments for this module rely on the ability to interpret and

understand primary research literature, and to produce data in practical. The coursework will allow

students to develop teamwork skills, problem-solving, decision-making, self-efficacity, self-regulation

and confidence.


Global & cultural capabilities: Students will work in small groups during the practical sessions and for

an assignment which will encourage and engage students in working with other students from different

cultures and abilities to achieve an end goal.


Sustainability: The module will consider the principles on which animals live and are shaped by their

environment, which highlight the importance of conservation and sustainability.


Digital capabilities: For each component of the course work students will produce a material using

Microsoft Suits software as PowerPoint. Students will also utilize the virtual learning environment

SurreyLearn and other digital resources. The skills learned will be applied in the assignments they

undertake to equip the students for a variety of modern professions.


Employability: Transferable skills such as the ability to work in a team, report findings in a scientific

manner and ability to identify clades will equip students for a variety of modern professions.

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 (Animal Biology and Ecology) BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Infection and Immunity) BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.