Module Catalogue 2016/17

PSY3001 : Evolution & Behaviour

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr John Lazarus
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To develop students’ knowledge and understanding of: the principles underlying the evolution of behaviour; the types of evidence employed in testing hypotheses based on these principles; and the application of the principles to a broad range of behaviours.

Outline Of Syllabus

Principles of behavioural evolution in historical perspective: natural selection; inclusive fitness; optimality; evolutionary stability.

Theoretical models based on these principles.

Types of evidence in the evolutionary study of behaviour: observations, experiments and the comparative method.

Principles, models and evidence related to a broad range of behavioural areas and species, chosen from: foraging; competition and aggression; anti-predator behaviour; group living; kinship; parental care; social organisation; human social life.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:
•       Describe the principles of behavioural evolution and some models derived from them
•       Describe the kinds of evidence used to test evolutionary hypotheses about behaviour and appraise their relative merits
•       Describe major findings for the behavioural areas studied in the module
•       Explain features of behaviour in terms of the principles of behavioural evolution
•       Evaluate the plausibility of evolutionary hypotheses about behaviour
•       Critically examine the evidence relevant to evolutionary hypotheses about behaviour
•       Apply evolutionary thinking to new problems in behavioural evolution
•       Devise suitable tests for hypotheses concerning behavioural evolution

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:
•       Apply the principles of adaptation, selection, optimality and (evolutionary) stability in a general way to relevant problems in other disciplines
•       Appraise theories and evidence in related aspects of the biological and social sciences

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Numeracy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Problem Solving : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Leadership : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion41:004:00Preparing for and writing practice exam essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading52:0010:00For small group teaching sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study701:0070:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to impart information related to learning outcomes in a concise manner, to allow students to seek immediate clarification when necessary, and to allow the lecturer to judge the level of understanding of the class.

In small group teaching sessions students will discuss and seek answers to questions set by the lecturer that address the learning outcomes. In these sessions students will also practise the skills listed in the Interaction section of the Graduate Skills Framework. The directed research and reading prepares students for these sessions.

Assessment preparation and completion provides practice at writing exam essays and written feedback from the lecturer.

Independent study is essential for students to achieve the intended knowledge outcomes and be prepared for the examination.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A100Students will answer 2 questions from a choice of 6
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MVoluntary practice at writing exam essay with written feedback. Student decides when set.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The unseen written examination is an efficient means of assessing the students’ success in:
•       achieving the intended knowledge outcomes
•       integrating information from a variety of sources
•       communicating effectively in writing

The formative assessment and feedback gives students the opportunity to evaluate their likely success in the examination.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Note: The Module Catalogue now reflects module information relating to academic year 16/17. Please contact your School Office if you require module information for a previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.