Postgraduate

Modules

Modules

MMB8003 : The Biological Study of Behaviour

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

This module aims to provide a thorough training in the skills and concepts required for the study of behaviour from a biological perspective. The concepts taught are equally applicable to students whose main interests are in human behaviour, and those whose main interests are in the behaviour of non-human animals. The module will also be of benefit to students who are likely to conduct behavioural assays with laboratory animals in the course of medical research. Students will gain an understanding of current research practices in behavioural science. They will also acquire skills in the use of mathematical models to predict behaviour, the recording and quantification of spontaneously occurring behaviour, the analysis of behavioural data and the design and conduct of behavioural experiments, and working with laboratory animals.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module consists of three main blocks of material. Each of these is taught through discursive, problem-based session with an emphasis on students and staff developing solutions to how they would approach given research problems.

Block 1. Measuring behaviour

This block deals with how we can measure and quantify behaviour. Students will be introduced to the major types of behavioural sampling and coding, including the use of technology to capture and record behaviour. Students will put some of the principles to use in report 1.

Block 2. Experimental design for behaviour

In this block, we will explore different ways to address questions of animal behaviour under controlled conditions. This includes studies of animals in the laboratory, but also experimental manipulations of animals under more natural conditions. The teaching sessions will be interactive discussions between the students and the lecturer, exploring the issues involved in conducting experiments aimed at better understanding the mechanisms underlying a range of categories of behaviour. Report 2 will apply these skills in coming up with an experimental design (and explanation of its rationale) for a given research question.

Block 3. Analysing behavioural data

This block will look at how we analyse the data arising from behavioural studies, and how we relate empirical findings to theoretical predictions and interpret them. Practical examples will be drawn from the exercises completed in the other blocks. Students will be introduced to the R language for dealing with and plotting data. Report 2 will use skills from this block as well as block 1.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Timetable