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NES2301 : Animal Behaviour

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Lucy Asher
  • Lecturer: Dr Catherine Douglas, Dr Theresa Rueger
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The study of animal behaviour is a large discipline encompassing both the mechanisms and evolutionary functions of the ways that animals interact with their environment and with each other. This module provides the student with a comprehensive introduction to the scientific approach to studying, quantifying, and interpreting animal behaviour. Lectures focus on examples from the literature which illustrate important principles of animal behaviour taking both a mechanistic and a behavioural ecology approach. Practicals enable the students to design, conduct, analyse, and interpret scientific experiments using lab-based assays of animal behaviour.

Outline Of Syllabus

The topics covered in this module include:

* Introduction to the study of animal behaviour
* Evolutionary and immediate causes of behaviour including neural and physiological mechanisms of behaviour
* Major themes in animal behaviour which may include sexual selection, mating systems, parental care, foraging,
predator-prey interaction, group living, human influence
* Methods for studying animal behaviour, including data analysis and scientific hypothesis testing

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion32:006:00Preparation for summative quizzes
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Report writing
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0014:00Interactive quizzes related to lecture material
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion31:003:00Formative tests through University VLE
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Feedback on practical write up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00Theory of animal behaviour
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00Summative write up of practical
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00Laboratory
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching17:007:00Study group tasks and interactive feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study142:3035:00Follow up directed reading and further reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Information for students will be provided by a mixture of online and in person lectures with additional quizzes, supported study group sessions, directed reading and by practicals. The online lecture material will provide students with a framework for theoretical interpretation of animal behaviour with examples, from both a physiological and an evolutionary perspective. The practical will provide students with knowledge of techniques to measure animal behaviour and experience of experimental design, recording analysis, and reporting of animal behaviour.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M100Summative Practical write-up
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Computer assessmentMPass/Fail Online MCQ (pass mark 40%)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MFormative weekly quizzes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Completing the practical write-up will develop the skills needed to design, analyse, and interpret a simple study of behaviour. The formative and summative questions through-out the course are to help students assimilate and test ability to apply taught material.
Study Abroad students may request to take their assessment early if necessary and should contact the school if they would like to explore this option.

Reading Lists