Advanced Topics in Animal Behaviour

This challenging module will cover a wide range of advanced topics in Animal Behaviour, reflecting current research activity in the field. Students will study each topic in depth through a combination of independent learning and group discussion sessions. The module will ask questions about animal behaviour within an evolutionary framework, which will emphasise unifying concepts between the topics. The topics to be covered are:

  • Paternity assurance and parental behaviours
  • The origins of enhanced intelligence in the great apes
  • Sensory Information and Behaviour
  • Consciousness in animals and concepts of self

In addition to gaining knowledge on specific topics in animal behaviour, this module provides significant training and practice in the following important skills: searching the scientific literature, independently researching topics from the literature, synthesising material clearly and concisely, correct citing and referencing, and the ability to construct sound logical arguments orally and in written form.

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Construct a very sound factual knowledge of the current state of the art in a range of topics in animal behaviour, through independent study (students are likely to have read more than 60 research articles over the entire module).
  • Find, interpret and critically analyse information from the primary literature at an advanced level.
  • Identify gaps in their own knowledge and undertake appropriate searches of the literature to fill those gaps.
  • Discuss the subject intelligently and to argue a point of view logically, critically and coherently in the face of opposing views (in written and oral form).
  • Suggest and evaluate plausible and practical ways to investigate research problems empirically (assessed by contribution in Problem Sessions).
  • Identify the discriminating experiments or observations necessary to test a hypothesis and design such experiments or observations appropriately.
  • Communicate clearly and logically, in both oral and written form.
100% in-course assessment: 80% written answers to Topic Investigation questions, 20% lecturers' assessment of individual contribution during Discussion Sessions and Problem Sessions.