Living in Groups: Collective Behaviour in Animals

This module explores features and rules of group behaviour in animals. Introducing formal concepts such as Social Network Analysis, the module defines fundamental rules that govern collective behaviour, and how individuals partake in making and communicating decisions.


  • BSc Biological Sciences


Year Three

20 Credits

We are all familiar with the sights of vee-flying geese, shoals of fish splitting around a predator and groups of primates grooming.

  • How do these groups coordinate their movements and navigate?
  • Do they follow set rules or use a higher level of cognitive ability to make decisions?
  • Do they work together or cooperate to obtain food and evade predators?
  • How are leaders decided upon?

The main aim of this module is to introduce you to some of the group types present in the nature, how they undertake key life processes: breeding, foraging, predator avoidance and moving, how they facilitate such behaviours (i.e. communication, navigation methods) and some of the pitfalls of group life.

Watch the module-in-a-minute video


Exam (60%), Coursework (40%)