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The University of Southampton

BIOL2039 Animal Behaviour

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the study of animal behaviour taking an integrative approach that addresses animal behaviour from ethological, ecological and evolutionary angles and to review the basic concepts of behaviour as a science.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe and explain the basic concepts of animal behaviour using two approaches – ethology and behavioural ecology.
  • Design and conduct experiments in animal behaviour using appropriate behavioural measurement techniques, in co-operation with others.
  • Present a written coherent argument in their own words and style, using data properly to support their arguments.


The module will start by describing the history of the study of animal behaviour, highlighting the use of proximate and ultimate questions to understand why a particular behaviour is expressed. It continues by explaining how animal behaviour is best measured. Theories of motivation and learning are critically examined. Throughout the module the behavioural concepts are related, where possible, to their ecological basis, and several lectures explore these aspects in more depth. Consideration of more complex behaviours include the appraisal of social behaviour and communication, as well as the adaptiveness, genetics and evolution of behaviour. The module finishes by looking at how animal behaviour techniques can be applied to improve animal welfare and animal conservation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, practical classes, and independent learning via text books and internet resources. Feedback is obtained from practical reports, direct and email contact with lecturers and demonstrators, and self-assessment quizzes on Blackboard.

Practical classes and workshops9
Independent Study116
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Manning A. & Stamp Dawkins M. (1998). An introduction to animal behaviour. 

Davies N.B., Krebs J.R. & West S.A. (2012). An introduction to behavioural ecology. 

Barnard, C. (2004). Animal behaviour. 

Krebs J.R & Davies N.B (2001). Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Practical write-ups 30%
Written assessment 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Written assessment 70%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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