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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY3135 Advanced Topics in Behaviour: from sex to death

20 creditsClass Size: 160

Module manager: Dr Alison Dunn

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications


BLGY2192Experimental Design and Analysis
BLGY2222Animal Behaviour

Module replaces

BLGY3214: Behavioural Ecology &BLGY3123: Bats: from Evolution to Conservation

This module is not approved as a discovery module


On completion of this module, students should be able to develop a critical understanding of current theories and empirical examples in Behaviour. Students will study how the behaviour of animals is adapted to their natural environment. By taking a behavioural ecology approach, the module integrates thinking about behaviour, ecology and evolution to understand how an animal’s behaviour is adapted. The course will focus on animal behaviour from sex to death, covering topics that may include: sexual selection, sperm competition, social learning, sex allocation, parental care, cooperative breeding and senescence. They will also explore how an animal’s behaviour is manipulated by its parasites.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate how an animal's behaviour is adapted to the environment in which it lives;
- Explain the key concepts in animal behaviour which may include sexual selection, parental care, social learning, senescence and behaviour and parasite-host conflict;
- Examine critically a range of empirical and theoretical evidence for these hypotheses.


Outline content;
- Sexual selection;
- Sperm competition;
- Sex allocation;
- Parental care;
- Cooperative breeding;
- Social learning;
- Senescence;
- Parasite manipulation of behaviour;
- A range of systems will be considered from invertebrates to vertebrates including humans.

The students develop skills in;
- Research; the process by which the key hypotheses are tested and refined is considered as we discuss the examples in the lectures. During the practical the students develop their own research questions and through their analysis and write up develop skills in critical thinking and analysis.
- Experimental design during the practical class students design the practical, developing and testing a set of hypotheses arising from the lectures and reading material.
- Data presentation and analysis; in the practical data are collected and analysed and interpreted in the context of the field.
- Ethics; A discussion takes place concerning the ethics of the experimental design.
- Presentation skills (verbal, exam essay, ms research paper);
- Producing a scientific research manuscript.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

10 hours reading around and preparing for the practical class during which they will design the experimental approach;
20 hours analysing and writing the individual practical report;
30 hours reading and preparing group presentation;
110 hours independent study time.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Two pieced of course work will be used to monitor student progress: an individual report on the practical lab and a group presentation. Students will also receive feedback on these pieces of work.

The lab session involves experimental design and the write up involves analysis and interpretation of the data as well as a formal write up. Students will receive generic feedback on their practical report via the VLE and individual comments on the script. There will be a feedback session which the students may attend to discuss their work .

Students will receive feedback from staff on their presentations, and will also receive peer feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PresentationGroup literature research and presentation20.00
Practical Report2000 word report on lab session written as a research paper. Includes analysis and critical interpretation20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S1)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 25/04/2019


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