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This course is intended to provide a broad understanding of how animals interact with each other and with their environment. This course will cover the control, development, adaptive significance and evolution of behaviour. We will use a combination of traditional lectures, selected case studies, laboratory and fieldwork to learn fundamental concepts animal behaviour. Additional reading of scientific papers will be an essential adjunct to the lectures and especially to assessments.
Using a mix of traditional lectures, selected case studies, and fieldwork, this course aims to provide a broad understanding of the adaptive significance of behaviour: how animals interact with each other and with their environment. We explore the neural and hormonal basis of behaviour, as well as core subjects, like why and how animals communicate or have sex. This course is suited to anyone who may have wondered if animals can be dishonest, and if so, whether they are ‘actively lying’, and thus self-aware?Additional reading of scientific papers is an essential adjunct to the lectures and to assessments.
Students will develop critical competence in the core academic discipline:An understanding of the kinds of questions that are meaningful in the study of animal behaviour and an appreciation of how these questions can be answered scientifically (assessment task: quizzes and final exam).An understanding of how behavioural ecologists approach the study of behaviour (assessment task: quizzes and laboratory write-up)An ability to critically evaluate the adaptive significance of patterns of behaviour (assessment task: laboratory write-up and final exam)An understanding of the broader implications of knowledge about animal behaviour for biology and society (assessment task: quizzes and final exam)Appreciation of mechanisms that enable animals to interact with their surroundings (assessment task: final exam).Ability to conceptualise a scientific hypothesis, develop and explain the idea and your results in depth (assessment task: laboratory write-up).Ability to extrapolate in-depth knowledge from ‘model organisms’ to other animals (assessment task: final exam).Transferable SkillsAs a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:Learn how to extrapolate information from one source to a novel situation. Through the use of case studies, we aim to show how in-depth learning from one system enables you to hypothesize or predict what might happen in a different system, based on knowledge of the natural history of an animal. Extrapolation of knowledge is a fundamental skill in an era where access to information is overwhelming, meaning that a conceptual understanding that can lead to critical thinking in different areas is paramount. (Employable, innovative and enterprising; Globally Aware)Learn how to read primary scientific literature. This course relies heavily on the use of primary literature. Learning how to understand scientific writing enables you to learn scientific writing, and to delve into information beyond the - often incorrect - gloss portrayed by media or summarized reports. (Employable, innovative and enterprising)Learn how to work in a group. The assessment for this course relies heavily on a group-based project whose outcomes will be presented in public. Public speaking and conveying ideas to others is a critical skill in all jobs and job interviews. You will develop those skills in a non-threatening setting. (Employable, innovative and enterprising; Engaged with the Community)The measurement and statistical analysis of animal behaviour. You will have the opportunity to watch a variety of animals and learn different methods for quantifying behaviour; the virtual lab will review simple statistical methods needed for the analysis of behavioural data. These methods will be critical for writing lab reports, and learning scientific writing. (Employable, innovative and enterprising)
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Student Feedback (max. score = 5)20131. This was a well-organized course 4.53. Workload appropriate (agree = 4.0) 4.34. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.25. I received helpful feedback 4.26. The assessments measured my learning 3.720141. This was a well-organized course 4.23. Workload appropriate (agree = 4.0) 4.14. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.35. I received helpful feedback 3.56. The assessments measured my learning 3.620151. This was a well-organized course 4.73. Workload appropriate (agree = 4.0) 4.44. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.55. I received helpful feedback 4.26. The assessments measured my learning 3.920181. This was a well-organized course 43. Workload appropriate (agree = 4.0) 4.14. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.15. I received helpful feedback 3.96. The assessments measured my learning 3.9The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator. Which aspects of the course were the most positive or helpful?• The lecturers• Field trip• Pop quizzes• Writing reportsHow could this course be changed to assist learning? Action taken in response to feedback is indicated in brackets.• Make quizzes online. [We have done this.]
Domestic fee $900.00
International fee $4,250.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
School of Biological Sciences