BIOL355-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Neurons, Hormones and Behaviour

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


The physiological basis of behaviour. Building on the introduction to Animal Physiology in BIOL250, this course will concentrate on the endocrine and nervous systems and develop an understanding of how these systems have evolved to fine-tune the behaviour of animals.

Largely through the use of case studies, this course will cover how, and why, nervous systems communicate. Sensory systems imaginable and unimaginable to us will be explored, as well as how learning physically happens. It will also cover the general principles of communication via the endocrine system, hormonal control of basic behaviours, such as feeding, social behaviour and pair bonding. These subjects will be taught with a strong emphasis on their adaptive value to the animal. This course is suited to anyone interested in how different animal minds work, and how these interface with the environment through the sensory and endocrine systems.
Reading of recent books and scientific papers is an essential adjunct to the lectures, and development of the ability to evaluate such readings is an important objective for the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Intended Learning Outcomes and Associated Assessment
  • Appreciation of how animals work, particularly whole-body regulation and integration (assessment task: laboratory write-ups).
  • Appreciation of mechanisms that enable animals to interact with their surroundings (assessment task: laboratory write-ups).
  • Acquire interdisciplinary skills in neurobiology, endocrinology and behaviour (assessment task: laboratory write-ups).
  • Become familiar with modern experimental techniques (assessment task: laboratory write-ups).
  • Understanding of theory and practice of neurophysiology and endocrinology (assessment task: exams).
  • Understanding of how the nervous and endocrine systems contribute to behaviour (assessment task: exams).
  • Ability to extrapolate in-depth knowledge from “model organisms” to other animals (assessment task: exams).

    Transferable Skills Register- As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Transferability of core concepts. Important for research, policy-making and in private-sector organizations. (We will use case studies and real-world examples to demonstrate the use of understanding core concepts in depth and applying those concepts to novel situations or systems.)
  • Collecting and interpreting lab data. Important for research and in governmental and non-governmental organizations. (We will conduct research activities in the lab to provide both the real-world context for lectures and to develop hands-on skills in data collection and interpretation.)
  • Analysing data. Important for research, as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. (Condensing raw data into meaningful values and then assessing the resulting trends is a key skill in a number of vocations, both within science and in other areas. This skill will be further developed when we assist you to analyse the data we generate in the lab.)
  • Practical operation of a physiological data recording system. (The PowerLab system, or the equivalent, is a critical tool in almost all real-world scenarios that involve the recording of physiological data (e.g. exercise, research, and hospital laboratories).)


Recommended Preparation

Course Coordinator

For further information see School of Biological Sciences Head of Department


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 35%
Laboratory write-ups 30% During labs
Mid-course test 35% Course date TBA


Student Feedback (max. score = 5) 2017

Materials helped me understand: 4.6
The organisation of this course helped me learn: 4.6
The workload was appropriate: 4.3
The assessments were appropriate: 4.3
Feedback on assessments was helpful: 4.3

Student feedback. The responses were collated by the course coordinator. Action taken in response to feedback is indicated by brackets.
• The case studies were very good in helping me understand the key concepts of this course
• The quantity of examples and ability to translate processes to organisms in the real world environments was very helpful to learning
• I would have liked an essay as well as the other assessments. [We will consider this for 2019, after seeking feedback for one more year]
• The laboratories were fantastic and thought provoking

What advice would you give a friend taking BIOL355 to help them with the course?
• I never did the readings or looked at the lecture before going in. I should have though.

Reading / Pukapuka Ako
There is no course textbook for BIOL355. Instead, required reading in the form of scientific
papers will be provided to students as PDF documents on Learn. To do well in final exam you
must show evidence that you have read and understood at least some of this material.
However, the following books available in the library are useful for some topics:
• Simmons, P. & Young, D. 2010. Nerve cells and animal behaviour. 3rd ed. Cambridge
University Press.
• Young, D. 1989. Nerve cells and animal behaviour. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press.
• Carew, T. J. 2000. Behavioral neurobiology: the cellular organization of natural
behavior. Sinauer Associates.
• Zupanc, G. K. H. 2004. Behavioral neurobiology: an integrative approach. Oxford
University Press.
• Sherwood, l., Klandorf, H., & Yancey, P. 2005. Animal physiology: from genes to
organisms. Thomson, Brooks/Cole.

Additional Course Outline Information

Academic integrity

It is essential that you are aware that plagiarism is considered a very serious offence by the Academic community, the University and the School of Biological Sciences. Plagiarism is defined as taking content from another work or author and presenting it, without attribution, as if it is your own work. Content here includes text (sentences or major parts of sentences), display items (graphs and tables), and overall structure (the detailed sequence of ideas). Plagiarism includes:
• re-use of previous assignments (even if each individual sentence has been rephrased to say the same thing in different words, if the overall structure is re-used)  
• copying of another student’s work (with or without their consent)
• the unreferenced use of published material or material from the internet e.g. cutting and pasting of paragraphs or pages into an essay.
For most pieces of in-term assessment you will be given information concerning the use of direct and indirect quotes from previously published work. If you are in any doubt about appropriate use of published material, please speak with a member of academic staff. If you are still unsure what plagiarism is, then seek advice.

It is a School policy that courses may request you submit work electronically for subsequent analysis of originality using Turnitin. Students agree that by taking courses in BIOL, required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism.  All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers.  Use of the service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the site.

Assessment and grading system

A+ 90% or above
A 85 – 90
A- 80 – 84
B+ 75 – 79
B 70 – 74
B- 65 – 69
C+ 60 – 64
C 55 – 59
C- 50 – 54

A restricted pass (R) may be awarded to those who are close to a pass (i.e. an overall score of 48-49.9%) AND who have achieved at least a 40% overall score in both in-course assessment and tests/exams. If an R grade is awarded you gain credit for the course but cannot continue into papers that require this course as a pre-requisite. NB. The R grade is only available at 100 and 200 level - it cannot be awarded for third year papers.

Failing grades:   D   40-49             E  0–39


What if I have written more than the word or page limit?
If there is a word limit on an assignment, it is usually there to stop you doing too much work and to encourage you to write succinctly.  It also makes things easier to assess.  You can be up to 10% over without too much worry, but if the length increases beyond that your mark may suffer due to failure to follow the requirements.  If you find yourself way over the word limit have a chat to the lecturer concerned about how to trim your assignment to an acceptable length.

Requests for extensions

Reports and assignments should be handed in on time. Extensions may be granted if you have a valid reason. If you require an extension, you should request one from the course co-ordinator (or the lecturer responsible for marking the work), with as much notice as possible.  Please do this BEFORE the deadline for the assignment. If you have been given an extension you should hand the work DIRECTLY to the course coordinator (do not put it in the drop box as it may not be cleared after the due date).
If an extension has not been granted:
• work must be handed in by the due date to gain full credit
• work handed in up to 7 days after the deadline will be marked, but the marks will be discounted 25% before they are recorded to the student's credit
• any work handed in more than 7 days after the deadline date will not be marked or earn credit.

What do I do if I’m sick?

What do I do if I have to miss something or if my performance was impaired?
If you feel that illness, injury, bereavement or other extenuating circumstances beyond your control have prevented you from completing an item of assessment worth 10% or more of total course assessment or if these circumstances affected your performance in such assessments, you should apply for Special Consideration. Applications for Special Consideration should be submitted via the Examinations Office website and notify the course co-ordinator within five days of the assessment or its due date. If this is for medical reasons you should visit a doctor within 24 hours of the assessment (application form available on-line or from the Student Health Centre). The Special Consideration provisions are intended to assist students who have covered the work of a course but have been prevented by illness or other critical circumstances from demonstrating their mastery of the material or skills at the time of assessment – they do not excuse you from doing the assessment within a reasonable time agreed with the course co-ordinator. You should expect to be required to submit additional work if you miss a major assignment (e.g. a field trip for which a major write-up is required).

In rare cases you may not be able to complete an assessment or attend a field trip, because of involvement in international or national representative sport or cultural groups. In such cases you should also apply for Special Consideration. Please review the Special Considerations policy because very few kinds of activities will be eligible for consideration (e.g. holiday trips, birthday parties etc. are not given special status in the University policy).

Students prevented by extenuating circumstances from completing the course after the final date for withdrawing, may apply for Special Consideration for late discontinuation of the course. Applications must be submitted to the Examinations Office within five days of the end of the main examination period for the semester.

For further details on Special Consideration applications, please refer to the Examinations Office website

What if I fail part of the course?

In BIOL, we require a satisfactory level of achievement in both the theoretical aspects of the discipline and in practical activities. This means you must attend all class activities and submit all items of assessment unless you have a very good reason not to (e.g. medical reasons). A student must attain an average score of at least 40% for in-course assessments (e.g. assignments, reports) and an average score of at least 40% in the exam and/or test, AND score at least 50% overall for the course, to be awarded a passing grade. See course outline for clarification of the assessment items included in each category and ask the coordinator if you are still unsure.

What’s the best way to give feedback?

We welcome constructive feedback at all times – help us to make this a valuable course for you.  We endeavour to remain approachable at all times.  If you would rather give feedback anonymously, please use the on-line course survey or talk to lab demonstrators, or your class rep (who will all report back to the staff-student liaison committee that includes a representative from each of the undergraduate classes). Class representatives will be selected from each class at the start of course.

What’s the best way to complain?

If you feel you have not been fairly treated during this course, please raise the issue with the lecturer or course co-ordinator in the first instance.  Other avenues include your class rep., who can raise issues anonymously, or the UCSA education coordinator.

Where to submit and collect work

All assignments should be placed in the designated collection box in the foyer of the 2nd floor of the School of Biological Sciences (near the main office), unless directed otherwise by the course co-ordinator. All assignments must be accompanied by a cover sheet signed by you stating that the submitted work is not plagiarised. Cover sheets are available on top of the collection boxes, or you can download one from the Biology website (under Undergraduate). In addition, you may also be asked to submit your work electronically (via Learn) for analysis in Turnitin. You will be given instructions on how to do this in the assignment handout.

Marked assignments can be collected from the Secretaries' Office, unless directed otherwise by the course co-ordinator. Teaching staff will endeavour to return work as soon as possible, and should contact you if there are likely to be any delays that will prevent return within the maximum 4-week timeframe.

Indicative Fees

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 .

All BIOL355 Occurrences

  • BIOL355-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020