Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module ANTH42915: Primate Behaviour

Department: Anthropology

ANTH42915: Primate Behaviour

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to advanced topics in primate behaviour
  • To examine the evolution of primate societies and how environmental, demographic and social factors influence animals' decisions about how to organise their lives
  • Special regard is paid to understanding key theoretical concepts and how these may be applied to empirical studies of non-human primates


  • Contemporary topics in primate behaviour which may include the following:
  • Determinants of Primate Group Size and Social Structure
  • Resource Competition and Territoriality
  • Predation and Primate Behaviour
  • Social Relationships, Grooming and Reconciliation
  • Sexual Selection and Reproductive Strategies
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • Sexual Conflict and Infanticide
  • Primate Life Histories
  • Technical Intelligence (foraging)
  • Communication
  • Indicators of social intelligence
  • Evidence for culture or traditions

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have developed:
  • A firm grasp of contemporary evolutionary theory and the way in which it has been extended to understand behaviour of primates.
  • An advanced understanding of current issues in primate behaviour.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will have developed:
  • An ability to examine the literature critically and evaluate theoretical models based on available data, including awareness of limitations in the quality of data and the way it is handled, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the models themselves.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students will be able to:
  • Express themselves clearly and concisely on specialised topics, and explain why particular issues are important and/or controversial, in both presentations and in writing.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Seminars centred on student presentations facilitate library research and independent and peer-learning. They allow students to interrogate the primary literature and work through and discuss key arguments of important topics in primate behaviour.
  • Presentation files will test seminar preparation skills, and the ability to concisely integrate information from a variety of sources and to explain why particular issues are important and/or controversial.
  • Formative feedback and Essay plan 400 words, on seminar presentations will help students to develop skills and consolidate their knowledge and understanding, including the ability to present the key arguments of important topics, evaluate tests of theoretical concepts, and structure an argument.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 1.5 hour 13.5
Preparation & reading 136.5
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 67%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 2000 words 100%
Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 33%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Presentation File 1,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative feedback is given for seminar presentations Essay plan 400 words

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University