Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Level 1 Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161) and ONE other Level 1 module from the following: Genetics (BIOL1171) Molecules and Cells (BIOL1281) Physiology(BIOL1151)


  • • At least one other level 2 Biological Sciences module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Level 2 Medical Microbiology (BIOL2431)


  • To study the adaptive value of behaviours in helping animals to survive and reproduce successfully.
  • To study why animals often live together in groups involving social interactions, and how complex social behaviour evolve.
  • To study the underlying and interacting mechanisms that control behaviour, including sensory, neural, endocrine and cognitive (learning) processes, as well as the genetic basis of behaviour.


  • Mechanisms that control behaviour, including sensory, neural, endocrine and cognitive processes.
  • Habitat selection, and use.
  • Foraging behaviour.
  • Social interactions.
  • Methods for studying behaviour.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of how animals are able to find and defend resources, including food, shelter and mates.
  • Knowledge of how animals avoid predators and care for their young.
  • Understanding how social groups and social interactions evolve.
  • Understanding how behaviour is initiated, organised and regulated in an evolutionary context.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to analyse the adaptive significance of animal behaviours in an integrative manner considering all levels of biological organisation.
  • To be able to apply observational techniques to quantify animal behaviour.
  • To be able to apply problem-solving skills to quantitative problems in data collection and data analysis in behavioural studies at an intermediate level.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in behaviour practical reports.
  • Team work, working in small groups in behaviour practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

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

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes (including a field trip) allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions) or recall of factual knowledge (multiple choice or short answer question tests).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Practicals (Including field trip) 3 1-2 per term 4-8 hours 16
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 147
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 30 minutes 100% Yes - exam resit
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% No
Analytical exercise 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Regular formative assessments including data analysis, interpretation and problem solving throughout the module; 4 assessments over 2 terms.

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