Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Level 1 Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161)


  • At least one other Level 2 Biological Sciences module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • 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 evolves.
  • 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 understand 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.
  • 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 Exercises 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 Exercises are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in understanding experimental work and data analysis.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 24 Weekly 2 hours p/w 24
Practicals Exercises 3 1-2 per term 4-8 hours 16
Workshops 4 2 per term 1 hour 4
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 154
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% Yes
Analytical exercise 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessments will be provided to develop the skills for each summative assessment as appropriate.

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