Current Research Issues in Animal Behaviour

Module titleCurrent Research Issues in Animal Behaviour
Module codePSYM213
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Safi Darden (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Animal behaviour is a dynamic field of research in which new theories and methodologies are regularly proposed. In this module, visiting speakers, academic staff, and advanced postgraduate research students will give hour-long seminars about their current research. Each seminar will be followed by an interactive discussion session in which you will have the opportunity to ask speakers questions about their work and discuss ideas about how the research should progress. You will have access to cutting edge research at the very forefront of the field of animal behaviour, and learn to critically assess what we currently do and do not know, and how the field should move forward. The module is available to all students studying for an MSc in Animal Behaviour and has no pre or co-requisites.

Through attending the sessions and completing the assessments, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • critical analysis (understanding outcomes, interpretation of data and methods, broad application of theory, using data to support or refute theory, comparing and contrasting multiple outcomes)
  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose), and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to enable you to sample and learn from a wide range of examples of current research within a specific discipline, using the expertise of visiting specialists, Psychology’s academic staff, and advanced postgraduate research students. It aims to develop a critical awareness of the broad range of methods available in research in the context of discussion of, and reflection on, larger issues of scientific method. It aims to develop expertise in critical analysis and research design and encourage the communication of ideas in a concise and engaging manner.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss in detail the types of research questions that are being addressed in your specific discipline
  • 2. Describe extensively current methods and their applications in your specific discipline
  • 3. Summarise at an advanced level the problems that arise in research development across a range of topics

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of a range of methodologies
  • 5. Adequately relate specific research questions to appropriate methodology

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Engage in advanced critical analysis of research design
  • 7. Discuss research with instructors and peers
  • 8. Work effectively with others as a member of a group and meet obligations to others
  • 9. Undertake independent learning and self-directed study (including good time management and the setting of appropriate deadlines, precise clarification of the aims and expected results of research, library use and website investigation)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

You will be expected to attend seven 2-hour animal behaviour research seminars. In the first hour, you will attend the regular seminars organised for the Animal Behaviour group. These seminars will provide you with an opportunity to hear about and discuss research projects in progress. In the second hour, you will engage in an in-depth discussion and critical analysis of the methods used in the research.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching14Research seminars (7 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study136You will be provided with several key papers to read before each seminar, and will be expected to thoroughly research the topics discussed in at least 5 of the seminars.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discuss and present ideas arising from the speakers talkWeekly1-8Oral
Thought paper 700 words1-6, 8-9Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in the discussion sessions with speakers107 of the seminars over terms 1 and 21-8Oral
Lay summary and press release30300 + 400 words1-6, 8-9Written
Thought paper 130700 words1-6, 8-9Written
Thought paper 230700 words1-6, 8-9Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar participationThought paper1-8By the end of term 3
Lay summary and press releaseLay summary and press release1-6, 8-9By the end of term 3
Thought paper 1Thought paper 11-6, 8-9By the end of term 3
Thought paper 2Thought paper 21-6, 8-9By the end of term 3

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit further assessments based on the table above. If you are referred in a thought paper you will be required to write the thought paper on a different article to the original submission. The module mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Seminar speakers will provide you with a reading list.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Research, animal behaviour

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date