Animal Behaviour (MSc) 2021 entry
This MSc programme provides an intellectual and practical overview of modern animal behaviour taught by leading researchers. It covers key topics such as cognition, behavioural ecology and biologging, as well as the latest techniques and research skills used to study these.
Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Science (MSc)
- Start date: 6 September 2021
- End date: 30 September 2022
Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.
One year full time
- A first or upper 2.1 (Honours) undergraduate degree in a biological science. Other science or mathematics degrees may be acceptable. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
- Evidence of training in advanced mathematics and statistics (at least to UK school SQA Higher, GCE AS or A-Level, International Baccalaureate or equivalent).
- Very good baseline IT skills including word-processing, spreadsheet use, email and internet.
- English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications. If you require a visa to study, see visas information.
The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.
Friday 30 July 2021. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.
- completed supplementary Animal Behaviour MSc application form - 2021 entry (Word)
- two original signed academic references
- academic transcripts and degree certificates
- evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).
For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.
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The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2020–2021 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2021 entry.
During Semester 1, students take two compulsory modules that provide sound training in essential skills for animal behaviour research.
- Mathematical and Statistical Modelling for Biologists: applies mathematical ideas to questions in biology and introduces methods for fitting models to biological data mainly using R software.
- Research Skills for Animal Behaviour: focuses on key skills including experimental design, biologging and telemetry, behaviour genetics, and applications to conservation biology.
In Semester 2, students take the following compulsory module:
- Communication Skills for Animal Behaviour Research: practices key communication skills for modern animal behaviour research, including writing for other scientists, peer review, communicating with the public and outreach.
You will also choose three of the following optional modules:
- Predators and Prey: explore the diverse behaviours that shape the interactions between predators and their prey.
- Cognition: develop an understanding of how animals perceive the world and how their cognitive abilities are shaped by selection.
- Current Issues in Biologging: presents an introduction to the theory and practice of logging and relaying physical and biological data using animal-attached tags.
- The Question of Culture in Animals: discuss the existence and extent of social learning and cultural transmission in non-humans.
- Complex Systems in Animal Behaviour: examine animal behaviour from a complex systems’ perspective, where analyses range from captive housing of entire bird flocks, computer simulation, and use of robots to interact with the animals.
- Scientific Diving: field course located in Indonesia (requires suitable diving qualifications and payment of expedition fee).
- Predator Ecology in Polar Ecosystems: field course located in southern Argentina and Antarctica (requires payment of an expedition fee which covers all costs, including travel and accommodation). See the students' Antarctic expedition blog.
Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University’s position on curriculum development).
Throughout the academic year, students complete a research project which will culminate in a written dissertation and presentation of a poster at the MSc student conference. Projects will be supervised by Biology staff but may be carried out with joint supervision from staff in other institutions. Students can choose from a range of projects suggested by supervisors and also take an active role in designing their own project plan.
A broad range of research into animal behaviour, ecology and evolution takes places within the Centre for Biological Diversity, and projects will be offered within many of these areas. Below are examples of some of the different topics currently studied within the centre.
- animal cognition in the wild
- animal cultures
- behaviour and speciation in insects
- behaviour of groups and collective behaviour
- behavioural ecology and conservation ecology of birds
- complex biological systems
- evolutionary developmental biology
- fish behaviour and evolution
- insect behavioural ecology and evolution
- social learning.
If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.
The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2021 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.