Syllabus for Behavioural Ecology



  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 1BG319
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Biology A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2007-03-15
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2022-10-17
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: Autumn 2023
  • Entry requirements:

    Completed courses of 120 credits including (1) 60 credits in biology and 30 credits in chemistry or 30 credits in earth science, or (2) 90 credits in biology. In both cases at least 6 credits competed of one of the advanced courses Ecology 15 credits, Limnology 15 credits, or Evolutionary Processes 15 credits. Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6.

  • Responsible department: Biology Education Centre

Learning outcomes

All animals are selected to pay close attention to the behaviour of others, be it conspecifics, prey or predators. The course treats these behaviours as evolved characters with a survival and a reproductive value. On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • account for and critically evaluate theories and models for sexual selection, foraging, mating and life history strategies, sociality, predation, speciation, personality and communication
  • handle and present current problems in behavioural ecology, in writing as well as orally
  • carry out and present practical studies in behavioural ecology
  • independently and critically review scientific texts and theories
  • identify and in a structured way discuss ethical issues related to animal testing.


Sexual reproduction, ways of reproducing, and sexual selection. Models for sexual selection, foraging, alternative mating and life history strategies, cooperation and personality. The relationship between sexual selection and speciation, life history, sexual conflict and partner manipulation. The relationship between life history theory, energy use, predation and survival. The evolution of communication and design of signals. Orientation in current behavioural ecology research, with an aim to prepare for research.


Teaching consists of lectures, group exercises (labs and computer exercises), group seminars and group as well as independent literature assignments. Independent work as well as discussions and group exercises make up an important part of the course. The course includes handling and presenting behavioural ecology problems in writing as well as orally, and independently and critically reviewing scientific texts and theories . Participation in group exercises, seminars and literature assignments are compulsory. The course employs integrated communication training with feedback and self-assessment.


Modules: Theory 10 credits; Exercise 5 credits.

The module exercises require an active participation in group as well as independent assignments. The course ends with a written examination.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2023

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Rubenstein, Dustin R.; Alcock, John Animal behavior

    International eleventh edition: New York: Oxford University Press, [2019]

    Find in the library


Last modified: 2022-04-26