Primate Behaviour and Ecology - SACO5800

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Nicholas Newton-Fisher checkmark-circle


Why do animals do what they do? How do they balance the need to find food, or mates, with the risk of becoming food for something else? Why do animals cooperate, and how do they compete? This module introduces the disciplines of animal behaviour and behavioural ecology that address such questions. With particular reference to non-human primates, we look at the patterns and principles that can be generalised from the variation in behaviour and ecology across species, combining established findings with the latest research. The module emphasises the importance of direct observation of animal behaviour – introducing the necessary methods – and the use of theoretical models with which to make sense of these data. We use multi-media technology to view examples of animal behaviour in their natural habitats, while engaging practical exercises are employed to reinforce concepts. Topics covered include interactions between animals and their environments – as foragers, predators and prey – as well as the nature and evolution of primate societies, cognition and communication, and social and reproductive behaviour within groups. This module provides students with the knowledge and practical skills necessary for them to embark upon their own research projects tackling questions of animal – or indeed human – behaviour.


Contact hours

Private Study: 129
Contact Hours: 21
Total: 150


Optional to the following courses:
• BSc Anthropology
• BSc Human Biology and Behaviour
• BSc Psychology
• BSc Wildlife Conservation

Also available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Essay (2500 words) (50%)
• Multiple Choice Questions via Moodle (30%)
• Practical Exercise (20%)

Reassessment methods
• Like-for-like

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list can be found on the university's reading list pages.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate systematic knowledge of evolutionary theory as it applies to animal behaviour.
2 Identify and understand the ways animals (including primates) interact with one another and their environments.
3 Evidence a comprehensive understanding of the patterns and principles that account for the variation in ecology and behaviour of animals, especially the non-human primates.
4 Provide detailed examples from a wide range of species to illustrate these patterns.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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