Course code HET201

HET201 Applied Ethology

Check for course changes due to the coronavirus outbreak on Canvas and StudentWeb.

Norsk emneinformasjon

Search for other courses here

Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2020 .

Course responsible: Ruth Catriona Margaret Newberry
Teachers: Judit Banfine Vas, Øyvind Øverli, Knut Egil Bøe
ECTS credits: 5
Faculty: Faculty of Biosciences
Teaching language: NO
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
Limits of class size:
Teaching exam periods:
August block
Course frequency: Annually
First time: 2020H
Course contents:
This course addresses important concepts in applied ethology. Topics covered include domestication, behavioural genetics, reproductive behaviour, maternal behaviour, social behaviour, behavioural time budgets, and human-animal interactions. Factors affecting behaviour and welfare, such as breeding, housing design, feeding methods and animal handling, are discussed. The course provides theory and practical exercises on the normal behaviour of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, and farmed fish, as well as identifying behaviour and welfare problems in these animals and solutions to these problems.
Learning outcome:
Students will be able to explain key concepts in applied ethology. They will have experience with systematic observation of animal behaviour, and should be able to distinguish between normal and abnormal behaviour in production animals. They will gain an understanding of how they can apply ethological knowledge in practice by pointing to relevant measures that can improve animal welfare and productivity. Horses, dogs and cats are not covered but the course provides useful background for courses on these species (HFH255,  HFX225). The course also provides important academic background for the courses HET203, HET300, and HET301.
Learning activities:
The course comprises lectures, discussions and practical exercises in ethology and its application to sustainable animal production. Assigned reading, and in some cases review of a video lecture, will be completed before the relevant class. Students will conduct behavioural observations on various production animal species and discuss scientific articles on animal-human interactions in small groups.
Teaching support:
Teachers are available for questions about the subject. For practical exercises, a teacher will supervise each group. Lecture material is placed in Canvas.

Jensen, P. (Ed.), 2017. The Ethology of Domestic Animals An Introductory Text, 3rd Edition, CABI, Wallingford, UK. Chapters 1-3, 6, 10, 11, 13-15.

Styringsgruppen for Dyrevelferd - forsknings- og kunnskapsbehov, 2005. Forskningsbehov innen dyrevelferd i Norge. Rapport fra Styringsgruppen. Norges forskningsråd, Oslo NO. ISBN electronic edition (pdf) 82-12-02157-2. Chapters I-4, III-1 to 4, VIII-1.

Relevant scientific articles and reports.

HFX132 ( HFX130-D) provides an important background in basic ethology and is a required course in the NMBU Bachelor of Animal Science. 
Recommended prerequisites:
Mandatory activity:

Students will visit animal facilities (e.g. NMBU's Centre for Animal Research) to collect behavioural data from at least two different production animal species and work in small groups to prepare a written report on the findings. Note that people entering a Norwegian livestock facility must have been in Norway for at least the previous 48 hours. If direct observations of a particular species are not possible, video recordings of behaviour will be observed.

Students will also work in small groups to prepare a brief summary of the consequences of positive and negative handling for animal behaviour, welfare and production parameters, based on 3-5 scientific articles. Results will be presented to the other students.


The group report on behaviour observations is graded A to F and counts for 25% of the total grade. The group presentation file on human-animal interactions is graded pass/fail. Different contributions to group assignments can lead to different grades. There is a 3-hour written exam that covers all aspects of the course. It is graded A to F and counts for 75% of the total grade. All graded activities must be passed to pass the course.

Aids in written exam: A1 No calculator. No other help.

Nominal workload:
The total student workload is 150 hours. An appropriate distribution of time would be: Lectures and assigned reading: 100 hours. Practical assignments with preparation of reports: 25 hours. Studying for the exam: 25 hours.
Entrance requirements:
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:
10 hours per week
The course is taught partly in English, partly in Norwegian.
The censor approves exam questions and grades the written exam. Teachers grade the compulsory assignments.
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / F