HET300 Scientific Methods in Ethology
Check for course changes due to the coronavirus outbreak on Canvas and StudentWeb.
Showing course contents for the educational year starting in 2019 .
Course responsible: Ruth Catriona Margaret Newberry
Teachers: Bjarne Olai Braastad
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Faculty of Biosciences
Teaching language: NO
Limits of class size:
If there are fewer than five participants, the course will be given as an independent study, together with guided project work.
Teaching exam periods:
This course starts in Autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel.
Course frequency: Annually
First time: 2003H
Lectures and demonstrations/exercises related to the learning goals are given in the first half of the semester. Discussion of relevant research methods is included in the lessons. In the last half of the course, projects are conducted, with a final presentation and discussion in plenary. Lectures are partly in Norwegian, partly in English.
General learning objectives: After completing the course, students should be able to describe and explain the most important ethological research methods, including their strengths and weaknesses. In addition, students should be able to develop scientifically relevant research designs, as well as be able to conduct some of the methods in practice. Knowledge: Students should be able to define ethological problems, as well as describe and explain the following aspects and methods of ethological research: naturalistic observations vs. experimental manipulations, descriptive behaviour studies, classification of behaviour, the development of ethograms, behavioural events and states, factors that affect research design, continuous observation, scan sampling, focal animal sampling, sequence analysis, various behaviour tests, observation equipment and registration equipment, computer programs for registration of behaviour, relevant data analyses, as well as the reliability and validity of behavioural data. Students should also be familiar with how behavioural data are best presented. Skills: Students should be able to apply their knowledge to the planning and design of research in ethology and consider the limitations that various methods place on the interpretation of research results. Students should master the technical aspects of the selected methods in which they gain practical experience. Reflection: Students should develop a critical, knowledge-based interpretation of conclusions in scientific reports on ethology. In addition, students should be able to evaluate the ethical aspects of research methods.
Lectures and demonstrations/exercises are given on the various methods and the use of technical equipment. Students complete a major project where they work in groups to design an experiment, conduct observations, perform data analyses and present the results at a seminar. A written report is produced that describes and discusses all the aforementioned aspects of the project, including relevant literature and with emphasis on methodology. The project work is extensive, and all students must commit to taking an active part in all phases of the project work.
Project groups have supervisors who must be actively consulted in all stages of the work.
Martin, P. Bateson, P. 2007. Measuring Behaviour. An Introductory Guide, 3rd Ed. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge. (The whole textbook)
Lehner, P. N. 1996. Handbook of Ethological Methods, 2nd Ed. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge. (Excerpts)
The project report counts for 50% of the final grade. An oral exam counts for the other 50%. The assessment takes into account the extent and quality of each student´s work on the project. In a group, students may therefore receive varying grades.
The total workload of 300 hours can be divided as follows: Lectures and course readings: 100 hours. Exercises: 30 hours. Project work with presentation: 170 hours.
Special requirements in Science
Reduction of credits:
Type of course:
Week 36-47: Lectures and demonstrations/exercises (2-4 hours per week). Special exercises may require more time. Week 40-48: Project planning and implementation (170 hours). Week 49/50: Presentation of project work.
The course is taught partly in English, partly in Norwegian.
The external examiner will assess the project reports and oral exam.
Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / Ikke bestått