Course code HET300

HET300 Scientific Methods in Ethology

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Showing course contents for the educational year 2015 - 2016 .

Course responsible: Ruth C. Newberry
Teachers: Bjarne Olai Braastad
ECTS credits: 10
Faculty: Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences
Teaching language: NO
(NO=norsk, EN=Engelsk)
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: <p>Annually</p><p><br/></p>
First time: Study year 2003-2004
Course contents:
Lectures and demonstrations/exercises related to the learning goals are given in the first half of the semester. A discussion of relevant research methods is part of the lessons. In the last half of the course, the projects are conducted, with a final presentation and discussion in plenary.
Learning outcome:

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 work out scientifically relevant research design, as well as be able to practically conduct some of the methods. 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 working out of ethograms, behavioural incidents and conditions, factors that affect research design, continuous observation, spot tests of behaviour, the focal animal method, sequence analyses, 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. The students are to be familiar with how behavioural data is best presented. Students should be able to apply the knowledge aims when planning research design 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 they are given practical experience with. Students are to develop a critical, knowledge-based attitude towards conclusions in scientific reports on ethology. In addition, students are to evaluate the ethical sides of the research methods.

Learning activities:

Lectures are given on the various methodical aspects, and demonstrations/exercises concerning the use of technical equipment are held. The students are to complete two projects where they design an experiment, conduct observations, perform data analyses and present the results at a seminar. A separate report is to be produced for each project that is to describe and discuss all the mentioned aspects of the project, including relevant literature studies emphasising methodology. The project work is demanding, and all students must be obliged to take active part in all phases of the project work.

Teaching support:

The projects have their own supervisors who must be used 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)
HFX130D, HET201, STAT100.
Recommended prerequisites:

HET200, HFX221, PHI100.

Mandatory activity:



The project report is assessed and weighs 50 %. Oral exam 50 %. The assessment also takes into account the extent and quality of each student\r´s work with the projects. In a group, students may therefore receive varying grades.

Nominal workload:

The total workload of 300 hours can be divided as follows: Lectures and course readings: 100 hours. Lectures: 30 hours. Project work with a presentation: 170 hours.

Entrance requirements:

Special requirements in Science

Reduction of credits:


Type of course:

Week 36-47: Lectures and demonstrations/exercises (4 hours per week). Special exercises may require more time. Week 40-48: Project work (170 hours) Week 49/50: Presentation of project work




The external examiner will assess the project reports.

Examination details: Continuous exam: A - E / Ikke bestått