HET300 Scientific Methods in Ethology

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Marko Ocepek

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Norsk

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.

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:The total workload of 250 hours can be divided as follows: Lectures and course readings: 100 hours. Project work with presentation: 150 hours.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Autumn parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Autumn parallel.

About this course

Lectures and demonstrations/exercises about different aspects of ethological research are given in the first part of the semester. Discussion of research methods is included in the lessons. Then an ethology project is conducted, with a final presentation and discussion in plenary. Lectures are partly in Norwegian, partly in English.

Learning outcome

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 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 small groups to design an experiment, conduct observations, perform data analyses and present the results in 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.
  • HET201, STAT100.
  • 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 external examiner will assess the oral exam.
  • Students are expected to attend all lectures, demonstrations and exercises. Presentation of the project report in plenary is also obligatory. Permission from the course coordinator must be obtained if more than 3 class sessions are missed.
  • Week 36-47: Lectures and demonstrations/exercises (2-4 hours per week). Special exercises may require more time. Week 40-49: Project planning and implementation (150 hours). Week 48/49: Presentation of project work.
  • Special requirements in Science