skip to primary navigationskip to content


This course is about animals – their evolution and diversity, and the methods we use to study them. It will give you an overview of how the form, function and behaviour of animals are adapted to their lifestyle and their environment. The course comprises five half term sections in Behaviour and Ecology, Brains and Behaviour, Insect Biology, Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology, and Evolutionary Principles. You will be taught by lecturers who are actively researching in these fields, and the breadth of topics, questions and approaches of IB Animal Biology will allow a broad range of choices for your third year studies.

The course starts in Michaelmas term with lectures on Behaviour and Ecology introducing you to the study of animal behaviour, and illustrating how from an evolutionary point of view behaviour is linked to the animals' ecological and social environment. The section on Brains and Behaviour will explore the neural mechanisms and principles that underlie sensory processing and motor control, which are the basis for complex and adaptive animal behaviour. In Lent term the section on Insect Biology will cover the biology, physiology and behaviour of insects, the most successful group of land animals. The lectures on Vertebrate Evolutionary Biology will outline their fundamental structures, common inheritance and unique specialisations. Finally in the Easter term the section on Evolutionary Principles will review the fundamental principles and theories underlying evolutionary biology.

Each section of the course consists of 12 lectures and 2 hands-on practicals directly related to the lectured material and designed to develop your practical scientific skills. Your write ups of the practicals will be assessed and will contribute to your final mark.

After completing the course you should be familiar with the breadth of animal biology and its relation to evolution, function, behaviour and ecology. You should be in a strong position to cover questions related to animal biology and you should have a very good background to select areas and topics that particularly interest you in your third year.

If you require more information, please contact Dr Walter Federle in the Department of Zoology. The current Animal Biology Course Handbook, containing lecture synopses etc., will be available in the Elementary Laboratory, Department of Zoology, and online via Moodle.