Red deer in a feeding experiment at Tovetorp

The first theoretical part focusses on basic ethological concepts and mechanisms and how evolutionary processes influence the evolution of behaviour. We study and learn about different key subjects such as:

  • the neurobiology of animal behaviour
  • how behaviour develops during ontogeny
  • animal learning and cognition
  • behavioural genetics
  • mating systems and sexual selection
  • social behaviour
  • animal personality
  • interactions between predator and prey
  • applied ethology.

Lectures are usually in the morning with time for well-planned discussions, seminars and studies on your own in the afternoon.

In the second practical part of the course, we first plan a study that is designed to test a fundamental ethological concept at Stockholm University and then carry out the experimental behavioural studies of animals at our research station, Tovetorp, situated 90 km south west of Stockholm. The behavioural study is planned together with a supervisor and you work in small groups consisting of 3–4 students.

The fallow deers at Tovetorp
The fallow deers at Tovetorp

We stay at Tovetorp for 10 days divided into two weeks of five days each (you are free during the weekend). The supervisors/teachers stay at Tovetorp together with the students for additional planning and work during the whole period. Analyses and writing of the report start there, and continues at the university after the stay at Tovetorp. The behavioural study is presented orally and in a written report and offers a fantastic opportunity to learn how to perform a rigorous scientific study from start to finish.

For courses at advanced/master level, see below.