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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

MSc Animal Behaviour

1. Programme Details

Programme nameMSc Animal Behaviour Programme codePTS1PSYPSY05
Study mode(s)Full Time
Part Time
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)Streatham (Exeter)
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

The MSc Animal Behaviour programme is unusual in that it is offered within a Psychology department. This will provide you with a strong background in a broad cross-section of research methods used by researchers studying human and animal behaviour, a strong training in statistical methods and multidisciplinary study environment. You will learn how to formulate and test relevant research questions, and critically evaluate the research carried out by others in the field.

The programme will give you an insight into the varied means of performing animal behaviour research in a wide array of locations with wild and (semi-)captive animals in the wild, laboratory, zoo or under human management. As part of the taught component you will be exposed to lectures and seminar discussions, research talks and discussions with speakers, boost and consolidate your knowledge and skills in statistical data analysis, participate in a one-week residential field course (during the Easter break) and in research skill training sessions. During the course you will continuously develop your abilities in critical analysis of the literature and of scientific evidence, project development, communication and scientific writing.

You will be part of the lively, internationally-recognised Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour and will have the opportunity to work alongside our experienced researchers on a research apprenticeship which is a central component of the course. The apprenticeship enables you to develop your research skills further and write up the research in the form of a journal article for potential publication. Apprenticeships can also be undertaken under the supervision of researchers at various institutions with whom we have developed long-term relationships.

On successful completion of the MSc you will have the skills to pursue a PhD, work as a research assistant and project manager or follow a career working in zoos, research centres, nature reserves, wildlife and other animal-related offices, education, scientific media and the expanding field of eco-tourism.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

Specifically, the aims of the taught postgraduate Psychology programmes are:

  • To provide an education of high quality across a range of areas of animal behaviour and psychology in a stimulating and supportive environment that is enriched by research and/or current practice in the discipline where appropriate
  • To provide training in scientific skills of problem analysis, research design, evaluation of empirical evidence and dissemination in the context of animal behaviour and psychology
  • To provide a range of academic and key skills that will prepare you confidently for employment, future study, or training for professional practice
  • To equip you with a range of methodological skills, advanced specialist knowledge, and experience of communication of the results of research, which can allow you to function as effective research students or as researchers in an academic or applied setting

Additional aims specific to this programme are:

  • To provide in-depth training in research methods that will equip you with extensive knowledge and practical skills in a range of research methods in animal behaviour
  • To give you the opportunity to utilise and develop skills to a high level of proficiency in these areas by carrying out a number of independent projects and assignments
  • Through the research apprenticeship to provide you with practical experience, under supervision, of all or most of the stages of an empirical research project in animal behaviour, including collection and analysis of data, and writing a substantial research report. You will gain the necessary skills for conducting independent research by carrying out an in-depth research project. The taught programme will also provide you with the essential background to previous research within the main fields of animal behaviour, and enable you to keep up to date with current research.

4. Programme Structure

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

You are also permitted to take the five-credit module PSY3910 Professional Development Experience. Registration on this module is subject to a competitive application process. If taken, this module will not count towards progression or award calculation.

Stage 1

180 credits of compulsory modules

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
PSYM201 Advanced Statistics 30No
PSYM205 Advances and Methods in Animal Behaviour 30No
PSYM208 Animal Behaviour Research Skills 15No
PSYM210 Research Apprenticeship 90Yes
PSYM213 Current Research Issues in Animal Behaviour 15No

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Recount extensive and deep knowledge of research in animal behaviour such that you are able to contribute to the further development of the sub-disciplines.
2. Display practical competence in a variety of methods currently being applied to research in social and organisational psychology, and develop your skills in writing research reports.
3. Use of a variety of computational skills and bibliographic aids specific to research in psychology.

Workshops and seminars, including prepared presentations, seminar participation, formal lectures and research carried out as part of the research apprenticeship.

Assessment through research methods reports, essays, thought papers, and the research apprenticeship.

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

4. Evaluate research at an advanced level.
5. Undertake empirical investigation of theoretical issues.
6. Summarise critically the practical problems in doing research and adapt methodological skills for other types of research problem.

Workshops and seminars, practical computing sessions, verbal presentations in seminars and communicating science sessions, bibliographic practical exercises and assignments, SPSS practical work

Assessment through research reports, essays, the research apprenticeship, and examinations

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

7. Debate critically theoretical and empirical issues through participation in seminar discussion.
8. Describe the theory behind and use competently a range of computer-based statistical techniques which will equip you for your own PhD work or future employment.

Seminar participation, thought papers, research reports, group work, practical training sessions, development of skills of succinct, critical and accurate writing, and reviewing of larger bodies of literature via the research apprenticeship.

Assessment through research reports, thought papers, seminar participation, oral and poster presentations.

7. Programme Regulations


Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

You will be allocated a personal tutor who will remain with you throughout the programme. Where possible, your personal tutor will be the supervisor of your research apprenticeship, which allows your tutor to have a good overview of your academic progress based on regular supervision meetings. Personal tutors are able to provide guidance and feedback on assessment performance, guidance in generic academic skills and pastoral support. They are also able to refer you to more specialist support services, both within the College and elsewhere across the University.

In addition, you can expect reasonable access to all teaching staff through drop-in ‘office hours’ and specific appointments, and will in addition receive formative feedback from various discussion groups/in-lecture exercises throughout the delivery of each module and therefore receive essentially continuous feedback during the taught component of the programme. Your progress will be monitored and you can receive up-to-date records of the assessment, achievements and progress at any stage.

All module-based learning resources and student handbooks are hosted by the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE), the University's on-line Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). ELE provides an online set of integrated tools to support e-Learning activities and enables you to access course materials and use tools such as Discussion Forums and Quizzes to interact online. A variety of these tools enhance the learning and teaching activities for every Psychology module, allowing you to access most materials remotely, for example, lecture videos, supporting texts and formative self-test quizzes.

You will have access to the computer cluster in the Washington-Singer Laboratories, when not in use for teaching or assessment purposes, along with the pay-per-print laser printer installed there. University IT Services provide a range of central services, including open and training clusters of PCs - available on a 24/7 basis.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.

(Quality Review Framework.

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

MSc Animal Behaviour

19. UCAS Code


20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits ECTS credits

22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision