• Class Number 3694
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Naomi Langmore
    • Dr Janet Gardner
    • Prof Loeske Kruuk
    • Prof Michael Jennions
    • Prof Naomi Langmore
    • Prof Robert Heinsohn
    • Prof Robert Magrath
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
    • Dr Alecia Grealy
SELT Survey Results

Our aim in this course is to introduce you to the logic of thinking about the process of adaptation.  We will do this by addressing a number of key controversies in behavioural ecology, the study of how natural selection shapes the behaviour of animals.  Our lectures are organised into four modules: how can cooperative behaviour emerge and be maintained, how can the costs and benefits of behavioural and reproductive strategies be balanced, what are the underlying principles that govern animal communication, and the biology of sex: when is it advantageous to produce sons or daughters, what are the benefits of mate choice to females, why in some systems do males provide more care to offspring than females?  These areas cover research topics of interest to the strong behavioural ecology group at ANU.  However, the primary aim of the course is to develop a logical approach that can be applied to understanding any question in biology. 

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates, but also have additional components and assessment.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. recognise when behaviour poses difficulties for accepted wisdom and theory
  2. think strategically on how to formulate and test adaptive hypotheses
  3. communicate problems and their solutions to both an intelligent public and a community of informed scientists
  4. read the literature critically to assimilate views on new findings and present these views in writing
  5. carry out independent literature research

Research-Led Teaching

This course is focussed on current research and how to test ideas using evolutionary theory. Lectures cover classic studies, recent research and current work carried out by the course lecturers. The literature assignment requires students to report on primary research published in the last year. Workshops consolidate and extend understanding of principles and research strategies.

Examination Material or equipment

No permitted materials in the examination, except for English-foreign dictionaries for students as required.

Textbook: Davies et al. 2012. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology. 4th Edition. Wiley-Blackwell

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any information below that replaces what was published in the Class Summary for Semester 1, 2020 was approved by the Associate Dean Education (as is required after 10% commencement of a course). Where an activity or assessment is not referenced below, it remains unchanged.

Teaching Activities

  • Lectures were pre-recorded and available through Wattle.
  • Workshops were conducted via Zoom at the scheduled time.


Adjustments were made to assignment due dates; for details see the course Wattle site.

  • Workshops – instead of in-class assignments in workshops 4 and 5 each worth 5%, there was a single take-home assignment worth 10%.
  • Final exam was take home and then submitted through Turnitin.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lectures
2 Lectures, Workshop 1 Workshop 1 (5%)
3 Lectures, information session Essay (10%)
4 Lectures, information session
5 Lectures, Workshop 2 Workshop 2 (10%)
6 Lectures Literature assignment paper choice due
7 Lectures
8 Lectures Literature assignment due via Turnitin (25%)
9 Lectures, Workshop 3 Workshop 3 (5%)
10 Lectures, Workshop 4
11 Lectures, Workshop 5
12 Lectures, Information session
13 Examination period Final examination (45%)

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Literature assignment 25 % 29/04/2020 20/05/2020 1,2,3,4,5
Essay 10 % 11/03/2020 25/03/2020 1,2,3,4
Written exercise Workshop 1 5 % 04/03/2020 11/03/2020 1,2,3,4
Written exercise Workshop 2 10 % 25/03/2020 22/04/2020 1,2,3,4
Written exercise Workshop 3 5 % 06/05/2020 13/05/2020 1,2,3,4
Final examination 45 % 04/06/2020 02/07/2020 1,2,3

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Students will need to prepare for and participate in the workshops, held on Wednesdays 11am-2pm, and will be required to submit short, written exercises during the workshops.


The course has a final examination worth 45%, which is held in the final examination period. It is a requirement of the course that students must get at least 40% on the exam as well at least 50% overall to pass the course.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 29/04/2020
Return of Assessment: 20/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Literature assignment

Students report on a recent research paper of their choice and place it in the context of recent research. The Assignment is in the format of a 'Dispatches' article for the journal Current Biology. There is detailed information on this assignment in the 'Introduction to the Course', online at the web site, and during the Literature Assignment Workshop. There is a rubric for this task, shown on the Wattle web site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 11/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


1000-1500 words

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 04/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 11/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Written exercise Workshop 1

Short written exercise during Workshop 1

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 25/03/2020
Return of Assessment: 22/04/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Written exercise Workshop 2

The aim of this exercise is to illustrate principles of bioacoustics and communication and to familiarise you with some useful resources. We hope you will also come away with a new appreciation of the acoustic complexity of the natural world! You will carry out a short exercise in your own time that is designed to illustrate issues raised in the lectures on acoustic communication. The practical component should take less than 2 hours, after which you will individually write a short, assessable report and hand it in during the workshop in Week 5. At that meeting you will also need to explain what you did, what you found and what it means.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 06/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 13/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Written exercise Workshop 3

A short written exercise during Workshop 3

Assessment Task 6

Value: 45 %
Due Date: 04/06/2020
Return of Assessment: 02/07/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Final examination

The course has a final examination worth 45%, which is held in the final examination period. It is a requirement of the course that students must get at least 40% on the exam as well at least 50% overall to pass the course.

The date range in the Assessment Summary indicates the start of the end of semester exam period and the date official end of semester results are released on ISIS. Please check the ANU final Examination Timetable http://www.anu.edu.au/students/program-administration/assessments-exams/examination-timetable to confirm the date, time and location of the mid-semester exam.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

  • Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Marked assessment will either be available via the Wattle site, left at the Teaching and Learning Centre or returned during workshops.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission of assignments is not normally permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Naomi Langmore
6125 8182

Research Interests

Behavioural and evolutionary ecology

Prof Naomi Langmore

Dr Janet Gardner

Research Interests

Dr Janet Gardner

Prof Loeske Kruuk

Research Interests

Prof Loeske Kruuk

Prof Michael Jennions

Research Interests

Prof Michael Jennions

Prof Naomi Langmore
6125 8182

Research Interests

Prof Naomi Langmore

Prof Robert Heinsohn

Research Interests

Prof Robert Heinsohn

Prof Robert Magrath

Research Interests

Prof Robert Magrath

Dr Alecia Grealy

Research Interests

Dr Alecia Grealy

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions