• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Evolution and Ecology

This course gives students hands-on experience of researching the behaviour of free-living animals. Students will work in groups to develop questions and the methods of answering them. They will collect the data during a field trip to Darwin, Northern Territory. The projects will be written up in the form of a scientific paper. The course emphasises the design and effective reporting of scientific research, and will expose students to all of the stages of carrying out and reporting original research.

Research topics have included: 

  • Anti-predator behaviour in kangaroos, parrots and emus
  • Foraging behaviour of antlions and bees
  • Habitat segregation in birds
  • Sex differences in plumage and vigilance
  • Social structure of fairy-wrens
  • Social foraging in seagulls
  • Sex differences in foraging in oystercatchers
  • Song and alarm calls in birds
  • Schooling behaviour of fish

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but will have modified assessment.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Use literature searches to identify the current state of knowledge about a specific research question in animal behavioural ecology
  2. Formulation of testable hypotheses based on an understanding of the research literature
  3. Conduct behavioural and ecological research using appropriate practical skills and methods
  4. Collaborate as a group to accomplish research goals
  5. Communicate effectively, including written and oral communication
  6. Interpret data against original hypotheses and knowledge of the literature, and suggest avenues for future research

Other Information

This course will be held intensively (three weeks) in the Winter Session during late June to mid July in Darwin. The field trip costs will be approximately $550 (ex Darwin) to cover

accommodation and local transports only. More details will be published in the class summary. The field trip costs are in addition to the tuition fees and can paid through


Enrolment is limited to 12 students only and selection will be based on merit. Please fill in an expression of interest form. Applications will be opened early in December and closed at the end of March. Students will be notified of the outcome in mid-April.

For more information, please email rsb.studentadmin@anu.edu.au

Indicative Assessment

  1. Individual written introduction to a research problem (5) [LO 1,2,5]
  2. Participation in the group's research effort (10) [LO 3,4]
  3. Group presentation at class 'Conference' (25) [LO 4,5]
  4. Individual research paper based on the whole project (40) [LO 1,2,5,6]
  5. Literature review of a broader or related area in which project carried out (20) [LO 1,5]

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours over an intensive three week period in the mid-term break including:

  • Face-to-face component which may consist of approximately 60 hours of workshops/fieldwork/tutorial sessions throughout the session.
  • Approximately 70 hours of group work/data analysis/self-study which will include preparation for the fieldtrip, presentations, groupwork reports and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

To complete this course, students must participate in the 2 week long field trip to a domestic field location. In order to participate in the trip, students must be able to:

  • Travel to the field location and stay in field accommodation such as shared basic cabins or dorm rooms;
  • Monitor and manage their own health while studying and living with a small group of people in an isolated field location;
  • Understand and respect the needs of other participants and act professionally throughout the trip.

Students who cannot meet these requirements will not be able to participate in the trip and therefore cannot complete the course. For more information, please refer to the trip information page .

In addition, some of the trip options may require students to:

  • Safely traverse 2-3km over uneven ground at a moderate pace.

Students who can provide evidence they are unable to meet this requirement may be able to choose other options or negotiate alternative participation and assessment requirements with the course convenor.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed BIOL3132

You will need to contact the Biology Teaching and Learning Centre to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $4200
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

There are no current offerings for this course.

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