Behavioral biology

Bachelor’s level
15 credits (ECTS)
Study pace
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Application period
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Full education cost: 31 000 SEK
First payment: 31 000 SEK

No fees are charged for EU and EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students.

More information about tuition fees

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How do you do? How do animals do? And why? How does a twelve gram willow warbler find its way from Nyeri to Njutånger? Why does it taste so good with toxic substances? Why are swans so faithful while reed buntings are anything but? Why are socially isolated individuals more often sick? Or is it rather that sick individuals more often are lonely? Or that stressed individuals are both sick and lonely?

If you think these questions are interesting to think about and try to find different answers to, then you have found the right course.


In this course, you gain knowledge of, and curiosity for, animal behaviours, their mechanisms, and their original or current adaptive functions. Behavioural traits comprise the most complex gene-environment interactions in nature and many of the most fascinating products of evolution by natural selection. Prominent examples include social and sexual communication and organization, predation and foraging, orientation, cooperation, as well as human nature and culture. The course integrates ethology, behavioural ecology and biological psychology, with emphasis on evolutionary explanations (phylogeny, selection and adaptation), but also central genetic and neurobiological mechanisms, and applications in e.g. animal care, conservation biology, and ecotoxicology.

Through a combination of lectures, group discussions and literature projects, the main theme is to illustrate how animal behaviours, disregarding complexity (from frowning to fraternization) or heritability (from dexterity to depression), can be explored with regard to all of ‘Tinbergen’s four questions’: Mechanism, Ontogeny, Phylogeny, and Adaptation. 

Prerequisites and selection

Entry requirements

Admission to the course requires one of the following options:

1) Approved basic courses BIO900, Cell Biology 15 credits, BIO905, Molecular Genetics, 15 credits, BIO910, Biological Form and Function, 15 credits, BIO915, Ecology and Evolution, 15 credits, and BIO920 Biodiversity and Systematics or corresponding basic course in biology. At least 60 of the 75 credits must be passed.

2) Approved courses (MAR101-112+NTH001) within the first and second year of the Bachelor program in Marine science. At least 90 of the 120 credits must be passed.

3) Approved ES1201, Environmental Sciences: Natural Science, 15 credits, ES1300, Natural Resources Management, 15 credits, ES1305, Pollutants effects and dispersal on Biological Systems, 15 credits, BIO915, Ecology and Evolution 15 credits, and have read and approved at least one of the following four courses: BIO900, Cell Biology, 15 credits, BIO905, Molecular Genetics, 15 credits, BIO910, Biological Form and Function, 15 credits and BIO920, Biodiversity and Systematics, 15 credits. At least 60 of the 75 credits must be passed.


Selection is based upon the number of credits from previous university studies, maximum 165 credits.


The teaching is mainly conducted at the Zoology building (Medicinaregatan 18A).