Masters degrees in Animal Psychology study the cognitive processes of a variety of animals, including concepts such as instinct and self-organisation.
Related subjects include Animal Behaviour and Evolutionary & Comparative Psychology. Entry requirements usually include an undergraduate degree such as Animal Science or Evolutionary Studies.
With beginnings in the natural sciences and the evolutionary theory of Darwinism, the way in which we think about the minds of animals is similar to the way in which we think about our own cognition.
For example, you might explore how changes in animal behaviour may signal stress, anxiety and fear, or how environmental influences affect the way an animal behaves. Or, you could examine the nature versus nurture argument, investigating characteristics such as instinct, and the theories behind the ‘fight or flight’ model.
Careers in this field include routes into veterinary science and animal care, where you might be employed to treat behavioural issues. Alternatively, you could explore avenues in animal conservation, particularly consultancy for institutions such as zoos and manned reservations.
Our MSc Animal Behaviour is unusual in that it is offered within a Psychology department. This benefits you by providing 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 a 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 insights into the varied means of performing animal behaviour research in a wide array of locations with wild and (semi-)captive animals – in field, laboratory, zoo or other human managed settings. 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 engage 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 (CRAB) 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 is a research project that 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 researcher or pursue a career working in zoos, research centres, nature reserves, wildlife and other animal-related offices, education, scientific media or the expanding field of eco tourism.
A distinctive feature of all our taught Masters programmes is the Research Apprenticeship. About half of the MSc is spent on the apprenticeship, during which you will develop your research skills by working alongside experienced researchers or practitioners and write up your research in the form of a dissertation.
Many students undertake their apprenticeship with researchers in the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour, both in the laboratories and outdoors around the campus, Devon and abroad. Every year the menu of choices varies depending on the interests of the researchers, the students and practicalities. In some cases students have worked with external research partners, in the UK or abroad. For example, previous students have carried out a wide range of research projects involving the following:
Topics: Social behaviour, animal welfare and enrichment, zoo research, animal cognition, navigation, sensory ecology, behavioural and evolutionary ecology, ecotoxicology.
Animals: Fish (guppies, sticklebacks, killifish), mammals (primates, squirrels, whales, donkeys, dogs, meerkats, coyotes), birds (pigeons, chickens, pheasants, magpies, flamingoes, woodland and sea birds), invertebrates (crabs, honeybees, bumblebees, desert ants, wood ants).
Locations: Streatham campus (Exeter), Knysna Elephant Park (South Africa), Bristol Zoo, Budongo Forest (Uganda), Torquay Zoo & Aquarium, National Wildlife Research Center (Utah, USA), Dartmoor (Devon), Phana (Thailand), Trinidad, Newquay & Paignton Zoos, Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Kerala (India), Algarve (Portugal), Veracruz (Mexico), Cayo Santiago (Puerto Rico).
External research partners: African Elephant Research Unit (South Africa), Bristol Zoo, Budongo Conservation Field Station (Uganda), Living Coasts (Torquay, Devon), National Wildlife Research Center (Utah, USA), Natural England, Phana Macaque Sanctuary (Thailand), University of West Indies, Whitley Wildlife Trust, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
The programme is made up of compulsory modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.
The compulsory modules can include;
The MSc in Animal Behaviour addresses the interaction between environment, experience and physiology in the development and dynamics of behaviour. There is an applied element in terms of how the principles of animal behaviour can be applied to practical problems such as animal welfare and conservation. Students can gain experience of laboratory studies (of invertebrates) and field work. The programme features a strong numerical and research-orientated approach. A range of elective units are available, including Zoo Conservation Biology which takes place at Chester Zoo. There is also a compulsory residential field course in Poland or Tanzania.
The MSc is completed by a research-based project which can be carried out overseas or in the UK. There are also opportunities to work within Manchester Met research projects in Tanzania, Kenya, the Philippines, Mauritius and Madeira.
-We work with the College of African Wildlife Management and the Kenya Wildlife Service and are able to offer unique fieldwork experiences in Tanzania and Kenya.
-You will have the opportunity to stay for six weeks at one of our research bases in Tanzania or Kenya to collect data for your own research project.
-Course delivery is flexible and most lectures take place in the evening. Lectures, other course materials and assessment information are available via our online learning platform, Moodle.
-In the last ten years we’ve invested over £50 million in our home, John Dalton building, including high specification teaching and research facilities for biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, microbiology, plant physiology, animal behaviour and exercise physiology and biomechanics.
-The course is taught by a vibrant community of research-active staff. Tutors are currently involved in research in Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius, Madeira, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Indonesia as well as the UK and every year many of our MSc students work within this project.
-Students are encouraged to carry out their projects in association either with staff interests or those of external organisations such as Chester Zoo, local and national conservation bodies, water authorities, etc.
-The School of Science and the Environment has strong links with with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and close association to a number of organisations across the North West, including Blackpool Zoo, Chester Zoo and Knowsley Safari Park.
There are optional three month placements for those taking MSc Zoo Conservation Biology and these can take place at many different zoos in the UK.
Course delivery is flexible and most lectures take place in the evening. Lectures, other course materials and assessment information is available via our online learning platform, Moodle. You will be assessed mostly through coursework, although some units have a formal examination.
Our Masters programmes in behaviour and conservation are run by a large group of research active staff with strong links to a variety of research institutions, national organisations and non-governmental bodies in the UK and overseas.
Each term there is a research colloquium in which invited speakers talk about areas of research directly relevant to our MSc programmes.
The MSc in Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology is a full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Psychology and Neuroscience. This distinctive programme tackles fundamental issues associated with the origins of human cognition via a wide range of
Over two semesters, students take four compulsory modules and 30 credits of optional module(s). The modules are taught through lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. Assessment comprises entirely of coursework; there are no exams. On average, class sizes range up to 80 students for lectures and 20 students for seminars.
The final three months of your course will be dedicated to a 15,000-word research project dissertation.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2017–2018 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2018 entry
Our Evolution and Human Behaviour MRes is a research-based course with a taught component that is equivalent to an MSc. It provides a springboard into a career that involves a working knowledge of scientific research.
The course is designed for graduates with a BSc in the life sciences, psychology or anthropology. Fully qualified or intercalating MBBS or BDS students can also apply. It can be taken either as a stand-alone qualification or as an entry route onto a PhD or MD.
The taught component of the course includes training in research approaches relevant to the area of Evolution and Human Behaviour. You have the flexibility to develop your own bespoke course by selecting a set of three complementary modules. Recommended modules, include:
-Comparative Cognition (MMB8043)
-Sensory Systems (MMB8019)
-The Biological Basis of Psychiatric Illness and its Treatment (MMB8010)
You will also participate in training in general research principles, and other professional and key skills.
The core module on the biological study of behaviour introduces the central questions related to Evolution and Human Behaviour research (adaptive consequences, proximate mechanisms, development, and evolutionary history) and the research methods associated with each. Other relevant modules focus on:
-Psychiatric disorders and their treatment
Research-led seminars delivered by members of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution cover evolutionary psychology areas such as:
-Human mate choice
-Altruism and cooperation
-Food choices and obesity
-Comparative and developmental psychology of cognition
Your research project comprises the major element of the course. This project will involve 24 weeks of research in an area of Evolution and Human Behaviour under the supervision of an expert academic researcher in the field.
The course allows you to experience an internationally competitive research area, predominantly in academia but also potentially in industry. Graduates from our programme have gone on to competitive PhD studentships, as well as jobs in psychology and in research.
Evolution and Human Behaviour MRes is one of a suite of MRes courses that you may also be interested in. See Programme information in our online Prospectus for full details.
Our Medical Sciences Graduate School is dedicated to providing you with information, support and advice throughout your research degree studies. We can help and advise you on a variety of queries relating to your studies, funding or welfare.
Our Research Student Development Programme supports and complements your research whilst developing your professional skills and confidence.
You will make an on-going assessment of your own development and training needs through personal development planning (PDP) in the ePortfolio system. Our organised external events and development programme have been mapped against the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to help you identify how best to meet your training and development needs.
The program is offered in English and leads to the Master degree in Cognitive Science. Students choose between two tracks:
Each track offers a selection of specialized courses, to allow students to tailor their training to their academic interests. The curriculum includes courses focusing on neurophysiological aspects of cognitive processes, the study of human behavior, and human-computer interaction.
Two characteristic features of this program are a close relationship between teaching and research practices & a constant interplay between biology-based and technology-based explorations of the human mind and brain.
The programme provides research-focused training with a varied, international group of faculty and researchers. All students are actively involved in developing research projects and have access to the laboratories during the Master’s course, thus gaining invaluable hands-on experience with cutting-edge research technologies. This includes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetic encephalography (MEG), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), electroencephalography (EEG), eye tracking, cinematic motion tracking, psychophysics, computational modeling, & comparative cognition (animal models) for the CN track; and for the LMI track, machine learning technologies, like deep learning and multitask learning, will be applied to language understanding in interaction with other modalities.
The knowledge and skills gained during the Master’s course will most of all provide a foundation for advanced scientific research, but also prepare for professional applications in more applied settings.
The Master’s degree course in Cognitive Science is aimed at the acquisition of advanced theoretical and methodological knowledge in cognitive science through an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the mind-brain system and of human language through computational models. The perspective adopted is that of the interdisciplinary approach, which integrates the biological, technological and cognitive approaches in order to allow a better understanding of human action, focusing the educational intervention and other educational activities mainly on cognitive neuropsychology and on computational linguistics.
The curriculum is characterized by training experiences and significant research activities at highly qualified laboratories, both in the field of brain-imaging (fMRI, EEG, TMS, etc.) and in the field of natural language processing, also in order to achieve the implementation of the skills acquired. We also offer students the opportunity to attend training courses abroad as part of international exchange programmes and of numerous collaborations with foreign universities. The assessment of the competences acquired will take into consideration both the theoretical knowledge and the practical skills acquired by students, also in the context of integrated courses across multiple disciplines.
Graduates will be able to apply advanced skills in cognitive science using computational, observational and experimental methodologies in the study of the mind-brain system and computational linguistics. The course of study will also allow students to conduct research activities as part of the analysis and development of systems related to human cognitive performance, conducting empirical research and the development of neural and computational models of cognition. They can perform these tasks as independent professionals or also as consultants at public and private entities.
The Master's degree in Cognitive Science provides access to doctoral courses in the disciplines of cognitive science, both in Italy and in Europe and the United States. The CIMeC offers a PhD program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences.