BIOL355-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Neurons, Hormones and Behaviour

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The physiological basis of behaviour. Building on the introduction to Animal Physiology in BIOL250, this course will concentrate on the endocrine and nervous systems and develop an understanding of how these systems have evolved to fine-tune the behaviour of animals.

Largely through the use of case studies, this course will cover how, and why, nervous systems communicate. Sensory systems imaginable and unimaginable to us will be explored, as well as how learning physically happens. It will also cover the general principles of communication via the endocrine system, hormonal control of basic behaviours, such as feeding, social behaviour and pair bonding. These subjects will be taught with a strong emphasis on their adaptive value to the animal. This course is suited to anyone interested in how different animal minds work, and how these interface with the environment through the sensory and endocrine systems.
Reading of recent books and scientific papers is an essential adjunct to the lectures, and development of the ability to evaluate such readings is an important objective for the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning Outcomes / Hua Akoranga and Associated Assessment / Aromatawai
    In this course, I will develop critical competence in the core academic discipline through:
  • Explaining the mechanisms that enable animals to interact with their surroundings from an evolutionary framework (assessment task: laboratory write-ups; GA: Mastery of discipline).
  • Thorough comprehension and ability to explain how animals work; particularly whole-body regulation and integration (assessment task: laboratory write-ups; GA: Mastery of discipline).
  • Knowing how to interpret and synthesise technical scientific primary literature (assessment task: exams involve readings on Learn; GA: Mastery of discipline)
  • Application of technical interdisciplinary skills in neurobiology, endocrinology and behaviour, such as interpreting oscilloscope data (assessment task: laboratory write-ups, demonstrator checks; GA: Mastery of discipline).
  • Becoming descriptively familiar with modern experimental techniques (assessment tasks: exams, laboratory write-ups; GA: Mastery of discipline, employability, innovation & enterprise,).
  • Being able to formulate a broad overview of theory and practice of behaviour, neurophysiology and endocrinology across a range of systems (assessment task: exams; GA: Mastery of discipline).
  • High-level comprehension of how the nervous and endocrine systems contribute to behaviour and ability to analyse the effect of societal norms has on perception and scientific endeavour (assessment task: exams; GA: Mastery of discipline, employability, innovation & enterprise, cultural competence).
  • Ability to extrapolate in-depth knowledge from ‘model organisms’ and infer to other animals and to human endeavours and (bio)technology (assessment task: exams; GA: Mastery of discipline, employability, innovation & enterprise, global awareness).

    Transferable Skills

    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Transferability of core concepts. Important for research, policy-making and in private-sector organizations. We will use case studies and real-world examples to demonstrate the use of understanding core concepts in depth and applying those concepts to novel situations or systems. (Engaged with the Community; Globally Aware)
  • Collecting and interpreting lab data. Important for research and in governmental and non-governmental organizations. We will conduct research activities in the lab to provide both the real-world context for lectures and to develop hands-on skills in data collection and interpretation. (Engaged with the Community; Globally Aware)
  • Analysing data. Important for research, as well as in a number of private-sector organizations. Condensing raw data into meaningful values and then assessing the resulting trends is a key skill in a number of vocations, both within science and in other areas. This skill will be further 3 developed when we assist you to analyse the data we generate in the lab. (Employable, innovative and enterprising)
  • Practical operation of a physiological data recording system. The PowerLab system, or the equivalent, is a critical tool in almost all real-world scenarios that involve the recording of physiological data (e.g. exercise, research, and hospital laboratories). (Employable, innovative and enterprising)


Recommended Preparation

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Ximena Nelson


Elissa Cameron


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 35% 2nd nine lectures
Laboratory write-ups 30% Completed during aboratories.
Mid-course Test 35% 1st nine lectures

Textbooks / Resources

Reading / Pukapuka Ako
There is no course textbook for BIOL355. Instead, required reading in the form of scientific
papers will be provided to students as PDF documents on Learn. To do well in final exam you
must show evidence that you have read and understood at least some of this material.
However, the following books available in the library are useful for some topics:
• Simmons, P. & Young, D. 2010. Nerve cells and animal behaviour. 3rd ed. Cambridge
University Press.
• Young, D. 1989. Nerve cells and animal behaviour. 1st ed. Cambridge University Press.
• Carew, T. J. 2000. Behavioral neurobiology: the cellular organization of natural
behavior. Sinauer Associates.
• Zupanc, G. K. H. 2004. Behavioral neurobiology: an integrative approach. Oxford
University Press.
• Sherwood, l., Klandorf, H., & Yancey, P. 2005. Animal physiology: from genes to
organisms. Thomson, Brooks/Cole.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL355 Occurrences

  • BIOL355-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023