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Animal Behaviour

Knowledge of animal behaviour is important for anyone interested in areas such as conservation biology of native birds, the control of pest species, evolutionary biology, population ecology and the efficient and humane management of farm animals.

Animal Behaviour is available as a minor.

Completing this minor will provide you with an understanding of how developmental processes can influence animals’ behaviour, mechanisms that trigger or control behaviours, what functions certain behaviours might serve for an animal, and how behaviours might have evolved over time.

The combination of fundamental and applied topics studied at Waikato allows you to work toward a better understanding of some of the world’s ecological problems and to better appreciate the unique attributes of our native animals. You will also be able to use both biological and psychological approaches to address issues in the fields of animal conservation, wildlife management, animal welfare and the fundamental study of behaviour.

New Zealand is the only place in the world where you can study a unique native fauna dominated by birds, reptiles and invertebrates. These are animals that have evolved over tens of millions of years in isolation from terrestrial mammals. This makes New Zealand popular with those studying Zoology and Animal Behaviour.


As a student at the University of Waikato, you will have access to the University's well-equipped laboratories, becoming familiar with complex research equipment and techniques. You'll be working alongside, and learning from, well-respected researchers, industry professionals and academics.

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Key information

Study Locations:Hamilton, Tauranga
Papers offered differ by location. The Catalogue of Papers has full location info.
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

  • Animal Welfare Officer
  • Conservation Officer
  • Research Assistant
  • Science Writer
  • Technician
  • Zoo Curator or Keeper

100 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
BIOEB102Introduction to Ecology and Biodiversity - Mātai Hauropi a Kanorau Koiora15.024B (Hamilton) & 24B (Tauranga)
An introduction to the principles of ecology and biodiversity. Topics include population, community and ecosystem ecology, conservation biology, and the structure, functioning and environmental responses of animals and plants. Examples will include New Zealand ecosystems and biota. He whakataki tenei pepa i nga matapono o te matai ...
PSYCH100Brain, Behaviour and Cognition15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
This paper introduces perceptual systems, mechanisms of learning, emotions and motivation, the biological basis of psychology, such as brain structure and functioning, processes underlying behaviour, memory and cognition.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
BIOEB200Behavioural Ecology & Conservation15.024B (Hamilton)
The paper provides an introduction to the principles and concepts of behavioural ecology, and to the application of these to case studies in conservation biology in New Zealand.
BIOEB203Animal Structure and Function15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
This paper is an integrated theoretical and experimental study of the principles of animal structure and function. Comparative aspects will be emphasised in how animals adapt to their environment. Topics covered include homeostasis, the function of major organ systems, ecophysiology, musculoskeletal design and locomotion. An introd...
PSYCH204Learning and Perception15.024A (Hamilton) & 24A (Tauranga)
This course is intended to give students an introduction to behavioural psychology and to the psychology of perception. Students will learn about the philosophy behind the behavioural approach to psychology, the basic principles of behaviour analysis, and how those principles can be applied to issues of clinical and community impor...

300 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
BIOEB301Advanced Animal Behaviour15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the development, causation, function and evolutionary history of vertebrate and invertebrate behaviour. A weekend field trip and an ongoing group research project throughout the trimester allow participants to develop their research skills.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Points Occurrence / Location
BIOEB501Applications of Animal Behaviour15.024B (Hamilton)
This paper will critically examine key research topics and current issues in Animal behaviour. We learn about key concepts through classic papers in Animal Behaviour and contrast these with current papers to assess how these concepts have developed over time, and how researchers use innovative approaches to address long standing pr...

Subject requirements

To complete a minor in Animal Behaviour, you must complete 60 points (usually four papers) from the papers listed in the Catalogue of Papers, including BIOEB200 and BIOEB301.

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

Anne Shannon Scholarship  Accepting applications

For students who are enrolled in their second year of full-time study (120 points) in either a BSc or BSc(Tech) majoring in Ecology & Biodiversity or Molecular & Cellular Biology. Applicants must be enrolled in at least 60 points of papers coded BIOEBxxx or BIOMOxxx.
Closing Date: 15 June 2024

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School of Science
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