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Mate Choice

This course focuses on how and why animals choose mates, using examples ranging from insects to humans. By examining mate choice from both a female and male perspective, this course explains why mating decisions shape the course of animal evolution, influence speciation events, and have practical considerations for animal breeding programs and welfare.

Some of the most extreme behaviours we see in the animal kingdom centre around mating. To find a mate, animals travel across the world's oceans and continent, grow energetically expensive ornaments and weapons to attract and fight for access to mates, and use exaggerated visual, vocal and chemical signals to get the attention of a potential mate. But why do animals go to such lengths? This course explains how mate choice works and explores the evolutionary reasons that explain why choosing who to mate with is one of the most important decisions an animal makes during their lifetime.

  • Course structure

    Teaching format

    The course will consist of lectures covering core concepts in mate choice, reading assignments of scientific literature, weekly discussions, and in-depth ‘Spotlight on a Scientist’ sessions where students can learn how researchers apply the scientific method to study mate choice.

    Learning outcomes

    A list of the learning outcomes can be found in the syllabus. Please find the link to the syllabus on the right side of this page.


    Written examination, oral presentations and a written report.


    John Fitzpatrick

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    We will focus exclusively on papers from the scientific literature. Papers will be provided during the course.

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor (advanced level)