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Master's Programme in Ethology

This programme offers you a solid grounding in ethology as well as deeper insight into the latest research in the subject. The evolution, genetics and function of behaviour form the foundation. You will gain skills and experience in research methods and analytical techniques, which open up a wide variety of career possibilities.

Bluetit with seed.
Bluetit with seed.

You will study how animals communicate and solve conflicts, the social structure of animal communities, pair formation and reproduction in animals, and how competition and co-operation can develop. How behaviour develops during the life of the individual and how learning and experience influence patterns of behaviour is discussed. Moreover, the genetic background, evolution (both at the micro- and macroevolutionary scale) and function of behaviour are discussed. Knowledge of ethology is important in many fields of biology. These fields include ecology, evolutionary biology, neurobiology and conservation biology. Ethology also has applications outside of the scientific sphere. For instance, one important application for ethology concerns the requirements of ethical treatment of animals and animal well-being.

Reasons to choose a Master in Ethology

  • Broad education in Ethology suitable for diverse carrers involving animal behaviour
  • Excellent opportunities for practical studies in the laboratory and at Tovetorp research station
  • Flexible programme allows you to create your own direction based on your interests
  • Programme overview

    The compulsory courses within the Master’s programme in Ethology will give you a strong foundation in ethology, including mate choice, animal cognition and human behaviour.

    The elective and optional courses create flexibility in the programme allowing you to adapt your studies to your chosen career path. You are required to choose at least 15 credits of the elective courses listed below (updated each year). You can also include at least 15 credits of optional courses, these are any course that is not compulsory or elective and can be in other subjects or taken at another university.

    During the compulsory independent project, the degree project, you will apply the knowledge and skills you have developed, in conducting a scientific study within ethology.

    Year 1

    Compulsory courses

    Mate choice

    Statistics for biologists II (BL7068)

    Animal Cognition

    Human Behaviour: Biology and Culture

    Elective courses

    Ecological and evolutionary responses to climatic variation

    Interactions in Ecological Communities

    Molecular Ecology

    Baltic Sea Ecosystem: Applications, Modeling and Management

    Year 2

    Compulsory courses

    Degree project in Ethology
    (instructions apply for all degree projects at the department)

    Elective courses

    Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes

    Evolutionary Ecology

    Paleoecology, genetics and human prehistory

    Science in Biological Research and Investigation

    Statistics for biologists III (BL8063)

    Systematic Zoology (swe)

    Traineeship in Biology

    Independent project

    Degree projects, which are 30, 45 or 60 credits, are carried out within ongoing research projects at the Department of Zoology, within the current broad research themes within Ethology: adaptive colouration, animal personality, brain evolution, cognition, collective behaviour, foraging decisions, sexual selection, and social behaviour. It is also possible to conduct the degree project externally, at a research institute, organisation or company.

    Recent degree projects

    • Levelling the field: Applying the open field test in situ on voles in the Swedish mountain range
    • Investigating traits affecting dominance in domestic fowl: The role of comb size, aggression and age
    • The effect of brain size on associative learning and behavioural flexibility in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata)
  • How to apply

    The Master's programme in Ethology is only open for application in the first round, with deadline for applications in mid-January.

    The programme requires a solid background, e.g., a major, in biology as well as a basic understanding in ethology/animal behaviour. 

    Selection process

    Additional eligibility criteria

    Applicants that meet the eligibility requirements are ranked based on their merit rating. Only students with the highest merit ratings are selected for our programmes. The merit rating is based on the following four selection criteria, with equal weight:

    • relevance of previous studies in relation to the programme
    • grades of academic courses
    • motivation letter
    • research ideas

    Required supporting documentation

    To submit your motivation letter and research ideas you must use our cover letter form.

    Cover letter/Motivation letter
    The form is only available when applications are open.

    Recommendation letters and CVs are not concidered.

  • Career opportunities

    A Master's degree in Ethology opens up a diverse range of career opportunities. Completion of the Master’s program gives you eligibility for PhD studies.

    Beyond being an important academic subject ethology is highly relevant in careers where an understanding of animal behaviour is important, including animal parks and zoos, animal husbandry and within animal welfare and environmental agencies.

  • Contact

    Student office
    Study counsellor at master's level