Logo close icon
Section navigation
Main Baner Image

Evolutionary Behavioural Science MSc by Research

Learn about the course below
October 2022
January 2022
1 year full-time
2 years part-time
£5,100 (UK) *
£14,400 (EU/INT) *
Course leader
Tom Dickins

Discover how evolutionary behavioural science develops testable hypotheses to establish what instances or kinds of behaviour are, and are not, adaptations.

Why study the MSc Evolutionary Behavioural Science by Research at Middlesex University?

Behaviour gives an organism a flexible, adaptive or even plastic ability to respond to a finite set of changeable variables that they are likely to encounter in their lives. The term behaviour captures an array of phenotypic responses to ecological variables. A good working hypothesis is that behaviour has evolved and has therefore been selected for. This does not mean that all instances of behaviour, or even all kinds of behaviour, are adaptations.

This course will introduce you to core evolutionary theory, from Darwin to behavioural ecology, game theory and beyond. Through workshops and independent research you will learn how to address how to apply this theoretical knowledge in order to produce testable scientific hypotheses.

With our MSc by Research you will join the research community and undertake independent research.

Find out more

Sign up now to receive more information about studying at Middlesex University London.

What will you study on the MSc Evolutionary Behavioural Science by Research?

This programme is a unique, research-based course, which doesn’t follow the traditional model of lectures and exams.

You will join the research community through an ongoing series of workshops, building to your final thesis. The MSc by Research will prepare you for novel application areas with individually tailored learning experiences, enabling you to excel in both the academic sector and the job market.


Assessment will be based on a final dissertation of approximately 30,000 words. Two independent examiners will be appointed who will read and evaluate the dissertation, following which you will be invited to make an oral defence of your work.

  • Workshops

    • Ethology

      We will look at the classic work of Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen and others, discussing the models of instinct and evolution at play. The workshop will focus upon the methods invented and deployed throughout the development of this field.

    • Evolutionary Theory

      The workshop will explore evolution as a kind of change caused by natural selection and genetic drift. We will look at the development of evolutionary theory from Darwin, through the Modern Synthesis, right up to modern debates around evolutionary developmental biology. Examples will be focused upon the behavioural phenotype, but we will also discuss non-behavioural aspects when appropriate.

    • Observational Methods 1

      Behavioural catalogues, ethograms, sample coverage, and general field practice will be covered. We will generate some simple questions about the behaviour of readily observable animals and then we will generate some basic protocols for collecting data. We will also introduce you to Observer XT software for behavioural analysis.

    • Observational Methods 2

      In this workshop we will design and run a number of short data collection protocols with a focus upon the kind of data collected and the kind of statistical analyses that are most suited. We will then analyse the data and discuss the limitation of the work.

    • Field Trip

      There will be a two-week field trip to Lundy, an island off the north Devon coast. This will be an opportunity to collect data for your thesis as well as an opportunity to put into practice all that you have learnt during the workshops. The trip will consist of fieldwork and evening seminars and discussions arising from each day’s work. There are also on-going projects on the island which you can contribute to.

You can find more information about this course in the programme specification. Module and programme information is indicative and may be subject to change.

  1. Standard entry requirements
  2. International (inc. EU)
  3. How to apply
  1. UK
  2. EU/International
  3. Additional costs
  • Ben Goodwin-Self

    MSc Evolutionary Behavioural Science student

    I did my BSc in Anthropology and this felt like a similar field but with more exposure to the science side of things. I was also drawn to the research being carried out in the department; I thought that I had like-minded ideas to my potential supervisor, which would allow for a complimentary relationship to be made. Middlesex University greatly appealed to me. It’s more diverse than other London universities and the campus is so compact that it feels very homely.

    There have been seminars and workshops in the research group providing a community where all the students have the same goals. I remember the initial conversations and meetings with my supervisor where we were discussing my proposal and I was inspired by realising the many research opportunities within this MSc. My aim after this course is to pursue a PhD.

    What I would say to someone considering this course is that dedication is a must, and you need to be prepared for the independent learning and study. There is a huge amount of freedom to follow your own interests which can be daunting but is ultimately incredibly rewarding.

We’ll carefully manage any future changes to courses, or the support and other services available to you, if these are necessary because of things like changes to government health and safety advice, or any changes to the law.

Any decisions will be taken in line with both external advice and the University’s Regulations which include information on this.

Our priority will always be to maintain academic standards and quality so that your learning outcomes are not affected by any adjustments that we may have to make.

At all times we’ll aim to keep you well informed of how we may need to respond to changing circumstances, and about support that we’ll provide to you.

Other courses

Biomedical Science (Cellular Pathology) MSc/PGCert

Start: September 2022, September 2022 (EU/INT induction)

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGB90A (MSc), PGB90G (PGCert)

Applied Psychology MSc

Start: October 2022, EU/INT induction: September 2022

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGL713

Sustainability and Environmental Management MSc

Start: September 2022, EU/INT induction: September 2022

Duration: 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Code: PGD110

Back to top