Netherlands, Utrecht

Observing Primate Behaviour

when 1 May 2019 - 15 July 2019
language English
duration 11 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 625

The summer course Observing Primate Behaviour focuses on getting familiar with primate observational methods by observing primate social behaviour and following the scientific cycle. Through the analysis of gathered observational data, students investigate and present their own research questions. Furthermore, the additional activities aim to provide the students with more background information on the different topics related to studying primate behaviour, such as welfare, colony management and fieldwork. 

Looking at primates is like looking in a mirror. Similar to humans, primates are highly sociable animals with complex social interactions. Relationships of primates are characterized by agonism, affiliation and sex. Understanding their social behaviour requires objective observational methods and careful data analysis. The summer course Observing Primate Behaviour focuses on getting familiar with primate observational methods by observing primate social behaviour and following the scientific cycle. Through the analysis of gathered observational data, students investigate and present their own research questions.

As the name suggests, the summer course ‘Observing Primate Behaviour’ focuses on observing behaviour and therefore includes actual data collection of primate social behaviour by live observations. The course employs the scientific cycle by asking and answering research questions through the analysis of the gathered observational data. The student uses statistical methods (using R studio/SPSS Statistics and MatMan) to analyse the data and will present their own research both in writing and verbally.

In addition, the course includes lectures (topics include: animal behaviour, conducting behavioural research & fieldwork experiences), a social event, visit to the famous Dutch primate zoo Apenheul, Apeldoorn and live observations of a social group of primates. The observations will be conducted on the colony of long-tailed macaques that is used for behavioural biology studies. The Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC), Rijswijk provides one day in the program with information and discussions on the ethics of animal husbandry, welfare and experimentation.

The course is open for (advanced) bachelor and master students with an interest in biology, zoology and ethology and preferably having followed and passed a basic statistical course. This course is particularly interesting for biology/psychology/zoology students who wish to gain experience in using observational methods to study (animal) behaviour.

The course has a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 16 participants. Applicants should send a letter with a short motivation (max 200 words), short resume and transcript of grades, including information on general education and courses on animal behaviour topics and statistics (if any). Applications should be submitted before 1 May 2019; admission depends on education level and order of application.

Course leader

Prof. dr. Liesbeth Sterck

Target group

The course is open for (advanced) bachelor and master students with an interest in biology, zoology and ethology and preferably having followed and passed a basic statistical course. This course is particularly interesting for biology/psychology/zoology students who wish to gain experience in using observational methods to study (animal) behaviour.

Course aim

The course aims to get students acquainted with the full spectrum of studying primate social behaviour. Therefore the course includes experience with actual data collection of primate social behaviour by live observations, employs the scientific cycle by asking and answering research questions through the (statistical) analysis of the gathered observational data and lets students present their own research both in writing and verbally. Furthermore, the additional activities aim to provide the students with more background information on the different topics related to studying primate behaviour, such as welfare, colony management and fieldwork.

Fee info

EUR 625: Course fee
EUR 350: Housing fee

Register for this course
on course website