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Animal Cognition


Note: The course Animal Cognition alternates with the course Animal Personality. The next Animal Personality course will be given in 2021-2022.

Admission requirements

BSc in biology or related disciplines.

Contact information

Coordinator: dr. K. Riebel



The study of Animal cognition is a young but fast growing discipline in the cognitive sciences. With the increased attention and improved experimental designs, previously overlooked and unexpected cognitive abilities of animals are discovered, some leading to spectacular headlines and claims in the media. The aims of this seminar are to provide students with sufficient knowledge on both to the information processing abilities of animals as well as experimental approaches in contemporary animal cognition research to enable them to critically evaluate primary, secondary and popular literature in animal cognition research. We will cover controversial issues of recent years, like whether animals can count, are able of mental time travelling (‘planning for the future’) or whether they have a theory of mind.

Learning goals

Course objectives: On completion of this module, students:

  • Should have knowledge and understanding of contemporary findings and theories concerning selected areas of animal cognition.

  • Are aware of and understand key debates within the study of animal cognition.

Final qualifications:
Knowledge and understanding of the course book and selected contemporary primary literature and critical evaluation thereof.


From 22 Feb – 21 May 2021.
Wednesday afternoons: 14.15-17.00 hrs

Mode of instruction

For each meeting, participants will be asked to read and prepare one chapter from the book or review article so that they can actively participate during discussions and also chair these general discussions. In addition, per session there will be two student presentations on selected primary literature pertaining to the theme of the week. Each participant is expected to prepare one oral presentation plus a written summary, and to act once as a chairperson during a presentation and ensuing discussion of another person.

Assessment method

Participants will be evaluated based on the quality of their presentation and the summary, their performance as a chairperson, and the quality and quantity of their contribution to discussion sessions.

The final grade consists of the following partical grades:

  • Presentation + summary 40%

  • Chairing student presentation + session plan 15%

  • Chairing session 15%

  • Discussion contributions 30%

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Date: Feedback on presentation/chairing during sessions participation mid and end course feedback


Handouts, instructions and literature lists and all general course information will be made available via the digital learning environment Brightspace.

Reading list

Obligatory reading: Animal Cognition –Evolution, Behavior & Cognition. 3rd edition. Clive D.L. Wynne, Monique A. R. Udell. Palgrave Macmilliam 2013. ISBN 9781137611260 and primary literature (to be announced on Brightspace).



Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

This course is designed for a maximum of 24 participants. Please register via Usis. Upon over-registration biology master students will be given priority. Participation in the pre-meeting is obligatory. Failure to appear and commit to a date for a presentation during the pre-meeting will vacate the participant’s place for students from the waiting list.