Intelligence in Animals and Machines (826G5)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

The module will develop an understanding of what it means for an animal or a machine to behave intelligently, and how brain and behavioural systems are adapted to enable an animal to cope effectively within its environment.

We consider diverse aspects of intelligence including navigation and motor control, tool-use, language, memory and social skills.

We ask how these are related to one another and how they are matched to the particular needs of animals. We finally consider what we can learn about intelligence through computational modelling by examining the challenges faced by scientists trying to create artificial systems with the same behavioural capabilities.

As well as the reading list, three papers on current research issues will be given each week to be discussed in seminars. In addition, some papers which give you the flavour of the course are:

  • Shettleworth, S. Clever animals and killjoy explanations in comparative psychology
  • Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2010 Webb, B.
  • What does robotics offer animal behaviour? Animal Behaviour, 2000

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 44 hours of contact time and about 106 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, there may be changes to this module in response to COVID-19, or due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.

It may not be possible to take some module combinations due to timetabling constraints. The structure of some courses means that the modules you choose first may determine whether later modules are core or optional.