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Masters Degrees (Applied Ethology)

We have 3 Masters Degrees (Applied Ethology)

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Degree. Master of Science (two years) with a major in Biology. Teaching language. English. The Applied Ethology and Animal Biology master’s programme deals with animal behaviour and biology from an application perspective, including problems associated with keeping animals in captivity. Read more
Degree: Master of Science (two years) with a major in Biology
Teaching language: English

The Applied Ethology and Animal Biology master’s programme deals with animal behaviour and biology from an application perspective, including problems associated with keeping animals in captivity. Students gain a good working knowledge of the programme’s central issues, such as the biology of stress as related to animal welfare, the effects of domestication on behaviour, the physiology of behaviour and conservation biology.

The programme is taught in collaboration with Kolmården Zoo, one of the largest and most renowned zoos in Sweden. A number of teaching sessions are held at the zoo where students acquire first-hand knowledge from experienced zoologists.

The programme provides students with a solid understanding of the theory and methods of applied ethology and broadens their understanding of animal biology through courses such as Behavioural neurobiology, Adaptation: molecules to organisms, Zoobiology, Primate ethology and In situ conservation biology. In addition to classroom lectures and seminars students are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on projects involving studies of animals in captive environments.

The key part of the programme is the one-year degree project where students apply their theoretical and methodological knowledge in practice.

The two years are linked by a continuous seminar course in Current Concepts in Life Sciences, which introduces students to the current, rapidly evolving research in molecular genetic mechanisms underlying complex biological processes. This course involves research articles and research lectures by prominent guest speakers.

After completing the programme, students will be well-acquainted with theories of animal behaviour and biology and have a close understanding of the concepts of animal welfare and conservation, as well as be trained to plan, implement and present a scientific investigation in the subject framework of the programme.

Completed studies qualify students for postgraduate education at doctoral level. Non-academic options include work at government and international animal or environmental agencies, as animal welfare inspectors, wildlife conservationists or advisors to zoos and private companies.

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Our Animal Behaviour MRes is a research-based course with a taught component that is equivalent to an MSc. It provides a springboard into a career that involves a working knowledge of scientific research. Read more

Our Animal Behaviour MRes is a research-based course with a taught component that is equivalent to an MSc. It provides a springboard into a career that involves a working knowledge of scientific research.

The study of animal behaviour is an exciting and theoretically rigorous area of the biological sciences with possible applications in conservation, animal welfare, biomedical science and agriculture. The Centre for Behaviour and Evolution at Newcastle University brings together world experts in Behavioural Ecology, Comparative Cognition, Neuroethology and Animal Welfare.

Experts at Newcastle have discovered, among other things, that bees learn better when exposed to caffeine; that starlings who were hungry as babies become heavier as adults; and that mice have pain faces. You too can be part of this exciting research community.

The course is designed for graduates with a BSc in the life sciences, psychology or anthropology. It can be taken either as a stand-alone qualification or as an entry route onto a PhD.

The taught component of the course includes training in research approaches relevant to the area of animal behaviour. You have the flexibility to develop your own bespoke course by selecting a set of three complementary modules. The modules Comparative Cognition (MMB8043), Applied Ethology (ACE8074) and Sensory Systems (MMB8019) in particular are recommended for this course. You will also participate in training in general research principles, and other professional and key skills.

The core module on the biological study of behaviour introduces the central questions related to animal behaviour research (adaptive consequences, proximate mechanisms, development, and evolutionary history) and the research methods associated with each. Other relevant modules focus on comparative cognition, on sensory systems (including neuroethology) and on applied ethology for animal welfare. Research-led seminars, delivered by members of the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution cover a wide range of taxa (insects to humans), topics (olfaction to cooperation), and methodologies. 

Your research project comprises the major element of the course. This project will involve 24 weeks of research in an area of animal behaviour under the supervision of an expert academic researcher in the field.

The course allows you to experience an internationally competitive research area, predominantly in academia but also potentially in industry. Graduates from our programme have gone on to competitive PhD studentships, as well as jobs in research and in zoos.

Animal Behaviour MRes is closely linked to a suite of MRes courses that you may also be interested in. See Programme information in our online Prospectus for full details.

Graduates from our programme have gone on to competitive PhD studentships, as well as jobs in research and in zoos.

Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School

Our Medical Sciences Graduate School is dedicated to providing you with information, support and advice throughout your research degree studies. We can help and advise you on a variety of queries relating to your studies, funding or welfare.

Our Research Student Development Programme supports and complements your research whilst developing your professional skills and confidence.

You will make an on-going assessment of your own development and training needs through personal development planning (PDP) in the ePortfolio system. Our organised external events and development programme have been mapped against the Vitae Researcher Development Framework to help you identify how best to meet your training and development needs.



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Programme description. This programme provides flexible postgraduate study designed to specifically address the demand for online clinical animal behaviour teaching within a supported learning environment. Read more

Programme description

This programme provides flexible postgraduate study designed to specifically address the demand for online clinical animal behaviour teaching within a supported learning environment. The programme will utilise an evidence based approach to explore the potential motivations, management and treatment options for abnormal and/or problem behaviours commonly expressed by companion animal species living within a domestic environment.

The subject involves a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on knowledge and techniques from the fields of psychology, ethology, neurobiology, pharmacology and veterinary science. This programme will contain teaching and learning that is aimed at your academic preparation for a professional career working with companion animals in a variety of settings, including clinical animal behaviour counselling.

Online learning

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh's excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Programme structure

This MSc programme is modular in structure, offering a flexible student-centred approach to the choice of courses studied. You must complete a sufficient number of course credits to achieve the following awards:

  • Postgraduate Certificate: 60 credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma: 120 credits
  • Master of Science: 180 credits

You may undertake this programme by intermittent study (flexible progression route), accruing credits within the following maximum time limits:

  • Postgraduate Certificate: 12-24 months
  • Postgraduate Diploma: 24-48 months
  • Master of Science: 36-72 months (this includes a maximum period of 12 months from the start of your dissertation to its completion)

Year 1: Certificate Courses

You will study Principles of Applied Animal Behaviour and Clinical Animal Behaviour along with either Anthrozoology (recommended for those continuing to Diploma/MSc) or one of two other elective courses.

Year 2: Diploma Courses

You will study Clinical Animal Behaviour in Practice along with two elective courses from a choice of 4.

Year 3: Masters

The dissertation element of the programme will allow further development of scientific skills and may take the form of a short research project, case studies relating to relevant professional experience or an extended literature review.

Postgraduate Professional Development

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Learning outcomes

Alongside the subject content, the programme will also enable the acquisition of a range of transferable skills, such as computer skills, report writing, giving online presentations and time and project management.

You will be able to:

  • consider how a scientific understanding of how biology and normal species specific behaviour can be applied in the management of problematic and/or abnormal behaviour in a range of companion animal species
  • develop a thorough understanding of the methods and approaches used for the management and treatment of common problematic behaviour in companion animals
  • gain an understanding of the scientific basis to a range of adjuncts used in the management of problem behaviour, including behavioural therapy, psychopharmacology and pheromonotherapy

Career opportunities

Students are expected to find work in the field of companion animal behaviour and welfare as well as working in education, or as advisors with non-governmental organisations and governments.



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