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Veterinary Sciences×

Masters Degrees in Animal Welfare

We have 31 Masters Degrees in Animal Welfare

Masters degrees in Animal Welfare study the happiness and health of animals, as well as how creatures should be kept, housed and maintained. Related postgraduate specialisms include Animal Behaviour, Animal Health and Animal Ethics.

Programmes usually award an MSc, but some institutions also offer an MRes, which means you’ll be able to undertake a sizeable research project as part of your studies. Entry requirements normally involve an undergraduate degree in a relevant biological science.

Why study a Masters in Animal Welfare?

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The overall objective of this online distance learning programme is to provide knowledge and an understanding of animal welfare science, with a focus on the international issues arising from animal use in all its forms. Read more

The overall objective of this online distance learning programme is to provide knowledge and an understanding of animal welfare science, with a focus on the international issues arising from animal use in all its forms.

The programme is delivered by researchers and teachers from both the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies) and the Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) with a series of guest lecturers from around the world.

The programme offers courses in a variety of areas, including:

  • history, culture and concepts of animal welfare
  • animal behaviour
  • animal welfare assessment
  • animal ethics
  • recommendations and policy
  • legislation, regulation and enforcement
  • science communication
  • applied animal welfare - production, companion and captive wild animals

Learn more about why you should study with us:

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy:

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

A blend of online learning methods are utilised, such as discussion forums, podcasts and live tutorials. The programme is modular, allowing us to offer a flexible student-centred approach to the choice of courses studied.

Students may choose to study to certificate, diploma or masters level.

Students can take up to 6 years to complete the full MSc programme and there is also the option to graduate with either an International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Year 1: certificate

You will take two compulsory courses - International Animal Welfare Science and Animal Ethics, Policy and Law - plus an optional course.

Year 2: diploma

You can choose up to 60 credits of optional courses, which include:

  • Production Animal Welfare
  • Cat and Dog Welfare
  • Captive and Free-ranging Wild Animal Welfare
  • Animals in Research, Testing and Education
  • Clinical Animal Behaviour
  • Equine Behaviour and Welfare
  • Equitation Science
  • Anthrozoology (new for 2017)

Year 3: masters

You complete a dissertation of between 10,000-15,000 words which can be a research project or an extended systematic review of the literature in a topic of Animal Welfare Science, Ethics or Law.

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.

Career opportunities

Graduates can use their qualification to enhance their career prospects in academia, research, governmental and non-governmental organisations and consultancies.



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COURSE OVERVIEW . Examine and communicate the importance of animal welfare to academic and other audiences. Programme partly based on the theoretical syllabus required for the European and US animal welfare qualifications for veterinarians. Read more

COURSE OVERVIEW 

  • Examine and communicate the importance of animal welfare to academic and other audiences
  • Programme partly based on the theoretical syllabus required for the European and US animal welfare qualifications for veterinarians
  • Learn from highly qualified, enthusiastic and internationally renowned teachers 

Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law at Winchester critically reflects upon contemporary uses of animals, and provides the academic skills and expertise needed to protect animals and advance their welfare. Winchester is a world leader in terms of the values held and discussed, such as compassion and social justice, which are central to the ethos of this course. 

You consider animal rights and the ethics around using animals for food, sport, and scientific research. How should society reflect those rights and ethics in our law-making and public policies? We scrutinise the many forms of animal use in different settings, such as farming, transportation and slaughter, laboratories, homes, zoos and various other entertainment locales, and about free-ranging animals in natural environments. As you progress through the programme, you master the skills and knowledge involved in assessing and ensuring the welfare of animals using a range of data and sound scientific processes.

The course is different from other comparable programmes in part because of the range of animals covered, including wild, free-ranging animals, invertebrates, pest animals, and the welfare problems associated with them. You are encouraged to develop communication skills in a range of styles, including posters, blogs, and multimedia presentations, and to share ideas about animal welfare outside of the academic setting. 

Modules include Animals and Society, Animal Interests, Capacities and Ethical Considerations, Animal Behaviour and Psychological States, and a 15,000-word dissertation on your chosen topic. Classes are taught using the online virtual learning platform, in the form of core notes with additional readings, videos and lecture notes, making this course accessible to students anywhere in the world. 

Graduates work as animal behaviourists, within animal welfare and advocacy organisations, zoos, sanctuaries and other organisations requiring knowledge of animal management and welfare, with governmental departments working on animal issues, with agencies aiming to uphold welfare standards, and with commercial organisations seeking to introduce such standards to their agricultural suppliers.

Accreditation

For any veterinarians pursuing specialist qualifications in animal welfare, this programme is partly based on the theoretical syllabus required for the European and US qualifications.

Careers

Graduates may enter careers within animal advocacy, welfare and conservation organisations; zoos, sanctuaries and other organisations requiring knowledge of animal management and welfare; governmental departments working on animal issues; assurance, inspection and enforcement agencies; and commercial organisations seeking to implement and monitor the animal welfare standards of their agricultural suppliers.

Pre-approved for a Masters

If you study a Bachelor Honours degrees with us, you will be pre-approved to start a Masters degree at Winchester. To be eligible, you will need to apply by the end of March in the final year of your degree and meet the entry requirements of your chosen Masters degree.

ABOUT THIS COURSE

Suitable for applicants from:

UK, EU, World

Learning and teaching

Modules are taught using online core notes with additional readings, videos and lecture notes provided. Students may participate in online seminars, and are guided in the creation of communication media such as academic and popular publications, Powerpoint and poster presentations, and online blogs.

The academics involved in this programme possess specialist skills and knowledge in each of the realms of animal welfare science, animal ethics and animal law. Strengths include significant experience in examining and critiquing contemporary social uses of animals, through both academic and popular media, and in working within both Non-Governmental Organisations and professional realms such as veterinary and legal practice, to advance animal welfare within wider society. Tutorials and other support is offered by these highly qualified, enthusiastic and internationally renowned scholars.

Location

This programme is distance learning only.

Assessment

Our validated courses may adopt a range of means of assessing your learning. An indicative, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of assessment types you might encounter includes essays, portfolios, supervised independent work, presentations, written exams, or practical performances.

Assessments include written assignments, Powerpoint and poster presentations, online blogs, participation in discussions, and a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of interest to the student, chosen in consultation with a supervisor.

We ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve module learning outcomes. As such, where appropriate and necessary, students with recognised disabilities may have alternative assignments set that continue to test how successfully they have met the module's learning outcomes. Further details on assessment types used on the course you are interested in can be found on the course page, by attending an Open Day or Open Evening, or contacting our teaching staff.

Feedback

We are committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to you on your academic progress and achievement in order to enable you to reflect on your progress and plan your academic and skills development effectively. You are also encouraged to seek additional feedback from your course tutors.

Further information

For more information about our regulations for this course, please see our Academic Regulations, Policies and Procedures.



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This programme has popular international appeal and is endorsed by many international organisations for its up-to-date understanding and application of the latest animal welfare methods and practices. Read more

This programme has popular international appeal and is endorsed by many international organisations for its up-to-date understanding and application of the latest animal welfare methods and practices.

We provide students with an understanding of animal welfare that can be applied in animal research, management, care, production, inspection, assessment and preparation of legislation.

In addition to the core teaching team, we have many guest lecturers travel to Edinburgh each year to teach on the programme, allowing you to benefit from the experience and knowledge of professionals working throughout the animal behaviour and welfare community.

Programme structure

The programme involves taught courses and your own dissertation.

Throughout the taught courses you will take part in many visits to farms and animal facilities and will study the following courses:

  • Introduction to Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare
  • Biology of Suffering
  • Animal Cognition and Consciousness
  • Scientific Methodology
  • Animal Welfare Applications
  • Read more about the taught courses

You can complete the programme over one, two or three years.

Dissertation

From March until August, you will work on a research project.

Career opportunities

Graduates move on to a variety of jobs such as research technicians, scientific advisors and lecturers. Many will also continue their study and enrol in a PhD.



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The MRes in Animal Behaviour and Welfare offers an opportunity to expand your knowledge of animal behaviour and animal welfare science. Read more
The MRes in Animal Behaviour and Welfare offers an opportunity to expand your knowledge of animal behaviour and animal welfare science. You will explore advances in animal behaviour within animal cognition, animal personality, animal communication and language, sexual selection and sexual conflict, and social behaviour. You will also look at contemporary issues in animal welfare science such as methods of animal welfare assessment, animal welfare legislation, welfare implications of keeping animals in captivity and issues related to improving and assessing animal welfare.

This postgraduate programme will allow you to advance the knowledge you gained from your animal related degree and provide you with the required knowledge and skills to develop practical solutions for existing and emerging problems in animal behaviour and animal welfare science. The knowledge and skills that you gain from the programme will enhance your career prospects and can be applied in future scientific research and in practical areas such as conservation, animal welfare organisations, research centres and zoos.

The Masters by Research in Animal Behaviour and Welfare includes 60 credits of taught modules, including core modules of advances in animal behaviour, contemporary issues in animal welfare, and research methods and optional modules such as wildlife conflict, postgraduate independent study and reflection on practice. These modules tend to be taught in two day blocks. This means that the teaching is condensed to allow the Masters study to occur round other commitments in our students' lives.

These modules will give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge of animal behaviour and welfare science, advance your skills in critically evaluating current research, and develop your abilities in research design and statistical analysis. These skills, along with one to one support, will allow you to understand and apply current scientific thinking, develop new ideas and evaluate current processes and practices. This will allow you to effectively design and carry out your dissertation research project. This will be original research that will make a valuable contribution to the field of animal behaviour or animal welfare. The dissertation is highly flexible and provides you with the freedom to develop a research project of your own choosing in order to fit in with your specific interests and career aspirations.

The programme can be completed full time in one year; part time routes are available and should be planned with your Programme Manager.

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Animal welfare science and ethics is an expanding topic of international concern, which is why the University of Glasgow offer an Animal Welfare MSc programme. Read more

Animal welfare science and ethics is an expanding topic of international concern, which is why the University of Glasgow offer an Animal Welfare MSc programme. It aims to improve our knowledge and understanding of animals’ needs, which is required to provide a high standard of care to the whole range of animals kept in captivity.

Why this programme

  • Top 100 University.
  • This animal welfare degree programme is offered by the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM), a grouping of top researchers who focus on combining ecology and evolution with more applied problems in animal health.
  • When studying animal welfare you will be taught by research-active staff using the latest approaches in understanding and responding to animal welfare-related issues, legislation related to use of animals, and both theoretical and applied ethics.
  • In addition, you will have opportunities to develop skills in quantitative methods, sequence analysis, conservation biology, epidemiology and practical approaches to assessing biodiversity.
  • A unique strength of the Animal Welfare MSc at the University of Glasgow for many years has been the strong ties between veterinarians and ecologists, which has now been formalised in the formation of the IBAHCM. This direct linking is rare but offers unique opportunities to provide training that spans both fundamental and applied research.
  • The IBAHCM also offers an MSc in Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation and Epidemiology. This degree is more focused on ecology and evolutionary biology and provides the opportunity for you to gain key quantitative skills that are not often a focus of welfare-based programmes.
  • You will have the opportunity to base your independent research projects at the University field station on Loch Lomond (for freshwater or terrestrial-based projects); Millport field station on the Isle of Cumbrae (for marine projects); or Cochno farm in Glasgow (for research based on farm animals). We will also assist you to gain research project placements in zoos or research laboratories, whenever possible.
  • You will gain core skills and knowledge across a wide range of subjects that will enhance your selection chances for competitive PhD programmes. In addition to academic options, career opportunities include roles in zoos, government agencies, officers of animal welfare, protection, or wildlife crime, veterinary nursing and aquaculture.
  • We have many links with animal welfare-related organisations through them coming to us to teach their expertise to our Animal Welfare degree and the class going to visit their organisation to obtain a first-hand view of what working is like at these organisations. Many of them also provide the students with opportunities to carry out their independent research project within their company. Students will also be able to capitalise on the strong ties between the veterinarians and ecologists at the IBAHCM. This allows us to directly link fundamental and applied research and offers unique opportunities to provide training that spans both theory and praxis.
  • We have currently the following partners involved in this programme
  • Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)
  • Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
  • Blair Drummond Safari Park
  • Chester Zoo
  • The Aspinall Foundation (Howletts & Port Lympne)
  • National Museum Scotland

Programme structure

The programme provides a strong grounding in scientific writing and communication, statistical analysis, and experimental design. It is designed for flexibility, to enable you to customise a portfolio of courses suited to your particular interests.

You can choose from a range of specialised options that encompass key skills in

  • ethics, legislative policy and welfare science – critical for promoting humane treatment of both captive and wild animals.
  • monitoring and assessing biodiversity – critical for understanding the impacts of environmental change
  • quantitative analyses of ecological and epidemiological data – critical for animal health and conservation.

A total of 180 credits are required, with 40 flexible credits in the 2nd term. See the accompanying detailed course descriptions found in the IBAHCM Masters Programme Overview. When selecting options, please email the relevant course coordinator as well as registering using MyCampus.

Animal welfare is a very broad and applied field and the programme aims to provide coverage of all the different aspects of the topic which are often treated separately. Science is an essential skill in order to have a good understanding of welfare but we appreciate that applicants may come from diverse backgrounds and therefore the course includes a rigorous training in science communication, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation. The programme also includes teaching by practitioners and visits to organisations with first-hand experience of applied welfare problems. The programme also attempts to cover the entire spectrum of animal welfare, including zoos, farms, laboratory animals and wildlife.

Career prospects

Students are exposed to potential work places and can make valuable contacts with professionals in the welfare community. Where possible this is a two-way exchange in which communities are offered help with any issues they have and for which assistance may be provided in finding a solution (e.g. through independent research projects, supervised by university staff). This is also an option open to other courses and could benefit the students in the long-term as well as give the university valuable connections with the wider community.



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Overview. This is an advanced course for students who want to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the biology, welfare and conservation of domesticated and wild animals managed for production or leisure. Read more

Overview

This is an advanced course for students who want to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the biology, welfare and conservation of domesticated and wild animals managed for production or leisure.

WUC works in partnership with Colchester Zoo to support study tours and research activities in order to enhance our students learning experience.

Course Modules include:

  • Animal Genetic Resources
  • Nutritional Issues in Animal Welfare
  • Animal Ethics and Welfare
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Animal Protection and Habitat Conservation
  • Current Issues in Animal Science
  • Wildlife Resources


Learning & Teaching Methods

The teaching methods are a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, visits and student managed learning.

The self-guided study takes place under the supervision of experienced staff from the Centre of Equine and Animal Science at Writtle University College. 

Students are assessed using a number of methods, for example written examination, reports, essays, seminars, debates, oral presentations, case studies and project dissertation.

The research project is an essential part of the MSc programme and provides the opportunity to carry out an independent piece research, critically analyse data and write a dissertation. The project will normally include hands-on practical experimentation to teach students how to gather and process data and problem solve. The project is supervised by an academic member of staff and takes place over an extended period during the spring and summer. The project can be based either at Writtle University College or other suitable external institution. 

Examples of potential areas for dissertation projects: 

  • Investigation of keeper-animal relationships in zoos
  • Animal behaviour and welfare research in collaboration with Colchester Zoo
  • Assessment of prevalence and risk factors for obesity in companion animals
  • Lameness detection and measurement in dairy cows
  • Estimation endangered wild animal population densities
  • Use of molecular biology techniques in conservation genetics of captive wild animals
  • Incidence of small mammals in agricultural landscapes
  • Diet selection and nutrient intakes in captive animals
  • Behavioural indicators of welfare and performance using different castration methods in lambs


Careers

Graduates are likely to use their award to secure management-level jobs and/or to improve their promotion prospects if they are already employed both in international and national organisations.

Many opportunities exist in either government services or related agencies services, for example: 

  • Senior positions in DEFRA as quarantine officers
  • Animal health inspectors

There are also numerous career opportunities in companies specialising in farm animal nutrition and pet food manufacturing, breeding and reproduction, veterinary medicines and pharmaceuticals. There also opportunities in charities engaged in animal welfare such as the RSPCA, zoos, animal rescue centres and safari parks. Also, independent wildlife agencies such as the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural England, and the Countryside Council for Wales would be interested in Animal Welfare and Conservation graduates. 

Some graduates may take up lecturing positions in universities and colleges or proceed to do further postgraduate study e.g. PhD.



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About this course. This course covers the scientific theory and practice relating to animal health and welfare. It combines advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills. Read more

About this course

This course covers the scientific theory and practice relating to animal health and welfare. It combines advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills.

There is an emphasis on examining the biology of health and welfare science, while adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the wider subject area. You'll discover how to apply your knowledge to real world situations, such as enhancing agricultural production utilising animals for educational and therapeutic purposes, or effectively maximising welfare within a rescue environment.

You'll study the current issues and insights at the forefront of animal health and welfare, and the philosophical, welfare and ethical issues related to these. You'll explore general patterns in human and animal cognition, behaviour, and psychological functioning, and appreciate how these relate to the application of health and welfare science. The course also critically examines and assesses the biological and social basis of human-animal interactions, with the aim of improving our understanding and the overall quality of these interactions.

On this course you will also evaluate the rigour and validity of published research, and assess its relevance to new situations within the discipline. You'll gain an insight into recent advances n animal science - therefore, attending a relevant scientific conference is strongly advised as an integral part of the course.

How do you study?

You'll be taught using a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical sessions. you will also have opportunities to present your work to peers and academic staff.

Independent learning is required and you will undertake high-quality research. You will research your chosen topic in depth, then design and implement a relevant research project and communicate the findings to an informed audience in a scientific report.

Teaching is supported by our modern Animal Unit which houses over 150 animals of 40 different species. The collection consists of domesticated and exotic species, in settings that are as natural as possible. There are specialist teaching rooms within the Animal Unit which contain various research equipment and essential resources to enhance your learning experience. You'll also benefit from our veterinary and equestrian facilities, as well as the working farm which includes sheep and a herd of Lincoln red beef cattle, and the newly built poultry unit.

Find out more about our Brackenhurst Campus on our website.

Visit us

Want to find out more about studying with us? Find out more at one of our upcoming open days. Reserve your place.

More information

For more information on our MRes Animal Health and Welfare course, please visit our website.



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About this course. This course covers the scientific theory and practice relating to animal health and welfare. It combines advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills. Read more

About this course

This course covers the scientific theory and practice relating to animal health and welfare. It combines advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills.

There is an emphasis on examining the biology of health and welfare science, while adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the wider subject area. You'll discover how to apply your knowledge to real world situations, such as enhancing agricultural production utilising animals for educational and therapeutic purposes, or effectively maximising welfare within a rescue environment.

You'll study the current issues and insights at the forefront of animal health and welfare, and the philosophical, welfare and ethical issues related to these. You'll explore general patterns in human and animal cognition, behaviour, and psychological functioning, and appreciate how these relate to the application of health and welfare science. The course also critically examines and assesses the biological and social basis of human-animal interactions, with the aim of improving our understanding and the overall quality of these interactions.

On this course you will also evaluate the rigour and validity of published research, and assess its relevance to new situations within the discipline. You'll gain an insight into recent advances n animal science - therefore, attending a relevant scientific conference is strongly advised as an integral part of the course.

How do you study?

You'll be taught using a mixture of lectures, seminars and practical sessions. you will also have opportunities to present your work to peers and academic staff.

Independent learning is required and you will undertake high-quality research. You will research your chosen topic in depth, then design and implement a relevant research project and communicate the findings to an informed audience in a scientific report.

Teaching is supported by our modern Animal Unit which houses over 150 animals of 40 different species. The collection consists of domesticated and exotic species, in settings that are as natural as possible. There are specialist teaching rooms within the Animal Unit which contain various research equipment and essential resources to enhance your learning experience. You'll also benefit from our veterinary and equestrian facilities, as well as the working farm which includes sheep and a herd of Lincoln red beef cattle, and the newly built poultry unit.

Find out more about our Brackenhurst Campus on our website.

Visit us

Want to find out more about studying with us? Find out more at one of our upcoming open days. Reserve your place.

More information

For more information on our courses, please visit our website.



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The two-year MSc programme Animal Sciences is a continuation of a BSc in Animal Sciences or an equivalent programme in the field of livestock, companion animals and wildlife. Read more

The two-year MSc programme Animal Sciences is a continuation of a BSc in Animal Sciences or an equivalent programme in the field of livestock, companion animals and wildlife. The language of instruction is English. The focus is to deliver skilled professional animal scientists who are well equipped to tackle problems related to sustainable livestock development as well as to the management of livestock and companion animals. The animal-human interaction plays an important role in this study programme. Themes like animal nutrition, animal health, animal welfare, levels of management, genetic diversity and socio-economic factors are all widely discussed.

Study programme

Today’s specialists in livestock and companion animals need a fundamental scientific training, combined with a critical attitude towards all aspects constraining sustainable development of animal husbandry. The master Animal Sciences, which is unique for the Netherlands, offers the multidisciplinary training necessary for a future career in this field.

On the Programme of Animal Sciences page you can find the general outline of the programme and more detailed information about courses, theses and internships.

Specialisations

Within the master programme you can choose one of the following Specialisations to meet your personal interests.

  • Genetics and Biodiversity
  • Nutrition and Metabolism
  • Global and Sustainable Production
  • Adaptation, Health and Welfare
  • Molecule, Cell and Organ Functioning
  • Animal Ecology

Professional tracks

Next to your specialisation, you can also choose a Professional track. These tracks prepare you for a specific type of career.

Your future career

Now that you have read all the information about the MSc programme Animal Sciences, you can find at this page what kind of work you can do after you graduate from this programme. Animal scientists find work primarily at universities or in the business sector, such as in the feed and pharmaceutical (veterinary medicines) industries.

Read more about career perspectives and opportunities after finishing the programme.

Related programmes:

MSc Biology 

MSc Forest and Nature Conservation 

MSc Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management

MSc Biosystems Engineering

MSc Organic Agriculture



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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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We start with a semester of formal lectures (2 x 5 week blocks) and assocaiated assignments covering. Read more
We start with a semester of formal lectures (2 x 5 week blocks) and assocaiated assignments covering: Behavioural development; Motivation and sensory systems; Evolution and behaviour; Pain, stress and welfare; Navigation; Cognition; Endocrines and pheromones; Communication and Welfare of farm, companion and zoo animals; Behaviour and conservation; Fear and sterotypies and Practical measures for enhancing welfare. We also have visits to Belfast Zoological Gardens, Castle Espie Wildfowl Centre and Farms. In semester two we cover practical topics that include defining and recording behaviour, experimental design and analyses, presentation of results in various formats and getting to grips with primary literature. That is a period in which students also focus on preparing for the project and they give a seminar onhow they intend to approach the research project. The latter is a 5-month, fully-supervised Research Project that can involve field work abroad, field work on UK farms, exerimental work in the labortaory or field. It can involve welfare or fundamental animal behaviour. We have a team of ten that currently offer diverse projects for this course and nine of these are involved in the delivery of lectures (check our web site). Project supervisors will also supervise a literature review in the broad area of the project. Knowledge gained form the course can be applied to fundamental scientific research and to practical areas such as conservation, animal husbandry and zoo environments. Formal teaching is on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, one year full time two years part time.

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The Applied Ethology and Animal Biology master’s programme deals with animal behaviour and biology from an applied perspective, including problems associated with keeping animals in captivity. Read more

The Applied Ethology and Animal Biology master’s programme deals with animal behaviour and biology from an applied perspective, including problems associated with keeping animals in captivity. The aim is to provide students with a solid understanding of theory and methods of applied ethology.

You gain a good working knowledge of the programme’s central issues, such as the biology of stress and its role in animal welfare, the effects of domestication on animal behaviour, the physiology of behaviour, and conservation biology. The programme is taught in collaboration with Kolmården Wildlife Park, one of the largest and most highly renowned zoos in Sweden. Several teaching sessions are held at the zoo where you acquire first-hand knowledge from experienced zoologists.

Understand theory and methods

The programme provides a solid understanding of theory and methods of applied ethology and broadens their understanding of animal biology through courses such as:

  • Applied Ethology
  • Stress and Animal Welfare
  • Behavioural Neurobiology
  • Behaviour Genetics
  • Zoobiology
  • Primate Ethology
  • Conservation Biology for Ethologists

Hands-on projects

In addition to classroom lectures and seminars, you participate in hands-on projects involving studies of animals in captive environments. A key part of the programme is a one-year degree project in which you apply their theoretical and methodological knowledge.

After completing the programme, you will be well-acquainted with the theoretical background of animal behaviour and biology. You will have a deep understanding of animal welfare and conservation, and learn how to plan, implement and present a research project within the scientific field of the programme.



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Are you passionate about animal welfare and keen to shape the management of the zoos of the future? Students from over 20 nationalities have chosen our unique programme, the first of its kind in the world. Read more
Are you passionate about animal welfare and keen to shape the management of the zoos of the future? Students from over 20 nationalities have chosen our unique programme, the first of its kind in the world. Study factors affecting animal behaviour, conservation, welfare and their interactions, as well as international zoo management and collaboration. Our partnership with Paignton Zoo gives you regular access to their connections, research and expertise – so you’re primed to make a difference.

Key features

-Delivered in conjunction with the staff at Paignton Zoo and its parent body, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust which also owns Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts.
-Develop your scientific knowledge, professional and technical skills as a conservation biologist. Learn how to manage animal collections for the purpose of education, conservation and wildlife research.
-Study aspects of animal behaviour and ecology, as well as how welfare, housing, nutrition and health all have a part to play in species management.
-Learn to troubleshoot problems at the level of a social group within a particular zoological collection, right up to the level of a species globally. Explore how breeding programmes for endangered species are international in scope.
-Benefit from the knowledge and guidance of Plymouth University’s expert staff with specialisms including the behaviour of captive animals, animal nutrition, the welfare of captive birds and the application of population genetics to captive and natural fish populations.
-Find out how the science of zoos is used to inform government policy. Two of our teaching team are the only academic representatives on the government’s Zoos Expert Committee.
-Get behind-the-scenes insight with a day of study each week with our partners at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park. Deepen your understanding of the business and conservation work of zoos, and how networks and collaborations work between them.
-Access the latest research and information from the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, including information on their co-ordinated breeding programmes for endangered species.
-Be inspired by opportunities to visit a range of zoos in the region – including Dartmoor, Bristol and Newquay – and to travel abroad for research projects. A recent student travelled to Louisiana Zoo for her research project on golden tamarin monkeys.
-Graduates work in zoos as educators, researchers, managers and keepers. Many go on to PhD study or work in further education. Other employers include the European Association for Zoos and Aquaria; the Natural History Unit (BBC); national and international conservation organisations.

Course details

As a full-time student, you’ll study seven modules taking in everything from genetics to environmental enrichment, preventative health to budgeting. We update modules to reflect current thinking and you can specialise within them. If you’re interested in working with tigers, for example, this can be reflected across your work. You’ll be assessed through coursework with practical tasks focused on your future career. Core modules include introduction to zoo organisation, animal conservation, applied animal behaviour and management, animal metabolism and nutrition, animal health and welfare and business management. You’ll then do a final three-month research project of your choice. Previous investigations have included everything from female mate choice in white faced saki monkeys to how peripheral and/or invasive activity affects the behaviour and enclosure use of captive sand tiger sharks.

Core modules
-BIO505 Research Project
-ANIM5006 Contemporary Zoo Management
-BIO5131 Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods
-ANIM5005 Zoo Animal Behaviour and Welfare
-ANIM5007 Small Population Conservation
-ANIM5008 Conservation Ecology and Society
-ANIM5009 Zoo Animal Health, Nutrition and Management

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

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About this course. This course covers the diversity of human-animal interactions. It critically evaluates and assesses the biological and social basis of these interactions, with the aim of improving our understanding, and enhancing the overall quality of specific human-animal interactions. Read more

About this course

This course covers the diversity of human-animal interactions. It critically evaluates and assesses the biological and social basis of these interactions, with the aim of improving our understanding, and enhancing the overall quality of specific human-animal interactions. It combines advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills.

You’ll study how humans and animals interact, covering both theoretical and practical aspects of these interactions. There’s an emphasis on examining the animal aspect of the interaction, while adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the wider subject area. You’ll discover how this knowledge can be applied to practical situations where an in-depth understanding of human-animal interactions might be of benefit. For example, in animal rescue and rehoming centres; the utilisation of animals for educational and therapeutic purposes; human-animal conflict situations; and the role and value of animals in society more generally.

You’ll study the current issues and insights at the forefront of anthrozoology, and the philosophical, welfare and ethical issues related to these. You’ll explore general patterns in human and animal cognition, behaviour, and psychological functioning, and appreciate how these relate to the application of anthrozoology.

On this course, you’ll also evaluate the rigour and validity of published research, and assess its relevance to new situations within the discipline. You’ll gain an insight into recent advances in animal science, specifically relating to the applications of anthrozoology – therefore, attending a relevant scientific conference is strongly advised as an integral part of this course.

How do you study?

and practical sessions. You’ll also have opportunities to present your work to peers and academic staff. Independent learning is required, and you’ll undertake high-quality research. You will research your chosen topic in depth, then design and implement a relevant research project, and communicate the findings to an informed audience in a comprehensive scientific report.

Teaching is supported by our modern Animal Unit which houses over 150 animals from 40 different species. The collection consists of domesticated and exotic species, in settings that are as naturalistic as possible. There are specialist teaching rooms within the Animal Unit that contain research equipment and essential resources to enhance your learning experience. You’ll also benefit from our veterinary and equestrian facilities, as well as our working farm that includes sheep and a herd of Lincoln red beef cattle, and our new poultry unit.

Find out more about our Brackenhurst Campus on our website.

Visit us

Want to find out more about studying with us? Find out more at one of our upcoming open days. Reserve your place.

More information

For more information on our courses, please visit our website.



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About this course. This suite of courses is unique in the UK. The courses focus on the recent advances in equine health and disease, sports horse nutrition, behaviour, ethics, exercise physiology, equitation science, and genetics in the context of enhancing equine performance, health and welfare. Read more

About this course

This suite of courses is unique in the UK. The courses focus on the recent advances in equine health and disease, sports horse nutrition, behaviour, ethics, exercise physiology, equitation science, and genetics in the context of enhancing equine performance, health and welfare.

They combine advanced research and academic skills with applied science skills. We are one of the few universities in the UK to offer taught multidisciplinary modules that develop the scientific expertise and understanding that employers are looking for.

You’ll study the current issues and insights at the forefront of equine performance, health and welfare, and the philosophical, ethical and legal issues related to these. You’ll gain insight into the latest scientific research findings, and critically examine these in a practical context. The research project enables you to undertake and develop your own research interests with the support of experienced supervisors.

The MRes courses offer you the chance to develop even further your understanding of equine research and specialise within the fields of either performance or health and welfare. On these courses, you’ll enhance your research expertise, enabling you to analyse and report findings to a high scientific standard, and communicate them to a wide range of audiences.

How do you study

You’ll be taught through a mixture of lectures, laboratory classes, demonstrations, and project work. You’ll also have opportunities to present your work to peers and academic staff. Independent learning is required, and you’ll undertake high-quality research. You’ll research your chosen topic in depth, then design and implement a relevant research project, and communicate the findings to an informed audience in a comprehensive scientific report.

Teaching is supported by our British Horse Society-approved Equestrian Centre, which has stabling for over 65 horses. Its facilities include international-size indoor and floodlit outdoor riding arenas, a research arena, horse walker, round pen, group housing pens, a dedicated performance analysis room with mechanical horse, and a variety of equine housing systems including, traditional style stabling, American-barn style housing and crew yards. You’ll be able to use specialist equipment, including heart rate monitors, GPS equipment, Pegasys gait analysis system, DartfishProSuite®, Tekscanpressure mapping, infrared camera system, mobile eye tracking systems, and the Equistat Pro system.

You’ll also have access to specialised teaching and laboratory facilities. Modules are delivered by academic lecturers, who are research-active in their area of expertise. Their international research links provide opportunities and scope for a wide range of research projects in the field of equine performance, health and welfare. They liaise closely with industry, to ensure the course is relevant and meets the needs of employers.

Find out more about our Brackenhurst Campus on our website

Visit us

Want to find out more about studying with us? Find out more at one of our upcoming open days. Reserve your place.

More information

For more information on our courses, please visit our website.



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