Animal Science

Typical offer: 2:1 honours degree

Duration: 1-3 years; full-time and part-time options

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Delivery: Online and campus-based; flexible to fit around commitments

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Course overview

Influence industry practice and advance your own expertise through impactful research in an area of animal science you’re passionate about. You’ll apply theory to practice in real-world settings, with access to academic expertise, advanced scientific equipment and extensive research subjects.

Improve the lives of animals

We’ll support you to design and deliver an impactful research project, focused on an external setting, such as your workplace, or utilising the unique resources available on our 360-hectare campus.

Technological and scientific developments are rapidly influencing the many aspects of animal science, making innovative research essential to sustainable practice. Our students uncover invaluable new knowledge that impacts real-world practice in animal behaviour, welfare, production, nutrition, reproduction and biomechanics.

Work with experts in the field

You’ll be supported by research-active lecturers, professors and industry professionals from Hartpury and our extensive networks. These include partnerships with national governing bodies, LEAF Farms, NAF, NFU, BEF, Jockey Club, UK Agility, RSPCA, PFMA, PIF and BIAZA.

Most of our learning and research facilities are also home to successful businesses, which means you’ll have access to real-world research subjects, industry experts and technologies.

Advance your studies your way

You'll be supported to progress a specific area of your professional practice or prepare for a PhD study. A mix of learning pathways, including campus and online delivery, will help you to design your timetable around other commitments.

Apply now Contact us: +44 (0)1452 702244

What you'll study

What you'll study

This degree has been designed to equip you with advanced research expertise in the field of animal science through taught lectures, seminars and one-to-one sessions. You’ll develop new theoretical and practical expertise to help progress your studies and career, as well as advance future scientific research and real-world practice.

You’ll be equipped with the skills required for critical evaluation of research, effective research design and accurate statistical analysis, allowing you to apply current scientific thinking to your specific research topic, which you’ll conduct in your own time alongside your learning. You'll also explore the issues being faced in the animal welfare science sector. Recent project areas have covered aspects of canine hydrotherapy, meat production and microbiological profiles of pet food bowls.

You’ll select two optional modules to complement your research topic from our diverse range of postgraduate modules across the animal, agriculture and equine course area provision. This will enable you to advance new knowledge to help shape your research and professional practice.

You’ll be encouraged to attend industry conferences and familiarise yourself with academic journals, with opportunities to present and publish your research.


Below you’ll find the compulsory modules for this course. You’ll also be able to choose a subject-specific optional module from our diverse specialist portfolio within the animal, agriculture and equine departments to suit your interests and career goals. Choose one or two of the optional modules to study in addition to the compulsory modules. Your optional module choices should amount to 30 credits. Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands.

Compulsory modules

Discuss research methodologies and applications, as well as strengths, weaknesses and limitations of different methods.

Explore literature, advanced research methodologies and data analysis aligned to your area of specific interest, leading to the design, completion and write up of a preliminary research project. Dissemination of research outputs will also be covered to develop your scientific communication skills.

Develop and undertake a significant research project of your choosing on a topic related to animal science.

You'll analyse contemporary issues in animal welfare, including legislation, areas of welfare concern, and evidence of sentience.

Optional modules

Examine the underpinning principles of animal welfare that inform policy and legislation decisions, both in terms of biological science and social science. You’ll explore stress, pain and nociception, motivation and sentience, both in terms of the underpinning biology and their outward interpretation. You’ll also explore how attitudes towards animals are influenced by religious, cultural, political and philosophical beliefs and how they impact our interpretation of animal welfare measures.

Bring together your understanding of ethical frameworks, animal welfare science, and animal behaviour measurement. You will then be able to navigate the complexities of assessing animal welfare in the real world.  

This module allows students to explore the fundamentals of equine exercise physiology in the context of different equestrian disciplines and their application to training.

Explore zoological institutions as well as areas surrounding performance animals, pest control, population management and game rearing. This module will touch on important international legislation, such as CITES.

Explore the industries for companion animals and equines, covering a range of topics, from how animals are sourced (eg pet shops and breeders) to their use in sporting disciplines, therapy animals, animals in education and military / police animals. 

You will contextualise your understanding of behaviour and welfare to animals kept as companions (e.g. dogs, cats, horses), exploring how variation in the human-animal bond has impacted on their welfare. Furthermore, you will explore how animal welfare can be practically assessed and positive changes enacted in these real-world contexts.

Examine the use of animals within scientific contexts, from research to authorisation and licensing of both human and veterinary medicines, and how animal use is justified through a cost-benefit framework.

This module aims to provide students with the knowledge and analytical skills to critically examine the ethics and the sustainability of practices within the global equine industry in relation to a variety of stakeholders.

This module aims to provide students with the knowledge and evaluative skills to debate the ethics and practicalities surrounding management of the horse within a range of societal pressures and the wider social responsibilities of the industry.

This module introduces you to natural and domestic behavioural patterns of the horse, covering, amongst other topics, learning theory in relation to training and management.

Evaluate the differing philosophical frameworks that govern why we are concerned for the lives and lived experiences of non-human animals. You’ll further understand how these frameworks have been applied in real-life contexts.

Gain exposure to, and analysis of, research across a wide range of topics within the field of equine science including seminar and conference attendance.

Focus on the most relevant policies and legislative items that relate to agriculture and food production. These will include a range of topics such as transport, slaughter and disease control as well as looking at management of a variety of farmed species.

The aim of the module is to focus your attention on the importance of sustainable resource management within industry to enable you to effectively measure the capacity and efficient use of critical resources (natural, manufactured and human).

This will help you to balance resource supply / demand, maintain control over sustainable resource utilisation and improve cost efficiency to ensure business viability.

An introduction to ethical and philosophical principles, providing underpinning concepts for the applied aspects of the programme. Topics covered include human evolution and animal domestication, theories and principles of human psychology, and the impact of the human-animal bond on animal behaviour and welfare.

Explore how policy and legislation is developed, enacted and reviewed whilst discussing the role that science plays in making changes and the challenges of enacting legislation in the real world.

Explore the drivers of and solutions for human wildlife conflict.  In the module you will discuss and debate the ecological, social, and economic impacts of wildlife conflict and conservation.

Please visit our document library for more module information.

Further module information

How you'll study

How you'll study

We're committed to supporting you to fulfil your unique potential while you're here so that you can achieve your personal and professional goals.

Your support network

You'll benefit from a strong support network from day one. This will range from your lecturers, supervisors and personal tutor to our specialist academic (Achievement and Success Centre), employability (Innovation, Careers and Enterprise) and wellbeing teams.

One year, full-time

You can study this qualification full-time and complete in one year.

Two-three years, part-time

We offer part-time options to help students to manage their studies alongside other commitments. These options can be tailored to suit your needs, enabling you to complete your qualification in two or three years. Please enquire for further details.

Upon successful completion of your modules you’ll gain academic credit that accumulates towards your award. The marks you gain may contribute towards your final master’s degree differential award (pass, merit or distinction).

The modules contain a mixture of scheduled learning – lectures, workshops and practical sessions – alongside independent learning. Students are expected to dedicate at least two to three hours of independent study per contact hour.

The course is taught in English.

Contact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
MRes degree10%0%90%

Teaching contact time and method will vary depending on the modules that you are studying.

You’ll be assessed through a mixture of written, practical and oral exams, coursework and production of research reports. Many of the modules will be marked based on a mixture of assessment types, whilst others will be based solely on one type of assessment. The type of assessment may vary depending on which subject-specific optional module you select.

Written examPractical examCoursework

This course is made up of three teaching blocks. Semesters normally consist of 12 weeks of scheduled teaching and then assessment weeks, with an overview below:

  • The majority of modules are offered via on-site and online learning, incorporating a mixture of interactive campus-based and online sessions, alongside independent research

  • Learning is mostly independent apart from the research process, delivered weekly through online sessions and drop ins in semester one, and your optional module. The delivery mode and semester for your optional module will depend upon which module is chosen

  • Applied Research Practice and Extended Postgraduate Dissertation are delivered primarily through one-to-one meetings with your supervisor alongside your research activities. Depending upon your area of research focus this could be time spent on-campus, with our animal and agriculture facilities, or at home


Professional practice

Some optional modules require you to reflect on your current professional practice, so if you’re currently working in a professional role (voluntary, paid, full or part-time), this will be an ideal supplement to your studies.

Research in commercial environments

You may want to progress your research in an external environment, but you may also be keen to make the most of our own commercial activities on campus. These include our farm and Agri-Tech Centre, equine and canine therapy centres, and equine events centre.

We have strong industry partnerships across all subject areas that students can utilise and benefit from for their research. These include partnerships with national governing bodies, LEAF Farms, NAF, NFU, BEF, Jockey Club, UK Agility, RSPCA, PFMA, PIF and BIAZA.

Graduate destinations

Studying a Master of Research degree provides you with the necessary skills to develop your career in a specific direction of travel or for PhD studies. It will also support you to advance your own professional aspirations – contemporary research experience will place you at the forefront of knowledge within your discipline.


World-class facilities

You’ll have access to a diverse range of facilities while you’re here, many of which are newly built and world-class. Alongside lecture halls and workshop spaces, these include:


  • Over 70 animal species in our campus animal collection – domestics, exotics, invertebrates and amphibians – as well as a wealth of wildlife across our 360-hectare rural campus
  • Animal science laboratories and a veterinary nursing centre include a thermal imager, new magnifiers and binocular and trinocular microscopes, Dietcheck software, a veterinary haematology analyser and microplate reader
  • Our commercial Canine Hydrotherapy Centre and dog agility arena


  • Our Equine Therapy Centre including Sato high-speed and Aquafit water treadmills
  • Our Rider Performance Centre including advanced riding simulators, 3D motion capture and electromyography technology, weight-lifting platforms and a dedicated sports therapy area
  • Veterinary facilities including an examination room where procedures such as nerve blocking, joint medication and radiography are carried out
  • International competition arenas and over 230 horses and riders of all levels on campus, from professional to recreational
  • Our Equine events centre, which hosts two international equestrian competitions each year (dressage and eventing), as well as over 100 national and local events


  • Our award-winning 400-hectare commercial farm across five sites, including Home Farm on campus, featuring livestock and arable farming activities
  • Exceptional facilities including a dairy bull-beef rearing unit, 296-cubicle dairy unit and a Shearwell Te Pari Racewell HD3 Sheep Handler
  • Our £2 million Agri-Tech Centre which includes the latest smart farming technologies to collaborate on real-world projects to improve productivity and profitability across the UK

Study spaces

Our University Learning Centre has books, journals, ebooks, computers and breakout study spaces. In addition, we have a study Lounge - an informal space with sports equipment, study booths and chill-out spaces to support both studying and relaxation. Postgraduate students also have a specially designated study area with 24-hour access.

Take a virtual tour

Entry requirements

Entry requirements


2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Students with 2:2 and relevant experience will be considered on a case by case basis.


Students with non-relevant qualifications but with sufficient work experience or professional experience will be considered on an individual basis.


In addition to the academic qualification an IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required.

Please contact us for further information.

Email us

Fees and funding

Tuition fees and financial support

Please visit our student finance page for information on tuition fees and student loans, as well as non-repayable grants, bursaries and scholarships, eligible to different groups, to support with study costs.

MRes Bursary

You may be eligible for a £1,000 bursary to support your research project. Please visit our finance page for more details.

Explore student finance

Extra costs

Below you'll find extra costs associated with studying this course, as well as costs associated with living and extra-curricular activities that might be of interest.

Clothing and footwear for optional module:

You may need to purchase appropriate clothing and footwear for your optional module, depending upon which one you select. You’ll be informed about this prior to selection.

Hartpury University branded clothing is also available through our online shop, for those who wish to purchase it. However, this is not essential.

Visit Hartpury shop


Travel costs for your professional work placement are self-funded.

Optional field trips (circa £500)

Costs need to be self-funded.

Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our student accommodation page for details.

Explore accommodation

Performance Sports Academy membership

Find out costs and details for joining one of our performance Sports Academy teams.

Sports Academy Membership

Hartpury gym

Find out about costs and details for joining the Hartpury gym.

Explore Hartpury gym

Equine Academy

If you have the talent and drive to develop your skills as an equestrian athlete alongside your studies, you may be eligible to join our Equine Academy. For further details including costs, please visit our Equine Academy page.

Equine Academy


We have stabling for 230 horses on campus. If you're interested in having your horse at Hartpury on DIY livery while you study, please visit our livery page for details and costs.


Developing an evidence-base for canine hydrotherapy

Our commercial Cotswold Dog Spa on campus provides the perfect base for students and staff to investigate how swimming and water treadmill exercise affects canine movement. Our findings are being implemented on campus and further afield, improving how professionals rehabilitate our canine friends. You could also get involved with projects like this, helping to advance knowledge and practice in the real world.

A camera showing a dog using the canine hydrotherapy centre

Get in touch

We would love to hear from you, so please get in touch. You can ask a specific question or simply pop your details in to be kept up-to-date with news and events.

postgraduate student studying hedgehogs dogs

Important information

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of our published course information, however our programmes are reviewed and developed regularly. Changes or cancellation of courses may be necessary to ensure alignment with emerging employment areas, to comply with accrediting body requirements, revisions to subject benchmark statements or as a result of student feedback. We reserve the right to make necessary changes and will notify all offer-holders of changes as and when they occur.

*Reflects activities after 15 months for those full-time, two years students who graduated in 2020.