Data analysis software on laptop analysing rider performance at Hartpury

Equestrian Science

Typical offer: 2:1 honours degree (2:2 applicants considered individually)

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

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Apply for this course here:


Course overview

This unique Master of Research (MRes) degree is a specialised master’s degree that provides the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the core principles of research as well as the ability to undertake research in the equestrian science subject area.

You will expand your knowledge and understanding of current issues impacting equestrian science and will benefit from the use of a range of specialist research skills and methods, including data analysis, and will be able to apply these skills in practical environments. Throughout the programme you will use critical skills to solve complex problems, develop new ideas, and evaluate current processes and equestrian practices.

Our Equestrian Performance Research Arena is fast developing its reputation for world-leading research. Furthermore, you’ll benefit from world-class research facilities on campus, including our commercial equine and rider performance centres, training arenas, scientific laboratories, as well as our livery centre with over 230 horses and riders at different levels, from Olympic and Paralympic athletes to novice riders.

Delivery is flexible and often at weekends to fit around your work or other commitments.

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

What you'll study

What you'll study

This degree is centred around developing you as a researcher. As such, the programme involves you undertaking project modules where you will be encouraged to undertake an innovative research designed to progress your own as well as industry expertise.

Scheduled teaching generally takes place in blocks across weekends and the compulsory modules will advance your skills in critically evaluating current research and develop your abilities in research design and statistical analysis.

You’ll be allocated a supervisory team to guide and support you through any project-based modules within your studies. Our academic team has extensive subject expertise, and the one-to-one support will support you to develop academically rigorous and industry-relevant research.

Alongside compulsory research skills modules, you’ll choose two optional modules from our diverse range of postgraduate equine modules to complement your area of subject interest.
You’ll also be encouraged to attend industry conferences, with opportunities to present research in key areas – this provides a great foundation for you to develop your knowledge and reputation, as well as expand your industry networks.


Below you’ll find the compulsory modules for this course. You’ll also be able to choose two modules from the diverse range of optional modules listed to complement your specific area of interest and career goals.

Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands.

Compulsory modules

Develop and undertake a detailed and independent research project on a topic of your choosing, related
to your Master of Research degree.

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

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

Gain experience of exploring literature, understanding and utilising research methodologies, and data
analysis aligned to your specific area of interest. This process will lead to the design, completion and write
up of a preliminary research project where dissemination of research outputs will also be covered to
develop scientific communications skills.

Optional modules

The application and assessment of biomechanical principles to equestrian athletic performance.

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

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

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.

You will undertake an extended literature review in an area of your choice, supported by an academic supervisor.

Explore the physiological and biomechanical demands of the rider across difference disciplines and how the rider adapts and modifies to harmonise with the horse.

Evaluate the practical techniques used within therapeutic care of the sports horse.

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.

Teams run regular workshops, alongside offering one-to-one sessions, which can be attended on campus or virtually. Alongside this, you'll find a comprehensive bank of online study skills resources to help you make the most of your qualification.

Your learning experiences

You'll experience a range of teaching methods to strengthen your understanding of topics, including lectures, workshops and practical sessions.

Further details

One year, full-time

You can study this qualification full-time and subsequently complete it within one year.

Two-three years, part-time

Alternatively, we offer flexible part-time options to help students to manage their studies alongside other commitments. These options can be tailored to suit your own 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).

This course is made up of three semesters, within which you’ll study a mix of compulsory and optional modules. Within your final semester you'll submit the postgraduate research project that you have been developing within your chosen area of interest.

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 following breakdowns may vary, depending on module choices.

The course is taught in English.

Contact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
MRes degree9%0%91%

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

Meetings and tutorials with your dissertation supervisor can take place either face-to-face on campus, by phone or online.

You’ll be assessed through a mixture of written exams, oral exams and presentations, and written assessments. 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.

Feedback will be provided to you throughout the course both formatively, with staff feeding back on draft work or in subject discussions, or summatively, provided by the staff commentary accompanying marked assessments. The following breakdowns may vary, depending on module choices.

Written examPractical examCoursework
MRes degree0%26%74%

The full-time master’s programme is delivered over three 12-week semesters, normally consisting of four of five scheduled teaching blocks and assessment weeks, delivered at set times, depending on your module selection. Part-time options vary - please enquire.

  • Scheduled teaching generally takes place across block weekends (Friday – Sunday)
  • Delivery on the teaching weekends is normally scheduled between 9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Part-time students typically study for fewer block weekends across an academic year
  • Attendance dates and timetables are available before enrolment to support the arrangement of annual leave where required


Your career

Industry opportunities on this course are largely provided by our own businesses on campus (see facilities tab), as well as the networking facilitated through guest lecturers and field trips.

Field trips and guest lecturers

Field trips and industry professionals in lectures form an important part of your learning, enabling you to experience different businesses, careers and best practices.

Recent field trips have included visits to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Tweenhills Farm and Stud, and Kingswood Stud, home of the Kurtsystem. The trips facilitate both industry networking and the opportunity to experience the application of science in practice with those using it on a daily basis.

Guest lecturers are selected to enhance your learning and extend your professional networks, with recent guest lecturers including physical therapists, veterinary surgeons, research scientists in reproductive immunology, artificial Insemination technicians and performance coaches.

On-campus opportunities

Our commercial equine therapy and performance centres offer opportunities for students to gain industry experience to support their careers.

With teams made up of expert personnel alongside volunteers, you could have opportunities to get hands-on with clinical cases and to network with the range of allied professionals involved in the rehabilitation and management of the horses, including veterinarians, farriers and nutritionists.

Furthermore, opportunities exist to gain valuable industry experience by volunteering at the national and international level events hosted by our Equine Centre. These include the Five Star Hartpury Horse Trials and the Hartpury International Festival of Dressage.

Find out more about our commercial equine activities below.

Graduate destinations

Whether you have already defined your career goals or you’re keen to explore your options, these programmes provide opportunities for you to develop both the specialist and transferable skills needed for a range of graduate careers.

Our teaching staff, professionals on campus and careers team are available to provide expert advice and guidance, as required. Recent graduate destinations include:

  • Competition Administrator, British Horse Society
  • Assistant Therapy Centre Manager
  • Agricultural Recruitment Consultant
  • ‎UK representative, Digatherm Thermography
  • University lecturer
  • Assistant racehorse trainer
  • PhD study


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 lectures halls and workshop spaces, these include:

Equine Therapy Centre

Our campus Equine Therapy Centre is among the best known in the UK,  being a highly reputable and well-established referral centre for over two decades.

Alongside being a successful business, treating a diverse range of horses, from Olympic athletes to companion ponies, it’s a place of learning for our students, embedded into both teaching and research activities.

You’ll have the opportunity to experience first-hand the techniques used on clinical cases as part of professional networks and, where relevant, be able to utilise the centre for your postgraduate research project.

The Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance

Our Margaret Giffen Centre for Rider Performance is the world’s most advanced of its kind at an academic institution. It is the perfect place for you to develop real-world expertise with access to world-leading equipment and industry experts. Facilities within the centre are incorporated into relevant modules within the programme and, where relevant, are available for use within your postgraduate research project.


Our laboratories are modern and well­ equipped, providing the ideal spaces for scientific activities and research. Some are used for specialist microbiological culturing and analysis, others for biochemistry and dissections.

Equine Centre

Comprising our commercial livery yard for 230 horses and modern equestrian facilities, our Equine Centre provides a diverse learning and research environment.

Riders and horses at different performance levels and diversity of stabling types offer students extensive opportunities to enhance their learning and practice.

Projects previously undertaken have uncovered new knowledge in nocturnal behaviour, workload modelling, dietary supplement efficacy and performance parameter assessments, to name only a few.

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.

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 significant 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:

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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.

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 (circa £100)

A number of modules require clothing and footwear suitable to wear on the yard, eg. long trousers and boots.

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

Optional field trips 

Field trips are generally included in the course fees.  However, extra costs may be required for specific optional trips.

Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our student accommodation page for details.


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.

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.

Have access to equine scientists and veterinary teams in our commercial Equine Therapy Centre.

We treat development and performance athletes including 2016 Olympic champion Valegro who visits regularly to stay in shape.

Book open day

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.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro winning Hartpury International Festival of Dressage 2016

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 who graduated in 2020.