Lecturer teaching a class with a presentation slide showing a dogs face close-up
MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate

Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare

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: https://www.hartpury.ac.uk/university/courses/postgraduate/msc-applied-animal-behaviour-and-welfare/msc-applied-animal-behaviour-and-welfare-2023/


Course overview

Apply theoretical knowledge in practical environments to enact change. Make a positive difference in the world of animal behaviour and welfare. Our 360-hectare rural campus provides an inspiring place to develop your understanding.

Change where it matters

Supported by our academic and industry experts, you’ll challenge your understanding of a range of topics and explore the interface between ethics and science.

You’ll understand how theory is implemented in welfare assessment using the latest technological innovation, but also works within time and cost constraints.

Influence the future

By developing the written and verbal skills to communicate complex concepts to different audiences, you’ll be empowered to influence perceptions and organisational decision-making, enact change and improve industry practices.

Many of our on campus learning facilities are successful commercial businesses, while our strong industry connections will also enhance your experience as you extend your professional networks.

Advance your studies your way

Select from a range of modules to tailor your studies to specific animal welfare sectors. You’ll have access to our lecturers' expertise and world-class facilities for both practical activities and research projects.

With both full and part-time learning options available, you can choose a pathway to fit around your commitments.

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

What you'll study

What you'll study


This degree focuses on the scientific understanding of animal behaviour and welfare and how this is applied practically to real-life situations.

Study the key elements of animal welfare science, including the legal structures and scientific concepts applied to a variety of modern contexts. Explore philosophical and ethical frameworks, employ the principles and methodologies of observing and understanding animal behaviour.

You’ll utilise your expertise to develop innovative approaches to assessing animal welfare in real-world contexts. This will marry the conceptual science against the constraints, compromises and difficulties of safeguarding animal wellbeing in real-world practice.

Additional and optional components of the programme will allow you to expand your interests, analyse companion animal behaviour and welfare, and develop your skills in leading change within organisations.

Optional modules cover such topics as:

  • Legal frameworks around farm and companion animals
  • A field course examining wildlife conflicts in South Africa (places are limited)
  • A module exploring sustainable resource management

Your dissertation project will allow you to research an area of your own interest in relation to animal behaviour and / or welfare, under the guidance of one of our industry-leading research-active lecturers.

Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma

Studying a postgraduate certificate or diploma is ideal for those who want to complete a specific part of this master’s degree, without the academic research. In particular, this may suit people who are working in a specific industry and just want to focus on that one area for their study.

The postgraduate diploma includes all of the specialist modules without completion of a research dissertation. The postgraduate certificate includes the modules focusing on animal behaviour, welfare, ethics and welfare assessment. Please view the specific module breakdown for further details


Below you’ll find the compulsory and optional modules for the MSc course. Students on the MSc and PG Dip will select one of the available optional modules.

If studying the postgraduate diploma, you’ll be able to choose from the same range of optional modules to suit your interests and career goals, but you won’t study the Postgraduate Dissertation module.

If studying the postgraduate certificate, you will study the four compulsory modules, but you have no optional modules.

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

Compulsory modules

Analyse contemporary areas of welfare concern including evidence for sentience and positive welfare states. Explore appropriate solutions to overcoming the barriers to improving animal welfare in the real world.

Explore recent advances in the field of animal behaviour, including the areas of cognition, personality, social behaviour, and communication.

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.

You'll 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.

Exploring the structure, diversity and culture of organisations in relation to leadership and change management.

You'll 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'll explore how animal welfare can be practically assessed and positive changes enacted in these real-world contexts.

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

Develop and implement a research project with the support of an individual supervisor to guide and support you to undertake this innovative piece of research.

Optional modules

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.

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.

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.

The module will focus students’ attention to the importance of sustainable resource management within industry to enable them to effectively measure the capacity and efficient use of critical resources (natural, manufactured and human) to support them to balance resource supply / demand, maintain control over sustainable resource utilisation and improve cost efficiency to ensure the business viability.

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. The majority of this course will be delivered on weekdays on-site at Hartpury University, but some of the optional modules will be delivered entirely online.

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.

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 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).

The course is taught in English.

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

Contact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
MSc degree12%0%88%
Postgraduate Diploma17%0%83%
Postgraduate Certificate16%0%84%

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

You’ll be assessed through a mixture of written exams, practical exams and written assignments. 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 given in written form, with the option to discuss all feedback with academic staff.

Written examPractical examCoursework
Postgraduate Diploma


Postgraduate Certificate13%62%25%

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:

  • On-site teaching will generally be on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. A single module in the first semester may occur on another weekday (currently Thursdays)
  • Some optional modules will be taught entirely online, with some pre-recorded materials and some online sessions on a Friday morning
  • Taught modules will normally be completed by the end of semester two, with the dissertation being undertaken during semester three
  • Attendance dates and timetables are available before enrolment to support the arrangement of annual leave where required


Your career

This applied degree will equip graduates for jobs in both commercial and charitable sectors.

Commercial employment

The food production sector, for example, requires those with expertise in animal welfare in order to inform their policy and practice and monitor ongoing compliance.

This is equally true for those external organisations that monitor and confirm welfare standards compliance.

Charitable employment

You’ll be equipped for roles in the charitable sector organisations that are primarily engaged in assuring animal welfare standards, in campaigning for animal welfare, or that actively work in a welfare capacity.

Our compulsory modules will provide high-level analytical skills and knowledge, forming the basis of professional judgement.

Leadership and management roles

By offering leadership / change and resource management modules you’ll be equipped with the skills to take on more strategic roles within organisations.

Our careers team can support you to find and prepare for employment.

Potential graduate destinations include:

  • PhD study
  • Commercial/charitable animal welfare monitoring and assurance
  • Animal rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming/release
  • Starting your own business in the animal industry
  • Teaching in animal-related subjects



Our world-class facilities

As a Hartpury University student, 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:

Animal collection

Our Animal Collection includes a specialist reptile and aquatics facility, Walled Animal Garden complete with an aviary, and the paddocks. We have over 70 different species on campus, including meerkats, prairie dogs, skunks, rabbits, rodents, and tortoises. If you’re looking to further develop your skills, you can sign up for additional handling sessions with our academic team.

360-hectare campus

Our campus is a haven to a wide range of British wildlife species and is at the heart of much of our learning and research. Recently, we’ve recorded badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, great crested newts, deer and at least four species of bat on campus.

Canine Hydrotherapy Centre

Our commercial Canine Hydrotherapy Centre is one of our nine campus-based businesses; here you could gain real-world experience alongside professionals and understand how theory is applied to improve the lives of dogs through hydrotherapy.

Canine performance and training

Our specialism includes different aspects of the field and involves prestigious partners including the Kennel Club’s GB Agility team. From biomechanics and nutrition to canine health and welfare, you could get involved in a range of areas of canine sport.

Commercial farm

The farm houses cattle, sheep and pigs, under contract for a range of major food suppliers. You can complete volunteering and work experience, participating in lambing, calving, and milking, to enhance the learning in your course.

Equine centre

With stabling for 230 horses, indoor and outdoor arenas and a cross country course, the equine centre provides an opportunity to study equine behaviour, management and performance.

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 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 finance pages 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.

Explore student finance

Clothing and footwear (circa £100)

A number of modules require clothing and footwear suitable to wear outdoors when working with animals, 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.

Visit Hartpury shop

Optional field trip (up to circa £1,500)

The optional module Wildlife Conflict – optional at all levels – offers a field trip to South Africa to study conflicts that arise between local populations and wildlife and how these are positively managed. Places are limited.

Performance Sports Academy membership

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

Our Sports Academy

Hartpury gym

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

Discover more

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.

Visit 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.

Livery options

Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our student accommodation page for details.

Explore accommodation

Enrichment and welfare improvements for shelter home dogs

We’ve been using our expertise to improve the wellbeing of dogs in rescue centres.

Our recent research has revealed relatively low cost and easy ways to reduce the stress and boredom that many dogs experience in these environments.

Valuable discoveries include how scent-based enrichment can be used to enhance canine welfare and behaviour, potentially improving rehoming prospects.

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.

student studying reptile

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.