Chestnut horse grazing in field
Postgraduate Certificate

Equine Behaviour and Welfare

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

Duration: 1 year part-time

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Apply for this course here:


Course overview

This is the ideal postgraduate course for those who want to integrate advanced science with the field of equine behaviour and welfare. You’ll apply theory to practice in a supported setting, while developing new expertise to advance your knowledge and career.

Key to the course is optimising horse welfare through understanding the associations between behavioural and management strategies, as well as health and performance within the domestic horse.

You’ll benefit from world-class technologies including a well-renowned equine therapy and rehabilitation centre that’s leading the way in related research.

Alongside this, you’ll be encouraged to attend academic and industry conferences and engage with communities of practice to enhance your learning and professional network, including those hosted at Hartpury.

Our outstanding arenas host over 100 events each year, attracting leading equestrian athletes from across the world. We’re also home to over 230 horses and riders in our livery centre, spanning all levels, from novice to semi-professional.

This master’s-level qualification is a recognised qualification in its own right, but upon successful completion, you’ll also have the option to progress on to our Postgraduate Diploma or MSc in Equine Science, where you’ll be able to select from a diverse range of equine behaviour and welfare modules to suit your interests and career goals.

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What you'll study

What you'll study

The focus of this programme is on developing your understanding of the role that human actions and management systems have on the horse’s behaviour.

You’ll be encouraged to evaluate human, horse and management system interactions, whilst tailoring the focus of your projects and modules to suit your interests and career goals.

You’ll have opportunities to gain first-hand experience of advanced technologies at Hartpury, including gait analysis and electromyography equipment, as well as riding simulators used to assess rider influence on horse performance – some of our simulators are among the most advanced in the world at an educational institution.

Developing this bespoke expertise will be valuable for your career performance and progression.

On successful course completion, you may be eligible to further specialise your learning and development, by progressing onto our Postgraduate Diploma or MSc in Equine Science, selecting from a diverse range of equestrian performance modules, as well as others to suit your interests. Please visit the MSc Equine Science course page to find out more.

View MSc Equine Science degree


Below you’ll find the compulsory modules for this course. You’ll also be able to choose from a range of optional modules to suit your interests and career goals. Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands.

Compulsory modules

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.

Optional modules

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

Recent subjects have included equine therapy and rehabilitation, equine exercise physiology, research processes and independent study.

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.

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, part-time

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

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 Postgraduate Certificate 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 following breakdowns may vary, depending on module choices.

The course is taught in English.

Contact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
Postgraduate Certificate18%0%82%

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, 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
Postgraduate Certificate0%25%75%

Assessment will vary depending on the optional modules you choose.

This course has been specially designed to fit around those working or volunteering within the sector. The course is taught over two, 12-week semesters, normally consisting of four or five scheduled teaching blocks and assessment weeks.

  • 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 largely come from our own businesses on campus, as well as the networking facilitated through guest lecturers and field trips.

Field trips 

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

Recent field trips have included visits to places such as 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.

Industry professionals in lectures

Guest lecturers are selected to extend your learning and professional networks, recently including physical therapists, veterinary surgeons and research scientists within the field of equine behvioural science.

On-campus experiences

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 the opportunity to get hands-on with clinical cases and to network with the range of allied professionals that involved in the rehabilitation and management of the horses, including veterinarians, farriers, nutritionists and more.

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.

Explore equine activities

Graduate destinations

Whether you have already defined your career goals or you’re keen to explore your options, these programmes provide opportunities 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 on-hand to provide expert advice and guidance, as required.

Recent graduate destinations have included:

  • Welfare and Research Officer, Equine Welfare Charity
  • Research Manager, Equine Welfare Charity
  • MSc Equine Science


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 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 most advanced of its kind at an academic institution in the world. It provides the perfect place for you to develop real-world expertise, providing 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, alongside diversity of stabling types, offer students extensive opportunities to enhance their learning and practice. Projects recently undertaken utilising Equine Centre resources 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 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.

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.

Impact where it matters

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

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.