Meerkat looking up at the camera in the Hartpury animal collection
BSc (Hons)

Animal Behaviour and Welfare (with Foundation Year)

UCAS Code: DF29

Typical offer: 32-48 UCAS tariff points or equivalent

Duration: 4 or 5 years full-time; part-time available

Placement year: Optional

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Apply for this course here:


Course overview

Develop your expertise in animal behaviour and welfare and turn your passion into your career. Study the fascinating biology behind behaviour and consider ethical issues. 

This foundation year pathway provides an alternative route into degree-level study. It’s ideal for those who need to gain subject-specific knowledge and skills in order to progress onto the full BSc qualification.

You’ll be exposed to the latest research in the field of animal behaviour and welfare, and develop industry-standard practical skills to assess welfare, measure behaviour, train animals and manage domestic, exotic and wild species.

Gain first-hand experience of fieldwork and research through trips and interactions with industry professionals. Whether you want to become a welfare officer, trainer or researcher, you’ll be prepared for a range of careers in the animal sector.

If you’re considering going into international conservation, an optional field trip to Mankwe Wildlife Reserve, South Africa, allows you to experience wildlife and conservation in action, for a valuable insight into this rewarding career.

Benefit from a 360-hectare campus that’s home to a diverse range of animals. Our 70-species Animal Collection provides opportunities to assess the behaviour and welfare of domestic and non-domestic animals in different contexts. You’ll also have access to our commercial farm and equine yard.

How to apply Contact us: +44 (0)1452 702244

What you'll study

What you'll study

You’ll gain an in depth understanding of key topics in the field of animal behaviour and welfare, with core subjects ranging from behaviour, biology, and genetics, to biodiversity, welfare and ethics.

This course is comprised of both compulsory and optional modules, which you'll be able to choose from to suit your interests and career goals.

Optional modules change each year in line with student, industry and research demands - you'll find recent topics studied below. You can attend introductory sessions for optional modules before deciding which ones to study.

Level three foundation year (year one)

Develop the knowledge and skills to succeed in the remaining three years of the degree. Focus on the key subjects including animal biology, gain academic skills, and work with animal students from across the department.

Compulsory modules

Learn about the scientific method and enquiry, team working, research skills and effective time management.

Undertake an internship role at Hartpury, linked to the degree, to develop reflective, practical and transferable skills in preparation for level four study.

Develop understanding and knowledge of literature reviews. Learn how to construct a rationale, summarise and present relevant information to suit a purpose, subject and audience.

Study the fundamentals of animal care, husbandry and management for maximising animal health and welfare.

Through the study of fundamental biological aspects, gain an understanding of how organisms come about and how they function and operate for survival and performance.

Optional modules

There are no optional modules during this year. Your learning is focused on compulsory modules to ensure you have a thorough understanding of key topics to prepare you for module choices in your subsequent years.

Level four (year two)

Your second year will focus on key topics such as animal biology, health, behaviour and welfare. You’ll gain fundamental skills and knowledge that will equip you to study at higher levels in the course. Develop the key academic and vocational skills to be successful in a career in the animal industry.

Compulsory modules

Explore the factors affecting animal behaviour, including evolution, development, and human influence.

Discover how diseases affect animals, health monitoring, and animal first aid.

Gain an understanding of animal welfare, including stress, abnormal behaviours, influence of management systems, and legislation.

Explore the anatomy and physiology of animals.

Understand genetic and evolutionary principles and explore how they generate the diversity of life we see in the natural world.

Develop key academic and professional skills and the personal attributes needed to be successful in a career in the animal industry.

Optional modules

There are no optional modules during this year. Your learning is focused on compulsory modules to ensure you have a thorough understanding of key topics to prepare you for module choices in your subsequent years.

Level five (year three)

You’ll cover a range of concepts, including animal welfare assessments and ethics. Depending on the optional modules you choose, you’ll explore themes such as ecology, companion animal behaviour, training and management. You’ll also start to think about the research process in preparation for your dissertation research project in your final year.

Compulsory modules

Discover the use of behavioural, physiological and physical measures of welfare and welfare assessment in different contexts.

Explore the influence of ethical theories upon attitudes towards animals and the consideration of animal ethics and welfare in a range of contexts.

This module introduces students to the process of academic research, methods of research and analysis,
helping to prepare them for reading research literature and conducting research projects in the future.

Optional modules

Explore the ecological and evolutionary basis for animal behaviour and the role of behaviour in enabling an animal to adapt to its environment.

This module will examine the behaviour and psychology of the domestic dog and cat and our ability to train these animals to meet our own needs. This module will investigate the role of training in the daily training for obedience, enrichment and husbandry practices. This will include evaluation of the different approaches to training of such animals, the ethical considerations and the justification of methods used.

Learn a variety of field techniques to collect data about a wide range of taxa including plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals. This module includes a residential trip, which in the past has been to South Africa and Devon.

Develop an ability to evaluate animal welfare legislation and justify industry-relevant improvements to the keeping of captive animals. Knowledge will also be developed regarding how to appropriately handle and sex a range of non-human animal species.

This module introduces the use of sampling and recording methods, recording media, surveys and analysis techniques to measure animal behaviour and welfare across a wide range of species.

This module allows students to the explore the principles and practices faced by entrepreneurs whilst working through the process of developing a new commercial venture. The assessment offers students the chance to engage with their own new business idea and present to both business professionals and academic staff in a ‘dragon’s den’ style pitch.

Reflect on and evaluate a period of industry experience within the animal sector.

Integrated placement year (optional)

An optional integrated placement year between your second and final years gives you the opportunity to put your knowledge and skills into practice and gain valuable industry experience. You could choose to enter a wide range of animal-based organisations, such as charities, zoos, rescue centres, boarding kennels and laboratories, amongst others.

Level six (final year)

Your final year allows you to focus on areas that are of particular interest to you and will support you in your future career. You’ll undertake a substantial research dissertation project, which will provide you with the chance to experience being responsible for planning, implementing and reporting on a specialist topic. In addition, you’ll be exposed to contemporary challenges in the subject areas such as animal trade and welfare. You’ll focus on advanced theory and gain an insight into where current research is focussing.

Compulsory modules

This module involves independent research and analysis in an animal or agriculture‐related field with one
to‐one support from an academic.

Explore the influence of the marketplace on animal welfare, including commercial use of wildlife, animals as entertainment and transportation of animals.

Optional modules

Anthrozoology is the study of human-animal interactions, exploring the impact animals have on our lives, and the impact they have on ours.

The module will enable students to analyse and evaluate real world biodiversity conservation challenges and develop practical management recommendations based on science and industry best practice. The assessments are based on applied case studies, and incorporate some practical field work, an introduction to QGIS and management planning.

Develop the ability to critically evaluate the evidence supporting cognitive abilities in non-human animals.

You will be able to critically evaluate the effectiveness of treatment approaches in pet behaviour counselling, including developing your skills in professional communication and ability to take case histories.

This module provides the opportunity to work with a UK zoo to explore the application of the biology learnt throughout the course to the practical zoo environment, through a residential trip. Students will also explore topics such as wildlife reintroduction and breeding for conservation.

Please visit our document library for more module information.

Further module information

How you'll study

Your unique potential

We're committed to supporting you to fulfil your unique potential.

Your support network

You'll benefit from a strong support network from day one to be the best you can be. This will range from your personal tutor and specialist academic support team (our Achievement and Success Centre) to dedicated wellbeing and employability (Innovation, Careers and Enterprise) centres.

Your learning experiences

You'll experience a range of teaching methods to strengthen your digestion of topics, including lectures, workshops and practical sessions, as well as supported work placement learning as part of many courses.

Your career

Each year of your course will be made up of two semesters, within which you’ll study compulsory and optional modules on different industry-focused topics, enabling you to develop your own unique portfolio of knowledge, skills and experience, ready for your career.

Further details

You’ll have your own personal tutor while you’re here who will support you to succeed in your studies. You’ll also have access to our academic and wellbeing support teams who run regular workshops and one-to-one sessions on campus and online.

Alongside this, we have a comprehensive bank of online study skills resources to help you make the most of your qualification.

On successful completion of your modules, you’ll gain academic credit that accumulates towards your award. The marks you gain in your third and final years contribute towards your final degree classification.

The modules contain a mixture of scheduled learning – lectures, workshops, seminars and practical sessions – alongside independent learning. The Foundation Year also includes an internship using Hartpury’s on-site facilities and industry links.

You’re expected to dedicate at least two to three hours of independent study per contact hour. Some modules offer trips to locations such as zoos or assistance animal breeding centres, to show you how their knowledge can be applied within the animal industry. Some modules may invite guest lecturers to provide topical and industry-relevant talks.

The course is taught in English.

YearContact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
Level three foundation year (year one)30%0%70%
Level four (year two)30%0%70%
Level five (year three)22%0%78%
Placement year (optional)1%80%19%
Level six (final year)17%0%83%

You’ll be assessed through a mixture of written exams, practical exams and written assignments or coursework. 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 with each assessment either via a feedback sheet or summary page, or via an academic tutorial.

YearWritten examPractical examCoursework
Level three foundation year (year one)28%44%28%
Level four (year two)40%41%19%
Level five (year three)34%6%60%
Placement year (optional)0%0%100%
Level six (final year)38%10%52%

Each year of this course is taught over two semesters, normally consisting of 12 weeks of scheduled teaching and then assessment weeks, with an overview below:

  • Scheduled teaching takes place between 8.30am to 8.30pm Monday to Friday
  • Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities
  • Part-time students may need to attend learning activities five days each week, depending on modules selected
  • Timetables are available during enrolment week


Your career

Industry opportunities on this course are diverse, to ensure you develop the skills, experience and connections needed for your graduate career. Many of our students get their graduate roles with their work placement employers.

Work placements and experience

The optional integrated placement year, between the second and final year, takes you into industry and prepares you to enter your dream career. Your work placement can be at any animal-based organisation, either in the UK or overseas.

Our commercial canine and equine therapy centres offer opportunities for students to gain industry experience ready for their careers – either on work placement or within voluntary roles. Alongside this, we’ll encourage you to find a voluntary role with a local organisation such as an animal rescue shelter, wildlife rehabilitation centre or a zoo. Students have worked with organisations including the Blue Cross and West Midlands Safari Park.

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 places such as Cotswold Wildlife Park, Bristol Aquarium and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Extra fees are required – please see the fees tab.

Our students have heard from inspirational guest lecturers who are fire investigation dog handlers, conservationists, dog training professionals and zookeepers.

Graduate destinations

As an Animal Behaviour and Welfare graduate, you may go on to work in zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, rescue, conservation or welfare centres. You’ll also have the transferable skills you need for other graduate careers. Our careers team can support you to find and prepare to secure your perfect role. Recent graduate destinations have included:

  • Welfare Inspector
  • Dog Trainer
  • Animal Welfare Assistant, Blue Cross
  • Animal Carer
  • Editorial Assistant, BSAVA
  • Zoo Keeper, Bristol Zoo
  • Fundraising and Adoptions Officer
  • Animal Welfare Assistant
  • Livestock Engagement Officer
  • Researcher
  • FE Lecturer
  • ‎Guest Experience Manager, Bristol Aquarium
  • Instructor, Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Postgraduate study – MRes Animal Behaviour and Welfare, MRes Anthrozoology


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, you’ll have access to the following facilities:


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, while others are used for biochemistry and physiology.

Canine and equine therapy centres

Our commercial canine and equine therapy centres offer opportunities for students to gain industry experience ready for your career.

Animal Collections

We have a variety of animal collections including both domestic and exotic species. Activities within these areas include behavioural and welfare observations and assessments. Technologies to enhance our understanding of animals include thermal imaging and biomechanics analysis, as well as a range of behavioural measurement tools.

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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

  • UCAS tariff points | A typical offer for this course is 32-48 UCAS tariff points or equivalent.

  • GCSE | A minimum of 5 GCSE A* to C, (or 9 to 4 where numeric grades are being awarded) or equivalent, to include English Language and Mathematics.

  • A-level | Typical offer is EE-DD or equivalent. This must include a minimum of two A Levels.

  • Vocational Award | Typical offer is a PPP in an Extended Diploma in a relevant subject

  • Access | Typical offer is 32-48 UCAS tariff points in an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

  • IB | Typical offer is 32-48 UCAS tariff points in an IB Diploma, to include a minimum of one Highers at H3 or above.
    This must also include Maths and English Language at a minimum of Standard Level S3 if equivalent GCSEs have not been obtained.

  • Scottish Highers | Typical offer is 32-48 UCAS tariff points in Scottish Highers. This must include a minimum of one Advanced Higher.

  • Irish leaving Certificate | Typical offer is 32-48 UCAS tariff points in the Irish Leaving Certificate. This must include a minimum of one Highers.
    This must also include Maths and English Language at a minimum of Ordinary Level.

  • OCR Cambridge Technical | Typical offer is a PPP in a Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in a relevant subject.

  • T Level | Typical offer is Pass in your T Level overall grade in a relevant subject

  • We may interview mature applicants and those with non-traditional qualifications to ensure this is the right course for you.

  • Please contact us for further information:

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.

Clothing and footwear (circa £100)

You’ll need to purchase appropriate clothing and footwear before you enrol, or during enrolment week. We’ll let you know exactly what you need to purchase in your enrolment guide – everything is available from our supplier’s online shop for approximately £100.

Optional field trips (up to circa £1,750)

Many field trips are included in the course fees, however, a couple are not, as follows:

  • Year three optional module, Field Course, offers a trip to South Africa to study the ecology and ethology of the area. This South Africa trip costs in the region of £1,750. This trip is popular and places are limited.
  • Year three optional module, Wildlife and Zoo Management, offers an optional residential trip to a UK zoo, costing around £150 for accommodation.

Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our accommodation page.

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.

*Reflects activities after 15 months for those who graduated in 2021.