Dog running through tunnel agility training
BSc (Hons)

Animal Training and Performance

UCAS Code: C865

Typical offer: 112 UCAS tariff points or equivalent

Duration: 3 or 4 years full time; part-time available

Placement year: Optional

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Apply for this course here:


Course overview

Develop the skills and expertise to transform your passion for training animals into a fulfilling career with this Animal Training and Performance degree.

You’re joining the rapidly growing animal sector at an exciting time. Almost 85 million households in the US have a pet – that’s increased from 56% to 68% over the past 30 years.* Your skills and expertise in animal training will be in high demand.

Emerging science and technology allows us to understand animal performance like never before. Training methods place priority on the physical and psychological needs of an animal to maximise wellbeing and performance.

You’ll learn from the latest advances in the field and use industry-standard technologies. Develop your expertise with access to our 70-species animal collection and benefit from our connections with animal trainers, scientists and behaviourists across the UK.

All training is underpinned by the strictest ethics and supported by the latest scientific evidence. This degree doesn’t qualify you to become a behaviourist or trainer. It exposes you to the key scientific principles underpinning animal training, performance and rehabilitation.

*Forbes 2018

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 the key topics in the field of animal training and performance. Core subjects will range from management and training of the animal, to animal biomechanics.

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 four (year one)

Your first year will focus on fundamental topics, including animal behaviour and animal nutrition, to help you gain fundamental skills and knowledge. You’ll develop essential transferable and practical skills, and gain the underpinning knowledge required to study the rest of your degree.

Compulsory modules

Develop knowledge of the foundation principles relating to animal training and performance.

Explore the key concepts in the fields of animal behaviour and animal welfare.

Develop key academic skills needed to succeed in the degree and in a career in the animal industry.

Begin to understand the biological systems used during exercise.

Study the interactions and relationships between humans and animals.

Learn how diseases affect animals and how to apply informed decision making to maintain health across a range of animals.

Study key nutritional principles and learn how these relate to health and disease in animals.

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 two)

You’ll learn about concepts such as animal locomotion and the principles of assessing animal performance. You’ll also explore themes such as management and training of the animal, allowing you to develop your interests at a higher level. You can also select optional modules in areas of interest, such as ethics and welfare, and animal therapy.

Compulsory modules

Gain a fundamental knowledge of biomechanics and animal locomotion.

Learn how to measure and assess animal performance.

Monitor and manage training, health and welfare across a range of species.

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

The first of two animal therapy specific modules that introduce a wide range of animal therapies.

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

A chance to independently review an approved topic area in line with the student’s programme of study.

Examine the impact of human-animal interactions on human and animal wellbeing. Assess animal welfare and wellbeing, as well as welfare concerns relating to managing animals.

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.

Optional integrated placement year 

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.

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, enabling you to experience the responsibility of planning, implementing and reporting on a specialist topic.

In addition, you’ll be exposed to contemporary challenges in the subject area and more advanced theory and practice, including gaining an insight into current research in the field of animal training and performance.

Compulsory modules

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

Learn about the theoretical and practical methods used in the advanced training of animals and the coaching of trainer, client and animal.

Use advanced analytical methods to assess animal performance.

Optional modules

This is the second module specifically exploring the details of types of therapies used within the animal industry.

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

Understand the essential operations of a small business, including, organisational culture and marketing.

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, which is why you'll receive a minimum of 15 hours of scheduled teaching time per week in your first year - this is 25% above the UK average.

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. The course is taught in English.

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 second and third years may contribute towards your final degree classification.

The modules contain a mixture of scheduled learning – lectures, workshops and practical sessions – alongside independent learning. You'll be expected to dedicate at least two to three hours of independent study per contact hour. Your course may also include work placement learning as part of some modules.

YearContact learningPlacement learningIndependent learning
Level four (year one)30%0%70%
Level five (year two)22%0%78%
Placement year - optional1%80%19%
Level six (final year)17%0%83%

You’ll receive a minimum of 15 hours scheduled contact time per week in your first year. In subsequent years, scheduled contact will vary depending on the modules you select but is typically around 12 hours per week.

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 a variety of ways including in taught sessions, on written assessments and in tutorials.

YearWritten examPractical examCoursework
Level four (year one)28%40%32%
Level five (year two)24%26%50%
Optional integrated placement year0%100%0%
Level six (final year)9%35%56%

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 8:30 to 20:30 Monday to Friday
  • Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities
  • work placements may entail different days and hours
  • 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 secure graduate roles with their work placement employers.

Work placements and experience

These form part of optional modules, alongside an optional integrated placement year. We’ll support you to secure a placement with a UK-based or international employer, to match your interests and career goals – you’ll undertake coursework. Placements can be paid or unpaid, depending on position. Students have worked with organisations such as the Blue Cross, West Midlands Safari Park, Guide Dogs for the Blind and BSAVA.

Our commercial canine and equine therapy centres also offer opportunities for students to gain industry experience ready for their careers – either on work placements or as part of 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.

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, Crufts and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Extra fees are required – please see the fees tab.

Our students have heard from a range of guest lecturers, which have included dog training professionals, animal biomechanics researchers and zookeepers.

Graduate destinations

As an Animal Training and Performance graduate, you may go on to work in zoos, charities, animal rescue centres, boarding kennels or laboratories. 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.

You may go on to work as a trainer or behaviourist, and progress on to:

  • Service dog handling
  • Animal warden/officer
  • Performance analyst for competitive sports (such as agility, greyhound racing, cani-cross or across equestrian sport)
  • Assistance work
  • Rescue and rehabilitation


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:


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 dissections and microscopy.

Animal Collections

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

Canine and equine therapy centres

Our on-site commercial equine and canine therapy centres feature both equine and canine water treadmills alongside a hydrotherapy pool for dogs. These facilities are used as part of the animal therapy and rehabilitation modules and for dissertation research projects. You can also volunteer to help in the therapy centres to gain experience in the field.

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 112 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, Mathematics and a Science.

  • A-level | Typical offer is BBC or equivalent. This must include a minimum of two A-levels.

  • Vocational Award | Typical offer is a DMM in an Extended Diploma or equivalent in a relevant subject.

  • Access | Typical offer is 112 UCAS tariff points in an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

  • IB | Typical offer is 112 UCAS tariff points in an IB Diploma, to include a minimum of two 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 112 UCAS tariff points in Scottish Highers. This must include a minimum of one Advanced Higher and one Higher.

  • Irish leaving Certificate | Typical offer is 112 UCAS tariff points in the Irish Leaving Certificate. This must include a minimum of two Highers. This must also include Maths and English Language at a minimum of Ordinary Level.

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

  • T Level | Typical offer is Merit 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.

  • The minimum academic entry requirement for this programme is 80 UCAS tariff or equivalent providing this is combined with relevant experience.

  • 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

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 £150)

Opportunities may require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which you'll need to pay for. You're encouraged to engage in various trips and visits as part of the programme. While many of these are included in the course fees, there is the opportunity to engage in optional trips with additional costs involved.

Accommodation and living costs

Please visit our student accommodation page for details.

Learn from the best

Our students feel inspired and love learning from our expert lecturers. They’ll make sure you get the very best out of your education and support you as an individual. Find out why we’re rated among the best in the UK for teaching quality.

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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 2020.