BSc (Hons)

Equine Behaviour and Welfare

UCAS Code: D43L

Typical offer: 112 UCAS tariff points

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

Placement year: Optional

Awarding body: Hartpury University

Apply for this course here: https://www.hartpury.ac.uk/university/courses/undergraduate/bsc-hons-equine-behaviour-and-welfare/bsc-hons-equine-behaviour-and-welfare-2024/


Course overview

If you're passionate about the human-horse relationship from an equine welfare perspective, and want to understand how horses interpret our world to enhance their wellbeing, then this is the ideal course for you. You don’t need to ride horses, you simply need a keen interest in horse behaviour, learning and welfare. 

During your degree, you’ll develop your understanding of contemporary ethical approaches to horse training and management based on the most up-to-date scientific research, applying theory to practice in real-world settings including our commercial equine yard that’s home to 230 horses and riders of all levels. 

We’ll support you to adopt an innovative and scientific mind-set, building both specialist and transferable skills to help you stand out when you graduate. Alongside developing equine-specific expertise, you’ll refine entrepreneurial and leadership skills. Work placements will enable you to build a successful career while improving the wider industry. 

Graduate opportunities are diverse and could include working for equine charities and welfare organisations or with individuals to improve horse-rider relationships. Graduates of this course will play a vital role in education and implementation of best practice.

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

What you'll study

What you'll study

On this course, you'll cover a range of fundamental behaviour and welfare topics through a combination of compulsory and optional modules, which you'll be able to choose from to suit your interests and career goals.

Compulsory topics will include management of equine wellbeing, equine learning and cognition, and measurements of equine behaviour.

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)

You’ll focus on key topics relating to equine learning and welfare to gain knowledge and fundamental study skills that underpin your course and equip you to study at higher levels. You'll also begin to explore human behaviours and interactions to gain skills for influencing future change in equitation science, training and beyond.

Compulsory modules

The module aims to give an introduction to evidence-based learning principles for horses and the impact of environmental effects on learning. 

An introduction to learning theory and human behaviour in relation to developing an understanding of reflection of self and how humans interact and influence others.

An introduction to equine ethology including behavioural ecology, senses, cognition and basic needs in relation to optimal horse welfare.

Generally, horses spend around an hour per day being trained or exercised. This module focuses on the principals of horse welfare and management for the other 23 hours.

Study of the basic principles of equine feeding and nutrition.

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)

In this year, more in-depth topics will be explored, taking the fundamental knowledge learned in year one to explore the key factors and principles which underpin behaviour and welfare measurements in more detail. You'll also be supported to complete a work placement, enabling you to gain experience and make connections, ready for your career. Alongside compulsory modules, you’ll select from a range of optional modules to further develop your specialist expertise. 

Compulsory modules

Use of behavioural, physiological and physical measures of welfare and welfare assessment in different contexts. 

You'll be supported to complete a minimum of 150 hours of work experience during the year, which can
be in a variety of equine focused establishments in the UK or abroad.

Understand how performance horses are exercised and trained to meet specific demands of various disciplines. 

This module further develops the understanding of learning theory, attachment theory, emotions and learning in relation to evidence-based training of horses. 

Optional modules

Explore the operational aspects of event management and the customer experience.

The study of the horse’s digestive system, their required nutrient intake for different activities, and how to manage the horse’s diet.

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

Either International Academic Study Portfolio OR International Academic Study Project

International Academic Study Portfolio

A reflection upon a period of international study.

International Academic Study Project

A reflection upon a period of international study.

You will engage in a programme relevant study trip which will provide a context for you to synthesise content from across your programme of study and make applications and inferences to this real world setting, while expanding your horizons.

Integrated placement year (optional)

An integrated placement year before your final year allows you to put your knowledge and skills into practice and gain valuable industry experience. Many students get their graduate careers with the organisation with which they completed their work placement.

Level six (final year)

Your final year allows you to focus on areas of particular interest to you, in line with your career aspirations. One module is your dissertation, a substantial research project that enables you to plan, implement and report on a specialist topic of your choice. 

In addition, you'll be exposed to contemporary challenges and developments in the field of equine behaviour, gaining an insight into the direction of emerging research. Optional modules will support you to develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution, preparing you to drive changes in the industry to improve equine training, behaviour management and welfare. 

Compulsory modules

Partake in independent research and analysis in a related area of your choice. 

This module will enable you to undertake a critical review in a chosen area and design a pilot study utilising behavioural, physiological and/or physical measures in order to advance the current evidence base in relation to current management practices.

Students will build their knowledge of ethical philosophy and key equine welfare contributors/research to enable discussion of contemporary industry issues.

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

Optional modules

Evolution of feeding strategies to support athletic performance in the horse, whilst maintaining good health.

Gain strategies and techniques to develop communications skills in order to influence, sell and negotiate within the equine industry.

Explore and analyse current business practice within the global equestrian industry in relation to long term sustainability.

A chance to critically review an approved topic of your choice linked to the programme aims.

Practically apply theory and knowledge of the equine charity sector to a real-life volunteering environment, proposing methods of raising awareness of their work as an organisation and reflecting on personal development during time spent in industry.

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 credits that accumulate 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 - students are expected to dedicate at least two to three hours of independent study per contact hour. Your course will also include work placement learning as part of some modules. 

The course is taught in English.

This programme is currently undergoing consultation but it is estimated that the course will comprise of the following teaching modes.

YearContact learningIndependent learningPlacement learning
Level four (year one)24%76%0%
Level five (year two)19%69%12%
Placement year (optional)1%19%80%
Level six (final year)17%83%0%

Assessments take place 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 informally during scheduled learning and formally following each assessment. 

This programme is currently undergoing consultation but it is estimated that the course will comprise of the following assessment methods.

YearWritten examCourseworkPractical exam
Level four (year one)19%33%48%
Level five (year two)8%58%34%
Placement year (optional)0%100%0%
Level six (final year)0%64%36%

This programme is taught over two semesters, normally consisting of 12 weeks of scheduled teaching and then assessment weeks.

  • 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.

Field trips and guest lecturers

You'll develop a greater understanding of equine behaviour as you take part in study trips to local and national equine organisations. You’ll also hear from industry experts and professionals in lectures and explore potential career paths. Previous guest lecturers have included representatives from Three Counties Equine Hospital and charities such as Horse World.

Study internationally

Our Study Abroad programme means you can make the most of opportunities to study, a semester or full year of your degree, at one of our partner institutions while achieving credits towards your degree. 

Graduate destinations

As a graduate, you'll be well versed in all aspects of equine management, behaviour and welfare, with the necessary skills to enter a graduate-level position within the equine industry. You’ll also have the transferable skills you need for other graduate careers. Our careers team can support you to find, prepare and secure your perfect role. Typical graduate destinations might include:

  • Educational Officer
  • Training Officer 
  • Campaigns Officer
  • Behaviourist 
  • Fundraising Manager
  • Welfare Officer
  • Postgraduate 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 lecture halls and workshop spaces, these include:

Commercial equine yard 

We have a large commercial yard with stabling for 230 horses, including 125 boxes for student livery. We take horses on a loan basis, which are used during the semesters for all educational and teaching purposes. Having access to a thriving yard provides you with the opportunity to apply theory to practice in topic areas such as behaviour, training and human-horse interactions.

International equine events centre 

Our equestrian centre plays host to many affiliated and unaffiliated shows and events throughout the year as well as various lectures and demonstrations. Our international events attract competitors, sponsors and spectators from across the globe including Olympic, World and European champions. Get closer to the action by volunteering to be a part of these events, experiencing a behind-the-scenes look and making valuable industry connections.

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 | A typical offer for this course is 112 UCAS tariff points or equivalent.  

  • GCSE | A minimum of five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4, (or A* to C grades if relevant) or equivalent, to include English Language and Mathematics.

  • 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 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, including one in Biology.
    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 Diploma in a relevant subject.
  • T Level | Typical offer is Merit in you T Level overall grade in a relevant subject.
  • The minimum academic entry requirement for this programme is 80 UCAS tariff or equivalent providing this is combined with relevant experience.  

  • We welcome students with equivalent qualifications. Please contact us to discuss.

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

  • Previous learning towards a university-level qualification or relevant work experience may count as credit for this course.

  • 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 some specialist kit and clothing before you enrol, or during enrolment week. In particular, appropriate footwear for practical sessions on the yard. We’ll let you know exactly what you need to purchase before enrolment.  

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 (up to circa £1800)

You'll have the chance to engage in various trips and visits as part of the course. While many of these are included in the course fees, there is the opportunity to engage in additional significant study tours, experiencing international horse management practices in person. It is estimated these costs will be approximately £1800.

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.

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.