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Animal welfare

Module information>

Academic Direction
The Royal Veterinary College
Modes of Study

Animal welfare is a big subject, and the issues addressed in the module range from the methods used by farmers and producers handling many thousands of animals to individual cases brought to the veterinarian in small animal practice. The setting is worldwide, embracing both industrialised and developing countries.View information leaflet

Topics covered

The module consists of 14 units of study, grouped into three modules. You should complete all the units in Modules 1 and 2 and five units from Module 3.

Section 1 Introduction to Animal Welfare and Veterinary Ethics

In this module (Units 1–3) ethical dilemmas facing the veterinary profession will be explored and you will be challenged to reflect on your own opinions. Different forms of suffering under conditions of disease and stress will be addressed in detail and you will examine how advances in genetics have led to welfare problems.

Section 2 Welfare Issues in Husbandry Systems and Transport

The second module (Units 4–7) explores current issues in animal welfare when animals are kept in confinement, raised under extensive farming systems, undergo common procedures such as amputations on farms, and are transported and sent for slaughter. You will learn how suffering in these conditions can be reduced or alleviated by adopting proper pain management, implementing good husbandry practices, and giving priority to the animal in order to lessen fear and stress.

Section 3 Welfare Issues of Selected Species and Groups

The final module consists of seven units (8–14), from which you will select and study five. The module deals in detail with the welfare of animals kept as companions, animals used in competitions, farmed animals in both developed and developing countries, free-living animals in the wild, and animals kept under laboratory conditions.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  • analyse ethical dilemmas more clearly and apply existing scientific knowledge to resolve issues in animal welfare.
  • explain how confinement of animals can cause abnormal behavioural and physical development.
  • discuss how to manage amputation procedures and how you can contribute to development of good practice in these situations.
  • discuss welfare issues in a wide range of situations where animals are kept as companions, farmed for economic reasons, used in competitions or for scientific research, or exist in the wild and in free-living conditions.


Your work for this module will be assessed by means of a three-hour unseen written examination paper which will take the form of essay questions. In addition, you must submit at least one and up to three TMAs.

The grade awarded will be based on the mark obtained in the written examination (80%) and on the mark for the compulsory TMA (20%).

Module information sheets

Download the full module information sheet from the RVC website.