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Surveillance and investigation of animal health

Module information>

Academic Direction
The Royal Veterinary College
Modes of Study

This module will provide you with an overview of the different methods suitable for designing surveillance programmes as well as the tools that can be used to assist decision making in relation to control and prevention.

Topics covered

The module consists of nine units of study, all of which you should complete. They make up the following three sections.

Section 1 Risk Analysis

In this section (Units 1–3) risk analysis is introduced, with a particular emphasis on its use for trade policy decisions. It begins with a thorough discussion of the generic framework underlying this methodology. Both qualitative and quantitative risk assessment methods are presented in some detail, and models are developed actively using @RISK computer software. An introduction to probability theory is included as it is required in the design of quantitative risk assessment models.

Section 2 Herd Health Surveillance and Management

The second section (Units 4–7) covers various aspects of design and implementation of regional and farm-level production and disease surveillance programmes. It includes the specific requirements for dealing with epidemic, exotic and emerging disease problems. The methods and the necessary infrastructure are discussed, and control strategies for handling disease outbreaks are introduced. This section also provides background on the use of farm-level herd health and production programmes. The use of computers to enhance the efficiency of herd health management is illustrated using CamDairy software.

Section 3 Introduction to Data Management and Simulation Modelling

The third section (Units 8 and 9) provides an introduction to database design and related methods for more effective manipulation of data collected as part of surveillance or research activities. The basic principles of simulation modelling as a tool in animal health decision making are then introduced.

Computer requirements

The fee for the software licence required is valid for one year and has already been incorporated into the module fee. If studies for the module should extend into a second year, then an additional software fee will be payable. The software is not compatible with Apple Macintosh computers.

Learning outcomes

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

  • describe the methods involved in risk analysis of animal health problems.
  • explain the components of disease surveillance and control at regional and farm level.
  • discuss the use of farm-level health and production information systems.
  • describe selected approaches to database design and data manipulation.
  • outline how simulation modelling can be used as part of policy development in animal health.


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 assignment (20%).

Module information sheets

Download the full module information sheet from the RVC website.