Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Behaviour and Welfare of Domesticated Animals
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   Multiple Choice Exam  50%
Semester Assessment Video case study (10 minutes)  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Multiple Choice Exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Video case study (10 minutes)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss the concept of ‘animal welfare’.

2. Evaluate current methods of welfare assessment.

3. Identify common welfare problems in animals and discuss methods for their prevention and control.

4. Recognise ‘abnormal’ behaviours and explain them in terms of cause, function and motivation.

5. Evaluate methods of behavioural modification in order to improve animal welfare.

6. Discuss the inter-relationship between ethics and the use of domesticated animals (farm, companion, and laboratory).

7. Evaluate the legal framework surrounding the management and use of domestic animals with particular reference to the Animals Act 1971.

Brief description

This module considers the problems associated with the definition, measurement and scientific investigation of animal welfare, and evaluates the relative importance of measurements of behaviour and physiological traits associated with stress and pain in the assessment of animal welfare. The influence of genetics and environment on normal and abnormal behavioural development is also critically discussed. A large proportion of this module will also present the scientific basis for the modification of animal behaviour as a way of improving animal welfare. In addition, the module will consider and debate the use of domesticated animals (farm, companion and laboratory) from an ethical and legal stand point. It will consider the major ethical theories relating to how moral judgements are made as well as the history of attitudes to wild and domesticated animals.


The module will cover the following topics along with associated material: discussion of problems in the definition of welfare and the design of welfare assessment schemes; evaluation of the relative roles of behavioural and physiological measurements in the assessment of welfare, including the links between behavioural and physiological measures used in the assessment of stress and pain; human-animal interactions and their effects on animal performance; learning theory and its applications in the training of animals and the correction of behavioural problems; preference tests and their design and interpretation; 'natural behaviour’, changes in behaviour during domestication and their relationship to trainability and welfare; temperament tests and their applications; genetic selection for behavioural traits; abnormal behaviours and their treatment; the theory and application of the ethical matrix as a framework for ethical analysis; the development of human attitudes to animals; the ethics of animal experimentation and biotechnology, including a consideration of the relevant legislation; scientific fraud, its consequences and detection; the legal framework surrounding the use of animals with particular reference to the Animals Act 1971.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not a significant component of the module.
Communication Student discussion and debating skills will be developed in classes and seminars, though these will not be assessed. Students will develop effective written communication skills in the examination and assignments, where these will be assessed. Feedback will be given in the assignments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Developed through processes of knowledge checking via mid-term quizzes.
Information Technology Accessing the Internet for reliable information sources and using databases to find primary literature in preparation for the essay, group presentation and the exam. Use of information technology will therefore be assessed in both the assignments and exam. Feedback will be given in the exam.
Personal Development and Career planning Not a significant component of the module.
Problem solving Problem solving elements will be contained and developed within the written assessments
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material using both directed and independent study. Information from a variety of sources, but in particular reliable peer reviewed material, will be the object of scrutiny and comment. Research skills will be assessed in both the examination and assignment. Feedback will be given in the assignment.
Subject Specific Skills Identifying and setting out a strategy of amelioration for a range of behavioural disorders in domestic animals. Subject specific concepts relating to animal bioethics will be developed. Students will develop a basis for reasoning their way through an ethical dilemma and to justify their reasoning.
Team work Not a significant component of the module.


This module is at CQFW Level 6