Skip to main content

Unit information: Animal Behaviour, Welfare, Ethics and Law for Wildlife Professionals in 2021/22

Unit name Animal Behaviour, Welfare, Ethics and Law for Wildlife Professionals
Unit code VETSM0057
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lambton
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit takes students from learning about the basic biological principles underlying animal behaviour and welfare to considering how these can be applied to tackle practical wildlife health and management problems, both in the wild and in captivity. It will also introduce them to ethics and law relevant to wildlife management. The unit will offer opportunities to explore a number of real world scenarios, drawing together behaviour and welfare science, ethics and law.

Students will learn to use their combined knowledge of ethical reasoning, and behaviour and welfare science to bring an informed perspective to tackling wildlife management and conservation issues. In addition, they will be able to recognise and analyse ethical and legal dilemmas affecting wildlife welfare, health and conservation worldwide.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding and integration of the basic scientific principles of animal behaviour and welfare.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the various definitions of animal welfare and a working understanding of the main models of animal welfare.
  • Apply knowledge of behavioural principles and welfare science to predict and tackle practical problems and measure welfare, in wildlife health and management of both captive and free living populations.
  • Show understanding of the most widely used ethical frameworks (Five Freedoms and Three Rs) and how ethical decisions are made in wildlife management and health, including awareness of stakeholder positions and conflicts, and understanding of professional ethics relevant to wildlife professionals.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of regulatory law (including how it relates to wild animals), anti-cruelty law, the concept of ‘duty of care’ as they apply to wild animals, and the role of different parties in upholding and enforcing these.
  • Synthesise and effectively communicate information, analysis, arguments and conclusions.
  • Critically appraise problems in global wildlife health and management and show originality in applying knowledge offer solutions.

Teaching Information

This unit will be taught using a blended learning approach. This will include short lectures, group workshops, , self-guided learning, interactive sessions, and guest workshops.

Assessment Information

Assessment will be by two summative assignments (50%, 50%) supported by formative feedback. One will be in the form of a written coursework assignment, and the other a powerpoint presentation.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. VETSM0057).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.