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Unit information: Animal Production and the Meat Chain (Distance Learning) in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Animal Production and the Meat Chain (Distance Learning)
Unit code VETSM0014
Credit points 15
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Ian Richardson
Open unit status Not open



Other units required for completion of PgC (4 units, 15 credits), PgD (8 units, 15 credits) and MSc (8 units + research project)

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to develop the student’s interest in and knowledge and understanding of:

  • animal production systems for rearing cattle, pigs and sheep (breeds, diet, growth rate) and their effects on carcass and meat quality
  • the components of carcass quality including carcass classification, anatomy and butchery.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of: i) animal production systems for rearing cattle, pigs and sheep (breeds, diet, growth rate) and their effects on carcass and meat quality ii) the components of carcass quality including carcass classification, anatomy and butchery iii) past and current research in the above areas

2. Students will be able to: i) analyse, synthesise and summarise information from current research ii) address complex industry problems informed by an in-depth knowledge and understanding, and original thinking

Teaching Information

All the teaching materials for this e-learning unit will be hosted on a web-based platform, Blackboard, accessible remotely by DL students. The Blackboard site has an easy-to-navigate structure with 5 sections: introduction, taught material, contacts, coursework, and examinations.

The ‘introduction’ includes a welcome from the Unit Director, an electronic copy of the student handbook, information and contact details (with permission) about other students on the programme (emails, telephone numbers, and work address), and contact details for personal tutors and the DL student representative.

The ‘taught material’ subject matter is divided into 4 lecture sets (bite size chunks) which develops the subject in a logical order and includes a discussion Board at the end of each set of lectures. The content, the same as that in the residential unit (VETSM0001), is informed by past and current research in the subject area, including that of staff who teach the unit.

The ‘contacts’ sections has contact details (email and phone) for the Programme Director, Unit Director, and IT support.

There is a separate section containing detailed requirements for coursework and its submission electronically. Another section describes the format of the examination and contains examples of past papers.

The e-learning materials have been available, either in part ort in their completed form, for about 2 years to FT and residential PT students. The feedback on the resources has been very favourable.

The unit also includes a seminar held at Bristol for oral presentations, and a visit to a large, commercial beef abattoir supplying one of the major retailers.

Assessment Information

Knowledge and understanding is assessed by a combination of coursework (30% of available marks) and a 3 hour written examination (70% of available marks). Coursework consists of a fully referenced essay (~2500 words), a 15 min oral presentation, and a visit report (~1500 words). Students can select an essay from a list of titles, allowing individuals to develop an area of particular interest. This is especially important for PT students working in industry, whose business may be involved with just one species of animal, for example. The essays are submitted electronically through Blackboard and checked for plagiarism.

The oral presentation, designed to develop oral presentation skills, is followed by a short period of questions from staff and other students, to challenge a student’s understanding of their selected topic. Since DL students give their oral presentations alongside the residential students, the occasion provides a good opportunity for developing a rapport with all the other students and, also, the Unit Director.

The 3 hour unseen examination paper has a mandatory 5-part question designed to test breadth of knowledge, and a choice of essay-style questions (3 from 6) designed to test depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject area, including past and current research.

The coursework (essay and oral presentation) accounts for 30% of the unit marks, and the examination 70%. DL students have the same assessments as residential students on the animal production unit (VETSM0001).

Reading and References

There will be a strong reliance on original research papers. The following books are also helpful.

  • Swatland, H. J (1994). Structure and development of meat animals and poultry. CRC Press.
  • Kempster, T., Cuthbertson, A. & Harrington, G. (1982). Carcass evaluation in livestock breeding, production & marketing. Granada Publishing.
  • Simm, G. (1998). The genetic improvement of cattle and sheep. CABI Publishing.