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Unit information: Animal Welfare 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 Welfare
Unit code VETSM0022
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Mr. Wotton
Open unit status Not open

Core skills 1 unit, Biochemistry and meat quality unit.


Other 20 credit units required for completion of PgC (3 units), PgD (6 units) and MSc (6 units + core skills 2 + research project).

Animal production

Poultry processing

Meat hygiene and public health

Meat processing

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Large numbers of cattle, pigs, sheep and poultry are reared and killed for meat. This unit describes the major factors influencing their welfare on-farm and at stunning and slaughter, and the consequences for carcass and meat quality. The legislative framework is also described. The unit deals primarily with cattle, sheep and pigs but also includes some welfare issues associated with intensive poultry production.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate a systematic knowledge and understanding of:

  1. the factors that improve or adversely affect animal welfare on-farm, post-farm and at slaughter, and the relationship between good welfare and good meat quality
  2. the methodology used to assess welfare and the legislative framework

Students will also be able to:

  1. identify the major welfare issues and produce a code of practice to cover scenarios presented in specified video clips
  2. review the scientific literature on a selected topic, and summarise the main findings in a written form including references and appropriate tables and figures.

Teaching Information

The unit has 15 hours of lectures, a visit to the University farm, a visit to the Farm Animal Initiative in Oxford, 4 hours discussion of selected video clips and student-led oral presentations. It also includes a two day Animal Welfare Officer course which deals with welfare issues at slaughter and covers the main slaughter/killing methods (electrical, mechanical and gas).

For most lectures, students receive printed copies of powerpoint slides and comprehensive course notes including references for further reading.

The unit has a separate Blackboard site that hosts all the lectured material and online multiple choice questions (MCQs). Each lecture has a set of powerpoint slides, written notes (with references for further reading), and an audio presentation. The site also includes full details of coursework requirements, and past exam papers. Coursework is submitted electronically and checked for plagiarism.

Assessment Information

Knowledge, understanding and other higher level skills are assessed by a combination of coursework (50% of available marks) and a 3 hour written examination (50% of available marks).

Coursework consists of a fully referenced essay (~2500 words), and a video assessment exercise (~1500 words) which account for 70 and 30%, respectively, of the marks allocated for coursework.

Students can select an essay from a list of titles, allowing individuals to develop an area of particular interest. Students must review the available literature on the topic using appropriate electronic resources, present a summary of the main findings in 2500 words (excluding tables, references and figures), and demonstrate a critical awareness of current issues. The essays are submitted electronically through Blackboard and checked for plagiarism.

Students must also submit a video assessment report that summarises the welfare issues in 3 video clips and includes a code of practice to deal with each of the specified scenarios.

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.

Reading and References

There is a strong reliance on original research papers from various journals (eg animal welfare, meat science) that can be accessed through the library or using the University’s electronic resources. The following books are also helpful.

  1. Gregory, NG. (2007). Animal welfare and meat science (2nd ed.), CABI Publishing, Wallingford.
  2. Grandin, T. (2007). Livestock handling and transport (3rd ed.), CABI Publishing, Wallingford.
  3. Webster, J. (1994). Animal welfare: a cool eye towards Eden. Blackwell Science.