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Unit information: Assessing Animal Welfare in 2015/16

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Unit name Assessing Animal Welfare
Unit code VETSM0044
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Main
Open unit status Not open



Introduction to Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (all students); ASWEL 2: Applying the Theory (RCVS students only); Biology of Animal Behaviour and Welfare (Global Wildlife Health and Conservation students only)

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit will consolidate students’ knowledge of animal welfare science, ethics and law and the context of welfare assessment using e-learning materials with academic support provision. It will also develop their practical skills in assessment through a dedicated 2-day practical course and test. A range of species options (including farmed, domesticated, research or captive wild animals) will be available for the practical course depending on the needs and interests of the student.

This unit is suitable as a stand-alone professional development course or as a component of a wider qualification for those intending to go on to other further study.

The aim of this unit is to enable the candidate to understand, appraise and evaluate the application of animal welfare science, ethics and law to a range of contexts. These will include certification, legislation, research and management of animals. A second aim is to develop the candidate’s practical skills applicable to the assessment of animal welfare in the professional field of their choosing.

Intended learning outcomes

• Understand the principles of welfare assessment using: - resource based measures - outcome based measures - the Five Freedoms Framework

• Understand and reflect on the potential applications of welfare assessment to - certification - legislation - research - management

• Have a knowledge of the key parameters that can be used to assess welfare in a range of species

• Discuss limitations and recent advances in the science of welfare outcomes measurement.

• Demonstrate the ability to apply these principles and associated measures in assessing welfare on at least one species

Teaching details

Students will be provided with academic content via e-learning materials. They will then attend a 2-day course at the University of Bristol to provide consolidation, practical training and feedback. The short answer and MCQ section of the assessment and the assessment of practical skills will both be carried out in person during the 2-day course. Teaching materials (consisting of Powerpoint-based lectures with audio content, written notes and selected further reading) will be hosted within a dedicated course on a web-based platform (Blackboard) and also made available in CD format. Throughout the distance learning elements students will also have access to dedicated academic support via email and telephone.

Assessment Details

Students will undertake a one-hour examination by short answer and multiple choice questions (30% of assessment) and will complete a structured test of their practical assessment skills (30%). Both of these will take place on the second day of the 2-day course. Students will also submit an extended reflective essay (3000 words, 40%) exploring the theoretical basis and practical application of welfare assessment within a situation they have encountered or would be likely to encounter in their chosen professional field.

Reading and References

Grandin, T. (ed) (2010). Improving animal welfare: a practical approach. CAB International. Wallingford, UK

Butterworth et al (2011). Practical strategies to assess (and improve) welfare. In Appleby. M. et al. (eds) Animal Welfare (pp200-213). CAB International. Wallingford, UK

Smulders, F.J.M and Algers, B. (eds) (2009). Welfare of production animals: assessment and management of risks. Wageningen Academic Publishers, Netherlands.

Barber, J. et al. (2010?). Setting standards for evaluation of captive facilities. In Kleiman, D.G. et al (eds) (pp22-36). University of Chicago Press, London.

Wolfensohn S, and Lloyd, M. (2003) Handbook of laboratory animal management and welfare. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.