BA (Hons)

Animal Welfare and Society


You will explore connections and relationships between humans and other animals, and critically review theories, philosophies and issues concerning the treatment of them. You will study a range of issues including animal welfare; animal ethics; animal law; consuming animals; criminality and animals; animal representations; animals and policy; environment and animals; and animal advocacy.

Close-up photo of a goat

Course overview

Throughout the course you explore crucial questions about human relationships with other animals. How do we understand them? What are our responsibilities to them? Should we eat them? Why do we develop emotional attachments to them? Why do we vilify some animals and not others? An essential element of the course is how humans relate to other animals, and what it means to be human. 

This interdisciplinary course engages with scholarly work from the arts and humanities, social sciences and natural sciences in order to examine how humans may reconsider their relationship with animals. The broad scope and thought-provoking content enables you to discover and explore your areas of interest. 

The course is both classroom-based and field-based. Through internships and other work-placement opportunities you are able to experience working with animals and/or are organisations associated with animal issues.

What you need to know

Course start date



On campus, Winchester

Course length

  • 3 years full-time
  • 6 years part-time



Typical offer

104-120 points


From £9,250 pa

Course features

  • Develop high level knowledge of animal behaviour, training, welfare, and conservation
  • Study at the University’s Centre for Animal Welfare and utilise its partnerships with major animal welfare organisations 
  • Gain hands-on practice and learn how to perform welfare assessments in the field 
  • Kick-start a career in diverse areas such as teaching, veterinary work or seek accreditation as an animal behaviourist 

Course details

Work placements

Field work and internship opportunities are a central element of study for all students on the degree.

Field trips

In the first year of study there will be one or more field trips to study animal welfare and behaviour in zoos and/or other settings.

Learning and teaching

Our aim is to shape 'confident learners' by enabling you to develop the skills needed to excel in your studies here and as well as onto further studies or the employment market.

You are taught primarily through a combination of lectures and seminars, allowing opportunities to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in lectures in smaller groups.

In addition to the formally scheduled contact time such as lectures and seminars etc., you are encouraged to access academic support from staff within the course team, your personal tutor and the wide range of services available to you within the University.

Independent learning

Over the duration of your course, you will be expected to develop independent and critical learning, progressively building confidence and expertise through independent and collaborative research, problem-solving and analysis with the support of staff. You take responsibility for your own learning and are encouraged to make use of the wide range of available learning resources available.

Overall workload

Your overall workload consists of class contact hours, independent learning and assessment activity.

While your actual contact hours may depend on the optional modules you select, the following information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities at each level of the course.

Year 1 (Level 4): Timetabled teaching and learning activity*

Teaching, learning and assessment: 288 hours
Independent learning: 912 hours

Year 2 (Level 5): Timetabled teaching and learning activity*

Teaching, learning and assessment: 264 hours
Independent learning: 900 hours
Placement: 36

Year 3 (Level 6): Timetabled teaching and learning activity*

Teaching, learning and assessment: 168 hours
Independent learning: 960 hours
Placement: 72

*Please note these are indicative hours for the course.


Teaching hours

All class based teaching takes places between 9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday during term time. Wednesday afternoons are kept free from timetabled teaching for personal study time and for sports clubs and societies to train, meet and play matches. There may be some occasional learning opportunities (for example, an evening guest lecturer or performance) that take places outside of these hours for which you will be given forewarning.


Our validated courses may adopt a range of means of assessing your learning. An indicative, and not necessarily comprehensive, list of assessment types you might encounter includes essays, portfolios, supervised independent work, presentations, written exams, or practical performances.

We ensure all students have an equal opportunity to achieve module learning outcomes. As such, where appropriate and necessary, students with recognised disabilities may have alternative assignments set that continue to test how successfully they have met the module's learning outcomes. Further details on assessment types used on the course you are interested in can be found on the course page, by attending an Open Day or Open Evening, or contacting our teaching staff.

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework

The assessment balance between examination and coursework depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose. The approximate percentage of the course assessed by different assessment modes is as follows:

Year 1 (Level 4)*:

74% coursework
13% written exams
13% practical exams

Year 2 (Level 5)*:

52% coursework
15% written exams
33% practical exams

Year 3 (Level 6)*:

92% coursework
0% written exams
8% practical exams

*Please note these are indicative percentages and modes for the programme.


We are committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to you on your academic progress and achievement in order to enable you to reflect on your progress and plan your academic and skills development effectively. You are also encouraged to seek additional feedback from your course tutors.


Please note the modules listed are correct at the time of publishing. The University cannot guarantee the availability of all modules listed and modules may be subject to change. The University will notify applicants of any changes made to the core modules listed. For further information please refer to


Introduction to Animal Welfare and Society

This module introduces students to the ways that human and nonhuman animal lives intersect. It examines how relationships with nonhuman animals both reflect and shape social life and culture, and how humans think about themselves. It explores the myriad and contradictory positions that nonhuman animals occupy in society and will begin to deconstruct the social origins of these seemingly natural categories by exploring classical and contemporary social theories. Animal industries, policy makers and animal protection organizations point to strong needs for professionals with expertise in animal welfare and this module also introduces students to animal welfare theory, and how theoretical concepts may be used to contemplate issues of veterinary medicine and animal care. The module provides a forum in which the issues can be debated and subjected to scrutiny.

Animal Behaviour and Welfare Issues

Animals have evolved a remarkable array of behaviours in response to selection pressures of many kinds. This module reviews many of the behaviours found in non-domesticated and domesticated species, such as social, communicative and migratory behaviours, and explores the factors that have led to their existence. Students will become familiar with the ways scientists study animal behaviours, and will learn to develop ethograms.

Next we review a broad range of animal welfare issues, examining the effects of various uses of animals on their welfare status and behaviour. This module will equip students with a broad understanding of a wide range of problematic practises which cause pain, stress and suffering in animals. Regarding companion animals, this includes breed standards that perpetuate hereditary disorders, and issues associated with pet overpopulation and its management. The use of animals for entertainment, e.g. in circuses, zoos and organized animal fighting, will be reviewed, along with animal abuse, neglect and cruelty. Students will also learn about different farming systems (e.g. conventional or free range) for the most commonly farmed species, and the welfare concerns associated with these. For farmed animals especially, transportation, conventional, and religious slaughter will be discussed as they impact welfare considerably. Welfare issues associated with the killing of animals are, however, also important with regard to companion and laboratory animals (i.e. euthanasia), as well as practises like hunting, angling and whaling. Students will also learn about animals used in scientific and educational animal use, and about alternative research and teaching methodologies. Animals less commonly-considered, such as ‘pest’, ‘feral’, alien or introduced species and invertebrates will be discussed. Some important and emerging global issues will also be introduced, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and the adverse impacts of the livestock sector in these areas.

Research Methods 1

This module (combined with Research Methods 2) prepares the student for their dissertation. By developing understanding of qualitative research methods and word-based data analysis skills, the student will be able to effective critique published research on animal welfare and society which will help them understand set readings for all other modules in the BA Animal Welfare and Society. Additionally, the student will be able to plan robust qualitative research having completed this module. Given the human-animal studies critical focus of the degree, this module helps the student to appreciate the value of word-based data and qualitative methods.

Introduction to Species Conservation

This module introduces the student to core topics in species conservation. Based broadly in Conservation Biology, the module will also span many other academic disciplines including environmental activism, zoo biology, conservation educational studies. It is increasingly recognised in academia and beyond that conservation and animal welfare, protection and advocacy are interconnected and mutually deterministic. To examine the interplay between welfare and conservation is at the forefront of study today. The student will learn about conservation of individual animals, species and also human societies and core values. Exploring topic like applied zoo biology but also conservation education and training programmes in host countries. This is a holistic approach to conservation. 

Introduction to Animal Advocacy

This module introduces students to animal advocacy as a modern social movement. How do contemporary animal protection organisations campaign for animals? How has the animal protection advocacy movement evolved since the establishment of the first organisations in Britain in the early nineteenth century? Modern animal protection organisations use the internet and social media to reach as wide an audience as possible. They have goals including promoting welfare, animal rights and abolition of animal use, and the conservation of endangered species. The module explores how advocacy groups advance the interests of animals in theory and practice. Social movements such as civil rights, feminism, and environmentalism also inform the module. 

Regarding Animals

This module provides an opportunity for students to consider a range of issues associated with nonhuman animals in society using film texts/documentaries. The objectives are to encourage students to develop a critical imagination when thinking about the wider structural issues explored in the films and documentaries and to consider the place and significance of visual media in contemporary thinking about nonhuman animals. Students will undertake a close reading of key texts in the field and related disciplines that are thematically linked to the films and documentaries screened. They will identify the key arguments and concepts in these texts and relate them to issues raised in the films and documentaries. This will provide them with the analytic resources required to achieve a more effectively structured exploration and analysis of the issues addressed in the films and documentaries and allow them to reflect on the impact of visual media in contemporary views about nonhuman animals.


Theorising the Animal

Utilising ideas from modernism, post-modernism and post-humanism this module challenges current ways of thinking about nonhuman animals and their relationships with humans.  The module encourages students to reflect upon taken for granted ways of conceptualising human relationships with nonhuman animals. Students engage with theories associated with the social science and humanities disciplines including sociology, anthropology, philosophy and social theory. The module will include consideration of ethics, (which is concerned with fundamental and practical questions about right and wrong, about moral duty, virtue and character, and the good of human beings, communities and societies) in respect of human nonhuman animal relations. This module explores a range of ethical theories and approaches to moral deliberation and practice. It investigates some of the ethical resources and approaches found in religious and theological traditions. It explores the interaction between ethical theory and moral practice, and engages with a range of practical ethical issues drawn from fields such as bio-medical, environmental, social and political ethics.

Animal Welfare Law and PolicyFilm Sound

This module examines the historical and contemporary development of animal welfare legislation and public policy, and the processes by which these are created, applied, monitored and enforced. It reviews and compares British and key international animal welfare legislation and policies. Other important conventions (e.g. CITES), principles and Codes of Practice regarding animal welfare will also be reviewed. The potential and limitations of such legislative and policy instruments in upholding and protecting animal welfare will be considered. The module will also review some contemporary debates in the field of animal law and public policy, such as the legal status of animals as property, and the guardian/owner debate, and the merits of mandated reporting of suspected animal abuse by veterinarians and other professionals.

Animal Welfare Concepts and Assessment

This module reviews the historical development and contemporary understanding of animal welfare, and highlights advancements in our understanding of pain, stress, suffering, and most recently, positive mental states.  Students will learn about the physiological bases of and differences between pain, stress and suffering. The importance of positive psychological and social states for animal welfare will be discussed. Students will also learn about physiological, behavioural and other indicators of animal welfare. Pathological behaviours such as stereotypies will help students to connect this module with the other behavioural modules within this programme. The module will also introduce students to major animal welfare assessment frameworks (such as the Five Freedoms), and students will learn how to put these frameworks into practice by conducting welfare assessment of different species in different settings.

Research Methods 2

This module builds upon Research Methods 1. At level 4 students will focus on qualitative research methods, while in the current level 5 module, students will focus on quantitative research methods. Students will learn about theoretical underpinning of quantitative research methods, data collection and data analysis techniques using appropriate statistical software to aid in their use of descriptive and inferential statistics. Transferable skills associated with engaging with, synthesising and offering a critique of quantitative data as well as communicating research effectively are essential elements of this module. The module will help prepare students for the Level 6 Dissertation and help students interpret quantitative-based readings in natural sciences.

Optional modules
  • Volunteering - 15 credits
  • The Environment, Climate Change and Globalisation - 15 credits
  • Religion and Spirituality in Contemporary Society - 15 credits
  • Political Leadership and Communication - 15 credits
  • Global Governance - 15 credits


Placement in Animal Welfare and Society

This module facilitates the engagement of students with the world of work post-graduation. The module asks students to approach a range of groups associated with animals to negotiate a placement that helps them explore a real-world work interest that has arisen in relation to the curriculum followed in the BA programme so far. In doing so, students develop skills in real-world self-presentation; in negotiation; in understanding the expectations of employers, collectives, agencies, production companies or venues with regards to employment; and to explore specific roles and career goals in the general realm of animal welfare and protection in order to critically evaluate their own development needs and to understand the ladders of experience they wish to begin to climb in order to ‘make’ their ideal career(s) happen.

Applied Animal Behaviour

This module appraises the causation of abnormal behaviour and the principles of behavioural assessment and behavioural modification. Fundamentally, this module links behaviour to welfare and the ways in which behavioural techniques can be applied to promote good welfare. Having considered behavioural repertoires in wild and captive animals, and critically applying Tinbergen’s Four Questions to understand behaviour, common maladaptive behaviours in domesticated and non-domesticated species are discussed: redirected, self-injurious, compulsive and stereotypical behaviours, for example. The common causes of these behaviours are critically evaluated in detail, as are the behaviours’ biological or psychological functions. Humane strategies for alleviating or managing these behaviours are critiqued, including environmental enrichment, positive reinforcement training, genetic selection, stockmanship and pharmaceutical treatment.

Dissertation in Animal Welfare and Society

This module is seminal to your completion of an honours degree. Performing an extended research project showcases your academic and subject-specific skills and knowledge, while developing/embedding those skills further in preparation for your next stage of study or employment. Being able to critically evaluate and analyse concepts, data and your own work are highly desirable graduate skills which are in demand in the workplace. Developing a sense of autonomy is imperative for graduates and conducting a dissertation will provide much opportunity to develop autonomy. This module is the pinnacle of your undergraduate degree. The dissertation is an extended treatment of 8,000 words on a subject of the student’s choice (subject to approval). Study is primarily student-directed, with supervision supplied by tutors teaching/researching in the subject area.

The Political Representation of Animals

This module explores political theory and animals. Major political philosophies such as utilitarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism and feminism are discussed in their relation to animals. Are nonhuman animals a part of the political community and do we owe animals justice? What is justice and what would it mean for nonhuman animals? How do political institutions consider animals and how should governments make policy on sentient species? Which political theories are better suited to incorporate animals in a theory of justice? In a world where societies routinely use animals on an industrial scale, how can the distinction between ideal and nonideal political theory inform the political representation of animals? Finally, the module will consider how the political representation of animals relates to that of other historically oppressed groups.

Optional modules
  • Animals and the Arts  15 Credits
  • Animals and Alternatives Within Research and Education  15 Credits
  • Politics, Energy and the Environment  15 Credits
  • Social Movements and Collective Action in the Internet Age  15 Credits
  • Political Leadership and Communication  15 Credits

Entry requirements

104-120 points

Our offers are typically made using UCAS tariff points to allow you to include a range of level 3 qualifications and as a guide, the requirements for this course are equivalent to:

A-Levels: BCC-BBB from 3 A Levels or equivalent grade combinations (e.g. BBB is comparable to ABC in terms of tariff points)

BTEC/CTEC: DMM from BTEC or Cambridge Technical (CTEC) qualifications International Baccalaureate: To include a minimum of 2 Higher Level certificates at grade H4

T Level: Merit in a T Level

Additionally, we accept tariff points achieved for many other qualifications, such as the Access to Higher Education Diploma, Scottish Highers, UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma and WJEC Applied Certificate/Diploma, to name a few.We also accept tariff points from smaller level 3 qualifications, up to a maximum of 32, from qualifications like the Extended Project (EP/EPQ), music or dance qualifications. To find out more about UCAS tariff points, including what your qualifications are worth, please visit UCAS.

In addition to level 3 study, the following GCSE’s are required:

GCSE English Language at grade 4 or C, or higher. Functional Skills at level 2 is accepted as an alternative, however Key Skills qualifications are not. If you hold another qualification, please get in touch and we will advise further.

If you will be over the age of 21 years of age at the beginning of your undergraduate study, you will be considered as a mature student. This means our offer may be different and any work or life experiences you have will be considered together with any qualifications you hold. UCAS have further information about studying as a mature student on their website which may be of interest.

If English is not your first language, a formal English language test will most likely be required and you will need to achieve the following:

  • IELTS Academic at 5.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in all four components (for year 1 entry)
  • We also accept other English language qualifications, such as IELTS Indicator, Pearson PTE Academic, Cambridge C1 Advanced and TOEFL iBT.

If you are living outside of the UK or Europe, you can find out more about how to join this course by contacting our International Recruitment Team via our International Apply Pages.

2024 Course Tuition Fees

  UK / Channel Islands /
Isle of Man / Republic of Ireland 


Year 1 £9,250 £16,700
Year 2 £9,250 £16,700
Year 3 £9,250 £16,700
Total £27,750 £50,100
Optional Sandwich Year* £1,850 £3,340
Total with Sandwich Year £29,600 £53,440

Additional tuition fee information

If you are a UK student starting your degree in September 2024, the first year will cost you £9,250**. Based on this fee level, the indicative fees for a three-year degree would be £27,750 for UK students.

Remember, you don’t have to pay any of this upfront if you are able to get a tuition fee loan from the UK Government to cover the full cost of your fees each year.

UK Part-Time fees are calculated on a pro rata basis of the full-time fee for a 120 credit course. The fee for a single credit is £77.08 and a 15 credit module is £1,156. Part-time students can take up to a maximum 90 credits per year, so the maximum fee in a given year will be the government permitted maximum fee of £6,935.

International part-time fees are calculated on a pro rata basis of the full-time fee for a 120 credit course. The fee for a single credit is £139.14 and a 15 credit module is £2,087.

* Please note that not all courses offer an optional sandwich year.

**The University of Winchester will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year.

Additional costs

As one of our students all of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of student support and IT services.

There might be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying. The following highlights the mandatory and optional costs for this course:


Field trips
In the first year of study there will be one or more field trips to study animal welfare and behaviour in zoos and/or other settings. Where these are mandatory, costs are covered by the Department.


Printing and Binding
The University is pleased to offer our students a printing allowance of £5 each academic year. This will print around 125 A4 (black and white) pages. If students wish to print more, printer credit can be topped up by the student. The University and Student Union are champions of sustainability and we ask all our students to consider the environmental impact before printing.


We have a variety of scholarship and bursaries available to support you financially with the cost of your course. To see if you’re eligible, please see our Scholarships and Awards.


Graduates gain employment in national and international animal advocacy; charitable, welfare and conservation organisations; and with animal-related Governmental departments and commercial organisations. Some may use this qualification as a gateway to other pathways such as teaching, veterinary specialisation in animal welfare, doctoral studies and research in related fields, or accreditation as an animal behaviourist.

The University of Winchester ranks in the top 10 in the UK for graduates in employment and further study according to the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2023, HESA.

Pre-approved for a Masters

If you study a Bachelor Honours degree with us, you will be pre-approved to start a Masters degree at Winchester. To be eligible, you will need to apply by the end of March in the final year of your degree and meet the entry requirements of your chosen Masters degree.

Student with careers staff member
"I've volunteered in Thailand with elephants and also with the dogs there. I'm going back to Sri Lanka to work with street dogs." Jade, Animal Welfare and Society

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