University of Glasgow: Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law (MSc)

InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow View institution profile
Department Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Study type Taught


Animal welfare science and ethics is an expanding topic of international concern, which is why the University of Glasgow offer an Animal Welfare MSc programme. It aims to improve our knowledge and understanding of animals’ needs, which is required to provide a high standard of care to the whole range of animals kept in captivity.

Top 100 University
This Animal Welfare Degree programme is offered by the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine (IBAHCM); a grouping of top researchers who focus on combining ecology and evolution with more applied problems in animal health
When studying Animal Welfare you will be taught by research-active staff using the latest approaches in understanding and responding to animal welfare-related issues, legislation related to use of animals, and both theoretical and applied ethics.
In addition, you will have opportunities to develop skills in quantitative methods, sequence analysis, conservation biology, epidemiology and practical approaches to assessing biodiversity.
A unique strength of the Animal Welfare MSc at the University of Glasgow for many years has been the strong ties between veterinarians and ecologists, which has now been formalised in the formation of the IBAHCM. This direct linking is rare but offers unique opportunities to provide training that spans both fundamental and applied research.
The IBAHCM also offers an MSc in Quantitative Methods in Biodiversity, Conservation and Epidemiology. This degree is more focused on ecology and evolutionary biology and provides the opportunity for you to gain key quantitative skills that are not often a focus of welfare-based programmes.
You will have the opportunity to base your independent research projects at the University field station on Loch Lomond (for freshwater or terrestrial-based projects); Millport field station on the Isle of Cumbria (for marine projects); or Cochno farm in Glasgow (for research based on farm animals). We will also assist you to gain research project placements in zoos or research laboratories, whenever possible.
You will gain core skills and knowledge across a wide range of subjects that will enhance your selection chances for competitive PhD programmes. In addition to academic options, career opportunities include roles in zoos, government agencies, officers of animal welfare, protection, or wildlife crime, veterinary nursing and aquaculture
We have many links with animal welfare-related organisations through them coming to us to teach their expertise to our Animal Welfare degree and the class going to visit their organisation to obtain a first-hand view of what working is like at these organisations. Many of them also provide the students with opportunities to carry out their independent research project within their company. Students will also be able to capitalise on the strong ties between the veterinarians and ecologists at the IBAHCM. This allows us to directly link fundamental and applied research and offers unique opportunities to provide training that spans both theory and praxis.
We have currently the following partners involved in this programme:
Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)
Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
BlairDrummondSafari Park
The Aspinall Foundation (Howletts & Port Lympne)
National Museum Scotland

Students are exposed to potential work places and can make valuable contacts with professionals in the welfare community. Where possible this is a two-way exchange in which communities are offered help with any issues they have and for which assistance may be provided in finding a solution (e.g. through independent research projects, supervised by university staff). This is also an option open to other courses and could benefit the students in the long-term as well as give the university valuable connections with the wider community.

1 course option

Qualification MSc
Level SCQF Level 11
Entry requirements

At least a 2.2 Honours degree or equivalent (e.g. GPA of 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject. Professional experience may be taken into account.

In your application, please submit a personal statement (up to 200 words) outlining your interests and why you want to study this programme at the University of Glasgow.

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

overall score 6.5
no sub-test less than 6.0
or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification:
Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

ibTOEFL: 90; no sub-test less than:
Reading: 20
Listening: 19
Speaking: 19
Writing: 23
CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59
Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests
For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: English for Academic Study
BALEAP guide to accredited courses


The programme provides a strong grounding in scientific writing and communication, statistical analysis, and experimental design. It is designed for flexibility, to enable you to customise a portfolio of courses suited to your particular interests.

You can choose from a range of specialised options that encompass key skills in:

Ethics, legislative policy and welfare science – critical for promoting humane treatment of both captive and wild animals.
Monitoring and assessing biodiversity – critical for understanding the impacts of environmental change
Quantitative analyses of ecological and epidemiological data – critical for animal health and conservation.
A total of 180 credits are required, with 40 flexible credits in the 2nd term. See the accompanying detailed course descriptions found in the IBAHCM Masters Programme Overview. When selecting options, please email the relevant course coordinator as well as registering using MyCampus.

Term 1: Core Courses (Assessment in %)

Key research skills (Scientific writing, Introduction to R, Introduction to Linear Models; Advanced Linear Models, Experimental Design): Coursework – 60%; Scientific Report – 40%
Animal welfare science (continues in Term 2 and credit awarded then): Essay – 50%; Site Visit Paper – 50%
Term 2: Core Courses

Animal ethics: Oral Presentation – 50%; Reflective Essay – 50%
Legislation & societal issues: Position Paper – 50%; Press Release – 50%
Term 2: Optional Courses

Biology of suffering: Essay – 100%
Care of captive animals: Report – 100%
Enrichment of animals in captive environments: Essay – 100%
Welfare assessment: Critical Essay – 100%
Programming in R (*prerequisite B grade in KRS R component): Coursework – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Biodiversity informatics: Coursework – 25%; Assignment – 75%
GIS for ecologists: Set Exercise – 60%; Critical Review – 40%
Infectious disease ecology & the dynamics of emerging disease*: Coursework – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Introduction to Bayesian statistics*: Coursework – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Invertebrate identification: Coursework – 20%; Class test – 40%; Assignment – 40%
Molecular analyses for biodiversity and conservation: Coursework – 40%; Assignment – 60%
Molecular epidemiology & phylodynamics: Coursework – 40%; Assignment – 60%
Multi-species models: Coursework – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Single-species population models: Coursework – 30%; Assignment – 70%
Vertebrate identification: Coursework – 20%; Class test – 40%; Assignment – 40%
Human dimensions of conservation: Press statement – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Principles of conservation ecology: Coursework – 30%; Set exercise – 15%; Poster – 55%
Protected area management: Coursework – 50%; Assignment – 50%
Term 3: Core MSc Component

Research project: Research proposal – 25%; Project report – 60%; Supervisor’s Assessment –15%
Animal Welfare is a very broad and applied field and the programme aims to provide coverage of all the different aspects of the topic which are often treated separately. Science is an essential skill in order to have a good understanding of welfare but we appreciate that applicants may come from diverse backgrounds and therefore the course includes a rigorous training in science communication, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation. The programme also includes teaching by practitioners and visits to organisations with first-hand experience of applied welfare problems. The programme also attempts to cover the entire spectrum of animal welfare, including zoos, farms, laboratory animals and wildlife.

Location University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
University Avenue
G12 8QQ


EU 7650 GBP for Year 1
England 7650 GBP for Year 1
Northern Ireland 7650 GBP for Year 1
Scotland 7650 GBP for Year 1
Wales 7650 GBP for Year 1
International 20150 GBP for Year 1

University of Glasgow


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