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University of Glasgow: Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law

Institution University of Glasgow View institution profile
Department School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Study type Taught


Animal welfare science and ethics is an expanding topic of international concern. 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.

  • Accredited by the Royal Society of Biology for the purpose of meeting, in part, the academic and experience requirement for the Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).
  • Learn with the School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine, a grouping of top researchers who focus on combining ecology and evolution with more applied problems in animal health.
  • 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.
  • Develop valuable skills in:
    • conservation biology
    • epidemiology
    • practical approaches to assessing biodiversity
    • quantitative methods
    • sequence analysis
  • Our strong ties between veterinarians and ecologists are a unique strength, offering training opportunities spanning both fundamental and applied research.
  • Experience the opportunity to base your independent research projects at:
    • Cochno Farm in Glasgow - for research based on farm animals
    • Millport field station on the Isle of Cumbrae - for marine projects
    • The University field station on Loch Lomond - for freshwater or terrestrial-based projects We will also assist you to gain research project placements in zoos or research laboratories, whenever possible.
  • Gain core skills and knowledge across a wide range of subjects that will enhance your selection chances for competitive PhD programmes.
  • Many links with animal welfare-related organisations. We regularly welcome organisation experts to deliver guest lectures to our Animal Welfare students. We also arrange for our classes to visit organisations to obtain a first-hand view of working there is like.
  • Many organisations provide our students with opportunities to carry out their independent research project within their company.
  • We have currently the following partners involved in this programme:
    • Blair Drummond Safari Park
    • Chester Zoo
    • Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
    • National Museum Scotland
    • Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA)
    • The Aspinall Foundation (Howletts & Port Lympne)

Main Campus Location

Mainly undertaken at the Gilmorehill Campus in the West End of Glasgow, with your research projects possibly taking place outwith the city at either Loch Lomond, Isle Of Cumbrae or Cochno Farm.

This programme is part of the IPhD programme. Find out more.

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 second term.

Core courses

  • [[[BIOL5114]]]
  • [[[BIOL5127]]]
  • [[[BIOL5115]]]
  • [[[BIOL5126]]]

Term 2: Optional courses

  • [[[BIOL5116]]]
  • [[[BIOL5132]]]
  • [[[BIOL5117]]]
  • [[[BIOL5333]]]
  • [[[BIOL5130]]]
  • [[[BIOL5325]]]
  • [[[VETSCI5024]]]
  • [[[BIOL5250]]]
  • [[[BIOL5292]]]
  • [[[BIOL5124]]]
  • [[[BIOL5125]]]
  • [[[BIOL5131]]]
  • [[[BIOL5293]]]
  • [[[BIOL5135]]]
  • [[[VETSCI5022]]]
  • [[[BIOL5137]]]

Core MSc component

  • [[[BIOL5134P]]]

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.

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.

Students from this programme have gone on to a very wide variety of graduate roles in academia and the labour market across the UK and also in Europe.

Job titles include:

  • agricultural officer for regional government, animal carer (horses), animal technician, canine carer, locum vet nurse, veterinary meat hygiene inspector

Other graduates have progressed to PhDs in veterinary medicine and science.


University of Glasgow

The University of Glasgow is one of the UK’s most prestigious seats of learning, and the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world. Established in 1451 and recognised for its world-changing research and teaching, the University has inspired thinkers from eminent scientist Lord Kelvin and the father of economics Adam Smith, to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 


The University:

  • is ranked 73rd in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2022
  • is in the top 100 in the world: Times Higher World University Rankings 2022
  • 95.9% of students in employment or further study 6 …
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