Study Abroad and Exchanges



ACE3049 : Companion Animal Behaviour

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The module is designed to develop an understanding of the general principles of domestic animal behaviour. We use illustrations from comparative companion animal behaviour, relating this to physiological processes and applying this to the context of our companion animals. We explore the influence of human interaction on companion animal behaviour and the natural behaviour of the species. The module is joint taught with livestock (farm) animal behaviour for the first part of the module and then splits to focus on the behavioural problems that arise in companion animals and solutions developed to overcome these. While we predominantly use examples from dogs, horses and cats as companion animals, students are welcome to include more exotic companion animals of interest. The assessed group presentation is on the social behaviour of an animal of the students’ choice.

Outline Of Syllabus

The influence on behaviour of domestication of animals
Acquisition of behaviour, learning
Genetics of behaviour
Ingestive and eliminative behaviours
Sexual and reproductive behaviour
Maternal behaviour and dam-offspring bonding
Animal communication
Social behaviour and organisation (dominance/grouping/spatial relationships)
Individual differences in animals
Behaviour and the diagnosis of animal welfare
Behavioural problems in horses and companion animals

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00Preparation for group oral presentation (20 minute talk)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Semester 2 examination
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Revision for Semester 2 examination
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Seminar with assessed group oral presentations
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity115:0015:00Research for seminar presentation topic
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study116:0016:00General reading and research on module topics beyond taught material
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study120:0020:00Follow up of lecture notes, compilation and background reading
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
ACE3048Livestock Behaviour
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and guided independent reading provide knowledge on the genetic and environmental determinants of animal behaviour in different companion animal species, using videos of behaviour to illustrate particular points. This knowledge is then developed to provide understanding of the causes of abnormal behaviour, using case studies in different species to illustrate remedial strategies. It is intended that preparation for the oral presentations will encourage deep learning, as well as skills in acquiring and presenting information.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1202A80Unseen essay questions (2/5)
Oral Presentation202M20Group oral presentation with peer assessment moderation (set week 1, delivered week 7)
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
ACE3048Livestock Behaviour2N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formal written examination tests knowledge and understanding of the expression of normal and abnormal behaviours in companion animals, their physiological and environmental determinants and the ways in which they can be modified by human intervention. Oral presentations additionally test skills in information sourcing and integration, oral communication, teamwork and planning and organising.

Reading Lists