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MMB8045 : Animal Welfare and Applied Animal Behaviour (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Colline Poirier
  • Lecturer: Dr Fritha Langford, Professor Lucy Asher, Professor Melissa Bateson
  • Deputy Module Leader: Dr Matthew Leach
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of animal welfare science. It will discuss the the different concepts of animal welfare and illustrate how animal behaviour but also physiology and neuroscience are applied to assess the welfare of various species. The students will gain training in the skills and concepts that underpin the techniques used in animal welfare research and its practical assessment. They will develop skills in the recording and quantification of spontaneously occurring behaviour for the purposes of animal welfare assessment and the design and conduct of behavioural-based animal welfare studies and assays, and working with a range of species in different contexts including, laboratory, farm and companion animals. Although this module focuses on the welfare of non-human animals, it will also be of interest to those students interested in human behaviour, particularly those who study non-verbal human behaviour.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module consists of a series of lectures and practical demonstrations that cover the main aspects of animal welfare science.

This module will cover a range of topics which may include:
•       Introduction to Animal Welfare and Applied Animal Behaviour.
•       The assessment of pain in animals using spontaneous behaviour and behavioural assays
•       The assessment of production & welfare of farmed livestock using behaviour
•       Companion animal behavioural therapy
•       How advancing technology is revolutionising the assessment of animal behaviour & welfare
•       Cognitive biases and their use in the assessment of welfare and mood
•       The use of neuroscience in welfare assessment
•       Ethical considerations in conducting behavioural studies
•       Lameness scoring in dairy cattle

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Preparation of essay report (Report 2)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Analysis and presentation of welfare assessment findings (Report 1)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Practical and implementation of welfare assessment (Report 1)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00Present in person (PIP): 2 hr seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork14:004:00Present in person (PIP): Practical exercise on-farm
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity134:0034:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study120:0020:00Preparing notes from lectures, seminars and reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The interspersing of content seminars and lecture materials with more practically focused sessions reflects the desirability at MRes level of imparting research skills as well as the scientific knowledge that underpins these skills. By intertwining the knowledge and skills components, we hope to engage students more deeply with a critical understanding of how various techniques are being used to study and assess animal welfare across a range of species. The different weekly sessions are designed to cover the variety of different methods used in animal welfare science.

Should public health circumstances dictate that it is necessary, in person sessions including the farm visit will be moved to online alternatives.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M50Design, implementation, analysis & reporting of a behaviour-based welfare assessment in a species of the students’ choice 2000 words
Report1M50Essay: Choose 1 from 2. Titles to relate to the material that has been taught and essential reading - 1500 words
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report1MLameness scoring practical - students will receive feedback on their ability to score lameness & how this skill could be improved.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will feature problem-based questions tapping the student’s ability to think critically about concepts and techniques underpinning animal welfare assessment.

The in-course assignment with a written report assesses the key skill of designing (i.e. determining the most appropriate measurement indices), conducting an assessment, analysing data and presenting results in a clear way to a broad scientific audience.

The lameness scoring practical will feature training on the assessment lameness through observation, which the students will have the opportunity to put into practice. Their ability to score lameness will be assessed informally through discussion at both an individual and group level. This discussion will include feedback on their ability to score lameness and how this skill could be improved.

Reading Lists