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MMB8045 : Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Matthew Leach
  • Demonstrator: Dr Stephanie Matheson
  • Lecturer: Dr Jonathan Guy, Professor Lucy Asher, Professor Melissa Bateson, Dr Amy Miller, Dr Colline Poirier
  • Owning School: FMS Graduate School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of how animal behaviour is currently used in both the study of animal welfare and in the more practical assessment of welfare of non-human animal species. It will illustrate how animal behaviour is applied in different areas of scientific research and how it is practically applied to the assessment of welfare of various species. The students will also gain training in the skills and concepts that underpin the behavioural 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, farm, companion, and laboratory 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 uses of animal behaviour in animal welfare research and the practical assessment of welfare.

This module will cover a range of topics which may include:
•       Introduction to Applied Animal Behaviour & Animal Welfare
•       The assessment of pain in animals spontaneous using 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 based animal studies
•       Use of behaviour for practically assessing welfare of captive animals
•       Lameness scoring in dairy cattle

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Practical and implementation of welfare assessment (Report 1)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion124:0024:00Analysis and presentation of welfare assessment findings (Report 1)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00Preparation of essay report (Report 2)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials22:004:00Non-synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching72:0014:00Present in person (PIP): 2 hr seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork14:004:00Present in person (PIP): Practical exercise on-farm
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity132:0032:00Additional 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 behavioural-based 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 behavioural 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 3. Titles to be provided by three lecturers and relate to the material they have taught - 1500 words
Formative Assessments
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 research questions, and propose approaches to answering them (for example, by designing a hypothetical experiment).

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