Skip to main content


MMB8055 : Practical Aspects of Animal Welfare

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Colline Poirier
  • Lecturer: Dr Matthew Leach, Dr Fritha Langford, Dr Helen Gray, Dr Carmen Hubbard, Dr Johnny Roughan, Dr Theresa Rueger, Professor Lucy Asher
  • Deputy Module Leader: Dr Jessica Martin
  • 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 the practical aspects of animal welfare assessment. It will discuss how to assess the welfare of various animal species, including laboratory (rodents and non-human primates), farm (poultry, pigs and ungulates), companion (cats and dogs) and wild animals; and what are the outstanding research questions regarding these different groups. The students will develop skills in the design and conduct of behavioural-based animal welfare studies and will gain training in the skills that underpin the techniques used to assess animal welfare, including those using cutting-edge technologies.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module consists of a series of lectures and practical demonstrations that cover how to assess the welfare of various groups of animals. It will include practical sessions in welfare assessment in cows, rodents and/or cats, as well as in the use of behavioural informatics to quantify behavioural indicators of welfare.

This module will cover a range of topics which may include:

• Humane killing of animals

• How advancing technology is revolutionizing the assessment of animal welfare

• Animal welfare and social sciences

• Clinical pain assessment

• Welfare assessment of laboratory rodents

• Welfare assessment of laboratory primates

• Welfare assessment of poultry and pigs

• Welfare assessment of farmed livestock (cow/sheep)

• Companion animal behavioural therapy

• Welfare assessment of fish

• Welfare assessment of wild animals

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion125:0025:00Design and Data collection for Welfare assessment (Case study)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion135:0035:00Analysis and presentation of behavioural informatics data (Poster)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture132:0026:00Present in person (PIP): 2 hr lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Analysis and Writing up of Welfare assessment (Case study)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00Present in person (PIP): Practical exercise (Behavioural informatics)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:00Present in person (PIP): Practical exercise 1 (welfare assessment)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Synchronous online: 2 hr seminars
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity128:0028:00Additional Reading and Reflective Learning
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study148:0048:00Preparing notes from lectures, seminars and reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module intersperses lectures to develop the scientific knowledge of students and practical sessions, structured around between-peers practical exercises, aiming to develop their research skills. Lectures will mix non-interactive components with interactive ones such as discussions, between-peers practical exercises polls and quizzes, since they are recognised to promote deeper learning.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Case study1M60Design, implementation, analysis & reporting of a behaviour- based welfare assessment in a species of the students’ choice 2000 words
Poster1M40Analysis and Reporting behavioural informatics welfare data in a poster
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 report1MWelfare assessment practical - students will receive feedback during the session.
Practical/lab report1MBehavioural Informatics practical - students will receive feedback during the session.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The welfare assessment practical will feature training on welfare assessment through video recording or in situ observation of animals, which the students will have the opportunity to put into practice. Their ability to assess welfare will be assessed informally through discussion at both an individual and group level. This discussion will include feedback on their ability to assess welfare and how this could be improved.
A similar approach will be used in the second formative assessment, focusing on the ability of the students to use behavioural welfare indicators.

Summative assessments will include one welfare assessment, assessing the key skills of designing (i.e. determining the most appropriate measurement indices), conducting an assessment, analysing and presenting data in a clear way to a broad scientific audience, and critically discussing the strengths and limitations of the assessment. The second assessment will build upon the second practical and will assess the ability of students to design a scientific poster on behavioural informatics data.

Reading Lists