Biomedical Teaching Organisation

The use of animals in teaching

Our policy concerning the role of animals in teaching within the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences.

Teaching in Biomedical Sciences is conducted under a policy involving respect for all forms of life. The use of animal material is considered to be a necessary ingredient in the training of Biomedical Scientists, and while this may be supplemented with videos, models and computer simulations, these cannot entirely replace the use of living or killed material. We are concerned to ensure that any animals used for teaching purposes have been treated humanely, that stress and suffering are avoided, that a minimum number of animals is used, and that students are fully prepared, by previous study, to make the most of the opportunities involving the use of the animals. The use of live animals in teaching is confined to studies which are within the spirit and letter of the legislation governing scientific procedures on animals.

Many areas of the study of animals can only be carried out using living material, as is the case with animal physiology, pharmacology and behaviour. The study of the function of tissue in vivo makes an essential contribution to medicine and clinical veterinary science, while post-mortem dissection is required to develop skills necessary to biologically related careers in disciplines such as physiology, parasitology and the animal sciences which contribute directly to human health, animal welfare and the production of food for the human population.

Several of the 1st and 2nd year core courses include practicals that involve some work with animals, animal tissues or animal products. All components of such laboratory classes are included because it is believed that they make an important contribution to learning about biomedical sciences and biology, and students are expected to take part in all of them.   The views of students who are not willing to participate in any particular practical class will be respected, but such students should realise that the material taught in this way may be examined in Degree examinations and in-course assessments. An unwillingness to take part in certain practicals may limit the possibilities for proceeding to certain courses in future years.

It is our belief that properly trained biomedical scientists will develop their respect for living organisms, will be sensitive to ethical issues, and will contribute to an educated public opinion about living organisms and the environment.

Related links

For more information about the role of animals at the University of Edinburgh, please see our Animal Research website.

Animal research