Postgraduate study

International Animal Welfare, Ethics & Law (Online Learning)

Awards: MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding available

The overall objective of this online distance learning programme is to provide knowledge and an understanding of animal welfare science, with a focus on the international issues arising from animal use in all its forms.

The programme is delivered by researchers and teachers from both the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies) and the Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) with a series of guest lecturers from around the world.

The programme offers courses in a variety of areas, including:

  • history, culture and concepts of animal welfare
  • animal behaviour
  • animal welfare assessment
  • animal ethics
  • recommendations and policy
  • legislation, regulation and enforcement
  • science communication
  • applied animal welfare - production, companion and captive wild animals

Learn more about why you should study with us:

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy:

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

A blend of online learning methods are utilised, such as discussion forums, podcasts and live tutorials. The programme is modular, allowing us to offer a flexible student-centred approach to the choice of courses studied.

Students may choose to study to certificate, diploma or masters level.

Students can take up to 6 years to complete the full MSc programme and there is also the option to graduate with either an International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Year 1: certificate

You will take two compulsory courses - International Animal Welfare Science and Animal Ethics, Policy and Law - plus an optional course.

Year 2: diploma

You can choose up to 60 credits of optional courses, which include:

  • Production Animal Welfare
  • Cat and Dog Welfare
  • Captive and Free-ranging Wild Animal Welfare
  • Animals in Research, Testing and Education
  • Clinical Animal Behaviour
  • Equine Behaviour and Welfare
  • Equitation Science
  • Anthrozoology

Year 3: masters

You complete a dissertation of between 10,000-15,000 words which can be a research project or an extended systematic review of the literature in a topic of Animal Welfare Science, Ethics or Law.

Postgraduate Professional Development

Postgraduate Professional Development (PPD) is aimed at working professionals who want to advance their knowledge through a postgraduate-level course(s), without the time or financial commitment of a full Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses over two years through our PPD scheme. These lead to a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit. Alternatively, after one year of taking courses you can choose to transfer your credits and continue on to studying towards a higher award on a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme. Although PPD courses have various start dates throughout a year you may only start a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme in the month of September. Any time spent studying PPD will be deducted from the amount of time you will have left to complete a Masters, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate programme.

Graduates can use their qualification to enhance their career prospects in academia, research, governmental and non-governmental organisations and consultancies.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in animal science, biology, psychology, zoology or veterinary science.

We may also consider your application if you have a degree in social science, ethics or law, or if you are an experienced veterinary nurse; please contact us to check before you apply.

If you have relevant work experience and an undergraduate degree in an area other than science, law, ethics or social science we may also consider your application. Please contact us to check before you apply. You may be admitted to the certificate level or Postgraduate Professional Development only in the first instance.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English and Trinity ISE must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

UK government postgraduate loans

UK nationals, those with settled status, and some EU nationals not resident in the UK, could be eligible for a postgraduate loan towards fees - and in some cases living costs. Full guidance and information can be found on our Scholarships & Student Funding website:

Online Commonwealth Scholarships: One Health, One Medicine

We are offering 10 awards covering tuition fees. These scholarships will be awarded to outstanding candidates who are citizens of and resident in low and middle income Commonwealth countries. Successful applicants will benefit from the University’s Global Academy network.

*Online Commonwealth Scholarships

Find out more about scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Administrator, Michael Winpenny
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 8825
  • Email: iawel@ed.ac.uk
  • JMICAWE, 2nd Floor
  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 30 August 2019

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit a reference with your application.

With your application you are required to submit a CV, no longer than 2 pages long, and a motivational letter.

The letter of motivation, should outline your relevant work, volunteer or travel experience and the role this programme has in your future plans.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Administrator, Michael Winpenny
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 8825
  • Email: iawel@ed.ac.uk
  • JMICAWE, 2nd Floor
  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG