Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law (Online Learning) MSc, PgDip (ICL), PgCert (ICL), PgProfDev

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

Study modes: Part-time Intermittent Study

Online learning

Funding opportunities

We had the best lecturers from around the world. The top animal ethicists and animal welfare scientists were there for us to talk to online and it was just so inspiring.

Jane Stirling MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law graduate

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:

The University of Edinburgh has been delivering online postgraduate programmes since 2005 and is the largest provider of online programmes in the prestigious Russell Group of universities.

Online learning is aimed at people who want to study for a postgraduate qualification alongside ongoing personal and professional commitments. You can study at times most convenient to you and tailor the timeframe of studies to suit your needs. Most of our students continue in their employment while they study.

Student support for online students is given as much emphasis as for our on-campus learners. The 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.

A dedicated e-Learning team ensures the programme runs smoothly and the programme is supported by an experienced team of a programme director, co-ordinator, administrator and course leaders. Each student is provided with a personal tutor. Courses are taught and completed entirely online.

The varied teaching includes:

  • online lectures
  • tutorials
  • specialist external lectures
  • scientific group discussions
  • case studies
  • problem-based learning scenarios
  • literature based research
  • computer-assisted learning
  • quizzes

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.

The degree programme is structured to allow sequential progression from individual courses to Certificate, Diploma and MSc phases. Students may also exit the programme on completion of each phase.

The programme is designed to be taken part-time over three years at 20 hours per week, with the option to complete in up to six years if required.

The completion times are as follows:

  • PgCert: 1-2 years
  • PgDip: 2-4 years
  • MSc: 3-6 years

Programme structure and content

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
  • International Cat and Dog Welfare
  • Captive and Free-ranging Wild Animal Welfare
  • Welfare of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes
  • Clinical Animal Behaviour
  • Equine Behaviour and Welfare
  • Equitation Science
  • Anthrozoology
  • Poultry Behaviour & Welfare in Commercial Systems
  • Making Science Relevant to Policy and Decision Making

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 postgraduate-level learning, without the time, or financial commitment, of a full award.

You may take a maximum of 50 credits worth of courses from within this degree over two years and gain a University of Edinburgh postgraduate award of academic credit.

It may also be possible to continue your studies after one year and put credits towards a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or full Masters degree. Any time spent taking courses through the PPD scheme will be deducted from the amount of time you have left to complete the higher award.

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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScInternational Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2023/24
PgDip (ICL)International Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2023/24
PgCert (ICL)International Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2023/24
PgProfDevInternational Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyProgramme structure 2023/24

Graduates can use their qualification to enhance their career prospects in:

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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 the programme team 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 the programme team to check before you apply. You may be admitted to the certificate level or Postgraduate Professional Development only in the first instance.

Computer Requirements

This is an online programme so you will be accessing materials, discussion boards and a range of tools via the internet. While the programme team and the University's Information Services (IS) department provide distance learning support, please remember that you are still responsible for your own technical set-up.

You are not expected to be a technical whizz, and we provide guidance and training for the tools we use. However, we expect that you will take responsibility for your access to the programme, make back-ups of your work and organise alternative access if required.

Students from China

This degree is Band D.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee




Additional programme costs


Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScInternational Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 6 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgDip (ICL)International Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 4 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgCert (ICL)International Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees
PgProfDevInternational Animal Welfare, Ethics & LawUp to 2 YearsPart-time Intermittent StudyTuition fees

The University of Edinburgh offers a small number of scholarships to outstanding candidates. These are very competitive. We publish data on the success rate for scholarship applications to help you understand the level of demand.

Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships

Applicants from eligible Commonwealth countries who secure an offer to study this programme are invited to apply for a Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarship. The scholarship covers full tuition fees. The deadline for scholarship application is 28th March 2024. Please check the link below for eligibility criteria, number of available awards, t&c and additional information.

(Revised 22 February 2024 to add in the 'Commonwealth Distance Learning Scholarships' information) 

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • JMICAWE, 2nd Floor
  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG
Programme start dates Application deadlines
1 April 2024 29 February 2024
9 September 2024 29 July 2024
6 January 2025 30 November 2024
1 April 2025 28 February 2025

Applicants who wish to take advantage of UK government funding must commence their programme of study in September and confirm this at the point of application.

Applicants to the PgProfDev programme can join in September, January or April.

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

An academic reference is preferred but an employer reference is also accepted, if an academic reference is not possible and providing you have been with the employer for two or more years.

We may request that you submit a CV, no longer than two pages long, and a motivational letter along with your application. If requested, 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

  • JMICAWE, 2nd Floor
  • Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
  • Easter Bush
  • Edinburgh
  • EH25 9RG