International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law
A fully flexible postgraduate programme designed to address the demand for online animal welfare education suitable for working professionals and others with an interest in studying a range of animal welfare disciplines.
Why animal welfare?
Animals are a hugely important part of our world, relied upon for food, used as research models, companions, working animals, for sport and in recreation. More than 60 billion land animals are raised for meat each year around the world, and with increasing meat consumption in places such as China, these figures are set to rise. Animal welfare is and must be a key priority; understanding and enhancing it is necessary for protecting animal health, human health and environmental protection.
Why the University of Edinburgh?
The University of Edinburgh has a long-standing reputation for the delivery of gold standard research-led teaching. The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies has extensive staff expertise in animal health and welfare, which has been strengthened further by the development of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education and their continued collaboration with the SRUC Animal and Veterinary Sciences Group, now housed within the Easter Bush Research Consortium. This programme is also affiliated with the University's Global Health Academy.
Why study online?
The R(D)SVS and SRUC currently provide a campus-based MSc/Dip taught degree in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare, which is a highly rated full-time programme. We have built on this excellent foundation to produce a fully flexible postgraduate programme designed to address the demand for online animal welfare education suitable for working professionals and others with an interest in studying a range of animal welfare disciplines.
Typical student profiles
Students on the programme come from a variety of backgrounds including: Veterinary science, zoology, biological science, pharmacology and animal/equine science. Students also come from various parts of the world, for example: UK and Ireland, Europe, USA and Canada, South Africa etc. Consequently, an additional strength of the programme is that you will learn from your peers as well as from the lecturers.
The R(D)SVS was the first UK veterinary school to offer an on-campus Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Masters in 1990 and has continued to strengthen its partnership with the SRUC to build a team of internationally acclaimed animal welfare specialists.
A few good reasons to study with us:
Flexible learning throughout the year to match busy working lives.
Complements the timetable of MSc Equine Science, which allows you to choose elective courses on Equine Behaviour and Welfare.
Build a personal portfolio of clinical and non-clinical skills and knowledge.
Demonstrate commitment to a chosen clinical specialty.
Great mentoring and online discussion from teachers and researchers who are specialists in their field.
Access to high quality interactive online resources/e-journals and online textbooks.
Gain a distinguished postgraduate qualification.
Develop and enhance transferrable technological skills in digital learning environments.
Virtual open days
Virtual drop-in sessions are available for prospective postgraduate online students. Please feel free to register for our next session.
MSc, PGDip, PGCert, PPD
The programme is intended for high calibre students with a biological background.
A degree in the following would be advantageous:
However, candidates with a relevant background and alternative qualifications may be accepted onto the programme, and are encouraged to contact us for further details.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, we will also need to see evidence of your English language proficiency before we can offer you a place.
The programme will enable the acquisition of a range of transferable skills, such as report writing, giving presentations, and time and project management.
Welfare for all animals
You will aim to be able to:
discuss the meanings and definitions of animal welfare. You will also be able to describe how the concepts of animal welfare have changed over time and in different parts of the world
discuss how animal learning and motivation affects welfare. You will also be able to explain how animal cognition and consciousness affect animal quality of life
describe the concepts of stress, pain and suffering and how these relate to animal welfare
describe the present and likely future uses of animals in research, testing and education
analyse how the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement (three Rs) have been implemented in peer reviewed scientific literature involving animal use and alternative methods
describe the main welfare issues of animals in laboratories, and apply knowledge of appropriate methodologies to assess welfare
Ethics, policy and law
You will aim to be able to:
discuss the animal welfare policy and recommendations made by governments and other groups. You will also be able to describe how economics affects animal welfare policy
describe animal welfare law around the globe and discuss the enforcement issues
International and global issues
You will aim to be able to:
describe the use of animals for food and discuss the patterns and changes in global animal agriculture over time
explain the effects that different housing and husbandry systems have on animals and discuss the associated welfare issues
discuss the welfare consequences of live animal transport, markets and slaughter of animals across the globe
review the cultural, social and historical influences on our attitudes to dogs and cats
discuss infectious disease control; rabies in Europe, India and the USA
discuss the dilemmas that can arise from conflicting concerns for individual animal welfare and the conservation of species, populations or communities
The programme is delivered part-time by Online Learning, over a period of between three and six years.
This MSc programme is modular in structure, offering a flexible student-centred approach to the choice of courses studied; other than the two core courses specified for the certificate, you may choose to study one or more individual courses listed below, to complete a sufficient number of course credits to be awarded the post-graduate (PG) Certificate (60 credits), the PG Diploma (120 credits) or the MSc (180 credits).
You may undertake the programme by Intermittent Study (flexible progression route), accruing credits within a maximum time limit of six years for the MSc which will include a maximum period of 12 months from the start of their dissertation to it being completed. If you wish to study for the PG Diploma by intermittent study, the maximum time period for this is 4 years and for the PG Certificate only, the maximum time period is 2 years.
In summary, times for completion are as follows:
Master of Science: 36-72 months
Postgraduate Diploma: 24-48 months
Postgraduate Certificate: 12-24 months
Each year of the taught element will consist of three 11-week terms structured into 2 blocks of 5 weeks of study with a week in between for independent study and reflection.
This framework is designed to fit in with the part-time nature of the course, giving you time to reflect on your learning and lessening the impact of the additional requirements that studying will place on your working life.
International animal welfare science (* Core – 20 credits)
Animal ethics, policy and law (* Core – 20 credits)
Years 1 - 5
Elective courses from this programme
Animal welfare in research, testing and education (20 credits)
Production animal welfare (20 credits)
Companion animal welfare (20 credits)
Captive and free-range wild animal welfare (20 credits)
Clinical animal behaviour (20 credits)
Elective courses from selected programmes
Equine behaviour and welfare (20 credits)
Years 3 - 6
Dissertation element (must be written within a 12-month period)
Although all courses are offered, we will not be able to guarantee that all courses will be available to all students, each year. This will be dependent upon numbers of students and availability of places on non-programme owned courses.
On the successful completion of 120 credits (40 credits coming from the core courses), you may depart with a PG Diploma in International Animal Welfare.
In order to progress to the final level to attain the Masters (dissertation element), you will have to:
Pass at least 80 credits of coursework with a mark of at least 50% in each of the courses which make up these credits (including the two core courses) and no mark <40% for any course
Gain a minimum average mark of 50% for the 120 credits
During the dissertation element of the MSc programme, you will have the opportunity to further develop your scientific skills and utilise scientific theory, in a less structured environment.
The Dissertation is a written assignment of 10-15,000 words. This will allow you to analyse and present relevant research data that you have already collected during the course of your own work.
Alternatively, you may wish to undertake a desk study to explore and develop a theme of relevance to your current working environment, or in an area of interest that has arisen during your period of study on the MSc.
This feature will require a high level of commitment and application from you and provides a valuable exercise in the writing and presentation of information to a standard that engages appropriately with academic conventions in relation to style, tone, structuring and referencing.
Supervision for this element of the MSc will be provided by existing research staff and subject experts currently employed by the University of Edinburgh. You will also be encouraged, where appropriate, to work closely with senior staff at their home institutions.
For further information on fees, please see the link below. Please note that each yearly fee can be paid in instalments.
It is recommended that you conduct your own research on this, but you can refer to the University Scholarship website to view suggestions on Scholarships:
However, we are delighted to announce that our Masters is eligible for 2 scholarships, which are:
The Edinburgh Global Online Distance Learning Master's Scholarships - which allows you to apply for one of the 6 Master's scholarships - each scholarship will have a total value of £5,000 which will be deducted from the tuition fee for the entire part-time programme of study. For more details, please view:
The Edinburgh Global Academy Online Distance Learning Master's Scholarships - which will allow you to apply for one of the 4 Master's scholarships - each scholarship will have a total value of £9,000 which will be deducted from the tuition fee for the entire part-time programme of study. For more details, please view:
Animal Asia Scholarship. Funding opportunities are available for Chinese applicants currently working in China who wish to do the PG Certificate. Please email:
A variety of other scholarships are also potentially available to you, and we have listed three here:
1. ILA Scotland. ILA Scotland is a Scottish Government scheme that helps you pay for learning that you can do at a time, place, pace and in a way to suit you. It’s for people who have an income of £22,000 a year or less, or who are on benefits. The University of Edinburgh is an approved Learning Provider for the ILA500 scheme and students enrolled on this programme, who meet the ILA requirements, are eligible to apply for this support. Please note that forms must be signed and verified by Registry and should be submitted to ILA Scotland no later than one month after the start date of this programme. More information can be found at:
2. The University of Edinburgh Graduate Discount Scheme. The University of Edinburgh offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with an undergraduate degree from the University of Edinburgh. The Graduate Discount Scheme applies to both home and overseas students, and applies to the self-funding element of the postgraduate tuition fee.
3. The University of Edinburgh Scholarships website. Details of other funding opportunities are available at:
Online application form
Applications should be made online: International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law (online distance learning)
Before submitting your application, please download and read the following guide for uploading documentation:
You can also register interest in the programme via this web form:
Contact details for general enquiries and advice on applications.
For general enquiries, to send mail or to visit us: