Animal Behaviour and Welfare

BSc (Hons) Single

The scientific study of animal behaviour and welfare is an exciting and rapidly changing field. It allows us to increase our understanding of the diverse ways in which non-human animals function and react to their environment. An animal’s welfare can range on a sliding scale from very poor to excellent; when managing animals in captivity or conserving them in the wild, it is important that we understand how we can try to meet their biological needs. 

During this course you will be taught at Reaseheath College in Year 1, and then at the University of Chester in Years 2 and 3.

The formal study of animal behaviour is a relatively new science, but humans’ fascination with animals is probably as long as our species’ existence. By applying cutting-edge scientific research to animals living under human care, such as on farms or in zoos, or to companion animals such as dogs, cats and horses, we can make recommendations for how to improve conditions and maintain excellent animal welfare. Knowledge of behaviour and welfare can also contribute to changes in attitudes towards animal ethics and care and to the legislation in place to protect them. Increasingly, the study of animal behaviour and welfare is also contributing to the conservation of wild animals in their natural habitats, especially where these are heavily managed.

This course offers an integrated, scientific approach to the study of the theory and practice of animal behaviour and welfare, and the wider role of this discipline within the biological sciences. It includes a combination of academic skills development, practical experience and the enhancement of wider employability skills, drawing on staff expertise in teaching, research and industry.  


Why study Animal Behaviour and Welfare at Reaseheath College and Chester?


  • Internationally recognised teaching team whose expertise spans industry and academia, both in the UK and overseas.
  • Close links with zoos, animal sanctuaries, farms, professional bodies, animal charities and conservation organisations, which facilitate the provision of highly relevant work placements and can act as a gateway to future employment.
  • Reaseheath College, where students are taught in the first year, is a full member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). Reaseheath has a purpose-built animal centre and teaching facility and houses over 1,000 animals from around 125 different species. These include tapirs, meerkats, ring-tailed lemurs, otters, birds of prey, reptiles, fish, amphibians and a range of companion and park animals.
  • Clear focus on student employability following completion of the course, including a bespoke work-based learning module at the end of the second year.
  • Focus on the scientific approach to the assessment of animal welfare, including the use of quantifiable physiological and behavioural measures. Furthermore, students will have the opportunity to develop general research skills applicable to a multitude of scientific fields and industries.
  • Informative field trips to local animal facilities such as zoos, safari parks and farms.
  • All students on this programme are given membership of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (ABWAK) in Years 2 and 3, benefits of which include free/reduced entry to various zoos in the UK and Ireland. 


Students are taught at Reaseheath College during the first year; students wishing to live in can do so at Reaseheath’s Halls of Residence.

You will then be taught at the University of Chester’s Parkgate Road Campus during your second and third years.

The modules given below are the latest example of the curriculum available on this degree programme.  Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to change from time to time as part of the University’s commitment to curriculum enhancement.

Programme Structure:

The curriculum at the University of Chester is informed by research and offers a challenging, yet supportive, academic environment at the cutting edge of knowledge. Lecturing staff are active in animal behaviour and welfare research across a wide range of species, and provide opportunities for students to join ongoing research projects in their final year.

Year 1 (Level 4) - Delivered at Reaseheath College

  • Introduction to Behaviour in Animals *
  • Animal Handling and Husbandry*
  • Animal Welfare Issues*
  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology*
  • Principles of Evolutionary Biology*
  • Behavioural Data Analysis and Project Design*

Year 2 (Level 5) - Delivered at the University of Chester

  • Research Methods*
  • Two from: Exotic Animal Husbandry and Welfare, Domestic Animal Husbandry and Welfare, Farm Animal Behaviour and Welfare*
  • Behavioural Ecology
  • Adaptations to the Environment
  • Marine Animal Behaviour
  • One from: Work Based Learning, Experiential Learning, Learning in the Wider World*

Year 3 (Level 6) - Delivered at the University of Chester


  • One from: Dissertation, Non-experimental Project with Information Project, Non-experimental Project with Presentation*
  • Stress and Welfare Assessment in Animals*
  • Behaviour Management and Welfare*
  • Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology
  • Animal Parasitism: Medical, Veterinary and Ecological Aspects
  • Physiology and Behaviour
  • Applied Conservation Genetics
  • One from: Animal Behaviour and Conservation, Animal Cognition

*  Compulsory modules

Students may also opt to take a complementary year of study abroad in their third year, and then return to Chester to undertake Level 6 in their fourth year.

We are keen to use a variety of assessment methods to help you find your strengths and give you the maximum opportunity to demonstrate your abilities. As such, your learning on the degree will be tested by a combination of coursework assignments and exams. Depending on the nature of the specific modules, these might include:

  • written essays and reports
  • data processing
  • oral presentations
  • practical reports
  • multiple-choice papers
  • assessed practicals.

Our assessments are designed to encourage the demonstration of academic skills, as well as wider transferable skills for the workplace. 

You will be equipped with transferable skills which are valued by employers such as:

  • teamwork;
  • organisation;
  • communication;
  • IT;
  • Numeracy;
  • Research;
  • Information and data handling;
  • Evaluation and interpretation;
  • Project management;
  • Decision making;
  • Problem solving.

If you are studying this course on a combined basis you should look at options with both subjects.

For further information please visit:


UCAS points: 280 UCAS points from GCE A Levels. Typical offer - BCC/BBC

The Department requires one of the following subjects as essential for entry:

GCE A Level: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Applied Science


BTEC Extended Diploma (Animal Care/Management or Applied Science): Typical offer - DMM

BTEC Diploma (Animal Care/Management or Applied Science): Typical offer - D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects, including Biology, Chemistry or Human Biology
International Baccalaureate: 26 points, including 5 in HL Biology
Access Access to HE (Science) course to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit
OCR: OCR National Extended/Diploma: Accepted in addition to one of the GCE A level subjects listed above
Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.


International students requiring a Tier 4 Visa will need to contact Reaseheath College regarding sponsorship.

Contact us

For details about your course or your application please get in touch.

Sarah Caunt

With a wide range of modules on offer throughout the course, you are able to tailor the course to your own interests."

Graduate Sarah Caunt