Skip to main content

Unit information: Ethics and Welfare in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Ethics and Welfare
Unit code VETS23005
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Knowles
Open unit status Not open

All 1st, 2nd and 3rd year units.


All other 4th year units.

School/department Bristol Veterinary School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit provides students with an understanding of concepts in welfare science and in the analysis of ethical and legal issues associated with the use of animals.


  • To introduce various scientific methods of assessing animal welfare.
  • To show how different ethical frameworks can guide decisions relating to animal use.
  • To present and explain the professional standards and responsibilities required of the veterinary profession, including the veterinary nurse.

Intended learning outcomes

  • To equip students with an understanding of the relation between science, ethics, morality and society, and the place of animals within different historical and cultural contexts.
  • To know and understand the methods that are available to assess physical, physiological and behavioural indicators of welfare.
  • To use ethical frameworks to guide decisions relating to animal use, and have a basic understanding of animal welfare legislation.
  • To be able to discuss difficult and controversial issues in a considered and respectful manner
  • To understand the standards of professional conduct required for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

Teaching details

The element consists of a mixture of lectures, guest speakers (range of ethical opinions), debates and small group discussions. A Directed Self Education (DSE) project is used to encourage greater knowledge and understanding in a particular topic and allow assessment.

Assessment Details


The written paper in welfare and ethics. 70%

The project in ethics and welfare 30%

The project work for this unit consists of an investigation into a welfare concern of the student's choice. The project should describe and analyse the relevant welfare science ethics and legislation. The work includes a critical review of scientific publications and possibilities for future studies. The format of the project (powerpoint slide plus notes) is designed to develop skills in presenting complex scientific and ethical principles in different styles.

Assessment of this project is based in the depth and breadth of material presented plus ability of student to synthesise, analyse and present the information.

The resit assessment format will be:

The written paper in welfare and ethics. 70%

The project in ethics and welfare 30%

If a pass mark (40% or more) is achieved in the project at the first attempt then the project mark will be carried forward to the resit. If a pass mark is not achieved in the Welfare and Ethics coursework, then the coursework may be resubmitted before the resit exam.

Reading and References


Animal welfare
Book - 2018

Animal welfare law in Britain: regulation and responsibility
Book by Radford, Mike - 2001

Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons – Professionals


Animal welfare: a cool eye towards Eden : a constructive approach to the problem of man's dominion over the animals
Book by Webster, John - 1994

What should we do about animal welfare?
Book by Appleby, Michael C - 1999

Ethics, law and the veterinary nurse
Book by dawsonera – 2006

Further reading:

Veterinary ethics: an introduction
Book by Legood, Giles – 2000