Animal Behaviour and Welfare

Key Information


4 years

Typical Offer

See More


Brayford Pool



Academic Year

Course Overview

The scientific study of animal behaviour and welfare furthers our understanding of why animals behave in the way that they do, and helps us learn how best to respond to the challenges that animals face when living in captive and wild environments.

This degree employs a multi-disciplinary, research-driven approach to the study of animal behaviour and welfare. The course aims to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to understand animal behaviour and welfare, working, for example, with insects, reptiles, birds and mammals.

This MBio programme includes an additional research-intensive final year, which can lead to further research and employment opportunities. It is informed by academics who are considered to be at the forefront of their respective fields in welfare assessment, animal management, evolutionary biology, and animal cognition. This includes leading experts Professor Daniel Mills, who specialises in clinical animal behaviour; Professor Anna Wilkinson, who specialises in animal cognition; and Professor Oliver Burman, who specialises in assessment of animal welfare.

Why Choose Lincoln

Subject area ranked 2nd overall in the UK*

Optional overseas field trip to locations around the world

Optional placement year

Taught by experienced research-active staff

Fully-funded residential field trip in the UK

Available with a Science Foundation Year

*Guardian University Guide 2024 (out of 18 ranking institutions)

YouTube video for Why Choose Lincoln

How You Study

In the first year, students can develop a solid foundation in animal anatomy and physiology, cell biology, genetics, captive animal management, and animal behaviour. These themes are developed further in the second year through the study of specialist subjects dealing with animal behaviour, health, and disease.

In the third year, core modules focus on pure and applied aspects of animal behaviour and welfare. Students also undertake a supervised, independent research project.

During the final year, students participate in an MBio research project. The project provides the opportunity to contribute to high-impact research across a variety of research areas. Final year modules also focus on developing research skills further with workshops in research techniques. These combine demonstrations with hands-on work in-lab or in-field. Students will also have the opportunity to develop their ability to communicate scientific knowledge effectively, in different contexts, different formats and to different recipients.


† Some courses may offer optional modules. The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

Professional and Research Skills in the Life and Environmental Sciences 2024-25BIO9029MLevel 72024-25The module focuses on the development of transferable skills that are applicable both professionally and to research projects, within the programme of study and beyond. The skills will be relevant to the broad life and environmental sciences and will allow students to strengthen their proficiency primarily in these areas: scientific writing and communication skills, research data analysis and presentation, professional and career skills.CoreAnimal Management 2024-25BIO1221MLevel 42024-25Animal Management will cover the contributions of animal scientists, welfare bodies, legislators, producers and consumers to the housing and management of captive animals. There will be a focus on the animal’s biological requirements in captivity and the application of good husbandry practice to farm, laboratory, zoo and companion animals of a wide range of taxonomic groups.CoreComparative Anatomy and Physiology of Animals 2024-25ZOO1001MLevel 42024-25Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of Animals is concerned with the principles of the diversity of anatomical form and function in animals using a comparative approach. Anatomical adaptations will be explored across taxa within the animal kingdom in order to show how different types of organisms use their anatomy to solve the similar physiological problems. Through this, an understanding will be developed of how organisms from different taxa address physiological aspects of their life histories.CoreEcology 2024-25BGY1010MLevel 42024-25Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. These interactions can be studied across different levels of biological organisation including individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems. This module will examine how these different levels of organisation are interconnected and how the study of ecology allows us to better understand patterns in the natural worldCoreIntroduction to Animal Behaviour and Welfare 2024-25BIO1040MLevel 42024-25This module aims to introduce the principles underlying animal behaviour and the welfare of animals in our care. It will adopt approaches derived from Tinbergen’s levels of explanation of behaviour, such as control, lifetime development and adaptive value of behaviour. Students will have the opportunity to be taught how to observe and record the behaviour of animals from a range of taxonomic groups. The module will introduce approaches to animal welfare assessment and their application.CoreIntroduction to Life Sciences 2024-25BIO1043MLevel 42024-25Introduction to the Life Sciences is designed to provide a foundation for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of fundamental cell biology, biochemistry and genetics in the context of life sciences.CoreResearch Methods for the Life Sciences 2024-25BGY1012MLevel 42024-25Research methods for the Life Sciences aims to introduce the skills and knowledge necessary for students to assimilate and judge scientific knowledge. Students will be introduced to the tools required to search and evaluate the scientific literature relevant to their studies, and some of the key philosophical constructs around which scientific knowledge is based. They will be taught about hypothesis testing, experimental design, data collection, basic mathematical and statistical concepts, and data presentation, and gain hands-on experience of their application.CoreAnimal Behaviour 2025-26BIO2033MLevel 52025-26This module is based on the four ethological levels of explanation for animal behaviour as introduced by Nikolaas Tinbergen, one of the fathers of ethology, in the 1960's: mechanism, development, function and evolution. It will deal primarily with the ethological concepts underlying the study of animal behaviour supported by classic experimental studies of domestic and wild animals from a wide range of taxonomic groups. The module will also cover the design, data collection, analyses and interpretation of behavioural studies in a variety of species both in the laboratory and in zooCoreAnimal Health and Disease 2025-26BVS2003MLevel 52025-26This module covers some aspects about animal health and disease. In particular, diseases of a wide variety of different animals, and the impacts which they pose to the animals, and humans. This will also include some levels of disease treatments, and control, and discuss different methods of these. Functional animal nutrition of various species to prevent disease and maintain optimal health, as well as how diseases can affect behaviour will also be included.CoreAnimal Protection 2025-26BIO2037MLevel 52025-26This module explores the regulation and enforcement of animal protection including the background and need for legislation relating to animals, the scientific, political and legal procedures involved in forming legislation and how citizens may become involved in that process. Students develop critical analytical skills through the interpretation and application of legal frameworks as well as the evaluation of the research background underpinning the law. Students also learn to develop and present arguments used in decisions regarding animal protectionCoreConservation Biology 2025-26BIO2107MLevel 52025-26This module provides a critical insight into the application of the principles of conservation biology. It will give an overview of the nature, value and complex threats to biodiversity and will detail the biological problems faced by small populations of animals, in particular. The module will also deal with the practice of population conservation and management, including methods to assess population size, survival rates and how to use this information to assess the viability of populations.CoreData Skills for the Life Sciences 2025-26BGY2011MLevel 52025-26Data-centric skills are crucial for any life scientist undertaking any form of data collection, management, visualisation, and/or analysis. This module introduces students to skills in data storage, handling, and manipulation; understanding different data types; visualising data; fitting statistical and analytical models; interpreting and reporting statistical and analytical results; and using these skills in experimental designs. In the age of information, computational skills are becoming ever more relevant, and this module will hone different computational skills. All these skills can aid students in undertaking future research projects, including the third-year honours project.CoreEvolution 2025-26BGY2009MLevel 52025-26The Evolution module aims to introduce the fundamental concepts and theories that explain and predict how biodiversity evolves as a result of multiple factors emerging from both ecological and sexual interactions. The integrative nature of this module guarantees that a broad diversity of the central topics in the field of evolution is covered.OptionalImmunology 2025-26BGY2002MLevel 52025-26This module provides an overview of the cellular and molecular basis of the immune response in health and human diseases. The structure, function and complex mechanisms of host defence by B- and T-Cells will be discussed. Students will evaluate the role of inflammatory mediators, soluble effectors, and cellular cytotoxicity in inflammation and immunity.OptionalInvertebrate and Vertebrate Zoology 2025-26ZOO2002MLevel 52025-26This module is an introduction to the key major taxonomic groups of invertebrates and vertebrates. Major invertebrate groups will include inter alia: sponges, cnidarians, flatworms, nematodes, annelids, molluscs, arthropods, echinoderms, and cephalochordates. All major vertebrate classes will be considered in detail.OptionalManaging Ecosystems 2025-26ECL2002MLevel 52025-26This module deals with managing ecosystems in a range of contexts, and includes assessing and addressing the impacts of human activity on ecological systems. It also examines the suitability of different management strategies to deal with a range of environmental problems.OptionalReproduction and Development 2025-26BIO2040MLevel 52025-26This module focuses on reproduction and development in a range of invertebrates and vertebrates. There will be a comparative analysis of anatomy, physiology, behaviour and evolution of reproductive patterns, including the main anatomical features of male and female reproductive tracts. There will be descriptions of the processes of gamete production in males and females. The underlying principles of ontogeny from fertilisation to birth will be described in a variety of taxa with an emphasis on the factors controlling developmental processes. Additional content will focus on factors, e.g. environmental pollution, that affect reproduction and development in animalsOptionalSLS Study Abroad 2025-26BIO2110MLevel 52025-26The School believes that an option to study overseas is a valuable educational opportunity for our students. Provision of this option supports the educational aims of the School of Life Sciences and enhances the distinctiveness of its degrees at Lincoln. The optional year is intended to: - enable students to benefit from studying within a cross cultural environment; - expose students to a wider academic and cultural experience; - enhance their future employment opportunities; - by increasing their cultural and professional mobility. This module is optional for students within the School. Study Abroad is a year long module which enables students to spend a year studying abroad at one of the University's approved partner institutions. Eligible students must have completed their second year of study to a satisfactory standard and successfully completed the application process for the year abroad. During the year spent abroad, students share classes with local students and study on a suite of locally-delivered taught modules which have been approved in advance by the University. Upon their return, as part of the assessment for this module, students are required to critically reflect upon their experience of living and studying in a different cultural environment and the skills acquired.OptionalUK Field Course 2025-26ECL2003MLevel 52025-26This module aims to help students understand theory, develop skills, build tacit knowledge and importantly, integrate and apply know-how and skills acquired from prior learning to novel situations. The module is built around the principle of scientific enquiry and the ownership of that process by students in order to develop cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills. Student ownership will be developed throughout the module, culminating in an independent, residential in-situ field study in which they design a study, collect & analyse data and present their findings.OptionalWork Experience 2025-26BMS2014XLevel 52025-26OptionalAnimal Cognition and Welfare 2026-27BIO3204MLevel 62026-27This module explores the scientific study of animal cognition and welfare, with particular attention focused on experimental design, methodological considerations, and interpretation. It will cover the objective assessment of animal cognition and welfare with research examples from both wild and captive animals.CoreApplied Animal Behaviour 2026-27BIO3207MLevel 62026-27This module applies the principles underpinning the management of animal behaviour to a range of real world situations including management of companion animals, farm animals, animals involved in research, and animals held in zoological collections. Particular emphasis is given to understanding the impact of alternative approaches to achieving desirable management outcomes and promoting animal welfare, involving a range of environmental and behavioural interventions. The module aims to equip students with knowledge and skills that will be valuable in postgraduate employment in animal-based industries as well as apply knowledge accrued during degree to current issues in animal-based industries.CoreLife Sciences Research Project 2026-27BGY3003MLevel 62026-27In this module, students undertake an independent programme of research under supervision from a member of staff. It provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate original and critical thought, as well as to build discipline-specific research and project-management skills. A wide range of subject expertise exists within the School, and students are expected to work on a project that is relevant to their programme of study. Under the guidance of a supervisor, students will review the literature, identify a research question/aim and objectives, and design a programme of research respectively. Students will be expected to manage the project and work in a safe and ethical manner, which will include undergoing training in and engaging with obtaining relevant ethical approval and risk assessment. Students will collect and analyse data, record their activities and research methodology and results in a “lab book”/ equivalent robust means of recording. We currently offer projects in the laboratory (wet or animal) or field, projects that involve data analysis, literature research, educational research, science communication research and market research. Students may work individually or in groups addressing similar questions, but must write up individually. The findings of the research will be written up and presented orally. The conduct and performance of the student as a research apprentice will be assessed.CoreBehavioural Ecology 2026-27BIO3026MLevel 62026-27Behavioural ecology examines the way in which behavioural repertoires contribute to survival and ultimately reproductive success. The module will focus on key topics including: Optimality Theory, Sexual Selection, Communication and Sensory Ecology, Altruism and Cooperation, Arms Races, Fighting and Assessment, Navigation and Migration, and Human Behaviour.OptionalControl of Animal Disease 2026-27BVS3006MLevel 62026-27The module aims to provide an understanding of the control of infectious disease in companion and animals, livestock species and wildlife. The module will explore practical control measures for diseases of animals, building explicitly on the knowledge and understanding gained in other modules. Particular areas of study will include: - Nature and examples of important infectious pathogens - Host Responses to Infectious Pathogens - Control of disease at the level of the individual and population - Manipulation of transmission dynamics - Biosecurity and husbandry - Treatment of disease - Breeding or engineering genetically resistant animals - Vaccination and design of novel vaccines. These topics will be addressed in a holistic way that encourages students to be able to design and implement control strategies for known and emerging diseases. This ability will be explicitly tested in coursework and an oral examination.OptionalOverseas Field Course 2026-27BIO3031MLevel 62026-27This module provides students with the opportunity to investigate biological phenomena in the field at an overseas location. Students work in groups, guided by staff, to develop and test hypotheses allowing them to understand more about biological processes operating within the study area. They are encouraged to view the ecosystem within the wider context of the anthropogenic impacts being imposed on it. This module is optional and courses run subject to sufficient student demand.OptionalPlant and Animal Interactions 2026-27BGY3011MLevel 62026-27In this module students can gain an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the interactions between plants and animals that have been the driving force for the evolution of the world as we know it. Interactions between the flowering plants and vertebrate and invertebrate animals have led to the huge diversity of flowering plants that maintain the essential life support systems of the planet and are the basis of all current agricultural systems. Despite the huge economic costs of agricultural pests that damage plants, the evolutionary arms race between plants and their herbivores has driven the evolution of many of the important plant secondary compounds we use today as stimulants (e.g. caffeine) or drugs (e.g. salicylic acid = aspirin). Other economically, evolutionarily, or ecologically important plant-animal interactions include pollination and seed dispersal. Students can examine the economic, evolutionary, and ecological consequences of plant-animal interactions at scales from ecosystems to molecules. They will have the opportunity to develop their own perspective on this important topic, and will be asked to review and interpret and evaluate the evidence available in the primary literature.OptionalPractical Skills in Conservation 2026-27ECL3002MLevel 62026-27Conservation of plants and animals usually involves interactions between multiple stakeholders including scientists, landowners, communities, government, and NGOs. A range of practical and transferable skills are therefore beneficial for employment in both conservation research and conservation practice. This module will refine certain such skills that students have acquired through their degree, and help them understand how to apply them in a conservation biology setting. Its focus is to provide opportunities for real world and experiential learning, and to progress relevant employability skills.OptionalVeterinary Parasitology 2026-27BVS3005MLevel 62026-27The impact of parasites to the health, welfare, and productivity of animals remains one of the most important issues in veterinary biology. A detailed understanding of the biology and epidemiology of parasites and the association they have with their hosts is vital in protecting and improving animal’s health and welfare. This module aims to provide a theoretical background for understanding the specialised features that parasites have developed to adapt to their host and transmit between hosts, the diseases which result, and advances in treatment and prevention of infection. Students can also learn analytical laboratory methods for the identification of different types of ecto- and endoparasites. Case studies will be used to illustrate how the current advances in research are applied to understand and inform the epidemiology, control, and prevention of parasite mediated disease in animals and monitor emergent diseases globally and within the UK.OptionalMBio Research project 2027-28BIO9017MLevel 72027-28This module comprises a research project for the MBio suite of programmes. The project is supervised by a member of the Life Sciences academic staff and provides the opportunity to contribute to high-impact research across a variety of research areas. The projects are set within one of the School's research groups and can be enhanced by research workshops and transferable skills offered in the accompanying modules. Projects present the opportunity of work towards generating a scientific article of publishable quality.CoreMBio Research techniques 2027-28BIO9018MLevel 72027-28This module centres on workshops in research techniques which are delivered by supervisors of research projects. Workshops will be delivered approximately fortnightly throughout Semesters A and B. The workshops are split into three broad research areas: Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare; Biomedical (including general Biochemical and Cellular), and Evolution and Ecology. Workshops combine demonstrations with hands-on work in-lab or in-field. Students are offered a choice of workshops from an extensive list of options, and the write up of six of these will form the basis of assessment.Core

What You Need to Know

We want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision on where and what you want to study. In addition to the information provided on this course page, our What You Need to Know page offers explanations on key topics including programme validation/revalidation, additional costs, contact hours, and our return to face-to-face teaching.

How you are assessed

The way students are assessed on this course may vary for each module. Examples of assessment methods that are used include coursework, such as written assignments, reports or dissertations; practical exams, such as presentations, performances or observations; and written exams, such as formal examinations or in-class tests. The weighting given to each assessment method may vary across each academic year.

Overseas Field Trip

There is an optional overseas field trip in the third year. This will provide the opportunity to do research in a novel environment and to study local plants and animals. Destinations may vary, but have previously included the cloud forests of Ecuador, the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa, and Molise in Italy.

Optional field trips may incur additional costs, including flights. Students may also be required to pay for overnight stays, local travel, and food close to the destination if their flights arrive the day before the team are scheduled to meet.

Students may bring personal items of clothing and travel equipment, some of which may be specialised for the environment they are travelling to, and recommended medicines and travel toiletries such as anti-malaria medication, vaccinations, insect repellent and sunscreen. These costs will depend on what you choose to bring.


Informed by Research

This course is informed by academics who are considered to be at the forefront of their respective fields in welfare assessment, animal management, evolutionary biology, and animal cognition. These include Professor Daniel Mills, Professor Anna Wilkinson, Professor Oliver Burman, and Dr Jonathan Cooper.

Our research work is read widely by the scientific community as well as informing the Government, animal welfare sector, and animal industry regarding animal protection. Research projects have included leading work with cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, reptiles, and parrots, both at the University of Lincoln and working with research partners. Students at Lincoln have conducted project work on a wide range of zoo based species in partnership with local zoos, including polar bears, hunting dogs, tigers, meerkats, and primates.

As well as informing teaching by providing deeper understanding of how animals see the world, our engagement with animal welfare research and legislation provides insights into how to bring about meaningful, scientifically valid improvements in animal protection and the practical and effective management of animals in our care.

My degree prepared me for my job at a major UK dog rescue charity as it provided me with up-to-date training techniques, the confidence to apply these techniques, and animal welfare knowledge.

What Can I Do with a Animal Behaviour and Welfare Degree?

Graduates have gone on to work in both practical and research roles that involve the management, welfare, training, and conservation of companion, farm, and wild animals.

Entry Requirements 2024-25

United Kingdom

128 UCAS Tariff points from a minimum of 3 A Levels or equivalent qualifications to include 40 points from Biology or Psychology.

A level: ABB, to include a minimum grade B in Biology or Psychology.

International Baccalaureate: 32 points overall to include Higher Level grade 5 in Biology or Psychology.

BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management/Applied Science*: Distinction, Distinction, Merit or equivalent.

*not all modules are accepted. Please contact our Admissions team for further information (admissions@lincoln.ac.uk).

BTEC Diploma Applied Science acceptable with other qualifications. Please contact our Admissions team for further information (admissions@lincoln.ac.uk).

T Level in Science accepted. Health or Health Science are not accepted: Distinction

Access to Higher Education Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits with a minimum of 128 UCAS Tariff points, including 40 points from 15 credits in Biology or Psychology.

Applicants will also need at least three GCSEs at grade 4 or above, which must include English, Maths and Science. Equivalent Level 2 qualifications may also be considered.

The University accepts a wide range of qualifications as the basis for entry and do accept a combination of qualifications which may include A Levels, BTECs, EPQ etc.

We will also consider applicants with extensive and relevant work experience and will give special individual consideration to those who do not meet the standard entry qualifications.

For applicants who do not meet our standard entry requirements, our Science Foundation Year can provide an alternative route of entry onto our full degree programmes:


Non UK Qualifications:

If you have studied outside of the UK, and are unsure whether your qualification meets the above requirements, please visit our country pages for information on equivalent qualifications.


EU and Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each element. For information regarding other English language qualifications we accept, please visit the English Requirements page.


If you do not meet the above IELTS requirements, you may be able to take part in one of our Pre-sessional English and Academic Study Skills courses.


If you would like further information about entry requirements, or would like to discuss whether the qualifications you are currently studying are acceptable, please contact the Admissions team on 01522 886097, or email admissions@lincoln.ac.uk

Contextual Offers

At Lincoln, we recognise that not everybody has had the same advice and support to help them get to higher education. Contextual offers are one of the ways we remove the barriers to higher education, ensuring that we have fair access for all students regardless of background and personal experiences. For more information, including eligibility criteria, visit our Offer Guide pages.

Fees and Scholarships

Going to university is a life-changing step and it's important to understand the costs involved and the funding options available before you start. A full breakdown of the fees associated with this programme can be found on our course fees pages.

Course Fees

For eligible undergraduate students going to university for the first time, scholarships and bursaries are available to help cover costs. The University of Lincoln offers a variety of merit-based and subject-specific bursaries and scholarships. For full details and information about eligibility, visit our scholarships and bursaries pages.

Find out More at an Open Day

The best way to find out what it is really like to live and learn at Lincoln is to join us for one of our Open Days. Visiting us in person is important and will help you to get a real feel for what it might be like to study here.

Book Your Place
Three students walking together on campus in the sunshine
The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.