VSC112 Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics (8)

It is becoming increasingly clear that we directly or indirectly influence the quality of life of very many other animals. Animal welfare is an important and emotional issue that draws on a number of different disciplines and affects Australian animal industries, as well as companion animal owners and research establishments. In this subject students study contemporary welfare issues, ethics and advances in animal welfare science as well as in animal behaviour. The subject is arranged in three modules: in Module 1 students cover fundamental principles in animal behaviour. Module 2 covers the behaviour and welfare of a range of animals. In module 3, students are exposed to the factors that influence both our attitude to animal welfare and decision making. Unlike other subjects, there is no right and wrong in animal welfare judgments, but instead different viewpoints that are shaped by our experiences and constrained by other ethical considerations. 

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


Session 1 (30)
On Campus
Wagga Wagga Campus
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: VSC112. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Enrolment Restrictions

Requires special permission from the Subject Coordinator if the student is not a  Bachelor of Animal Science, Bachelor of Equine Science or Bachelor of Veterinary Technology student.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to describe some of the basic principles in animal behaviour (ethology);
  • be able to collect, define and use animal behavioural data;
  • be able to explain how animal welfare is defined and its role and influence in modern society;
  • be able to recognise normal and abnormal behaviour of animals and describe common behavioural problems in domestic and captive wildlife species;
  • be able to recognise the interaction between domestic animal behaviour and welfare;
  • be able to discuss current and emerging animal welfare concerns and developments in Australia and elsewhere;
  • be able to interpret and report different ethical perspectives on the use of animals for commercial, recreational or research purposes;
  • be able to explain how economic pressures impact animal welfare decision making; and
  • be able to identify the main legislative instruments concerning animal welfare.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Module 1: Fundamental Processes in Animal Behaviour
  • Measuring behaviour
  • Adaptiveness of behaviour
  • Animal learning and training
  • Behavioural development
  • Animal motivation and preference testing
  • Abnormal behaviours
  • Module 2: Behaviour and Welfare of Animals
  • Poultry behaviour and welfare
  • Wild animal behaviour and welfare
  • Pig behaviour and welfare
  • Fur animal behaviour and welfare
  • Cattle behaviour and welfare
  • Rabbit behaviour and welfare
  • Fish behaviour and welfare
  • Horse behaviour and welfare
  • Cat behaviour and welfare
  • Dog behaviour and welfare
  • Module 3: Animal Welfare and Society
  • Animal ethics and our moral concern for animals
  • Economic effects on animal welfare
  • Legislation and regulation of animal welfare


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or ask@csu.edu.au or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.