VSC112 Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics (8)

It is becoming increasingly clear that we directly or indirectly influence the quality of life of 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 Module1 students cover fundamental principles in animal behaviour. In Module 2 students are exposed to the factors that influence both our attitude to animal welfare and decision making. The behaviour and welfare of a range of animals is presented in Module 3, including gaining practical horse handling skills. Unlike other subjects, there is not necessarily a right and wrong in animal welfare judgments, but instead different viewpoints that are shaped by our experiences and constrained by other ethical considerations.


* Offering has a residential school. Please view following information for further details.

Session 1 (30)
On Campus
Wagga Wagga Campus
Online *
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 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 by demonstrating appropriate and safe horse handling skills;
  • 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; and
  • be able to explain how economic pressures and legislation impact animal welfare decision making.


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • PART 1: Fundamental Processes in Animal Behaviour
  • Measuring behaviour;
  • Adaptiveness of behaviour;
  • Animal learning and training;
  • Behavioural development;
  • Animal motivation and preference testing; and
  • Abnormal behaviours.
  • PART 2: Animal Welfare and Society
  • Animal ethics and our moral concern for animals;
  • Economic effects on animal welfare; and
  • Legislation and regulation of animal welfare.
  • PART 3: Behaviour and Welfare of Animals
  • Pig behaviour and welfare;
  • Cattle behaviour and welfare;
  • Horse behaviour, welfare and safe human-animal interactions;
  • Cat behaviour and welfare;
  • Dog behaviour and welfare; and
  • Laboratory animal behaviour and welfare.

Residential School

This subject contains a 3 day Compulsory Residential School.

Travel to and accommodation is required for distance education students attending the compulsory residential school at a CSU campus.

The purpose is to develop fundamental and safe horse handling skills, which demonstrate recognition of normal and abnormal behaviours and the relationship between humans and animals. This is needed due to Work Health and Safety requirements for any student who may come into contact with horses on work place learning, or in their future careers.


For further information about courses and subjects outlined in the CSU handbook please contact:

Current students

Future students

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2019. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.