University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Animal Health, Disease, and Welfare

About the major

Animals play a significant role in the lives of people and communities, particularly in the areas of food, fibre production and as pets for companionship.

This Animal Health, Disease and Welfare major will integrate the areas of animal biology and ecology with comparative and veterinary science. You will learn about the science that underpins the biology of animal health and disease, including physiology, molecular biology, infectious agents and animal welfare.

An emphasis of this major is how to prevent, treat and understand disease in production and companion animals and wildlife. Your study could lead to a career in animal health sciences, including areas of infectious disease control, disease surveillance, animal welfare and animal production industries.

Requirements for completion

A major in Animal Health, Disease and Welfare requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 18 credit points of 3000-level major core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level interdisciplinary project unitsto this major.

A minor in Animal Health, Disease and Welfare requires 36 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 6 credit points of 2000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level minor core units
(v) 6 credit points of 3000-level minor selective units

First year

Core: BIOL1XX6 Life and Evolution, BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems

The first-year units provide a strong foundation in biology (BIOL1XX6 and BIOL1XX7) essential for further learning in this major.

Second year

Core: AVBS2001 Introductory Veterinary Pathogenesis
Selective from: MICR2X31 Microbiology, IMMU2X11 Immunobiology, MIMI2X02 Microbes, Infection and Immunity (Medical science students also have the option of MEDS2004 Microbes, Infection and Immunity)

Students entering the second year of the Animal Health, Disease and Welfare major will explore the principles of microbiology (MICR coded) or immunology (IMMU coded). They will then experience how these principles interact in the animal to influence health, disease and impact upon welfare through the core unit of study (AVBS2001). The core unit (AVBS2001) will explore the interactions between the host (or the animal), the agent of disease (genetics, physical, chemical and infectious agents) and environmental factors that result in the disease and health status states of an animal. This is examined through understanding how the host responds to the aetiological agent of disease and the environment through one of the basic five pathological processes that occur in tissues. These include inflammation and repair, degeneration and necrosis, circulatory disturbances, tissue deposits and pigments, and disorders of growth. Aspects covered in foundation microbiology and immunology units will be illustrated through case-based approaches used to teach the principles of pathological processes in the core unit (AVBS2001).

Third year

Core for Major: AVBS3001 Agents of Disease, AVBS3888 Laboratory Disease Investigation or SCPU3001 Science Interdisciplinary Project, ANSC3106 Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science, and AVBS3005 Animal Health and Disease.

In third year students develop a detailed understanding of diseases impacting on animals (AVBS3001), how we can influence disease risk through both pharmacological, ecological (AVBS3005) and welfare (ANS3106) means in a variety of circumstances and importantly, how disease can be investigated such that causation of disease can be established.

Students will also gain techniques and broader skills through interdisciplinary project units (AVBS3888 or SCPU3001), where they will explore key topics or explore new techniques so that new information that can be gained can potentially be utilised by the local animal carer through to farmers and government to optimise animal health and wellbeing and aid in the control, prevention and treatment of disease impacting both domesticated and wild animals.

Students will also gain a more detailed appreciation of how health and welfare issues of the animals in our care and environment can reflect on societal wellbeing (i.e. planetary health).

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, with a minimum of 24 credit points at 4000-level or above. Of these 24 credit points, you must complete a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Advanced coursework will be included in the table for 2020.

Meritorious students in the Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies may apply for admission to Honours within a subject area of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies. Admission to Honours requires the prior completion of all requirements of the Bachelor of Science, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units. If you are considering applying for admission to Honours, ensure your degree planning takes into account the completion of a second major and all OLE requirements by the end of your Honours year.

Unit of study requirements for Honours in the area of Animal Health, Disease, and Welfare: completion of 24 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework. Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information


T +61 2 9351 5819

School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Level 5, Carslaw Building (F07)
Eastern Avenue
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Dr Gary Muscatello
Phone: +61 2 9114 0790

Example pathways

Those with a strong interest in Microbiology should choose these units at 2000-level: AVBS2001 and MICR2X31.

Those with a strong interest in Immunology should choose these units at 2000-level: AVBS2001 and IMMU2X11.

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Animal Disease, Health and Welfare will:

  1. Exhibit a broad and coherent body of knowledge in cell, systems and body function, integrating key principles and concepts in the disciplines to evaluate approaches to diagnose and screen diseases and traits in animals.
  2. Utilise a deep and integrated understanding of animal body systems to evaluate animals’ responses to environmental stressors.
  3. Work effectively and ethically in the laboratory and handle animal-derived samples in a safe manner.
  4. Apply integrated knowledge of animal pathobiology and disease processes to distinguish disease from healthy status.
  5. Communicate concepts and findings in animal health, disease and welfare to a range of audiences, using evidence-based arguments that are robust to critique.
  6. Describe modern molecular techniques used in screening of health and disease status in both domesticated and non-domesticated animals.
  7. Address authentic problems and scenarios in animal disease and welfare, working professionally and responsibly within collaborative, interdisciplinary teams.
  8. Evaluate how ethical issues, practical welfare concerns and social contexts can be applied in animal disease testing.
  9. Describe the socio-economic importance of animals in various natural and manmade environments and assess how animals are valued and represented in diverse cultural contexts.