LW5014 - Animal Law

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the law and ethics relating to animals. Within the field of animal welfare, law and ethics are intertwined. It is only by examining our ethical duties towards animals that we can assess whether the existing animal protection laws are sufficient and if not, what law reform is needed. You will examine a number of case studies, for example, the use of animals in agriculture, to illustrate the link between law and ethics. A selection of ethical theories e.g. Singer’s utilitarian theory and Regan’s rights theory, will be critically analysed and applied to the case studies. This will allow for a critical examination of the relevant law to assess whether it is adequate to protect animals. There will be scope for some comparative analysis of animal protection law in other countries. You will also examine the arguments for and against granting legal personhood to some animals. All domestic and captive animals are legal things but there have been a growing number of international cases in recent years challenging their legal status, for example, the case of the chimpanzee, Tommy, in the USA. This debate raises the question of the nature of legal rights and the basis on which we grant them to others.

The module develops your professional skills and abilities in being able to effectively organise and communicate information orally and in writing to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will have the opportunity to give oral presentations in seminars to non-specialist audiences (your peers) and your written communication skills will be developed in the summative assessment where you will be writing to a specialist audience.

The module develops your personal value attributes of ethics and global awareness as well as intellectual independence and independent thinking. You will be encouraged to ask and answer questions about the law and ethics relating to animals and to challenge the way you think about our use and treatment of animals. The module develops curiosity and challenges you to think critically about our everyday use of animals.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, tutor guided independent learning and student independent learning. The lectures will introduce you to key legal concepts governing animal welfare as well as some of the main theories used in Animal Ethics. The lectures seek to stimulate curiosity and debate about the human treatment of animals and whether current animal protection laws are adequate.

In preparing for seminars you will undertake tutor guided independent learning which will enable you to come to the seminars with prepared answers for discussion. You will have the opportunity to research a specified topic and create a PowerPoint presentation to deliver in seminars thereby enabling you to develop this important employability skill in a supportive environment.

Student independent learning will allow you to identify and pursue areas of interest in Animal law to acquire a deeper/broader knowledge.

During the seminars you will receive formative feedback on your knowledge and understanding of the law and ethics relating to animals especially for your oral presentation. Where appropriate, lectures will use turning point to test your knowledge and thereby provide immediate feedback on your understanding.

Your summative assessment is a 2000 word piece of coursework.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported academically in a number of ways:
• Oral feedback from tutors during small-group discussions and debates in seminars
• Oral feedback on your PowerPoint presentation in the seminars
• Seminar exercise on using the marking criteria to grade past student assessments thereby helping you to engage with the marking criteria in advance of the assessment
• The use of turning point in lectures which provide immediate feedback on multiple choice questions
• Module eLP site which includes video clips from the BBCs ‘Box of Broadcasts’ (where relevant)
• Electronic reading list which provides easy access to relevant articles and chapters from e-books

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• You will develop knowledge and critical understanding of the development, underlying concepts and principles of Animal Law and you will be able to initiate and undertake critical analysis of these areas
• You will develop in depth knowledge of specific aspects of animal law and be able to demonstrate an ability to synthesise relevant ethical theories as they relate to animals

Personal Value Attributes
• You will be able to show an awareness of the ethical theories in relation to our use of animals and the strong link between animal law and ethics

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment will take place through the use of turning point in lectures and an oral presentation in seminars. Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module, particularly in relation to seminar tasks.
Marking criteria will be provided from the start of the module to enable you to understand what is expected and how you will be judged on your performance. Past student work will be examined alongside the marking criteria so you can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the work and understand to grade the work using the criteria.

Summative assessment will be a piece of coursework (maximum 2000 word limit).





Module abstract

Animals are an integral part of our society. We keep them as companions; we use them for entertainment; we use them in scientific experiments and we eat them. This module will critically analyse the ethics of our treatment of animals and will consider the relationship between law and ethics in this context. It will examine the role of the law in protecting the welfare of animals and question the effectiveness of the law and whether reforms are needed. It will challenge the way you think about animals in a legal and ethical context and will develop skills in independent thinking, ethics and critical analysis.

Course info

UCAS Code M101

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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