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Study information

Programme Specification for the 2023/4 academic year

MA Anthrozoology DL

1. Programme Details

Programme nameMA Anthrozoology DL Programme codePTA1HPSHPS68
Study mode(s)Distance Learning
Academic year2023/4
Campus(es)Streatham (Exeter)
NQF Level of the Final Award7 (Masters)

2. Description of the Programme

The MA in Anthrozoology Distance-Learning Programme at the University of Exeter is unique in its anthropological focus on the many and varied ways in which humans perceive, engage, compete and co-exist with non-human animals in a range of cultural contexts. An understanding of human interactions with other animals is of paramount importance in the contemporary world where human lives and sustainable futures are inextricably linked with the fate of the nonhuman world.

This Distance-Learning MA covers a diverse range of themes, including pet-keeping, animal domestication, environmental conservation, eating animals, animal assisted therapy, zoonotic disease, cruelty to animals, representations of animals and animal welfare. These topics are subjected to rigorous theoretical analysis, and the anthropological approach facilitates cross-cultural comparison of seemingly contradictory attitudes and practices.

The degree is expected to attract students from diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds, including vets, veterinary nurses, primatologists, conservationists, environmental scientists, animal trainers and behaviourists, animal welfare officers and academics who wish to further their knowledge of the human-animal bond to help them in their professional development. Indeed, the MA in Anthrozoology is especially relevant in terms of Continual Professional Development for individuals who are involved with the care of non-human animals in a professional capacity, as well as for students who have completed social science undergraduate degrees or who have a science background and would like to expand their research interests into the social sciences. Many students may also want to join the programme because of personal interest in the subject matter, and to gain a deeper appreciation of the human-animal bond. The distance learning format is sufficiently flexible to enable students to fit it in around existing professional and personal commitments.The lead academic for this programme won the 2010 Humane Society of the United States Animals and Society Distinguished Course Award. This award recognizes excellence in courses concerning the human-animal bond, human obligations toward animals, the status of animals, and related topics and is issued by the Humane Society of theUnited States, the largest animal protection organisation in theUS, in association with the Animals and Society Institute.

3. Educational Aims of the Programme

The aims of the MA in Anthrozoology are:

1. to provide a supportive yet challenging learning environment within which students can explore and critically interrogate the many and varied ways in which humans think about and interact with nonhuman animals.

2. to encourage students to think reflexively about their own attitudes towards and interactions with nonhuman animals.

3. to encourage students to question and reflect on taken for granted assumptions about what it means to be human through a reflexive engagement with a wide range of human-animal interactions.

4. to provide the tools, knowledge and academic support to empower students to engage in innovative independent and theoretically grounded research in the field of anthrozoology.

5. to improve the welfare of human and non-human animals by raising awareness of anthrozoological scholarship.

6. to demonstrate the importance of anthrozoology to the anthropological agenda.

7. to facilitate a wider awareness of the interconnections which exist between humans, non-human animals and their respective environments and the implications of these interconnections within the context of global environmental crisis.

4. Programme Structure

The MA Anthrozoology programme is a 12 month programme when studied full time at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 7 (as confirmed against the FHEQ).  The programme is divided into units of study called ‘modules’ which are assigned a number of ‘credits’. The credit rating of a module is proportional to the total workload, with 1 credit being nominally equivalent to 10 hours of work.

Interim Awards

In extraordinary circumstances you may exit this award with a Postgraduate Certificate where you have achieved 60 credits or a Postgraduate Diploma where you have achieved 120 credits.

You may take Elective Modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.   Please be aware that the vast majority ofUniversity of Exeter M Level Modules are not offered on a distance-learning basis and would therefore need to be taken in attendance at the University if selected under the modularity scheme.

5. Programme Modules

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

The inter-disciplinary study of human & animal interactions

The MA in Anthrozoology will be of interest to anyone who would like to investigate the many and varied ways in which humans perceive, engage, compete and co-exist with non-human animals in a range of cultural contexts.

The Distance-Learning MA Anthrozoology is especially relevant in terms of Continual Professional Development for individuals who are involved with the care of non-human animals in a professional capacity (eg, vets, veterinary nurses/technicians, animal trainers, dog wardens, zoo keepers, conservationists, charity workers etc.), as well as for students who have completed social science undergraduate degrees or who have a science background and would like to expand their research interests into the social sciences. The distance learning format is sufficiently flexible to enable you to fit it in around your existing professional and personal commitments.

The MA has won a Humane Society of the United States Distinguished Course Award and the Programme Director is the winner of the Association of Social Anthropologists' Award for Excellence 2011 and has recently published a core textbook on Anthrozoology.

Overall, the MA Anthrozoology programme consists of 180 credits and will normally occupy 12 months for full time students and 24 months for part-time students.

Students will take a total of 120 credits as compulsory modules.  A further 60 credits will be made up from four 15 credit modules.

The distance learning format is sufficiently flexible to enable you to fit it in around your existing professional and personal commitments.

The full-time variant is studied over three terms. The taught components of the programme are delivered in the first two terms; you then have a three-month period in which to undertake your Dissertation. The entire programme is offered via distance learning and does not require any physical attendance on campus. The part-time variant follows the same pattern as the full-time, but is studied over 24 months. Where the programme is taken part-time students will normally take at least 90 credits in the first year and 90 credits in the second year. Where taken over a longer time period, students will discuss their learning programme with their tutor or the Course Director.

The programme comprises 180 credits in total: taught modules worth 120 credits in total, and a dissertation worth 60 credits. These credits are broken down as follows.

Please note that the modules offered are subject to change depending on staff availability, timetabling and student demand.

Stage 1

Core modules (60 credits) and Dissertation (60 credits) to be taken, plus a choice of 60 credits from the following list of optional modules, up to 30 of which may be taken in appropriate modules from other programmes within the institution.

Compulsory Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
ANTM102 Anthrozoology: Theory and Method 30No
ANTM103 Applied Anthrozoology 30No
ANTM904 Dissertation 60Yes

Optional Modules

CodeModule Credits Non-condonable?
ANTM100 The Animal Mirror: Representations of Animality 15No
ANTM101 Animals, Health and Healing 15No
ANTM105 Humans and Wildlife: Conflict and Conservation 15No
ANTM112 Animals and Religion 15No
ANTM107 Anthrozoology Residential 15No
ANTM111 Animal Ethics 15No
ANTM109 Animal Criminology 15No

6. Programme Outcomes Linked to Teaching, Learning and Assessment Methods

Intended Learning Outcomes
A: Specialised Subject Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems relating to human-animal interactions along with new theoretical and methodological insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of anthrozoological scholarship.
2. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to your own anthrozoological research or advanced anthrozoological scholarship, and the associated ethical, practical and theoretical issues associated with researching humans and their interactions with other animals.
3. Demonstrate originality in the application of anthrozoological knowledge (both from practical experience and published scholarship), together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret anthrozoological knowledge.
4. Demonstrate a conceptual understanding that enables you to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in anthrozoology
5. Evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

The MA is a distance-learning programme, and as a result, every effort will be made to provide students with a supportive and flexible learning environment, with activities to enable them to achieve the programme ILOs. Because lectures will be recorded in advance and posted for the students as podcasts, there will not be opportunity for direct engagement with the lecturer and other students ‘in-class’ as there would be in a residential context. However, during the recorded podcast lectures (and accompanying powerpoint presentations), questions and points of discussion will be posed or raised for students to reflect upon. These will link to set readings (also posted on the VLE) and will form the basis of a series of formative (non-assessed) exercises, whereby questions which arise during the lecture are posted onto the VLE discussion forums. Where relevant, practical tasks will accompany these questions to create a situation in which students can reflect on key issues and discuss them with the lecturer and their peers, thus replicating as closely as possible a seminar format within the limitations of a virtual environment. The structure of the forum means that students can return and comment on their own and others’ posts, creating a valuable dialogue which, unlike a face to face discussion in the ‘real world’ classroom, is documented. This provides students with a means by which they can chart and assess their own learning and development, as well as enabling the module tutor to monitor students’ progress and levels of knowledge and understanding. The questions encourage students to incorporate readings from the module reading list and beyond.

Examples of questions and practical tasks might include: ‘Discuss the relevance of Milton’s ‘egomorphism’ for the anthrozoological study of non-human animals’ or ‘Why do we prioritize the conservation needs of some species over others?’ or ‘I wondered if any of you had first-hand experiences of nonhuman primates in either 'wild' or 'captive' situations? and if so, how your experiences had influenced your attitudes towards the particular primates in question?’ or ‘What are the issues facing anthrozoologists who wish to incorporate nonhuman animals in studies employing qualitative research methods?’ or ‘While Newton's article discusses sexuality, many of the issues she raises are valid if we substitute sex/sexuality for other aspects of an ethnographer's 'persona' - i.e. as anthrozoologists we have certain biases relating to animals (e.g. ideas about how they should be treated) - what are your anthrozoological biases and how might they influence or impact upon your planned research?’ or ‘Before doing the readings for this session, go for a walk. It doesn't matter where, but make notes as you go and think about: how is the space ordered? who is responsible for the layout? why has it been ordered in that manner? what is the weather like? do you meet anyone else (human or nonhuman)? how do they react to you and their surroundings?’

 Students are also asked to conduct some fieldwork and in the process engage with, and evaluate a range of methodological approaches. Again, space is provided on the VLE forums for discussion, in addition to Skype tutorials with the module tutor.

Formative exercises: A selection of questions  and practical exercises posted on the VLE discussion forums. The questions are worded in such a way as to elicit responses which will enable students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, critical awareness, originality, and evaluative skills [1, 2, 3, 4] 

Reflexive journal: Requires students to demonstrate a reflexive awareness of the research process and the situations and issues which they are engaging with, incorporating relevant theoretical perspectives and comparative data [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Fieldwork diary: Encourages students to take a systematic approach to the process of ethnographic fieldwork, and requires them to maintain a diary of their fieldwork period as an exercise in good practice to facilitate reflection and critical analysis at a later date [1, 2, 5]

Review: Requires students to undertake a critically analytical review of an event, exhibition or piece of scholarly work, thereby developing synoptic and analytical skills. Reviews of this sort are standard items in academic journals and so by including them as assessments, students are encouraged to engage with and in academic scholarship [1, 4]

Photo-essay: Allows students to be more creative and original than is possible with conventional written essays. Given that the module in question is concerned with the representations of animals, a photo-essay provides students with the tools to express complex ideas or to illustrate theoretical points visually, whilst accompanying the visual content with written analysis, thereby demonstrating knowledge and understanding [1, 2, 3, 4]

Project proposal: Encourages students to think through and plan a proposed piece of research from an early stage, thereby assessing student knowledge and understanding of theory and method. By submitting a formal proposal for tutor comment and peer review, students are given the opportunity for feedback and to develop and refine their initial ideas, leading to a more coherent piece of research [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Research paper: The research paper differs from a traditional essay in that one of the requirements is for students to tailor their research question and writing style to fit with the style guidelines and aims of a relevant academic journal. This encourages students to engage with another key area of scholarly activity; the preparation of empirical research for publication [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Essay: Provides students with the opportunity to engage with a topic in detail, placing emphasis on theoretical analysis [1, 3, 4]

Oral presentation: Conducted over Skype, requires students to formulate and deliver a presentation which clearly and concisely summarises the key points relating to their research or a specific topic of anthrozoological interest [1, 2, 4]

Poster presentation: As per oral presentation, this assesses student’s knowledge and understanding, and their ability to critically evaluate data [1, 2, 4]

Intended Learning Outcomes
B: Academic Discipline Core Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

6. Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data (especially in relation to the internal states of research subjects), and communicate conclusions clearly and convincingly to specialists and non-specialist audiences.
7. Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at an advanced and, where relevant, professional level.
8. Continue to advance your knowledge and understanding, and develop new skills to a high level.

Lectures, interactive seminars and group discussions, completion of a range of formative exercises on VLE discussion forums, practical exercises, fieldwork, independent study (reading and desk research)

As above, the students are provided with audio lecture podcasts, accompanying powerpoint presentations and access to a range of relevant readings. The lectures provide students with a base-line, introducing and discussing key concepts and a range of case studies. Students can then demonstrate self-direction in terms of how they engage with the remainder of the teaching materials. For example, a selection of key readings are provided on the VLE, but students are also expected to engage with much wider reading which they can demonstrate by drawing on these sources in their posts on the VLE forums and in their assessed coursework submissions.

The opportunity to conduct fieldwork, which is supported by Skype discussions with the module tutor, provides students with empirical data and exposure to a range of methodological approaches.

Formative exercises: As above, and in addition to providing students with an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, these formative exercises focus on student-centred learning. Students must take the initiative to engage with the discussions and act as peer-reviewers for each other’s posts [7, 8]

Reflexive journal: Again, this provides students with opportunity for problem solving and demonstrating self-direction as they reflect on the process of fieldwork and incorporate theoretical and empirical data [6, 7, 8]

Fieldwork diary: Encourages students to reflect on their learning and the fieldwork process [7, 8]

Review: Here students have the opportunity to show self-direction and originality, as well as synoptic and analytical skills as they decide what to review and the way in which the subject matter should be approached and analysed [6, 7, 8]

Photo-essay: This provides students with the opportunity to deal with complex issues creatively, and communicate with a range of audiences [6, 7, 8]

Project proposal: Preparing a proposal in advance of embarking on research enables students to demonstrate self-direction and originality, and act autonomously in planning research, whilst also providing opportunity for feedback and improvement in the planning stage [7, 8]

Research paper: By conducting research and presenting it in a published paper format, students are able to demonstrate an ability to deal with complex issues, communicate their conclusions clearly, self-direction and originality (in terms of choice of topic, methodology and theoretical analysis), advance their knowledge and understanding and develop proof reading and editing skills [6, 7, 8]

Essay: Assesses students’ ability to deal with complex issues and communicate conclusions in addition to self-direction, originality, problem solving and skill development [6, 7, 8]

Oral presentation: Particularly useful for helping students develop skills (as most are lacking confidence in public speaking)and communicating conclusions clearly and convincingly [6, 7, 8]  Poster presentation: Assesses ability to deal with complex issues creatively, self-direction, originality, autonomy, communication of conclusions and development of new skills [6, 7, 8]

Intended Learning Outcomes
C: Personal/Transferable/Employment Skills and Knowledge

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)
On successfully completing this programme you will be able to:
Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) will be...
...accommodated and facilitated by the following learning and teaching activities (in/out of class):...and evidenced by the following assessment methods:

9. Demonstrate the ability to exercise initiative and take personal responsibility.
10. Demonstrate an ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations.
11. Demonstrate independent learning required for continuing professional development.

Lectures, interactive seminars and group discussions, completion of a range of formative exercises on VLE discussion forums, practical exercises, fieldwork, independent study (reading and desk research)


Formative exercises: Participation in the forum discussions demonstrates student ability to take initiative and personal responsibility for their learning and academic progress. They are given the opportunity to start new discussion threads in addition to contributing to established threads and commenting on posts made by their peers and tutors [9, 11]

Reflexive journal: Proivides opportunity to reflect upon the process of fieldwork, which will include decision making in complex and unpredictable situations [9, 10, 11]

Fieldwork diary: As above. Also encourages students to take responsibility for their research [9, 10, 11]

Review: Enables students to show independent learning (through the incorporation of wider reading) [11]

Photo-essay: Can assess all of the ILOs in this section, depending on how the students approach the essay, so, for example, by discussing ethical issues associated with the use of visual imagery they would meet ILO 9, but at very least can show independent learning as above [9, 10, 11]

Project proposal: Enables students to take personal responsibility for their research, and prepare for the unpredictable nature of fieldwork by encouraging them to think through the implications of the research at an early stage [9, 10]

Research paper: Encourages students to engage with academic writing and publishing as an aspect of CPD [11]

Essay: Provides students with the opportunity to exercise initiative (through the choice of topic and title, which they can devise themselves), and take personal responsibility (if it proves to be a bad choice – they have to make it work). Also shows independent learning as it is expected the essays will go beyond what has been covered in the lectures and key reading [9, 11]

Oral presentation: Particularly useful for demonstrating an ability to respond to complex and unpredictable situations (during the Q&A following the presentation) [10, 11] 

Poster presentation: Another transferable skill, as posters are increasingly common features of academic conferences [11] 

7. Programme Regulations


Full details of assessment regulations for all taught programmes can be found in the TQA Manual, specifically in the Credit and Qualifications Framework, and the Assessment, Progression and Awarding: Taught Programmes Handbook. Additional information, including Generic Marking Criteria, can be found in the Learning and Teaching Support Handbook.

8. College Support for Students and Students' Learning

Personal and Academic tutoring: It is University policy that all Colleges should have in place a system of academic and personal tutors. The role of academic tutors is to support you on individual modules; the role of personal tutors is to provide you with advice and support for the duration of the programme and extends to providing you with details of how to obtain support and guidance on personal difficulties such as accommodation, financial difficulties and sickness. You can also make an appointment to see individual teaching staff.

As a postgraduate taught student in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies you will be allocated a Personal Tutor at the commencement of your studies.  Distance learning students can expect equal access to teaching staff (via email, telephone and video-conferencing) as face-to-face students. In normal circumstances your Personal Tutor will remain your tutor throughout your study programme. You should make contact with your Personal Tutor three or four times a year and these (virtual) meetings may typically commence soon after registration. These meetings will take place once or twice mid-year to discuss your progress and to perhaps consider Personal Development Planning (ePDP) and once to discuss your overall performance. The ePDP is a particularly useful developmental tool which you are encouraged to utilise and which is accessible though the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE). Each student will in addition receive formative feedback from various on-line discussion forums and exercises (administered by teaching staff) throughout the delivery of modules and therefore receive essentially continuous feedback during the taught component of the programme. Your dissertation supervisor will provide academic and tutorial support once students move on to the research component of the course. Student progess will be monitored and students can receive up-to-date records of the assessment, achievements and progress at any stage.

You should feel that you are able to approach your Personal Tutor for advice, pastoral support or academic support in a wider sense.

Student/Staff Liaison Committee enables students and staff to jointly participate in the management and review of the teaching and learning provision.

For those learning in distance mode, nominations to the PGT SSLC will be undertaken democratically online and representation from the distance learning pathway element of the programme will be in accordance with the proportion of students undertaking that programme pathway. Where appropriate SSLCs will make use of telephone conferencing facilities to ensure those on the distance learning programme are included.

9. University Support for Students and Students' Learning

Please refer to the University Academic Policy and Standards guidelines regarding support for students and students' learning.

10. Admissions Criteria

Undergraduate applicants must satisfy the Undergraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Postgraduate applicants must satisfy the Postgraduate Admissions Policy of the University of Exeter.

Specific requirements required to enrol on this programme are available at the respective Undergraduate or Postgraduate Study Site webpages.

As this is a specialist and multi-disciplinary programme, then students who do not meet the general admissions requirements but who have substantial professional or personal experience which is directly related to the programme will be considered. Students who wish to be considered on the basis of professional or personal experience should submit a detailed personal statement outlining their relevant experience. Students who do not fulfil the general admissions requirements may also be required to attend an interview and/or complete an assignment in order to assess their academic ability.

Students who have already received MA level credits in the subject of Anthrozoology from another University may apply to have these credits recognised for study towards the MA Anthrozoology at Exeter (e.g. through the route of Accredited Prior Certified Learning). However please note that in order to gain an University of Exeter award normally at least 50% of a your credits must have been completed at Exeter.

11. Regulation of Assessment and Academic Standards

Each academic programme in the University is subject to an agreed College assessment and marking strategy, underpinned by institution-wide assessment procedures.

The security of assessment and academic standards is further supported through the appointment of External Examiners for each programme. External Examiners have access to draft papers, course work and examination scripts. They are required to attend the Board of Examiners and to provide an annual report. Annual External Examiner reports are monitored at both College and University level. Their responsibilities are described in the University's code of practice. See the University's TQA Manual for details.

(Quality Review Framework.

14. Awarding Institution

University of Exeter

15. Lead College / Teaching Institution

Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS)

16. Partner College / Institution

Partner College(s)

Not applicable to this programme

Partner Institution

Not applicable to this programme.

17. Programme Accredited / Validated by


18. Final Award

MA Anthrozoology DL

19. UCAS Code


20. NQF Level of Final Award

7 (Masters)

21. Credit

CATS credits


ECTS credits


22. QAA Subject Benchmarking Group

23. Dates

Origin Date


Date of last revision