Australian University Courses

Media | Blogs | Australian Groups | International Groups | Discussion Groups Book Series and Journals | Podcasts  | Organisations | Australian University Courses

For information on international Animal Studies courses see the Society & Animals Institute website or H-Animal


Melbourne University

Law School: The Melbourne Law Masters LLM 502: Animals and the Law – 732704

This subject will examine the history, philosophy and ethical foundation of humanity’s treatment of animals and ask whether the animal welfare model operates in accord with our stated goal of preventing unnecessary cruelty to animals. It will also consider whether a new legal framework is required in order to give proper recognition to animal interests. The subject will focus on farming, where the vast majority of animals are used, but will also use examples from other contexts. Coordinator: Mr Peter Sankoff +613 8446164

School of Land and Environment: Animals in Society – First Year Breadth subject

This course is designed to explore how and why animals are so integral to human society. It investigates human – animal relationships, how they originated and their position in society today, some key relationships between humans and animals, including animals as pets, in agriculture, as research subjects, and in educational roles. It investigates our attitudes towards animals and our moral and ethical obligations to them. Within this discussion the topic of animal welfare is introduced and some of the current international animal welfare issues are discussed. Finally, the unit looks to the future and considers the position that animals may hold in society.

Monash University

Sociology: People and Other Animals: Studying the relationship between humans and other species – PSS3720

This unit examines the interaction between humans and the other animal species across three major topics. The first reviews the changing nature of the relationship between man and domestic animals across time within selected cultures. The second topic focuses on attitudes, beliefs, and emotions surrounding the interaction between people and companion animals, and animals as objects of leisure and entertainment. Topic three takes an objective approach to the emotive area of animals as food and providers of other products and services and considers ethical issues associated with each of these.

Australian Catholic University

Faculty of Theology and Philosophy: Introduction to Ethics – PHIL104

The unit aims to explore some of the fundamental questions in moral philosophy. Topics discussed may include: the nature of moral responsibility; the possibility of moral knowledge; theories of ethics such as utilitarian, deontological, natural law, Socratic, feminist, and virtue approaches; Eastern moral perspectives such as Buddhism and Hinduism; and practical moral issues such as justice, killing, punishment, sexual behaviour, the treatment of animals, genetic manipulation and research, international and intercultural relations, and the use of the environment.

School of Psychology: Comparative Psychology – PHYC405

Students will be provided with an overview of contemporary theories on the evolution of behaviour. By using an historical perspective on the development of these theories, it will be demonstrated how cultural contexts exist over time to affect the perceptions and analyses of human and non-human behaviour. Students will study the specific applicability of these theories to human behaviour, the behaviour of companion animals, and of some of Australia’s indigenous species. Students will be encouraged to develop a greater appreciation of Australian biodiversity and Australian animal behaviour, and a greater awareness of the important theoretical psychological perspectives for human behaviour that are possible through the adoption of an evolutionary paradigm.

La Trobe University

Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering: Psychology of Human-Animal Relationships PSY3HAR

This subject provides students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills required to analyze and address questions concerning how non-human animals can and might co-exist within modern human societies, in an informed, objective and unbiased manner. Throughout the subject, students are provided with a broad and critical overview of theories and methods of scientific inquiry as they apply to the study of human-animal relationships, with an emphasis on developing practical solutions to challenging social issues. Online learning materials are used to provide current information about animal issues, with face-to-face tutorials providing opportunities for students to engage in discussion, debate and further analysis. In the final weeks of the subject students are encouraged to formulate their own, well-informed, views about how animals should be maintained within future human societies.


University of Tasmania

School of Sociology and Social Work: Sociology of Nature – HGA261

Introduces students to the sociology of nature and provides a solid understanding of human relations with the natural world. The unit covers three broad areas. First, global variations in human relations with the natural world, including cultural, religious and mythic dimensions. Second, historical changes, with particular emphasis on modernisation processes in the West. Third, theoretical perspectives that explain the social inundation of human relations with the natural world. Topics will include: a comparative analysis of hunters and gatherers, pastoralists and agriculturalists; nature, religion and myth; food and culture; nature and gender, the romantic movement and social Darwinism, environmentalism, wilderness and city natures, animal sentiments, risk and rights, nature and modernity and posthumanist perspectives. Coordinator: Prof Adrian Franklin.

School of History and Classics: Australian Environmental History – HTA 271

Explores the interaction between human beings and the natural environment in Australian history. The unit first examines the Aboriginal relationship to the flora and fauna of the continent and then reviews the impact of European settlement on the land and native animals until the 1970s. It assesses the effects of agriculture, pastoralism, mining, forestry and introduced animals, and of pollution arising from urbanisation and industry. It traces the rise of an environmental consciousness with the establishment of national parks and nature reserves, the development of ideas about wilderness, conservation, and preservation, and the emergence of the green movement. Students gain an understanding of key environmental debates and of environmental history as an interdisciplinary field of study. Coordinator: Dr Stefan Petrow.


Australian National University

School of Archeology and Anthropology: Social Animals: Anthropological perspectives on animal-human relationships – ANTH2133

This course explores animal-human relationships from multiple theoretical perspectives to explore the various positions that animals occupy in human society (as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature). It also introduces students to some of the theoretical cornerstones (and classic readings) of the discipline of Anthropology. Contact: Dr Simone Dennis

School of Archeology and Anthropology: Human Society as Animal Society: Sex, Conflict, Co-operation and Human Uniqueness – BIAN2124

What continuities are there between human and animal social lives? How did characteristically human social arrangements emerge over the course of hominid evolution? Is there, despite human cultural diversity, a genetically based human nature that can be contrasted with, e.g. chimpanzee nature? What might the human social sciences learn from the zoological disciplines that study animal social behaviour (ethology, sociobiology, behavioural ecology) or from evolutionary psychology? The long-standing social-science orthodoxy has been that radical differences between us and other animals render such questions fruitless, even dangerous, to pursue. But recent developments in the study of animal behaviour have challenged this view. Biological perspectives on human social life are attracting a fresh interest and research effort, though they remain controversial. This course examines the resulting debates. Communication, conflict, altruism, kinship, sex, parenthood, social organisation, language and culture are amongst the topics covered. These will be discussed in three main contexts: the evolutionary past of hominid social characteristics; child development and child-rearing; and adult interactions, relationships and social structures. The main empirical base will be present-day and ethnographically described human societies, with some discussion of evidence on the undocumented past, and some use of animal examples. The aim will be to present the biological approaches and the criticisms they have attracted in a balanced way, and to identify both the strengths and the weaknesses of these approaches. Students will be encouraged to form their own views on the material studied, and on its status in the natural and social sciences. Contact: Dr Robert Attenborough.

School of Archeology and Anthropology: Animals, Plants and People – ARCH2108

The course examines the relationships between the human and the plant and animal worlds. Particular attention will be given to the concept of domestication, to the wild precursors of domesticates, and to the exploitation, manipulation and transformation of selected plant and animal species. Contact: Professor Colin Groves

Law School: Animals and the Law – LAWS2234

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the legal, ethical, regulatory, economic and social issues that are associated with human interaction with animals. The President of the Australian Law Reform Commission Professor David Weisbrot has suggested that “animal welfare” is likely to become the next great social justice movement in Australia, observing that the treatment of animals is “increasingly becoming a social and legal issue, as well as an important economic one.” Why is this? There is a growing understanding in society of the importance of respect and protection of animals as an indicator of the ethical maturity of a society. Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, this new elective course will consider animals within established categories of law such as property, (for example, s.4 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) defines “goods” to include animals), but will also examine the legal status and regulation of the treatment of within broader social, philosophical and legal contexts. This includes an economic and scientific context, an environmental context, and an ethical-political context. Contact: Alex Bruce.


University of Queensland

Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science: Master of Animal Studies – MAnimSt

Animal Studies is a diverse field involving caring for and working with recreational animals and farm animals, and the study of Australia’s wildlife. The general program allows students to specialise in one of these areas. Students develop core disciplinary knowledge and skills in the animal sciences, and the ability to integrate and apply these in professional practice.

The Animal Physiotherapy plan aims to provide physiotherapists with the appropriate training to transfer their skills to animals. Students focus on the development of comparative skills and evidence based clinical practice as well as providing practical training in physiotherapy throughout the program in residential schools.

School of Veterinary Science: VETS1018 and VETS5011

In these units, 1st and 5th year students have 12 hours of didactic lectures and 10 hours of tutorials devoted to improving veterinary non-technical skills. At the heart of the course are communication skills and animal behaviour and handling. The students receive lectures on the human-animal bond (in particular the attachment that clients have to their pet, and the roles and functions of companion animals), euthanasia, grief, conflict resolution ethics and morality and stress. Students also then receive tutorials to reinforce these skills and allow them to practice communicating with simulated clients. The units include practical instruction on animal handling. Contact Michael

Griffith University

Law School: Animal Law

Animal Law is an undergraduate course first taught at Griffith Law School (Nathan Campus, Brisbane) in January 2007.   The course has been run annually since then and is available to undergraduate law students and to non-law university graduates with appropriate experience/qualifications.  Cross-institutional study is also an option.  The course introduces the law relating to non-human animals, with an emphasis on the relationship between law and the ethics of animal welfare. Students critically examine prevailing regulation of the treatment of non-human animals in a range of settings. The course also addresses international developments in animal welfare law, and students have the opportunity to explore the different ways in which lawyers engage with animal law. For further information please contact Steven White:

Bond University

Law School: Animal Law – LAWS71-216

Subject enquiries:


University of Sydney

School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies: Animal/Human Cultures – GCST2603

This unit introduces students to postmodern understandings of animal/human connections through film, literature, popular culture, philosophy, cultural politics and gender studies. In the first block we consider western perspectives on the relationships between animals and humans. In the second block we consider animal philosophy: from Plato onwards animal-tropes inhabit and structure knowledge. In the third block we consider theories of animal/human relationships in regards to rights, responsibilities and technology. Co-ordinator: Dr Fiona Probyn-Rapsey.

School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, School of Philosophy: Mind and Morality – PHIL1016

If a robot told you that it was in pain, would you believe it? If it is wrong to kill animals, should we try to stop animals from killing each other? How do you know what the colour red looks like to your friends? What do these philosophical puzzles reveal about ourselves, our minds, and our responsibilities towards others? This one-unit HSC course focuses on contemporary disputes regarding the nature of the mind, personal identity and ethics. As you engage with these issues, you will be introduced to the philosophical theories that underpin our notion of ourselves and our place in the world, and you will improve your ability to analyse and present complex ideas and arguments. Co-ordinator: Dr Luke Russell, Dr Michael McDermott

Faculty of Law: Animal Law (seminar) – LAWS3088

This unit of study examines the ways in which the law defines and regulates the relationship between humans and animals. It introduces students to the key issues, debates and documents in this area whilst encouraging a critical examination of these sources. The unit begins with a discussion of the status of animals as property and the implications of this approach and then moves to providing an overview of the moral and ethical arguments supporting an animal protection position and the case for animal rights. The focus of the unit is on the regulatory frameworks which apply to interactions between humans and animals, both domesticated and wild. The following topics will be considered: animal welfare legislation and its enforcement; issues of standing; the role of agricultural codes of practice; wildlife conservation; international law issues including whaling and free trade constraints on improved standards for animal welfare; trade in endangered species and the role of zoos; the use of animals in research (including the responsibilities of institutions and animal ethics committees); regulation of companion animals; and current issues in animal law, such as live export.

University of New South Wales

Faculty of Law: Animal Law – LAWS9194

Animal law may be briefly defined as the statutory and case law in which the nature – legal, social or biological – of nonhuman animals is an important factor. After examining a current high profile animal issue, the live export of animals from Australia, the course looks at the context for animal law: modern and past ethics and jurisprudence on the way that humans think of and treat animals. The course looks at major topics in black letter law: animals as property and the implications of treating them as property; standing to represent the interest of animals; protection from cruelty; companion animal law; the liability of owners and keepers of animals; laws relating to agriculture; ethics, ethical guidelines and law of using animals for research; wild animals, wildlife animal and threatened species law, and game and hunting law; and the regulation of veterinarians.

University of Wollongong

Law School: Animal Law – LLB 366

This subject commences with a critical examination of the status of nonhuman animals as property and the various theories that underpin the distinction between animal welfare and animal rights. Against this background, State and federal laws in relation to animals are reviewed, with a focus on the complex regulatory framework that governs animal welfare. With respect to the latter, a key issue is the operation of codes of practice developed by State/federal Ministerial Councils. The enforcement of animal welfare laws is also explored, including the strengths and weaknesses of a charitable organisation, the RSPCA, acting as the main law enforcement body. Although the emphasis is on Australian law, some overseas developments are considered.

Southern Cross University

Law School: Animal Law – LAW10487

Using an inter-disciplinary approach, this unit covers several major areas of law in which the nature of non-human animals is an important factor. It introduces the main schools of thought associated with animal industries and different parts of the animal protection movement.

University of Newcastle

Faculty of Science and Information Technology: Natural History Illustration

Natural history illustration is a flexible and diverse discipline that seeks to observe, record and visually interpret the environment. Bringing together three main subject areas – art, science and the environment – natural history illustration is an opportunity for you to combine your interests in these areas and launch a rewarding career. Art: Natural history illustration uses a combination of traditional illustration techniques, multimedia and visual imaging to represent the natural environment in creative and innovative ways. Central to this is sketching, photographing and collecting specimens in the field, and the development of the drawing and technology skills required to work as a professional illustrator. Science: The difference between natural history illustration and other art forms lies in the meticulous attention to detail and scientific accuracy that the discipline demands. Whether observing a specimen in the field or studying it under a microscope in the studio, natural history illustrators must produce an accurate representation of the subject as well as a beautiful image. This commitment to scientific truth makes natural history illustration uniquely suited to visually support the sciences.Environment: With the increasing awareness of global environmental issues, there has never been a time when the recorders and interpreters of the natural environment are most needed. Natural history illustrators support the role of scientists by clarifying and communicating scientific findings visually, allowing the information to reach a far wider audience.


Flinders University

School of Sociology: Humans, Animals and Society

Humans, Animals and Society will be run by Dr Nik Taylor and Dr Suzi Adams in the School of Sociology. The course will be offered intensively just prior to semester 2 in 2012.

Outline: This course introduces students to the study of human relations with the natural world.  It provides students with the opportunity to question taken for granted assumptions about nature, the environment and the roles of animals in society.  Students explore historical and modern contexts within which human-animal relations and images of nature have developed.  Through a critical inquiry into the ways in which we conceive of nature, the environment and other animals, students        are introduced to a broad variety of sociological theories.

For more details contact:

Law School: Animal Law LLAW2028

This topic will provide an introduction to animal law and familiarise students with the regulation of animal protection and use of animals in Australia. This includes: the status of animals under the law; animal protection in Australia; international standards; philosophical discussions surrounding ‘animal welfare’ and ‘animal rights’; and current animal law issues. The topic will critically assess the law’s role in providing protection to animals, identify areas where it has been inadequate in that regard and encourage reflection on how it might be reformed.

University of South Australia

School of Natural and Built Environments: Wildlife in Cities: Animal Management Issues

The management of wild animals in cities. The concept of pest species. Why some urban animal species require conservation efforts. Stake holders and interest groups in urban animal management. Community attitudes to urban animals. Health, economic and other risks posed by urban animals to the human population. Health, economic and other risks to the environment or to other animal or plant species. Management strategies for urban animals (including costs and ethical considerations). Benefits arising from animal management/conservation. Legal and other responsibilities of people towards urban animals. Political ramifications of urban animal management strategies.

University of Adelaide

Faculty of Sciences, School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and the Veterinary School: Principles of Animal Behaviour, Welfare & Ethics.

This unit addresses human-animal interactions (eg. the association between stockperson behaviour and animal production and the role of societal attitudes in animal welfare issues). Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) are offered a course called Companion Animal & Equine Studies. The Head of the Veterinary School, Professor Gail Anderson, is keen to integrate human-animal interactions into their program. Veterinary courses include topics such as the euthanasia of animals, recognising the strength of the human-animal bond and how to help people deal with the loss of their animal. Contact Susan Hazel:



University of Western Australia

School of Animal Biology: Animal Ethics and Welfare – ANIM3312

This unit examines issues surrounding the use of animals in society, science and agriculture. It is not designed to teach you what is “right” or what is “wrong”, but to give you the knowledge and skills to conduct a fair assessment of Ethical and Welfare issues.

The unit begins with a guide to logic and fallacies. This is necessary to help you to develop skills in critical thinking. Philosophical and biological considerations of pain and suffering and the perception of life will follow. Current and future Ethical and Welfare issues will be reviewed for several activities where the animal-human relationship is preponderant, such as wildlife management and conservation, animal experimentation and animal production. In addition to the lectures, tutorials have a major role in the unit. They will train you to think and debate in a critical and fair manner, as expected of an informed and mature negotiator.

School of Anatomy and Human Biology, SymbioticA, Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts: Art and Life Manipulation – VISA2249, Aesthetics Crossovers in Art and Science – VISA2214 and Master in Science (Biological Arts) 51570.

SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences. SymbioticA’s alternative MBA is designed for art practitioners, scientists, and humanities scholars who wish to engage with creative bioresearch. The course focuses on recent advances in the Life Sciences, both in theory and practice. It also interrogates human/animal relations in the context of advances in biotechnologies.

Murdoch University

Veterinary School: Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Conservation Medicine

Conservation medicine is an emerging discipline that involves the integration of veterinary medicine, conservation biology and public health in order to: advance biodiversity conservation; address issues associated with the interrelationships between human, animal and ecosystem health; and study the effects of global environmental change on these health interrelationships. There is increasing recognition that veterinarians have an important role to play within interdisciplinary teams working on environmental conservation projects.