FdSc Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare (part-time)

Course overview

Have a passion for the behaviour and welfare of companion animals?

Merrist Wood is highly regarded in the animal industry as the leading animal education establishment in Surrey, with a wide range of animal care courses. There are well-equipped animal management resources including collections of domestic, companion, and exotic animals as well as a grooming parlour and supporting facilities for canine care. The College has wide links with industry and tuition is by highly qualified and experienced tutors who will ensure you gain the best possible grounding in your chosen career.

The Companion Animal Behaviour Foundation Degree provides a fascinating insight into the behaviour and welfare of a range of animal species and application of theory to improve problem behaviours to prepare students for a professional career in the management of animal behaviour. This course focuses on companion animal species, however in year 1 of the course students will explore content relating to other animal species. 

There will also be a focus on business management as many people working in the companion animal industry are self-employed business owners. Through academic course-based delivery, supported by integrated professional development, students will be able to engage with National Occupational Standards (NOS) and enhance their employment opportunities. 

Study of the subject area can open a broad range of career pathways within the companion sector including, but not limited to, companion animal behaviourists and trainers, pet services such as pet sitting/boarding and dog walking, animal rescue and charity roles, or as advisors with organisations.

During this course you will benefit from the following:

  • Taught by expert, passionate tutors with industry experience.
  • Extensive grounds which include ancient woodland, species rich grassland and wetland areas. Rich fauna, including protected species of bats and amphibians.
  • Friendly learning environment with small class sizes and excellent student support.
  • Merrist Wood College is highly regarded in the animal industry as the leading animal education establishment in Surrey
  • Animal Management Centre including facilities such as a desert biome, tropical biome and nocturnal room.
  • Industry experience provides an invaluable opportunity to work in a variety of settings to support your chosen career path.

Course duration: 4 Years part-time. This course can also be taken on a full-time basis over 2 years.

People riding horses

Tuition Fees

Home/EU* Fee for September 2023 entry: £4,000 per year

Please note: Tuition fees are published for the first year of entry only and may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by the Office for Students.

*Fee information for European Union (EU) students: If your course starts on or after the 1st August 2021, you will no longer be eligible for financial support from Student Finance England unless you meet one of the following criteria:

  • you are able to benefit from the citizens’ rights agreements
  • you are an Irish national living in the UK or Republic of Ireland – benefits of Irish nationals under Common Travel Area guidance arrangement will continue

Additional costs include:

Optional trips for work experience, especially if you wish to volunteer overseas, as some of our previous students have done. Additional printing over and above the £10 allowance provided by the college, and the cost of books that you might wish to purchase.

We strongly recommend that you purchase a laptop for your course.

If you need any further information or guidance, please contact us atHE@activatelearning.ac.uk 

Year 1: professional development in the work environment 1 (30 credits), animal behaviour (30 credits), animal health, welfare and nutrition (30 credits), practical projects, enrichment and training (30 credits). Total 120 credits.

Year 2: professional development in the work environment 2 (30 credits); research methods (30 credits); problem behaviour management (30 credits); business and events management (30 credits). Total 120 credits.

All students are supported with academic development and you will have access to a personal tutor.

There will be a range of theory, practical, and work placements. Assessment is by course work and exam.

The minimum entry qualifications for the programme are:

A Levels: 64 UCAS points normally in science-based subjects

BTEC: 64 UCAS points normally in science-based subjects

Access Diploma: Pass

Plus: English and maths GCSE and it is advantageous to have a science (biology) or psychology.

A minimum IELTS score of 6, TOEFL equivalent is required for those for whom English is not their first language. These entry requirements are subject to change.

You could progress into employment or on to a one-year Top-up degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare BSc (Hons) or Animal Management BSc (Hons) at Merrist Wood College.

This programme is focused on learners who wish to work with companion and domestic species such as cats and dogs, e.g. behaviour and training roles, or rescue and rehoming centres.

Some set up their own business within the animal industry offering services such as dog walking and pet sitting, or behaviour services.


There will be a range of theory, practical, and work placements. Assessment is by course work and exam.

You are advised to ensure that anti-tetanus protection via a course of injections or booster is up to date prior to the commencement of the course. You should also ensure that you have adequate clothing for outdoor work in inclement weather. Fees shown are per year. Please contact the College if you require further information.

The academic regulations for this programme can be found on Kingston University’s website

Terms and conditions for enrolment can be found on our website

Applicants should apply through the UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website. This includes students already at Merrist Wood College. All courses will be listed under Activate Learning on the UCAS website.

Merrist Wood offers accommodation for new and existing full-time students who wish to live in our halls.

Course Starts in 106 Days
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