Core learning outcomes

The Society’s Education and Training committee are keen to ensure that the curriculum for the use of research animals stays relevant and up to date in between more formal reviews. We welcome all feedback on the below core learning outcomes. If you would like to send us some feedback, please email

The curriculum for the use of research animals is intended to support undergraduate and taught masters degree programmes in which students are expected to analyse literature and/or data that have been generated from studies involving animals that are subject to regulation (“research animals”), for example under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 - A(SP)A. The following core learning outcomes are intended support all students undertaking such degree programmes.


Students will acquire an appreciation of:

Frameworks and principles

  • The relevant legal and regulatory structures and ethical review processes governing the use of research animals
  • The legal and moral obligations and intervention mechanisms to protect the welfare of research animals
  • The ethical principles of the use of research animals, including harm-benefit analysis
  • The lifetime experience of research animals, including care and husbandry
  • The principles of Culture of Care
  • The existence of recognised methods for the humane killing of research animals
  • Societal attitudes to animal research
  • How animal welfare considerations should underpin all aspects of the use of research animals
  • Their personal ethical and moral boundaries and views

How and when research animals are used

  • Why research animals are used, including advantages and limitations
  • The principle that research animals should only be used where there are no alternative approaches to address the same scientific question
  • The rationale for the use of different species in research
  • How research animals are used to understand fundamental physiology and pathophysiology
  • How research animals are used in the drug discovery and development process, including regulatory obligations and translational studies
  • The role of research animals in the acquisition of experimental cells, tissues and fluids
  • The impact of the use of research animals on the prevention and/or treatment of disease in both humans and animals

Experimental design, analysis and communication

  • The principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement) in the use of research animals and how these impact upon research animal welfare and experimental outcomes
  • The importance of good experimental design (eg randomisation, blinding, power calculations, managing variability) and correct analysis

  • The concept that research animal welfare impacts upon reproducibility and reliability of data
  • How predictive models (eg in silico) can complement and sometimes replace the use of research animals
  • Appropriate reporting standards for sharing of research
  • How to keep up to date with the relevant literature and developments, including 3Rs and research animal welfare
  • How to openly and effectively communicate the use of research animals to scientific and non-scientific audiences

Fundamental science

  • The anatomy and physiology of research animals
  • The signs of stress and pain and the mechanisms that cause them
  • How observed responses in research animals arise from the integration of a number of biological systems
  • The relationship between the physiological responses of research animals and those in humans
  • Appropriate statistical tools and analytical methods used to interpret data from studies using research animals
  • The various ways research animals can be used, including ex vivo and non-recovery preparations as well as the use of conscious animals for the study of physiological, pharmacological, pathological and therapeutic problems
  • How genetically altered animals are generated
  • The effects genetic alteration may have on many body systems, with consequences for the data gathered
  • New and emerging approaches, techniques and principles in animal research


Students will be able to:

  • Interpret and critically evaluate experimental planning and design for the use of research animals
  • Interpret and critically evaluate data from research animals
  • Make an informed choice about pursuing a career involving the use of research animals


Students will demonstrate awareness that anybody working with research animals should display:

  • A respectful and considerate attitude to research animals and their tissues
  • Awareness of the culture of care within an animal facility and a willingness to actively participate in it
  • The ability to recognise their limitations and be willing to ask for support
  • A willingness to intervene appropriately when animal welfare is at risk
  • A collegiate attitude to animal technicians, animal technologists, Named Veterinary Surgeons and other personnel
  • A commitment to apply the 3Rs across the research process
  • A commitment to animal welfare across the research process
  • A commitment to working within the legal and ethical frameworks governing the use of research animals