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Core learning outcomes

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.

Knowledge

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

Skills

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

Attitudes

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