LOJK10281U Animals in Society

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Animal Science - Semi-compulsory
MSc Programme in Animal-derived Foods (Food of Life)


This course focuses on the role of animals in society. Today relations to animals are complex – animals are not ‘just out there in Nature’. Animals are used in food production to the benefit of man and serve as research animals in the medical sector. Moreover, animals are used in nature preservation, as companion animals and in competitive sports, but they also serve as prey for anglers and hunters. The economic aspects of these relations between humans and animals are important for society. In addition uses of animals may cause conflicts over how or indeed if we should use animals at all - and thus highlight how different stakeholders represent different interests. It is within this field, the course will explore three aspects of the human uses of animals:

Animals and society.
This element concerns sociological aspects of the use of animals. Departing in salient issues where conflicts over the use of animals can be observed, it is discussed how different societal stakeholders (including e.g. farmers, consumers, citizens, vegans, vivisectionists, etc) view and legitimize the use of animals for different purposes - and the values these different perspectives represent. This part of the course will introduce conceptual tools that provide insights in the importance of different cultural, religious and historical backgrounds and thus enable a study of disagreements over animal uses.

Economics of animals and society.
This part of the course introduces economic aspects of the use of animals. The point of departure is a discussion of how the keeping of animals - and the level of welfare these animals experience - can be analysed in a utility maximizing and/or profit maximizing framework. The costs and benefits of animal welfare are discussed taking the position of different stakeholders. Economic efficiency and necessary trade-offs in relation to animal welfare are discussed. This leads to a presentation of the economic arguments for regulating animal welfare using the concept of market failure.

Regulation of animal use.
This element introduces the regulatory aspects of keeping and use of animals focusing on different regulatory levels (international, EU and national) and different regulatory instruments. A range of instruments (law, economic incentives, moral incentives, information) are introduced, and pros and cons of each type of regulatory instruments are discussed.

Learning Outcome

The overall objective of the course is to introduce the students to societal aspects of the keeping and use of animals. This includes in particular economic and sociological aspects. After completion of the course it is expected that the student has achieved the following qualifications:

- Can demonstrate a basic understanding of the different roles of animals in society and societal controversies over different uses of animals
- Can characterize different stakeholders’ perceptions of animals and animal uses
- can demonstrate a basic understanding of economic concepts of importance for analyzing and describing economic aspects of animals for society.
- Can characterize the economic importance of different uses of animals
- Have a basic understanding of legal principles used in regulation of different uses of animals.

- Will be able to carry out an analysis of economic and societal aspects of different uses of animals on a societal level.
- Can analyze and discuss the trade-off between market and non-market aspects of uses of animals
- Will be able to analyze different stakeholders perceptions of the use of animals

- Can reflect over societal and economic issues related to concrete cases where animals are used and discuss these from the point of view of different stakeholders.
- Can use the acquired knowledge and skills as a basis for discussion of conflicts over the use of animals and suggest possible societal robust solutions.

Will be announced on Absalon

Teaching is organized as lectures and exercises introducing and training the various core elements of the course. Alongside the lectures, students will carry out a project, combining sociological and economic aspects of a specific case of animal use.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 66
  • Project work
  • 103
  • Theory exercises
  • 8
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Exam registration requirements

Approval of project report

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiner

Oral reexamination

Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the highest grade (12), the student should be able to demonstrate the achievement of the knowledge, skills and competences listed in the in the section 'Learning Outcome' above.