Course at a glance

Subject code: L4CC

Level 4 Accredited Diploma in Animal Psychology

Whether you’re looking to change career, or are already working in the Animal sector, this Level 4 Diploma in Animal Psychology allows you to build on your existing knowledge. Completion of the award will provide you with an internationally transferable qualification, covering a broad range of subjects expressly selected to give you an advantage in working with animals.

Award: Level 4 Diploma in Animal Psychology Studies

At the end of this course successful learners will receive an accredited certificate from the CIE GLOBAL and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the details of all the units the learner has completed as part of the course).

The course has been accredited by CIE GLOBAL . This means that Oxford Learning College has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future.

The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 4 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

The course itself has been designed by Oxford Learning College to meet specific learners’ and/or employers’ requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. The CIE GLOBAL certificates involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma Entry Requirements

Students must hold a Level 3 Diploma or A Level qualification to enrol into our Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma.

Basic English reading and writing skills, as full tutor support is given.

All students must be 16 years of age or above.

Study Hours

Approximately 400 hours.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma Course Duration

1 Year.


You can enrol on the course at any time.

Awarding Body

CIE Global

Assessment Method

Coursework only.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma Course Content

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 1: Using information, communication and technology ICT in the study of Animal Psychology

Level H1

This unit aims to raise learner awareness of the different types of ICT skills, and provide the opportunity for them to develop these skills commensurate with H4 and H5 study. The course is delivered via distance learning with no face to face contact between tutors and students, therefore understanding appropriate research techniques, portfolio skills and self-reflection is important in terms of independent study at this level as well as facilitating a positive learning experience.

Students are encouraged to conduct independent research related to the study of Animal Psychology using ICT skills, so that they can begin to compile their own resource list and also prepare themselves for further and more complex activities later in the course.

Unit content

1 Applications of ICT in the study of Animal Psychology

  • Information, communication and technology (ICT), comprises core skills for learning.
  • Utilisation of methods, tools and strategies of ICT to establish and maintain a sound working relationship with tutors and the college.
  • Development of ICT skills in order to communicate effectively and maximise study progression.

2 ePortfolio constructs

  • Setting up an ePortfolio for use during the lifetime of the course for storage of files including coursework, self-assessment activities, independent research notes and reflective journals.
  • The ePortfolio may be requested from time to time by tutors and moderators. Learners will be asked at various points in the course to upload files for this purpose.
  • A structured system of unique information but once completed can be used as a resource for continuing professional development (CPD), and a body of revision for future studies.

3 Independent web based research

  • Independent research to equip students with confidence to source and evaluate information relevant to the core course topics within Animal Psychology.
  • Develop tools and strategies with which to begin to undertake independent research and integrate this into coursework activities, for example suggesting ways to read research articles and assimilate types of information from these.

4 Principles of self-assessment and reflective writing

  • The development of knowledge and understanding through writing skills for communicating ideas and arguments to tutors and other readers of written work.
  • Reviews of writing skills.
  • Reflective writing skills and practice.
  • Promotion of pro-active implementation of skills enhancement through tutor feedback and self-assessment.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 2: Putting Psychology into Perspective

Level H1

Modern psychology practice and science has its origins in the study of animal behaviour, and many notable theorists (for example Pavlov and Skinner) who used animals in behavioural experiments have influenced the shape of psychology today. Therefore many psychology principles and practices are directly transferable to animal psychology and in order to understand the latter fully the emergence of psychology perspectives needs to be explored and understood.

This unit in Animal Psychology aims at providing learners with the opportunity to explore the origins of psychology as a discipline and make links to key theories and experiments using animals. Learners are also encouraged to critically evaluate these theories and the work of eminent theorists in the field of psychology to develop knowledge and understanding of how approaches within psychology are shaped and informed.

Unit content

1 Historical emergence of modern psychology

  • Historical perspective: from scientific origins; Ancient Greek philosophy; 19 th C scientific discipline; Wundt, James, Pavlov, 20 th C Watson and Sinner; etymology; German experimental psychology; early American, French and British psychology; 2 nd generation – Gestalt.

2 Theorists who helped shape psychological practices

  • Jung, Freud, Rogers, Ellis, Maslow, Skinner, Pavlov.
  • Behaviourism (origins relate to animal studies; psychoanalytical; humanist.

3 Psychology specialisms

  • Branch/specialism: clinical psychology; behavioural; forensic; cognitive; health, comparative; educational; sports; developmental; social; abnormal; cross-cultural and allied therapeutic branches including animal behaviourism and therapy.
  • Exploration of the link between animal and human behaviour.
  • Models: learning, cognitive, psychoanalysis; behaviour modification.

4 Draw comparisons between traditional and current theories

  • Modern theorists (examples): Piaget, Kholberg, Bowlby; gardener; The Big 5 (personality), including exploration of their work relating to animals and how this has shaped animal psychology.
  • Theories for exploration (examples): Cognitive dissonance; attachment (humans and animals); behaviour analysis; trait theory; personality theories.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 3: Approaches and constructs

Level: H1

The different psychological approaches are underpinned by theories, traditions and science. Therefore study of these underpinning elements is fundamental to understanding how the complex diversity of psychology specialism, contexts and applications continue to develop and expand. We now accept psychology and applications that have until recently have only been used with humans, applied to animal behaviour and consequently help scientists and psychologists further understand animal behaviour and their interaction with humans.

The aim of this unit is to provide learners with the opportunity to study approaches within psychology and their application to animal psychology contexts, and to facilitate development of analytical and evaluative skills, as well as allow learners to broaden scientific knowledge.

1 Biological approach in psychology

  • Physiological psychology: relationship between anatomy and physiology of the brain and sense organs (plus other body systems) to psychological response; stressors related to hormone production and release – physiological response – flight/fright response, raised blood pressure, slow digestion etc.; relationship between external environmental stimuli (psychological as well as physical) to response and behaviour.
  • Exploration of how these connections and relationships were originally made using animal studies, and discussion on the relevance to animal psychology applications.

2 Evolutionary approach

  • Evolutionary approach : critical evaluation of evolutionary theories (example Darwin), natural selection, adaptation, phenotype and genotype related to behavior traits and inherited characteristics (physical and psychological); influence of social, cultural and environmental factors.

3 Scientific research

  • Aims and objectives of scientific research: biological and chemical investigation of living organisms;, systematic and objective examination of the subject matter.
  • Types of scientific research: research paradigms, methodologies and methods; philosophical stance; relevance to psychological and behaviour models.
  • Evaluation and dissemination: analysis of scientific research, applications of data and findings; routes of dissemination; trends and probabilities; observational applications.

4 Relationship between the different approaches and integration

  • Comparison of psychological approaches within specialism and branches of the field.
  • Integration of therapeutic interventions and applications, and how these therapeutic interventions have been transferred and adapted to animal psychology/therapy.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 4: Research methods and techniques

Level H1

The previous unit looked at the influence of scientific research on how psychology has been shaped. This unit aims to provide learners with an opportunity to study current research methods used in psychology and to explore the advantages and disadvantages of these methods. It will also give learners an opportunity to explore how animals have contributed, and still do to psychology research and influence practice both in animal and human therapy.

Learners will be given the opportunity to develop analytical and evaluative skills through study of examples and theoretical models, and transfer these skills to practical applications within psychological research.

Unit content

1 Study design in psychological research

  • Study parameters; research methodology related to design; aims, outcomes, hypotheses; study environment.

2 Principles of quantitative research

  • Quantitative data: numerical basis, countable, assignable; identification of trends and probabilities; objectivity; validation and rigor; study design; participant recruitment; aims and objectives; methods, analysis and evaluation; ethics.

3 Principles of quantitative

  • Qualitative data : non-numerical; observational and interpretative; examines complexities of human behavior for example; validation and rigor; study design; participant recruitment; aims and objectives; methods, analysis and evaluation; ethics.

4 Advantages and disadvantages of different research methods

  • Presentation and evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of research paradigms, methods and analytical strategies related to study design.
  • Evaluation of similarities and differences related to rationale and review of practice application of research findings as strategies and models.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 5: Classification and taxonomy

Level H1

The aim of this unit is to provide learners with the opportunity to study classification of species from historical and modern perspectives, evaluating changes related to environment, loss of species, new species and adaptations. This knowledge and understanding will help learners to evaluate the influence of species development relate to psychological research, practice, and the use of psychological models and approaches in animal psychology.

Learners are encouraged to independently research classification of different species and draw comparisons across demographic regions.

Unit content

1 Classification system

  • History: all species are categorised or classified according to their similarities. Scientific classification; used by biologists to group both extinct and living species of organisms ; system developed in the 18 th century, and involves comparison the anatomy of different species in order to group them together. Kingdom; Phylum; Class; Order; Family; Genus; Species.
  • Changes: groupings of organisms linked physical appearance and descent; ancestry; genetic revisions.

2 Sub-categorization of domains

  • Domain structure: each classification is divided into domains; physical and genetic characteristics of species related to domain kingdoms; reconstruction, classification of structure, function, system; three domain system shift.

3 External resources relating to classification

  • Independent research: exploration and evaluation of classification and domain structure, relating to theories such as Darwin, Lamarcke, Wallis.

4 Comparisons between species

  • Differentiation : between mammals and reptiles; cellular level; species and functional level.
  • Cycles: nitrogen, water and oxygen.
  • Characteristics: evidence for influences such as environment, habitat and evolution, adaptation.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 6: The biology of mammals

Level H1

The aim of this unit is to provide learners with an opportunity to study cellular biology and reproductive processes in mammals. This will provide learners with a further opportunity to develop understanding of genetic inheritance related to environment, habitat and other influencing factors, and expand knowledge which is transferable into animal science applications.

Unit content

1 Cell structure and function

  • Structure: membrane bound organelles; cytoplasm; nuclear envelope, nuclear.
  • Function: gene expression and DNA replication; protein synthesis; diffusion, facilitated diffusion; osmosis; active transport; endocytosis and exocytosis.

2 Mammalian cellular replication processes

  • Prophase; metaphase; anaphase; telophase.
  • DNA coding.
  • Transcription and translation.
  • Central dogma of genetics.

3 Gene expression in mammals

  • Monohybrid cross; incomplete dominance; co dominance; pleiotrophy; polygeny; epstasis.
  • Influencing factors: habitat, environment, demography, food, evolution, human intervention.

4 Sexual and asexual reproduction

  • Mitosis: cloning, growth, repair, diploid.
  • Meiosis: gamete formation; haploid; homologous pairing; daughter cells; fertilisation.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 7: Genetic principles of mammals

Level H1

This unit aims at providing learners with the opportunity to study genetic diversity at complex levels and explore different patterns, scenarios and processes using theoretical models, pedigree diagrams and independent research. This will provide learners with an opportunity to link genetic inheritance to animal behaviour and psychological research.

Unit content

1 Processes of meiosis

  • Genotypes : genetic information, random mixing of genes during meiosis; environmental influences.
  • Phenotypes : genotype plus physical and chemical appearance; adaptations related to habitat, evolution, food supply, breeding.
  • Gene pool diversity: breeding; habitat; environment; food sources; predation; evolutionary theory; survival of the fittest/adaptive survival.

2Pedigree diagram

  • Structure of pedigree diagram: symbols for genetic relationships; families/extended family; modes of inheritance (dominant/recessive); genes and alleles; analysis of charts and application to traits and characteristics.

3 Evaluate evidence related to genetic inheritance

  • Review theories of evolution: Mendel, Darwin, Lamarke, Hunt’s chromosome theory of inheritance; current thinking – epigenetics.

4 Factors contributing to genetic inheritance

  • Contributing factors: environmental, habitation and nurture; cell metabolism and adaptations.
  • Strategies: adaptation (physical; feeding; mating; demographic; species evolution).
  • Factors: species individualality; evolution within species; Darwinism; Lamarckism; nutrition; movement; responses to changing climate; relationship to adaptation strategies; research into current examples within species.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma ;
Unit 8: Comparative mechanics of behaviour in animals

Level H1

The aim of this unit is to provide learners with the opportunity to explore the physiological mechanics of animal behaviour and relate these to psychological principles and theories.

Unit content

1 Principles of perception

  • CNS – neurones and synapses, neurone communication.
  • Sensory mechanics of perception – visual, auditory, olfactory.
  • Electronic perception.
  • Gustatory perception.
  • Mechanics and constraint.

2 Rhythmic clocks

  • Outline and explanation.
  • Interaction between clocks related to external environment, influences and stimuli.

3 Hormone action

  • Example of physiological action related to internal and external stimuli.
  • Control and override.

4 Trends in physiological mechanics

  • Discussion related to trends and changes.
  • Physiological mechanisms.
  • Deduction mechanisms.


This Level 4 Accredited Animal Psychology Diploma can be used to gain entry to a Level 5 Diploma or Degree course in a related field.