Course at a glance

Subject code: L4AS

Level 4 Accredited Diploma in Animal Studies

Working with animals is a challenging, but rewarding, experience. This award can equip you with the skills you need to begin working with animals, or for further study at degree level.
An internationally recognised qualification, this Level 4 qualification builds upon prior knowledge, whether gained via academic study or from practical experience.

Award: Level 4 Diploma in Animal 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 Studies Diploma Entry Requirements

Students must hold a Level 3 Diploma or A Level qualification to enrol into our Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies 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 Studies 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 Studies Diploma Course Content

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 1: Using ICT in animal studies

Information, communication and technology (ICT) comprises core skills for learning. In this distance learning course utilisation of methods, tools and strategies of ICT is important in order to establish and maintain a sound working relationship with tutors and the college. Students will need to develop ICT skills in order to communicate effectively and maximise their study progression.

The first unit of this Animal Studies course explains how to set up an ePortfolio which students will use during the lifetime of the course for storage of all their 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. Students will be asked at various points in the course to upload files for this purpose. The ePortfolio will not only provide students with 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.

Independent research is fundamental to level 5 study and also equips students with confidence to source and evaluate information relevant to the core course topics. In this first unit students are presented with 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.

The development of knowledge and understanding through writing skills is important for communicating ideas and arguments to tutors and other readers of written work. Therefore this unit reviews writing skills, and incorporates reflective writing into both the course and coursework activities. Reflective writing is a way that individuals can review their own approaches to learning and communication; and it also promotes pro-active implementation of skills enhancement through tutor feedback and self-assessment

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 2: Taxonomy and classification of the animal kingdom

All species are categorised or classified according to their similarities. Scientific classification is used by biologists to group both extinct and living species of organisms. The system used was developed in the 18 th century, and involves comparison the anatomy of different species in order to group them together.

Over time, these classifications are being changed to show groups of organisms that are linked not by their physical appearance, but in terms of their descent from a common ancestor. Recently, many revisions have been made as more information is acquired about genetics, and scientific tests have been developed which can tell how related two species are. The branch of science that covers scientific classification is called taxonomy. In this unit students will explore the original and historical timeline of classification and taxonomy and relate this to different species.

Each classification is divided into domains. Unit content will explain how these domains are categorised and identified using physical and genetic characteristics

Differentiation between mammals and reptiles begins with classification. This unit introduces content on a cellular level in order to facilitate understanding of differentiation

To complete discussion on classification the unit content presents discussion and information about the nitrogen, water and oxygen cycles. This discussion is linked to domains and animal characteristics, bringing into discussion environmental factors and habitat.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 3: The biology of mammals

This section of unit 3 develops discussion from unit 2 and explores cellular biology. Effective and correct cellular function is essential to the maintenance of life. In this section cell structure, function and physiology is looked at in detail

The mammal’s internal body environment is rigidly controlled and this state needs to remain as constant as possible within certain ranges. The process of homeostasis is controlled by sophisticated mechanisms which are sensitive to changes that affect the body’s internal environment, and they respond accordingly. Different feedback systems operate to ensure homeostasis continues effectively. This section of the unit will look at these processes.

There are two forms of reproduction, sexual and asexual. Mammals reproduce using sexual reproduction, and asexual reproduction is used by various organisms such as bacteria, plants, and also some animals. Some animals are able to use both sexual and asexual reproduction. This section of unit 3 looks in detail at cell division and the different types of replication

Replication means that the DNA, with all its genes, must be copied every time a cell divides.

Expression means that the genes on DNA must control characteristics. A gene was traditionally defined as a factor that controls a particular characteristic (such as flower colour), but a much more precise definition is that a gene is a section of DNA that codes for a particular protein. Expression can be split into two parts :transcription (making RNA) and translation (making proteins). This is called the central dogma of genetics.

These crucial processes are described and explained within this section of unit 3 and prepare students for unit 4 and studying basic genetic processes.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 4: Basic genetic principles of mammals

The physical and chemical appearance of any organisms is known as its phenotype. The phenotype is the result of the genotype or genetic information, the environment in which the organisms lives and the individual or unique genetic make -up which is due to the random shuffling or mixing of genes during meiosis. This unit looks at the processes of inheritance and genetic traits and builds upon knowledge and understanding from unit 3

Genetic traits are represented in pedigree diagrams which traces how the disease passes through family members and indicates their gender and whether they have the disease. This method is an easy one for seeing and understanding disease inheritance and traits.

Cells are the building blocks from which living organisms are constructed. In order for bodily systems to work, cells cannot be isolated from their external environment, and substances must enter and leave through the membranes of them. This process is crucial to both ell division, growth repair and for processes of inheritance to take place. This unit looks at the integration of these key cellular processes

In order for an organism to be defined as ‘alive’ they need to possess the characteristics given below, which all animals have in common. The unit culminates in a reiteration of these characteristics which encapsulate the sum total of all cellular processes covered in units 1 to 4: m ovement, nutrition, respiration, excretion. Sensitivity, growth and reproduction

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 5: Equine anatomy and physiology

The skeleton of the horse provides structure to the body, and together with the muscles, allows the horse to move. It also protects the vital organs inside the body.

In addition to these functions, the skeleton also has other functions, for example some of the bones are also involved in the production of red and white blood cells, which are vital components of the immune and circulatory systems. The bones also provide a place for storage of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. This unit will look in detail at the equine skeleton and compare it to that of the human one. It will also present discussion about how the horse’s movement is related to its skeletal developments

This unit will briefly explore all the other anatomical structures and their functions in the horse and identify any key differences that are present in the horse compared with humans and other animals

The reproductive systems in horses are important in terms of understanding their anatomy and physiology, particularly in terms of selective breeding programmes and breeding cycles. This unit will present detailed coverage of both mare and stallion reproductive systems and make comparisons to those of humans and other animals

Gestation in mares and foaling processes are discussed in detail within this unit. The material also looks at complications of pregnancy in horses and particular problems that can occur during and after foaling.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 6: Equine inheritance processes

This unit reviews the basic principles of genetic inheritance already covered and then goes on to explore these in relation to the horse. Different pedigree charts are presented and correlating types of horse characteristics explained

Selective breeding in horses can result in complex breeding processes and genetic mutations becoming problematic. This unit identifies some of these issues and links the mutations back to genetic processes and commonly seen genetic disorders in horses.

Although it may seem that all genetic mutations are harmful and cause disorders, without the mutations that occur in individual genes, then evolution would not have occurred. It is known from the study of fossil evidence that species change (evolve) over time. When an individual inherits a characteristic that offers it some advantage in some way, then it will be more likely to survive and go on to reproduce, which means that those advantageous genes are more likely to be passed on. Therefore in this section the theoretical concepts of natural selection and selective breeding programmes will be explored

The total amount of genes within a population is known as the gene pool, and as we already know, there can be considerable variation in the genes within a particular population. As well as mutations giving rise to changes in a gene pool, changes may arise due to individuals moving from one area to another, and breeding occurring between two different populations which are genetically different to each other, causing new combinations to arise. This genetic drift process will be explored and discussed.

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 7: Equine health, disease and nutrition

When we think of the requirement for energy for horses, we may think of the work that we want the horse to do. However energy is required for all life processes, including the pumping of the heart, repair and growth of muscles, and the maintenance of blood pressure and the transmission of impulses through the nervous system. The requirements for energy can be classed as the energy for maintenance (staying alive) and the energy for production (work). Some horses will have additional requirements, for example those used for breeding. This unit examines nutritional requirements for horses and then goes on to relate diet to health

In order to work out how much to feed, it is necessary to work out the weight of the horse, the type of work it is doing, and whether or not it has any additional requirements. Feeding for maintenance is feeding enough to allow the horse to carry out its normal bodily functions such as growth, digestion, tissue repair and respiration. Feeding for production also takes into account work the horse is doing, or pregnancy, lactation, or improving condition of the horse. This section of the unit describes how to make these calculations and relates diet to health and disease

Discussion of the most common diseases, conditions and ailments seen in horses are described and discussed. Veterinary diagnostic techniques, processes and treatments are also covered. The unit also looks at preventative measures through diet and appropriate feed, together with some of the common drugs used in equine health maintenance and treatment

The unit presents material on equine behaviour and training. This covers issues such as gender difference, environment, applications such as racing or domestic pets, together with looking at how diet and exercise regimes can affect behaviour and subsequent training processes

Level 4 Accredited Animal Studies Diploma Unit 8: Equine behaviour and training

The modern horse has been domesticated for around ten thousand years, which may seem a long time, although is only a very short time in terms of evolution. The horse is the descendant of Eohippus, who lived more than 55 million years ago. The horse is naturally a prey animal, and so has evolved to have the instincts of a prey animal. Humans originally kept horses for food, as well as using them to work, and more recently, for sport and leisure. Horses have had to adapt to our changing needs within a very short period of time. This unit explores this evolutionary process and makes the link to equine behaviour.

Although the horse has retained its natural instinct to flee from predators, most horses learn to suppress this instinct. We are able to ride the horse and sit on his back. In the wild, a horse would think that something on its back was a predator. The fact that we are able to do this shows that the horse is capable of learning, and this is adaptive behaviour. This unit examines the evidence supporting learning processes of the horse and makes comparisons to other animal behaviour

The unit looks at reducing equine behaviour problems through traditional learning and conditioning processes but also through exercise, diet and environment/habitat

The unit links methods of training to behaviour management and processes. Therefore different types of training models will be discussed through the unit.


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