Human-Animal Studies: Courses in Australia

This is a list of colleges and universities in Australia that provide courses in Human-Animal studies.  This includes the name of the college, the name of the course, who is teaching the course, and brief description of the course that the instructor will be teaching.


LaTrobe University

Humans and Animals

Ray Madden

Melbourne University

Peter Sankoff, Law School

Animals and the Law.  This subject will examine the history, philosophy and ethical foundation of humanity’s treatment of animals and ask whether the animal welfare model operates in accord with our stated goal of preventing unnecessary cruelty to animals. It will also consider whether a new legal framework is required in order to give proper recognition to animal interests. The subject will focus on farming, where the vast majority of animals are used, but will also use examples from other contexts.

University of Melbourne

School of Land and Environment: Paul Hemsworth

Animals in Society: Introduction. This course is designed to explore how and why animals are so integral to human society. It investigates human – animal relationships, how they originated and their position in society today, some key relationships between humans and animals, including animals as pets, in agriculture, as research subjects, and in educational roles. It investigates our attitudes towards animals and our moral and ethical obligations to them. Within this discussion the topic of animal welfare is introduced and some of the current international animal welfare issues are discussed. Finally, the unit looks to the future and considers the position that animals may hold in society.

School of Land and Environment: Ian Bland

Animals in Society: Humans and Animals

Monash University

George Van Doorn, Sociology

People and Other Animals: Studying the relationship between humans and other species. This unit examines the interaction between humans and the other animal species across three major topics. The first reviews the changing nature of the relationship between man and domestic animals across time within selected cultures. The second topic focuses on attitudes, beliefs, and emotions surrounding the interaction between people and companion animals, and animals as objects of leisure and entertainment. Topic three takes an objective approach to the emotive area of animals as food and providers of other products and services and considers ethical issues associated with each of these.

Joanna Kyriakakis, Law School

Animals Rights Law. This subject will allow students to acquire knowledge and understanding of a new specialist, and increasingly important, area of the law. The unit begins with an analysis of different philosophical approaches to animal protection, namely animal rights v. animal welfare. Students will then critically analyse Australian (State and federal), foreign and international laws relating to the use of animals in scientific experiments, sport, entertainment, food production, hunting and international trade. Students will explore particular problem areas, including endangered species, standing of persons in litigation to protect animals, and regulation and liability of veterinarians. The unit will conclude with a look at challenges to animal rights law and possible future directions.

Australian Catholic University

Theology and Philosophy

Introduction to Ethics. The unit aims to explore some of the fundamental questions in moral philosophy. Topics discussed may include: the nature of moral responsibility; the possibility of moral knowledge; theories of ethics such as utilitarian, deontological, natural law, Socratic, feminist, and virtue approaches; Eastern moral perspectives such as Buddhism and Hinduism; and practical moral issues such as justice, killing, punishment, sexual behaviour, the treatment of animals, genetic manipulation and research, international and intercultural relations, and the use of the environment.

School of Psychology

Comparative Psychology. Students will be provided with an overview of contemporary theories on the evolution of behaviour. By using an historical perspective on the development of these theories, it will be demonstrated how cultural contexts exist over time to affect the perceptions and analyses of human and non-human behaviour. Students will study the specific applicability of these theories to human behaviour, the behaviour of companion animals, and of some of Australia’s indigenous species. Students will be encouraged to develop a greater appreciation of Australian biodiversity and Australian animal behaviour, and a greater awareness of the important theoretical psychological perspectives for human behaviour that are possible through the adoption of an evolutionary paradigm.


University of Tasmania

Adrian Franklin, School of Sociology and Social Work

Sociology of Nature. Introduces students to the sociology of nature and provides a solid understanding of human relations with the natural world. The unit covers three broad areas. First, global variations in human relations with the natural world, including cultural, religious and mythic dimensions. Second, historical changes, with particular emphasis on modernisation processes in the West. Third, theoretical perspectives that explain the social inundation of human relations with the natural world. Topics will include: a comparative analysis of hunters and gatherers, pastoralists and agriculturalists; nature, religion and myth; food and culture; nature and gender, the romantic movement and social Darwinism, environmentalism, wilderness and city natures, animal sentiments, risk and rights, nature and modernity and posthumanist perspectives.

Stefan Petrow ,School of History and Classics

Australian Environmental History. Explores the interaction between human beings and the natural environment in Australian history. The unit first examines the Aboriginal relationship to the flora and fauna of the continent and then reviews the impact of European settlement on the land and native animals until the 1970s. It assesses the effects of agriculture, pastoralism, mining, forestry and introduced animals, and of pollution arising from urbanisation and industry. It traces the rise of an environmental consciousness with the establishment of national parks and nature reserves, the development of ideas about wilderness, conservation, and preservation, and the emergence of the green movement. Students gain an understanding of key environmental debates and of environmental history as an interdisciplinary field of study.


Australian National University

Simone Dennis, School of Archeology and Anthropology

Social Animals: Anthropological perspectives on animal-human relationships. This course explores animal-human relationships from multiple theoretical perspectives to explore the various positions that animals occupy in human society (as pets, food, friends, enemies, beings with rights, organ donors and spectacles of nature). It also introduces students to some of the theoretical cornerstones (and classic readings) of the discipline of Anthropology.

Alex Bruce, Law School

Animals and the Law. The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the legal, ethical, regulatory, economic and social issues that are associated with human interaction with animals. The President of the Australian Law Reform Commission Professor David Weisbrot has suggested that “animal welfare” is likely to become the next great social justice movement in Australia, observing that the treatment of animals is “increasingly becoming a social and legal issue, as well as an important economic one.” Why is this? There is a growing understanding in society of the importance of respect and protection of animals as an indicator of the ethical maturity of a society. Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, this new elective course will consider animals within established categories of law such as property and will also examine the legal status and regulation of the treatment of within broader social, philosophical and legal contexts. This includes an economic and scientific context, an environmental context, and an ethical-political context.


University of Queensland

School of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science

Master of Animal Studies. Animal Studies is a diverse field involving caring for and working with recreational animals and farm animals, and the study of Australia’s wildlife. The general program allows students to specialise in one of these areas. Students develop core disciplinary knowledge and skills in the animal sciences, and the ability to integrate and apply these in professional practice. The Animal Physiotherapy plan aims to provide physiotherapists with the appropriate training to transfer their skills to animals. Students focus on the development of comparative skills and evidence based clinical practice as well as providing practical training in physiotherapy throughout the program in residential schools.

Daniel Schull, School of Veterinary Science

VETS1018 and VETS5011. In these units, 1st and 5th year students have 12 hours of didactic lectures and 10 hours of tutorials devoted to improving veterinary non-technical skills. At the heart of the course are communication skills and animal behaviour and handling. The students receive lectures on the human-animal bond (in particular the attachment that clients have to their pet, and the roles and functions of companion animals), euthanasia, grief, conflict resolution ethics and morality and stress. Students also then receive tutorials to reinforce these skills and allow them to practice communicating with simulated clients. The units include practical instruction on animal handling.

Griffith University

Steven White, Law School

Animal Law. This is an undergraduate course, which was first taught at Griffith Law School in January 2007. Topics to be covered include the conceptualisation of animals in law, the regulation of pets and farmed animals, the use of animals for entertainment and exhibition, their use in scientific research and experimentation, animal law in an international context and issues of animal law reform and justice.

Bond University

Faculty of Law, Law School

Animal Law


University of Sydney

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies

Animal/Human Cultures. This unit introduces students to postmodern understandings of animal/human connections through film, literature, popular culture, philosophy, cultural politics and gender studies. In the first block we consider western perspectives on the relationships between animals and humans. In the second block we consider animal philosophy: from Plato onwards animaltropes inhabit and structure knowledge. In the third block we consider theories of animal/human relationships in regards to rights, responsibilities and technology.

Luke Russell, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, School of Philosophy

Mind and Morality. If a robot told you that it was in pain, would you believe it? If it is wrong to kill animals, should we try to stop animals from killing each other? How do you know what the colour red looks like to your friends? What do these philosophical puzzles reveal about ourselves, our minds, and our responsibilities towards others? This one-unit HSC course focuses on contemporary disputes regarding the nature of the mind, personal identity and ethics. As you engage with these issues, you will be introduced to the philosophical theories that underpin our notion of ourselves and our place in the world, and you will improve your ability to analyse and present complex ideas and arguments.

School of Law

Animal Law (seminar). This unit of study examines the ways in which the law defines and regulates the relationship between humans and animals. It introduces students to the key issues, debates and documents in this area whilst encouraging a critical examination of these sources. The unit begins with a discussion of the status of animals as property and the implications of this approach and then moves to providing an overview of the moral and ethical arguments supporting an animal protection position and the case for animal rights. The focus of the unit is on the regulatory frameworks which apply to interactions between humans and animals, both domesticated and wild. The following topics will be considered: animal welfare legislation and its enforcement; issues of standing; the role of agricultural codes of practice; wildlife conservation; international law issues including whaling and free trade constraints on improved standards for animal welfare; trade in endangered species and the role of zoos; the use of animals in research (including the responsibilities of institutions and animal ethics committees); regulation of companion animals; and current issues in animal law, such as live export.

University of New South Wales

Human-Animal Interactions in Indigenous Domains. The Indigenous harvest of species such as sea turtles and dugong are recognised as a native title right in Australia, however the practice sits in stark contrast to the demands from many Australians that traditional hunting be banned. This course focuses on Indigenous interactions with and uses of animals (nonhuman animals) and will present the historical and cultural context for practices such as traditional hunting. While the ancientness of Indigenous interactions with animals is documented in archaeological findings, ongoing human-animal interactions exemplify indigenous environmental and scientific knowledge and reveal how cultural practices related to animals have been maintained or adapted. It will draw from the body of work in disciplines such as archaeology, anthropology, cultural studies and environmental history to theorise past and present day human-animal interactions in Indigenous domains.

School of Psychology

The Psychobiology of Sex, Love and Attraction. This course is an introduction to the study of sex, love and attraction in humans and other animals. Although a broad-based perspective is taken throughout the course (using comparative, historical and cross-cultural approaches), evolutionary interpretations are emphasised. The goal of the class is to increase our understanding of the powerful influences sex, love and attraction have on our, and on other animals’ lives.

School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

Australian Wildlife Biology. The conservation of natural ecosystems is a topic of immense social significance. This is particularly true in Australia, since not only our animals and plants are unique, having evolved for millions of years in isolation from life on other continents, but our ecosystems are considered some of the most fragile on earth. In this course the broad spectrum of the Australian flora and fauna is explored via lectures and hands-on experience in practical classes and a weekend excursion. As well as providing a basic grounding in Australian biodiversity, the factors that have shaped it are examined, as well as the challenges faced in its future survival. The influence of people, both indigenous and newly-arrived, is also considered, especially in regard to conservation problems that are of current interest either because of their inherent ecological significance or because they exist within a complex social framework. The knowledge gained in this course will help you to make intelligent and useful contributions to the discussion of a wide range of ecological issues.

School of Law: Philip Raponi

Animal Law. Animal law may be briefly defined as the statutory and case law in which the nature – legal, social or biological – of nonhuman animals is an important factor. After examining a current high profile animal issue, the live export of animals from Australia, the course looks at the context for animal law: modern and past ethics and jurisprudence on the way that humans think of and treat animals. The course looks at major topics in black letter law: animals as property and the implications of treating them as property; standing to represent the interest of animals; protection from cruelty; companion animal law; the liability of owners and keepers of animals; laws relating to agriculture; ethics, ethical guidelines and law of using animals for research; wild animals, wildlife animal and threatened species law, and game and hunting law; and the regulation of veterinarians.

University of Wollongong

University of Wollongong Animal Studies Minor

In order to declare a minor in Animal Studies, students are required to complete 24 credit points from the following courses:

  • Environmental Philosophy: Animals, Nature and Ethics
  • Living with Animals
  • Animals and Ecology in Literature and Film
  • Indigenous Peoples and the Environment
  • Environmental Sociology and Politics
  • New Social Movements
  • Society and Environment: Resources, Challenges, Futures
  • Animal Law
  • Human Security, Global Capitalism and the Environment
  • Climate Change Policy, Possible Futures
  • Bioethics
  • Globalisation and Contemporary Art


Southern Cross University

Law School

Animal Law. Using an inter-disciplinary approach, this unit covers several major areas of law in which the nature of non-human animals is an important factor. It introduces the main schools of thought associated with animal industries and different parts of the animal protection movement.


Flinders University

Law School: Lesley Petrie

Animal Law. This topic will provide an introduction to animal law and familiarise students with the regulation of animal protection and use of animals in Australia. This includes: the status of animals under the law; animal protection in Australia; international standards; philosophical discussions surrounding ‘animal welfare’ and ‘animal rights’; and current animal law issues. The topic will critically assess the law’s role in providing protection to animals, identify areas where it has been inadequate in that regard and encourage reflection on how it might be reformed.

Nik Taylor, Sociology

Animals, Nature and Society. This topic introduces students to the study of human relations with the natural world. It provides students with the opportunity to question taken for granted assumptions about nature, the environment and the roles of animals in society. Students explore historical and modern contexts within which human-animal relations and images of nature have developed. Through a critical inquiry into the ways in which we conceive of nature, the environment and other animals, students are introduced to a broad variety of sociological theories.

Nik Taylor, Sociology

Sociology of Nature and the Environment. Sociology has traditionally been the study of ‘society’. In response to the global environmental crisis, however, it has begun to grapple with issues surrounding ‘nature’ and the ‘environment’. As part of this social scientists are increasingly focusing on the ethical, environmental and social consequences of human treatment of other animals/life. Taking animals as the focal point this course will examine how the interactions between people, animals and our environment have shaped each other. Examining the relationships between how human societies view and treat other animals allows a consideration of how this affects animals, nature, the environment and human social organisations and institutions. Taking key issues such as links between cultural food practices and environmental damage, efforts to expand our moral circle to include non-human life, the environmental justice and animal rights movements, this topic will examine a variety of perspectives, debates and controversies within this emerging sociological field.

University of South Australia

School of Natural and Built Environments

Wildlife in Cities: Animal Management Issues. The management of wild animals in cities. The concept of pest species. Why some urban animal species require conservation efforts. Stake holders and interest groups in urban animal management. Community attitudes to urban animals. Health, economic and other risks posed by urban animals to the human population. Health, economic and other risks to the environment or to other animal or plant species. Management strategies for urban animals (including costs and ethical considerations). Benefits arising from animal management/conservation. Legal and other responsibilities of people towards urban animals. Political ramifications of urban animal management strategies.

University of Adelaide

School of Agriculture, Food & Wine and the Veterinary School: Susan Hazel

Principles of Animal Behaviour, Welfare & Ethics. This unit addresses human-animal interactions (eg. the association between stockperson behaviour and animal production and the role of societal attitudes in animal welfare issues).

Susan Hazel, Veterinary School

Companion Animal & Equine Studies. Courses include topics such as the euthanasia of animals, recognising the strength of the human-animal bond and how to help people deal with the loss of their animal.


University of Western Australia

School of Animal Biology: Dominique Blache

Animal Ethics and Welfare. This unit examines issues surrounding the use of animals in society, science and agriculture. It is not designed to teach you what is “right” or what is “wrong”, but to give you the knowledge and skills to conduct a fair assessment of Ethical and Welfare issues. The unit begins with a guide to logic and fallacies. This is necessary to help you to develop skills in critical thinking. Philosophical and biological considerations of pain and suffering and the perception of life will follow. Current and future Ethical and Welfare issues will be reviewed for several activities where the animal-human relationship is preponderant, such as wildlife management and conservation, animal experimentation and animal production. In addition to the lectures, tutorials have a major role in the unit. They will train you to think and debate in a critical and fair manner, as expected of an informed and mature negotiator.

SymbioticA, Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts

Ionat Zurr

Art and Life Manipulation and Aesthetic Crossovers of Art and Science. SymbioticA is an artistic laboratory dedicated to the research, learning and critique of life sciences. SymbioticA’s undergraduate units and Masters programme deal with issues surrounding human/animal/societal relations. The Alternative MBA is designed for art practitioners, scientists, and humanities scholars who wish to engage with creative bioresearch. The course focuses on recent advances in the Life Sciences, both in theory and practice. It also interrogates human/animal relations in the context of advance in biotechnologies.

Murdoch University

Veterinary School: Irene Abraham

Master of Veterinary Studies in Conservation Medicine. Conservation medicine is an emerging discipline that involves the integration of veterinary medicine, conservation biology and public health in order to: advance biodiversity conservation; address issues associated with the interrelationships between human, animal and ecosystem health; and study the effects of global environmental change on these health interrelationships. There is increasing recognition that veterinarians have an important role to play within interdisciplinary teams working on environmental conservation projects.


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