SOC20210 Animals and Human Society

Academic Year 2023/2024

Human society would be impossible without animals. Whether as sources of food, clothing or labour; as predators, pests or pets; as inspiration for systems of thought from myth to religion to science; as symbols that shape language and literature; as sources of entertainment or means of education; as fertilisers of soil, propagators of seeds, progenitors of lethal diseases—animals have been a part of human history and integral to the development of human societies. This fundamental fact has, however, been largely overlooked by sociologists and other social scientists until very recently. This course therefore introduces students to the field dedicated to the social-scientific study of human-animal relationships known as 'Human-Animal Studies' (HAS). Drawing upon the work of anthropologists, archaeologists, evolutionary biologists, geographers, historians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, veterinary medics, wildlife conservationists, and zoologists, the course examines a range of topics in the field of human-animal studies. These include: the human as animal; human/animal distinctions; human/animal boundaries; classification systems; the history and consequences of the domestication of animals; zoonotic diseases; human-wildlife conflicts; food and farming; working animals; pets and pet-keeping; animals in science and medicine; animals in education, entertainment, and sport; violence against animals; animal protection and animal rights movements; the future of human-animal relationships.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module students should have acquired the following capacities:
1. Knowledge of the field of Human-Animal Studies, including the ability to identify and describe the place of sociology within this multi-disciplinary field;
2. Comprehension of the major concepts, claims and bodies of evidence used in debating the nature and significance of distinctions between humans and animals;
3. Knowledge of a series of case-studies of human-animal relations, and a capacity to analyse and assess the arguments and conclusions based upon these studies;
4. Capacity to evaluate and judge contested claims about the conditions and status of agricultural, wild, working, and companion animals;
5. Ability to discern aspects of the complicated weave of relationships between humans, animals and the natural environment, and to construct arguments and interpretations based on empirical case studies and informed by theoretical frameworks.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; In-class tasks and group discussions; Collective wordclouds and surveys using Mentimeter; Videos; Shared Course 'Scrapbook'; Discussion forums on BrightSpace. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: online exam Coursework (End of Trimester) Yes Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

The module is assessed via an end-of-term assignment incorporating exam-style questions and an essay-style assignment. Feedback will be posted on BrightSpace in the form of comments on the patterns of grades and quality of answers. Individual feedback will also be available upon request.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 15:00 - 15:50