Course Outline:

This course is designed for those who wish to pursue a career working with animals. The course covers a range of subjects which will encourage the student to develop the knowledge and skills to competently handle a range of small animals in a work environment.

  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology 5N0750
  • Animal Welfare 5N0753
  • Communications 5N0690
  • Work Experience 5N1356
  • Animal Behaviour 5N0751
  • Small Animal Husbandry and Housing 5N1898
  • Veterinary Assisting Skills 5N1363
  • Biology5 N2746
  • Word Processing 5N1358
  • Maths 5N1833


Successful completion of this course will result in a QQI Level 5 Certificate in Animal Care, 5M2768.

Course Duration

This is a one year, full time course running from September to May.

Entry Requirements

A Leaving Certificate or equivalent is required, although exceptions are given to mature students who are over 23 years of age. Acceptance to the course is also based on an interview which takes place a few weeks after applications have been submitted.

Careers and Further Progression

There are a range of opportunities in the areas of Veterinary Clinics, Catteries, Dog Kennels, Animal Sanctuaries, Self-Employment, Dog Grooming, Education and work in Petshops.  Candidates may also be eligible to progress to higher education courses both in Ireland through the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS).

Student Testimonial

This is a one-year course designed to provide students with a range of practical and theoretical tuition in all aspects of the Animal Care industry. I would highly recommend this course as it not only accommodates students who have just left school, but also mature students and equips them with a fundamental knowledge of the Animal Care industry. It gives graduates a chance to pursue a range of opportunities in the areas of Veterinary Clinics, Dog Kennels, Catteries, Animal Sanctuaries and Pet Shops. It has been designed to meet a growing demand in Ireland for people to work in the Animal Care services. Graduates may also be eligible to progress to higher education courses in various colleges around the country.


There are no fees to study this course.


Animal Behaviour 5N0751

This module allows Learners to:

  • Explain how animals have adapted to best suit their environments through the process of evolution
  • Compare social animals with solitary animals
  • Discuss the natural habitats and housing environments
  • Summarise the different courtship behaviours of animals
  • Discuss different reproductive and nurturing strategies performed by a variety of species
  • Explain the main functions of juvenile behaviour, ook at how animals actually learn
  • Examine the abilities species have to navigate long haul and short haul journeys
  • Explore predatory and prey responses
  • Study captive animals in situ., research their behaviours
  • Compare domestic with wild cousins
  • Look at the timeline of domestication for different species
  • Look at adaptations of both predator and prey
  • Study the 4 forms of communication that species exhibit
  • Examine stereotypical behaviours in animals, including making recommendations for behavioural and environmental enrichment
  • Summarise a behavioural study
  • Contribute to discussion groups regarding our perception of animals

Assessment Criteria:
Project 30%, Skills Demonstration 30%, Examination – Theory 40%

Animal Anatomy & Physiology 5N0750

This module allows Learners to:

  • Explain basic levels of structure within the body, to include cells, tissues and organs.
  • Study the major systems within the animal body i.e. skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, nervous, reproductive, endocrine and urinary.
  • Outline the functions of major organs within systems. Look at the the nervous system, stomach and intestines, heart, lungs, reproductive organs in male and female mammals, endocrine glands and kidneys.
  • Apply knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology to illustrate the effect of pathogens and diseases in animals.
  • Compare and contrast the anatomy and physiology of a variety of animal species. Examples of canine, feline, bovine/ovine, porcine, avian, reptile and amphibian/aquatic animals to review.
  • Examine suitable specimens by dissection etc.
  • Investigate the functions of the animal body through suitable practical experiments.
  • Interpret results of investigations.
  • Become familiar with laboratory techniques.
  • Be aware of ethical issues in a laboratory context.
  • Study zoology through live specimens and models.

Assessment Techniques:
Examination – 40%, Skills demonstration 30%, Learner record 30%

Animal Welfare 5N0753

This module allows Learners to:

  • Explain the processes of evolution.
  • Explain the process of domestication.
  • Discuss the feeding options available for domestic and captive animals.
  • Design suitable enclosures for domesticated, exotic and wild captive animals.
  • Prepare a health care plan for a variety of domestic animals to prevent illness and disease.
  • Handle a variety of animals in situations ranging from handling for companionship to examination so to minimise distress and potential injury.
  • Identify signs of optimal health in a range of animals and comment on the potential signs of poor health, stress and discomfort through physical appearance.
  • Give assistance in emergency animal care through use of effective and efficient handling, restraining and emergency first aid techniques.
  • Implement best practice for personal health and safety.
  • Interpret Irish law and local authority regulations.
  • Evaluate considerations for responsible breeding of domestic and captive animals.
  • Reflect on the role of zoos, wildlife parks, circuses and other animal collections.
  • Reflect on personal views and ethics in relation to a variety of controversial animal related subjects.

Assessment Criteria:
Examination – Theory 40%, Skills demonstration 30%, Learner record 30%

Small Animal Husbandry and Housing 5N1898

This programme module aims to provide the learner with the knowledge, skills and competences required to care for a variety of pet animals in both domestic and commercial set ups including the provision of food, provision specialised housing, an understanding of behaviour strategies and the requirements for breeding.

Veterinary Assisting Skills 5N1363

This module allows learners to:

  • Explain the general requirements of small animals to include rodents, reptiles, birds, fish, dogs and cats
  • Describe the physical traits of a variety of breeds of small domestic animals and give examples of breed standards
  • Summarise the feeding requirements of carnivorous, obligatory carnivorous, omnivorous and herbivorous pet animals and how food can be prepared and presented
  • Discuss the housing options for small animals
  • Discuss the bedding materials and substrates available for domestic pet animals
  • Describe common illnesses, diseases and ailments affecting small animals
  • Outline the variety of commercial and domestic kennel and cattery designs
  • Describe the daily, weekly and monthly routines of a typical commercial kennel and cattery
  • Outline duties and responsibilities of an animal carer
  • Identify physical and behavioural male and female characteristics in order to accurately sex small animals and identify when receptive for breeding
  • Interpret the signs of ill health in small animals to provide a suitable response to the symptoms
  • Maintain animal housing according to given protocol and standards of personal hygiene
  • Select between chemical and physical disinfection for a variety of different tasks
  • Design housing ensuring dimensions are in line with suitable guidelines or legislation as appropriate
  • Prepare a breeding programme for small animals
  • Assist in the admission of animals to and collection from commercial housing including greeting customers, assessing animals and recording customer and animal details
  • Implement personal health and safety including practical understanding of zoonosis and appropriate prevention methods
  • Implement relevant laws and statutory regulations in relation to commercial housing of animals i.e. fire safety requirements, personal health & safety etc.

Assessment Criteria:
Project 30%, Skills Demonstration 30%, Examination – Theory 40%

Biology 5N2746

This module allows learners to:

  • Identify a range of plant and animal cell types
  • Explain the functions of a variety of cell types, differentiating between different types of cell division
  • Explain the factors that influence photosynthesis and transpiration
  • Outline the life cycle of bacterium, fungus and virus including examining the structure of each
  • Describe the main pathogenic agent infection pathways
  • Describe the role of bacteria in a variety of industrial processes, including citric acid, methane production and cheese production
  • Explain the basic structure and function of DNA and RNA
  • Outline the science behind the of the four blood groups and demonstrate the importance of compatibility in blood transfusion
  • Describe the role of genetic engineering in the manufacture of a variety of industrial products
  • Explain the basic structure and function of the antibody molecule
  • Describe a breeding programme used to improve a specific crop and one used to improve a specific animal or product
  • Discuss the plants and animals found in a specified habitat using a range of keys
  • Discuss the effects of common physical hazards on the human body and the appropriate safety precautions necessary to minimise hazards
  • Outline the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees under health and safety legislation
  • Use a variety of field work techniques to estimate the number and distribution of plants and animals
  • Apply Mendel’s laws of inheritance to mono and dihybrid crosses
  • Select tools and techniques to culture, isolate and inoculate micro-organisms, identifying the main pathogenic agent pathways
  • Carry out biological experiments or investigations that relate to the coursework
  • Maintain laboratory reports within planned timelines and deadlines on experiments and investigations

Assessment Criteria:
Examination- Theory 50%, Skills Demonstration 25%, Learner Record 25%

Communications 5N0690

Students studying Communications Level 5 will be able to do with the following:

  • Analysis of a range of current issues in communications and information technology.
  • Summarise in practical terms the elements of legislation that must be observed in a personal and/or work context, to include health, safety and welfare at work and communications-related legislation.
  • Use appropriate non-verbal and visual communication in personal and work-related settings, to include one-to-one, in a group/team, and in formal and informal interaction.
  • Demonstrate verbal skills appropriate to working under general direction, to include making a case and presenting a point of view in group discussion, formal meetings, interviews.
  • Demonstrate listening skills appropriate to working under general direction, to include making eye contact, receiving and interpreting information, control of personal response.
  • Research a relevant vocational topic, to include use of primary and secondary sources, acknowledgement of sources, use of enquiry techniques and methods to establish validity and reliability

Assessment Criteria:
Collection of Work – 50%, Skills Demonstration – 50%

Work Experience 5N1356

Students studying Work Experience Level 5 will do the following:

  • Examine work organisations and personal career opportunities in a particular vocational area, to include consideration of work-related issues and needs.
  • Summarise the basic rights and responsibilities of employees and employers in a particular work, organisational or institutional context, to include health, safety and welfare at work, equality legislation, union representation and regulations relating to pay.
  • Present relevant work experience material, to include a Curriculum Vitae or personal statement, letter of application, evidence of job-finding skills, skills checklist, statement of learning goals, contractual arrangements.
  • Participate effectively in a work experience placement for a minimum of 60 hours to gain experience/insight into their chosen vocational area.

Assessment Criteria:
Collection of Work – 60%, Skills Demonstration – 40%

Word Processing 5N1358

Students will engage in practical learning in the most current up to date Microsoft Office Word Programme available, to include:

  • Formatting and Editing documents using a broad range of word processing techniques.
  • Create and use Word templates and Word Documents
  • Become Proficient in file Management and use of Mail Merge
  • Work on a range of common everyday Documents
  • Learn how to produce documents to include, Clipart, Image Display, Tables and watermarks

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