Veterinary Public Health Institute, Animal Welfare Division


Veterinary Science 

12264 Lecture: Tierschutz und Ethologie (in German)

Studies in Veterinary Science, 25 ECTS, assessment: exam

In this undergraduate course, the students will (a) obtain the ethological background needed for understanding animal behaviour, (b) get to know the behavioural biology of the most relevant species, (c) learn to understand animal welfare as an important ethical concern of society and the law as an instrument for addressing these concerns, and (d) get to know the scientific concepts and methods for assessing animal welfare. Through this, the students should be well equipped (a) to assess the biological needs of animals and the range and limitations of their adaptive capacities, and (b) to map biological evidence onto legal requirements and evaluate it in the context of the social and political reality. They should thus be able to assess whether conditions are appropriate with respect to both the animals and the current law.

The lectures include: Introduction animal welfare (4 lessons), Ethology (16 lessons), Scientific concepts of animal welfare (12 lessons), Special topics of animal welfare (10 lessons), Ethology and animal husbandry of the most relevant species of farm animals, laboratory animals and companion animals (19 lessons)


3539 Vorlesung: Ethik und Philosophie der Biologie (in German)

Studies in Biology and Philosophy, 3 ECTS, assessment: exam

What renders biology a science? What is life, and how can it best be studied? What explanatory value do models in biology have? And how should we treat experimental animals in biology research? While biology is the subject-matter of questions like these, they clearly go beyond the borders of the discipline. They cannot be answered by using biological methods and are therefore addressed in philosophy and ethics. This lecture is an introduction to the philosophy and ethics of biology. It aims to stimulate reflection about the nature, methods and results of modern biology, and address the ethical issues related to it.

The content of the course is structured into four blocks: (1) biology as a scientific discipline (Basics of philosophy of science: criteria for science, scientific method, models for the development of science according to Popper and Kuhn), (2) Ethical questions in biology (theories of ethics such as utilitarianism and their application to biology; animal welfare and animal ethics and their biological bases), (3) questions regarding methods in biology (Animal experiments and animal models, causal explanations and causal inferences), (4) metaphysics of biology (reductionism, concept of function).

Graduate Students

For graduate students, a number of workshops and seminars are organised regularly.

Bi-weekly Seminar - Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare:

A bi-weekly seminar provides opportunities for students and postdocs of our group, as well as for external students of applied ethology and animal welfare to present and discuss their latest research ideas and findings. The seminar also includes topical presentations by PhD students, and about every other month we host an invited guest speaker from around the world. Everybody interested in applied ethology and animal welfare research is welcome to attend. More info 

Walks &Talks

The Walks & Talks provides a retreat for PhD students and early postdocs to give presentations related to their research followed by walks in the countryside. The event is specifically geared to encourage discussion of ideas, problems, and potential solutions in an informal environment, with the support of experienced group leaders and an internationally renowned invited scientist. The Walks & Talks are held annually during the spring term with the location changing each year. They are open to all students of applied ethology and animal welfare (PhD or postdoc) from institutions within Switzerland. More info 

PhD Symposium

The symposium is a bi-annual event that is organized by PhD students of applied ethology. Following two introductory keynote lectures, students have the opportunity to give brief presentations of problems, questions or findings related to their own research. Presentations are interspersed by plenary discussions with the keynote speakers. The symposium is aimed towards MSc students, PhD students and young postdocs and is held in English. More info 

Journal/Book Clubs are organised regularly to discuss relevant topics and new research.
Statistics Seminars are held periodically to cover both theoretical and practical statistical questions.