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Choosing what to study can be challenging. Speak to one of our advisors to find out what your options are.

Advice & Help Centre

This study programme is designed for 16-18 year olds only (age 19-24 for students with an Education, Health and Care Plan).

Please visit our Adult Education, Degrees and Employer section for alternative courses.

About the course

The ABC Level 3 Certificate in Practical Animal Care Skills (Zoo/Wildlife Establishments) aims to develop practical skills that will support those currently working in the animal care industry, or those wishing to work within a practical based animal sector job. It provides knowledge and understanding that could support further study within the land based sector. and helps to promote and encourage good working practices in relation to safety and animal care, vital skills for the industry. 


With a focus on the Zoo/Wildlife Sector, this course will help prepare students with the practical skills needed to make them employable, whilst also supporting their growth and development of our Professional Standards. 


This qualification have been developed by ABC Awards in collaboration with industry, providers and Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for environmental and landbased industries. 

Entry requirements

Students wishing to undertake this course will need to hold 3 GCSE's at Grade 4 in English and Maths, and two other GCSEs at Grade 3 (including Science and 1 other) or a Level 2 qualification (animal care or animal nursing) with an improvement in Maths and/or English GCSE's alongside a good reference from your current employer, course director or school.


Level 3 qualifications are set at A-level equivalent status.  They cover more complex work and will help you develop your supervisory skills. It shows you have the ability to gain or apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding at a detailed level appropriate if you plan to go to university, work independently or (in some cases) supervise and train others in their field of work. 


Level 3 Certificate in Practical Animal Care Skills (Zoo/Wildlife Establishments)

What you'll learn (core modules)

Throughout the duration of your course you will study the following modules:

  • Promote and maintain the health and wellbeing of animals [H/502/1507]
  • Plan the accommodation of animals [K/502/1525] 
  • Monitor and evaluate the feeding of animals [R/502/1454] 
  • Provide information on how to maintain the behaviour, health and welfare of animals [R/502/0675] 
  • Recognise and interpret the behaviour of animals [L/502/1632] 
  • Design individual training programmes for animals [R/502/1602] 
  • Implement individual training programmes for animals [Y/502/1603] 
  • Evaluate and improve training programmes which enable animals to achieve specific objectives [D/502/1604] 
  • Prepare interpretive entertainment and educational activities [L/502/3249] 
  • Deliver and evaluate interpretive entertainment and educational activities [J/502/3251] 


Work related experience in an external work experience placement within the Animal Sector must be completed alongside the qualification. 'Routine Duties' are timetabled within the colleges Animal Centre for students to undertake the daily husbandry tasks necessary to provide high standards of animal welfare. These hours can be counted towards the 150 total (a maximum of 50 hours can be claimed) along with trips and guest speaker visits. Areas within the animal care industry that could be approached for work experience could include; veterinary clinics, rescue facilities, kennels/catteries, pet shops, farm parks, zoos, grooming parlours, dog crèches etc.   


Progressing students that do not hold a grade 4 or above (GCSE grade C+) in GCSE Maths or English will be required to undertake these subjects alongside their Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma until those grades are obtained. This can be a difficult juggle so it is important that you are dedicated to all areas of the study programme (this will be discussed during progression interviews).

Benefits, skills and character strengths

You will develop your character strengths and overall workplace effectiveness whilst undertaking 'Routine Duties' in the Animal Centre. You will work with other Animal Studies team members to manage our animal collection, providing the highest standard of animal welfare to a range of species and receive regular feedback to develop your technical skill and to meet our Professional Standards (please see below for further information). You will also engage in work experience within an external placement of your choice one day a week which will provide additional employability skills to those that you will learn within the Animal Centre. This course will develop your confidence working with a range of species, working with others, communication skills and time management skills ultimately supporting your with further progression into further study or into the Animal Sector.  


Professional Standards within Animal Studies includes; 

    Attendance must be above 95% in all areas of the Study Programme, including English and Maths. 

    Demonstrate commitment to the Animal Sector by challenging yourself to excel. 

    All interactions with staff (both within the college and externally within your work placement) and peers must be respectful.

     Demonstrate accountability for the quality of your own work.

    Support other students on your course and within the Animal Studies department.

    Display model behaviours in both theory and practical areas that demonstrate our values in action.

    Ensure optimal animal care and welfare alongside compliance with legislation.

    Demonstrate behaviours that support equality, diversity and inclusion.

How will I be assessed?

Units will be internally assessed and moderated both internally and externally via portfolio and other related evidence (such as practical assessments), against each unit's outcomes and assessment criteria.

This qualification is Pass or Fail only. 

Where is the course delivered? (facilities/classrooms)

This course is being delivered at the main campus in Bury St Edmunds within our new Animal Centre. 


For a tour of the Animal Centre please visit our Animal Studies Facebook Page.

Where will the course take me?

Learners who achieve this qualifications could progress into employment, onto further study or gain promotion to a more senior position within existing employment. 

Whilst this course does not carry any UCAS points, you may be able to gain entry on an Access to HE course. You would need to speak to the specific University of interest to find out more about their entry requirements. 

There are many job roles within industry that you could progress to, including: Zoo Keeper, Wildlife Ranger, Animal Trainer etc. 

Will I need any materials or equipment?

Whilst working with animals it is of upmost importance that you wear Personal Protective Equipment to protect yourself and the animals.

To work safely within our Animal Centre and with our animals we ask that you wear;

  • Navy veterinary style tunic embroided with the West Suffolk College logo (approx. £25.22)
  • Steel toe capped boots


You are welcome to purchase your steel toe capped boots from any shop you wish (Screwfix, Amazon, eBay, Sports Direct etc.). These must not be worn to and from college, they must be an additional piece of footwear that you only wear whilst in the Animal Centre. You will need to bring a padlock to keep your PPE safely within one of the on-site lockers. 

To order your tunic (and optional Animal Studies Hoodie) you will need to use the information provided within the Summer Workbook sent to you by the Admissions Team. 


We recommend that anyone working with animals ensures that their 'Tetanus Injection' is up to date, please speak to your Doctor before starting the course. 


Students are expected to provide their own stationary in order to engage and achieve fully in their lessons, we suggest the following items:
  • A4 lever arch file
  • Dividers
  • Plastic 'poly pockets' for submitting assignments
  • A4 lined paper
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Highlighter pens
  • Ruler
  • Colouring pens/pencils
  • USB stick or removable device which is compatible with personal devices and standard USB port 

How much will it cost?

The Personal Protective Equipment required for the course costs approximately £40.

Students are unable to undertake their practical sessions without the appropriate PPE so this must be purchased as soon as possible. 

I'm interested. What should I do now?

You are welcome to apply online where you will be invited for an interview at with a member of the Animal Studies course team. However, if you would like the opportunity the see the campus sooner and discuss your options please visit us on one of the colleges open events. 


Summer Work
You will be asked to undertake work over the summer holidays to ensure that you are ready to start your course with us in September. Your summer work also allows us to ensure that you are the right candidate for the course.


You will be asked to undertake the following before starting with us;

  1. Sign up to idea.org.uk using the code provided to you and achieve silver medal. 
    The idea.org.uk website is an international programme that helps you develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. Through a series of online challenges, you can win career-enhancing badges, unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, gain industry-recognised Awards that help you stand out from the crowd. This is very important as careers within the Animal Sector are highly competitive so your CV needs to stand out to make you more employable! The qualification you are embarking on contains a variety of assessment methods that require a good level of digital skills which this will assist you with. 

  2. Research and arrange your own work experience placement within the Animal Sector. 
    By researching and arranging your own placement you'll have a better chance of working in an industry or profession you're actually interested in. You will need to contact potential placements in a formal manner, either in person or via the telephone/email. A brief email explaining why you want to do work experience at the business, along with your CV, demonstrates your initiative and self-motivation, two qualities employers value greatly.

  3. Complete all activities within the Animal Centre Induction Handbook.
    This will include important information on animal welfare and human safety. We must make sure that all users of the Animal Centre understand the health and safety risks involved when working with the animals housed at college. This ensures that there is a lower risk of accidents and a lower risk to the animals welfare. We will be reviewing the work you produce within the booklet during induction week. There will be a multiple choice test for the health and safety element of this handbook within the first 6 weeks of your course. 

Days & times

Starting September 2021
Monday 09:15 - 16:15
Wednesday 09:15 - 16:15
Thursday 09:15 - 16:15

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