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

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This study programme is designed for 16-19 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 aim of the qualification is to provide a starting point or an introduction, for people wishing to gain a sound knowledge and skills base within the animal care sector which will allow progression to further learning or qualifications, or into employment opportunities. If you are looking for an animal based course but have little experience, or perhaps you didn't gain the qualification grades you were hoping for, this could be the perfect course for you!  


This course is a practical based study programme which includes some classroom based theory learning, in addition to the further development of both English and Maths. You will have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to assist with the care and health and well-being of a wide range of animals safely and with confidence, including domestic mammals, livestock and exotic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish. In addition to developing your practical skills and animal husbandry knowledge, this course aims to develop your confidence working with others and your study skills to prepare you for further study. The course will also include trips to businesses associated with the animal industry, as well as input from visiting speakers and current employers. 

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold GCSE's in English (preferably Language) and Maths at Grade 2 (grade E/F on the old GCSE scale). 




0361-14 C&G Level 1 Diploma in Land-Based Studies (Animal Care) 603/3597/X 

What you'll learn (core modules)

The Level 1 Diploma in Land-Based Studies (Animal Care) is a full-time vocational course studied over one year, three days a week.


Topics studied will include:

  • 201 Safe and Effective Working Practices in Land-Based Industries
  • 202 Preparing to work in the land-based industries 
  • 216 Assist with maintaining the health and well-being of animals 
  • 222 Introduction to wildlife and conservation
  • 226 Assist with feeding and watering of animals
  • 227 Assist with the preparation and maintenance of animal accommodation
  • 228 Assist with the handling and restraint of animals


As part of Unit 202, students are required to gain an external work placement within the animal sector to undertake a minimum of 60 hours of work related experience. This provides the students with additional employability skills and assists with their progression on to the Level 2 Technical Certificate in Animal Care the following year. 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. 


'Routine Duties' are timetabled within the colleges Animal Centre in Bury St Edmunds for students to undertake the daily husbandry tasks necessary to provide high standards of animal welfare.  


Students that do not hold a grade 4 or above (grade C+ on the old GCSE scale) in GCSE Maths and/or English will be required to undertake these subjects alongside their Level 1 Diploma in Land-Based Studies (Animal Care) until those grades are obtained.  Students will be asked to complete an initial assessment for English and Maths for the college to ascertain what level will be best for you to learn.

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?

To gain the Level 1 Diploma in Land-Based Studies (Animal Care) qualification, students must successfully achieve the following assessments:

  • Two external tests (covering health and safety and preparing to work in the animal industry)
  • Seven written optional unit assignments (covering a range of assessment styles including posters, booklets and presentations)
  • Five optional unit practical assessments


To support students in completing the above assessments, regular formative assessments will take place throughout year covering a variety of different formats including tests, oral presentations, posters, leaflets, reports etc. 


Some study at home is required to ensure assignments are kept up to date. The Level 1 Diploma in Land-based Studies (0361-12) will be reported on a three grade scale: Pass/Merit/Distinction. Students who fail to reach the minimum standard for grade Pass will be recorded as U (Unclassified) and will not receive a qualification certificate. Results depend on all elements of the course being completed to at least Pass standard. 

Where is the course delivered? (facilities/classrooms)

This course will be delivered within our Animal Centre based at the colleges main campus in Bury St Edmunds. 


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

Where will the course take me?

This qualification is for students who are entering the land-based sector, either as part of a college programme or as adults who are new to the sector. It has health and safety as a mandatory unit, as this is key knowledge for working in the land-based sector. 


Completion of the Level 1 Diploma in  Studies (Animal Care Pathway) students can go straight into industry to jobs such as: Assistant Farm Worker, Assistant Yard Worker, Assistant Kennel/Cattery Worker, Pet Shop Assistant etc.    

Alternatively, students may progress onto the Level 2 Technical Certificate in Animal Care or an apprenticeship. Students wishing to progress to the Level 2 Technical Certificate in Animal Care will be asked to meet the following entry criteria;

  • Demonstrate Animal Studies Professional Standards throughout the Level 1 course (including no poor behaviour comments)
  • Have good attendance above 85%
  • Produce high level assignment work/demonstrated advanced practical skills throughout the Level 1 programme 
  • Achieve a high Merit/Distinction in the Multiple Choice Exams
  • Achieve a Merit overall for the Level 1 qualification 
  • Obtain between 30 -50 hours within an external work placement in the Animal Sector

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 which will be sent out to you from 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

How much will it cost?

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


We will be running trips throughout the academic year, the cost of these will be provided via a letter once the trip has been finalised. 


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 bronze 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

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