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Ethics teaching in European veterinary schools: a qualitative case study
  1. M. Magalhães-Sant'Ana, DVM, MSc, PhD1,2
  1. 1Laboratory Animal Science, IBMC - Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular, Porto, Portugal;
  2. 2Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel Salazar, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. E-mail for correspondence: mdsantana{at}


Veterinary ethics is recognised as a relevant topic in the undergraduate veterinary curriculum. However, there appears to be no widely agreed view on which contents are best suited for veterinary ethics teaching and there is limited information on the teaching approaches adopted by veterinary schools. This paper provides an inside perspective on the diversity of veterinary ethics teaching topics, based on an in-depth analysis of three European veterinary schools: Copenhagen, Lisbon and Nottingham. The case study approach integrated information from the analysis of syllabi contents and interviews with educators (curricular year 2010–2011). These results show that the curriculum of veterinary ethics is multidimensional and can combine a wide range of scientific, regulatory, professional and philosophical subjects, some of which may not be explicitly set out in the course descriptors. A conceptual model for veterinary ethics teaching is proposed comprising prominent topics included within four overarching concepts: animal welfare science, laws/regulations, professionalism, and theories/concepts. It is intended that this work should inform future curriculum development of veterinary ethics in European schools and assist ethical deliberation in veterinary practice.

  • Veterinary ethics
  • Learning objectives
  • Curriculum
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Ethical competencies

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