Cancelled Animals in Society

Course content

This course focuses on the role of animals in society and the complexities of human-animal relations. Animals are used in food production to the benefit of man, they serve as research animals in the medical sector, animals are used in nature preservation or as companion animals. Often, these different relations to animals cause conflicts over how or indeed if we should use animals and thus highlight how different stakeholders represent different interests. The course will explore the economic and sociological aspects of such relations between humans and animals. Also, we will discuss whether and how animal products can be part of a sustainable diet and how the increasing focus on problems related to meat consumption might affect our views on animal production.

Sociology of animals in society

This element concerns sociological aspects of the use of animals. It will be discussed how different societal actors (including e.g. farmers, consumers, citizens, vegans, etc.) view and legitimize the use of animals for different purposes - and the values these different perspectives represent. During the lectures and exercises the students will be presented to a number of sociological concepts that can be used to describe and understand human uses of animals. All in all this will offer insights in the importance of different sociodemographic, cultural and historical background factors, that can be used in the study of disagreements over animal uses.

Economics of animals in society

Can we leave it to consumers’ demand to secure animal welfare? How can we increase the consumption of ‘sustainable’ meat and how effective are different tools to nudge consumers to shift to a more plant-based diet? Which methods can be used to elicit the economic value of the use of animals? It is true that pork producers always face a trade-off between animal welfare and productivity?

These and other questions related to the economic aspects of using animals are discussed in the course. We will analyse how different perceptions of animal welfare can be included in economic analyses. The point of departure in our discussions will be how the keeping of animals can be analysed in consumers’ utility maximizing and/or producers’ profit maximizing framework. The concept of market failure and economic arguments for regulating animal welfare are presented and discussed.

Learning outcome

The overall objective of the course is to introduce the students to societal aspects of the keeping and use of animals. This includes in particular economic and sociological aspects. After completion of the course it is expected that the student has achieved the following qualifications:


- Can demonstrate a basic understanding of the different roles of animals in society and societal controversies over different uses of animals.

- Can characterize different stakeholders’ perceptions of animals and animal uses.

- Can discuss how conflicts over the use of animals can be understood in the light of mega trends such as the increased focus on sustainability.

- Can demonstrate a basic understanding of economic concepts of importance for analysing and describing economic aspects of animals for the individual stakeholders and for society.

- Can characterize the economic importance of different uses of animals.


- Will be able to carry out an analysis of economic aspects of different uses of animals on individual and societal levels.

- Will be able to analyse different stakeholders’ perceptions of the use of animals using sociological concepts.


- Can reflect over societal and economic issues related to concrete cases where animals are used and discuss these from the point of view of different stakeholders.

- Can use the acquired knowledge and skills as a basis for discussion of conflicts over the use of animals and suggest possible societal robust solutions.

Teaching is organized as lectures and exercises introducing and training the various core elements of the course. Alongside the lectures, students will carry out a project, combining sociological and economic aspects of a specific case of animal use.

Will be announced on Absalon.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

No sociological or economic skills are required. The target group is students working with veterinary, technical or other natural science aspects of the use of animals.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
The exam is oral and there is no time for preparation.

Students in the same group cannot participate in their fellow student’s individual oral exam unless they have already had their own individual oral exam.
Exam registration requirements

Approval of project report.

Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Internal examiner

The same as the ordinary exam.

Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the highest grade (12), the student should be able to demonstrate the achievement of the knowledge, skills and competences listed in the in the section 'Learning Outcome' above.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 66
  • Theory exercises
  • 8
  • Project work
  • 103
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 4
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
The Study Board for Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Tove Christensen   (4-77727968436c697572316e7831676e)
  • Sigrid Denver   (2-82734f7875817e3d7a843d737a)
Saved on the 12-12-2023

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