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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 14/12/2022 14:23:27

Title of Module: Psychology of Human-Animal Interactions

Code: PSYC10027 SCQF Level: 10
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Education & Social Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:R  Hawkins

Summary of Module

Taking an applied focus, this module will explore interdisciplinary approaches and diverse methods used to understand the complexity of human-animal interactions (HAI). Through a series of interactive lectures and creative workshops, this module will explore topical modern-day issues, exploring how psychology can be applied to real-world settings, as well as considering the importance of science communication and engaging the public with non-biased scientific research. This module will broadly cover key areas within HAI research focusing both on the positive, and the negative aspects of such relationships with ethical issues highlighted throughout. This will include the ‘Pet Effect’, examining the research evidence for the benefits of animals for mental and physical health and wellbeing. It will explore how animals are increasingly being utilised within therapeutic, clinical, and educational settings including critically evaluating the use of ‘therapy animals’ for diverse psychological disorders. Experimental, biological and neurological research will be discussed to understand the mechanisms which underpin HAI. The module will also explore the role of animals within adverse family settings and how animal cruelty in childhood may be a risk factor for future violence, focusing on implications for prevention and intervention. This module will also highlight career avenues within the psychological area of HAI. 


This course will develop the following key IAm UWS graduate attributes: 

  • Universal: critical thinker, analytical, ethically minded, research-minded, socially responsible 
  • Work-ready: digitally literate, effective communicator, knowledgeable  
  • Successful: autonomous, innovative, creative, imaginative, resilient 

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2check markTerm 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Knowledge and critical understanding of principle theories, concepts and research methodologies relating to human-animal interactions (HAI). 

L2. Applied knowledge, skills and understanding of human-animal research through communicating key psychological research studies to both academic and non-academic audiences.

L3. Critically and constructively evaluate research evidence and draw conclusions based on the best available evidence.

L4. Critically evaluate how research is presented through different sources such as the media, and problem solve to create a non-biased science communication piece related to HAI. 

L5. Advanced skills in presenting and communicating specialised scientific findings in accessible ways, both formally, and non-formally, using both text and graphics.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 10.

Understanding the application of psychological theories, methods, concepts, and research evidence to contemporary issues relating to human-animal interactions.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 10.

Understanding the application of psychological research to real-world settings relating to human-animal interactions, focusing on societal impact.

Apply specialised knowledge through communicating key psychological research studies to both academic and non-academic audiences.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 10.

Developing the ability to identify relevant, contemporary sources of information relevant to understanding and evaluating psychological research related to human-animal interactions.

Demonstrating the ability to constructively critique psychological research.

Developing an understanding and ability to identify biased sources of knowledge in the media.

Developing an ability to problem solve ethical and methodological issues relating to human-animal research.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 10.

Communicating effectively in verbal and written presentations.

Developing the ability to communicate effectively and creatively to a diverse range of audiences including the general public.

Developing the ability to summarise, interpret, and communicate psychological research evidence.

Develop the ability to use ICT and media effectively to create engaging science communication pieces

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 10.

Being able to work effectively independently or as part of a team to acquire, collate, evaluate and present information.

Developing self-management skills through independent study and coursework.

Developing the ability to discuss, listen, and exchange ideas with others in a non-judgmental and accepting manner.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Applying Psychology Methods
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below.

This module will be delivered using a hybrid approach in which students are encouraged to engage with the module through three learning activities, presented both synchronously and asynchronously. Students will be encouraged to engage asynchronously with pre-recorded lecture content designed to provide students with an overview of the topic area. Pre-recorded lecture material will be complimented with a series of asynchronous and synchronous activities to be undertaken in the student's own time or by the students/instructor simultaneously as appropriate

. Key theories, concepts and research studies relating to HAI will be presented and discussed within lectures. Pre-lecture readings and videos will give students the opportunity to explore key topics in more depth. Creative and hands-on workshops will allow students to develop creative thinking skills and will focus on science communication through examining science blogs, how to communicate research effectively, developing lay summaries of research, thinking about public engagement, the role of the media, and dangers of biased reporting. The workshops will prepare students for the coursework that involve writing a science communication piece in an area of HAI and developing a scientific poster based on a proposed new human-animal study for academic audiences to communicate creatively. The coursework is outlined below.

The module will be assessed through two assessments, supported through the workshops:
1) Assessment 1: An individual communication piece in the form of a research blog for lay audiences, designed for submission to Psychology Today, on an area relating to HAI. Worth 50% of the final grade.
2) Assessment 2: An individual scientific poster based on a proposed new human-animal study designed for academic audiences (approx. 1000 words). Worth 50% of the final grade.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery12
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity24
Personal Development Plan0
Independent Study164
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Anthrozoös, Human-Animal Interaction Journal, Society and Animals, PLOS One, British Medical Journal, Psychological Bulletin, Psychology, Crime and Law, Frontiers in Psychology.

Blazina, C., Boyra, G., & Shen-Miller, D. S. (2011). The psychology of the human-animal bond. New York, NY, USA: Springer.

Fine, A. H. (Ed.). (2010). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice. academic press.

Robinson, I. (Ed.). (2013). The Waltham book of human-animal interaction: Benefits and responsibilities of pet ownership. Elsevier.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
All fulltime students (part-time and distant learning students should check with their programme leader for any queries) are required to attend all scheduled classes and participate with all delivered elements of the module as part of their engagement with their programme of study. Consideration will be given to students who have protection under the appropriate equality law. Please refer to UWS Regulations, Chapter 1, 1.64 – 1.67, available at the following link:

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardPsychology & Social Work
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPsychology and Social Work
ModeratorN McGuigan
External ExaminerS Langton
Accreditation DetailsBritish Psychological Society.
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
A written coursework such as an essay-(worth 50%)
A Presentation (worth 50%)
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Report of practical/ field/ clinical workcheck markcheck mark check markcheck mark500

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Learning Outcome (5) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Presentationcheck markcheck markcheck mark  500
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content. The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.