Diploma of Higher Education Canine Studies

This two-year full-time course is a unique blend of the biological and therapeutic sciences relating to canines, the way they work, their health, their diseases, how they behave, and what can be done therapeutically to improve their well-being. Students will be taught by a range of skilled scientists and clinicians with extensive experience of canine. Due to its vocational characteristic, the course includes a substantial amount of practicals delivered in class, and placements done in clinics. We will cover a wide variety of topics such as Anatomy and Physiology and Biomechanics for foundation knowledge as well as more specific modules relating to Hydrotherapy and Massage therapy.

The Diploma of Higher Education in Canine Studies provides a balance of vocation and academic study that is intellectually challenging, vocationally relevant and provide foundations to pursue a progressive career working with dogs. Academic knowledge and understanding reinforce and support the development of vocational skills, equipping the students with the abilities and the knowledge relevant to their employment or the need of their employers.

The aims of the programme are to:

  • Build on basic scientific principles to develop an relevant academic knowledge of the canine
  • Evaluate normal and abnormal movement patterns in the dog
  • To handle canines safely in a therapeutic setting understanding behavioural principles while assessing
  • To learn about therapeutic techniques and the principles of hydrotherapy
  • Build on basic scientific principles to develop an advanced academic knowledge of the canine both in health and disease
  • Evaluate normal and abnormal movement patterns in the dog, including assessment for compensatory mechanisms that may change movement patterns or elicit pain
  • Learn about 1st Aid Training and its application
  • Complete a portfolio of evidence (Reflexive Learning Log) demonstrating skills in the workplace when applying therapy to dogs in placement days at level 5
  • Demonstrate the skills to run a business and interact with other professionals members of a multi-disciplinary team (Vet surgeon, Vet nurse, Trainer, Therapist...)

Research Methods
(15 credits)
Business Skills
(15 credits)
Canine Health, Disease and Pain Management
(30 credits)
Exercise Physiology
(15 credits)
Extrinsic Factors Affecting Canine Performance
(15 credits)
Animal Therapeutic Techniques
(15 credits)
Canine Hydrotherapy
(15 credits)

Please note:

An equivalent or higher combination of grades to that indicated above will also be accepted.


All applicants must hold a minimum of four GCSE passes at grade C/4 or above to include English, Maths and Science.

Access course

Writtle University College welcomes applicants studying Access to HE Diploma courses. For more information please contact Admissions.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL/APEL)

Information about our Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL/APEL) policy can be found on our Higher Education Regulations and Policies page.

Other course specific entry requirements

Also, you will be able to demonstrate good physical fitness, and animal handling skills experience corresponding to at least:

  • 50 hours for canine

Under the supervision of various providers.

If the placements are done prior to the interview, letters from the providers stating the date and length of the placements, the animal handling activities undertook and the skills developed must be submitted during the interview.

If the placements have not been done prior to the interview, letters from the providers stating the date and length of the coming placements must be submitted during the interview. All placements must have been effective before the beginning of the course. Placement must be less than three years old to be taken into consideration.

Owning a dog cannot constitute evidence of dog's practical handling.

The following list shows the variety of learning and teaching methods experienced on this course.

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Seminars
  • Theoretical learning
  • Practical learning
  • Group work
  • Independent learning

The acquisition of knowledge and understanding is approached through an emphasis on student-centred learning. Integration of theoretical and practical learning ensures the strong vocational focus as a priority in the provision.

Assessment Methods

This course contains a variety of assessment methods to ensure practical and academic competence.

Assessment methods will include:

  • Presentations
  • Coursework
  • Video log
  • Practical exams (OSPE)
  • Written Exams
  • Written assessments

With a solid grounding in the science of canine health graduates can find employment to assist in a rescue centre, a kennel, or a dog crèche, or as a hydrotherapist assistant. Alternatively, students have the option to undertake further studies: after the Diploma of Higher Education in Canine Studies students could progress onto the BSc (Hons) Canine Therapy.

Canine Therapy with Lauren Hunt

Join Writtle University College lecturer Lauren Hunt as she poses the question "Is it just humans that benefit from rehabilitation" in a series of episodes that culminate in a totally original and exciting Subject Spotlight focussed on Canine Therapy.