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Animal pain (2013, reoccurs in 2015)

ECTS credits

Course parameters
Language: English
Level of course: PhD course
Semester/quarter: Q1- Autumn 2013
Capacity limits: 30

Objectives of the course
The aim is to give PhD-students an overview of the concept of animal pain from a biological perspective.

Learning outcomes and competences
After finalising the course, the students will:
1)      Be updated within state-of-the-art of central parts of animal pain biology
2)      Have theoretical knowledge about the evolution of animal pain, and be able to use this as basis of their own research
3)      Be able to recognise behavioural and other responses to different types of animal pain (temporally as well as anatomically separated)
4)      Know pros/cons connected to the use of behavioural and other pain responses as measures of animal pain and welfare in animals
5)      Be educated within the establishment of experimental protocols for the evaluation of pain in animals

Compulsory programme
Active participation in residential course Monday-Friday incl. presentation of own project. The final part of the course constitutes a written report. 

Course contents
The course is based on presentations and lectures by internationally recognised pain researchers and practitioners combined with participants presenting relevant parts of their PhD-projects. Furthermore, the course involves a combination of group work (discussions of classic aspects of pain biology and its interpretation) and plenary discussions.

The course covers the following topics:

  • Pain definition and terminology
  • Introduction to pain physiology
  • Behavioral pain assessment
  • Consequences of pain in terms of animal welfare
  • Neurobiological basis of pain
  • Comparative aspects of pain – can fish and invertebrates feel it?
  • Pain relief – theory and practice
  • Pain psychology

Participants are expected to deliver 160 working hours divided between:

  • Course: 5 days in November 2013, including lectures, participant presentations and group work.
  • Preparation: literature, own presentation.
  • Written report after finalizing residential stay

This course targets PhD students and researchers within science, veterinary, agricultural and health sciences working with animals, including animal model studies, experimentation, in zoo and animal parks, and with scientific questions related to pain biology.

Name of lecturers:
The invited key lecturers of the course are:

Dr. Matt Leach, Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom:  Assessment of pain using behaviour and facial expressions
Dr. Lynne Sneddon, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom: The neurobiological basis of pain – can fish feel it?
Prof. Dan Weary, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada: Aversion testing and pain testing – experimental designs and inferences regarding welfare and pain states

Type of course/teaching methods: see course content

Original literature in the form of reviews and papers from international journals, and textbooks on animal pain responses. A list of relevant reading material will be provided before October 1st

Course homepage:

Course assessment:
Participation in residential course plus a written report

The course is provided by the Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University and the Department of Large Animal Science, University of Copenhagen

Special comments on this course:
Course participants have to pay direct costs for accommodation etc. Price for PhD-students: 750 Euro for single room. Price for others holding a PhD degree: 1340 Euro. This amount covers all expenses during the course, including accommodation with own bath/toilet, food (Monday to Friday noon), banquet. Price for attending on day-basis only: 120 Euro per day.

The course organizers are:
Mette S. Herskin, Senior scientist, Dept. Anim. Sci., AU-FOULUM, Aarhus University,  email:
Bjørn Forkman, Professor, Dept. Large Anim Sci , email:

November 4-8 2013

Residential course to be held at Hotel Marina, 2950 Vedbæk, Denmark

Open from June 1st to September 15th 2013 via Email to, including form with title and start year of PhD project, scientific keywords, proposed title of participant presentation, animal species, address and contact information. Information regarding granted application is given to all by September 25th 2013.



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Revised 05.11.2018