How to set up an animal law course at your university

by Danielle Duffield, solicitor


FIRST: Form an A-law student group; become an ambassador at your university to raise the profile of the field

If you would like your university to offer an animal law course, you could start by becoming a student ambassador for A-law or setting up an A-law student group within your university’s law faculty, if you don’t have one already. This will demonstrate the student interest in this burgeoning field. A student ambassador or group could organise guest talks on animal law, participate in A-law’s Animal Law Mooting Competition, prepare submissions as part of government consultations on animal law reform, assist with legal research, and generally work to raise awareness of the field of law on campus.

A-law has Student Ambassadors and groups at universities throughout the country, so there may already be one at your university that you can collaborate with. Please contact Tiffany Mitchell (see below) if you would like further information on the above.


SECOND: Prepare a petition for an animal law course

You can launch a petition in favour of an animal law module. There are many ways to gain signatures; for example, if you host an animal law film night or other such event, you can ask attendees to sign your petition to express their interest in studying animal law. Other great ways of gathering support include hosting information stalls in busy areas around the university where you can educate fellow students on animal law and have them sign; briefly speaking at the start of your lectures and providing an opportunity for students sign the petition after class; and leaving an email address for interested students to get in touch.

You could also contact the law department directly to ask whether they can make an announcement to the students via email with a link to your petition. We encourage students to be creative in their efforts to reach others. Once you have collected a large number of signatures, the signed petition can go to the law faculty’s administration to demonstrate the student interest. You could also mention the growing interest and importance of this subject both nationally and globally, with leading law schools such as Harvard Law School and Yale Law School offering courses in animal law as well as wider programs focused specifically on this subject, such as the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program and Yale’s Law, Ethics and Animals Program. In the UK, there is the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law and the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and Law. There is also a Centre for Animal Welfare at Winchester University (although this is not a legal course), and a growing number of law schools are offering animal law modules, including Aberdeen, Northumbria, Liverpool John Moores, East Anglia and more. These are very popular and intellectually rigorous courses.


THIRD: Prepare a list of possible content and lecturers for an animal law course

A petition presented to the law faculty’s administration is likely to be most effective if presented alongside details about possible lecturer topics that might be covered on an animal law course. You may even be able to gain access to some lecture content to provide to the faculty to give an overview of what these modules include. Secondly, you could consider whether there are any existing law lecturers at your university who might be interested in teaching a course in animal law. For example, you could try approaching lecturers of administrative law or environmental law to see whether they might be interested in this,or if they know of any other lecturers who may be. There may already be great interest in the field at your university, which will certainly help your efforts.


FOURTH: Consider an animal law reading group as an alternative

If you are unable to convince your law faculty to offer a course in animal law, consider an extra-curricular animal law reading group as an alternative. This group could meet a few times each semester to discuss animal law readings across a range of different topics. A-law can assist you in finding an animal law expert to coordinate this group, set the readings, and facilitate the discussion.


Good luck! Please feel free to reach out to Tiffany Mitchell at [email protected] for assistance at any step of the way.

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