Module code: VMS4007

Module Overview

Most pathogens of domestic animals and humans originate in wildlife populations. Students will gain an understanding of the transmission of disease across the interface between wildlife, domestic animals and humans and how this is applied to prevention and control measures. The module considers how wildlife and biodiversity contribute to human health and wellbeing, while human activities contribute to disease emergence from wildlife populations to livestock and people. Disease in wildlife can also cause extinction of species impacting biodiversity. In clinical practice, Veterinarians are presented with opportunities to intervene in wildlife health and disease in various contexts and these actions are associated with ethical, economic and logistical challenges. Vets are often working at the interface of wildlife and livestock populations and play a key role in surveillance and identification of new diseases. 

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

PARAMASIVAM Sharmini Julita (Vet Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5


Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 89

Seminar Hours: 4

Practical/Performance Hours: 16

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 30

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Successful completion of all previous units of the BVMSci

Module content

  1. Wildlife population health

    1. Biodiversity and ecosystem health

    2. Population dynamics – survivability, sustainability of wildlife population

    3. Disease surveillance – One Health concepts

  2. Wildlife & conservation medicine and practices

    1. Principles of conservation medicine/biology

    2. Captive breeding

    3. Ex-situ and in-situ conservation – principles, role of vet

    4. Welfare vs conservation – population control, reintroduction, rehabilitation, rescue-release

    5. Wildlife trade (regulations and role of vet)

  3. Zoological medicine and practices

    1. Common health condition in captive animals

    2. Diagnosis and management of common conditions (procedures to include e.g. handling, anaesthesia, radiology, drug administration routes)

    3. Captive animal health – monitoring and preventative approaches for disease and husbandry

    4. Nutritional management of captive animals

    5. Welfare and principles of environmental enrichments

  4. Avian & Aquaria medicine and practices

    1. Common health condition affecting animals in aviary and aquaria

    2. Diagnosis and management of common conditions (procedures to include e.g. handling, anaesthesia, radiology, drug administration routes)

    3. Aviary and Aquaria – monitoring and preventative approaches for disease and husbandry

    4. Nutritional management of birds and fish

    5. Welfare and principles of environmental enrichments

  5. Non-traditional companion animal medicine and practices - revisit

    1. Common health condition affecting – rabbits, reptiles, guinea pigs, and small rodents, amphibians.

    2. Diagnosis and management of common conditions (procedures to include e.g. handling, anaesthesia, radiology, drug administration routes)

    3. Monitoring and preventative approaches for disease and husbandry

    4. Nutritional management of these species

    5. Welfare and principles of environmental enrichments

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework WRITTEN REPORT 10
Oral exam or presentation PRINCIPLE SEMINAR 10
Examination Online ONLINE WRITTEN EXAM 80

Alternative Assessment

  Individual presentation and individual written assignment will be the respective alternative assessment for principle seminar and written report respectively  

Assessment Strategy

Written report 10%

Group written work which will be submitted online through Turnitin.

Principal Seminar 10%

An individual presentation (5 minutes + 2 minutes Q&A) which will be presented in a group and assessed by 2 assessors.

Written examination 80%

Written exam will consist of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and 2 Short Answer Questions (SAQs) and will be 2 hours in duration.

Assessment Feedback

Feedback during the module will be provided in two ways:



  • Formative feedback will be given to students throughout the module during workshops as well as during practical group discussions.

  • Students are encouraged the contact the module coordinator to engage with feedback when required.

  • A discussion board/ forum will be made available on Surrey Learn for students to engage in.

  • The Feedback engagement and tracking in Surrey (FEATS) portfolio supports students to synthesize multiple feedback. Students are encouraged to use this platform.


  • Assessed work will be accompanied by feedback and/or commentary. This includes the presentation where students will receive feedback from both assessors.



Module aims

  • Provide students with an understanding of the relevance of biodiversity and conservation and the impact of disease on wildlife populations.
  • Enable students to identify the drivers of disease emergence from wildlife populations and how these can be evaluated.
  • Appreciate how vets can contribute to interventions in wildlife populations and evaluate the associated ethical, economic and logistical issues.
  • Appreciate how evidence from identification and surveillance of wildlife diseases can be used to influence decision makers in the One Health arena.
  • To apply existing knowledge, and clinical and professional skills to wildlife and zoological medicine practice
  • Develop a rational problem-solving approach to the common presentations.
  • Indicate the role of veterinary surgeon in leading a proactive, evidenced-based and cost-effective approach to health management, including prevention and control, through partnership and effective communication with stakeholders.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain the relevance of biodiversity and ecosystem health to sustainable livestock farming and human prosperity, discussing the linkage of wildlife, domestic animal and human health – ecosystem health and One Health concept with regard to wildlife health and disease KP RCVS KU 4, KU 7
002 Discuss the challenge of allocation of resources for conservation. Ex situ and in situ conservation; proximate and ultimate drivers of extinction (e.g. susceptibility to disease outbreaks vs habitat loss/fragmentation) KP RCVS KU 4
003 Explain concepts of population dynamics and role of disease in wildlife and captive populations (e.g. micro- and macro-parasites are part of biodiveristy; disease as a threat to wildlife populations) and discuss epidemiology and impact of disease on wildlife populations. Why some populations are more vulnerable than others (Population Viability Analysis); pathogen pollution; anthropogenic drivers of disease emergence. KP RCVS KU 10
004 Recommend appropriate interventions for management of wildlife diseases (e.g. vaccination, movement restriction, culling, translocations) and discuss associated ethical, welfare, economic and logistical issues (e.g. bovine TB in badgers; fox rabies in Europe; wildlife rehabilitaiton centres) KP RCVS KU 5, KU 9, KU 10
005 Evaluate methods to detect and monitor disease in wildlife, zoological population and non-traditional companion animal, and interpret the results given biases in surveillance design and critically interpret surveillance data concerning emerging diseases from wildlife populations. KCPT RCVS KU 7, KU 10
006 Explain the importance of wildlife and non-traditional companion animal zoonoses and stages in disease emergence and potential for occupational risks to veterinary practioners KCPT RCVS 25, RCVS KU 9, KU 10

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Introduce students to the concept of wildlife disease as a normal ecological process that can be perturbed through human activities and have negative consequences for biodiversity, livestock farming and public health.

Encourage students to consider various perspectives when considering a wildlife disease intervention (including ethical, welfare and economic consequences) and evaluate costs and benefits of different actions.

Enhance critical thinking and evaluation of animal disease data taking biases into account.

Promote the role of the veterinary profession in communicating animal disease risks to the public.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures, seminars & small group discussions

  • Case -based learning exercises and group presentations

  • Visits to sites where health and disease are part of wildlife management and conservation e.g. zoo and wildlife centres


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: VMS4007

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Medicine and Science BVMSci (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2021/2 academic year.