Advanced Certificate in Animal Healthcare

Level 6 QQI Award - Animal Science 6M5153


This is a Full-time One Year course which runs from Sept. to May. Exact details of the timetable will be given out to students during the induction process prior to class commencement in September.


This one year course is designed as a follow on from the QQI Level 5 Animal Healthcare course and is tailor-made to students who wish to progress in the animal area into a working life with animals.  This course caters for experience with pet and farm animals.  The farm animal aspect of the course is taught in DFEi but also on-site on a working farm in Dundrum.  Students also complete a one-week placement at an agricultural college in Tipperary to gain large animal farm experience. This is to ensure that students leave with practical hands-on experience with these species and will have the versatility to gain employment in either equine or farm animal businesses. Students gain a much greater understanding of the small animal industry in Ireland, including dog behaviour and advanced grooming. This means that students are ready for employment or equipped to set up their own animal enterprise. Although Level 6 courses are directed more at employment/setting up your own business etc. Higher education opportunities are also options for students who complete and achieve full certification through the CAO, in a variety of third level Institutes, with studies in wild animal management, marine biology, zoology, agriculture and associated areas. It is important that the students consult with the individual third-level college websites for more information on admissions processes, or may refer to the QQI FET section of the CAO website at

Listen back  to Tara Lovett, practicing Vet and  teacher explain why she loves teaching on this course

Entry Requirements

One of the following:

  • Level 5 QQI Award in Animal Care (5M2768)
  • For Mature Applicants (aged 21 or over) - appropriate experience will be considered in lieu of formal qualifications. Note: Mature applicants may be entitled to VTOS funding. For details about VTOS, please contact the college.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English require level B1 competency on the CEFR language framework. Applicants may be required to undergo English language testing to establish their language competency.

Course Modules

  • Animal Science and Health
  • Large Animal Husbandry
  • Wild Animal Management
  • Animal Grooming
  • Canine Obedience and Training
  • Work Experience
  • Customer Service
  • Kennel and Cattery Management
  • Horse Conformation and Evaluation
  • Humans, Animals and Society
Module Information

Module Information

Advanced Certificate in Animal Healthcare/Advanced Animal Care Assistant

Level 6 QQI Award: Animal Science (6M5153)

Course Content (Module and Codes)


Animal Science and Health (6N5565)

This subject allows the student to research and develop their understanding of various animal species through self-directed project work. Students will also cover a variety of topics such as nutrition, evolution, genetics and laboratory skills required to work with animals.

Assessment:  Project (30%), Skills Demonstration (30%), Examination - Theory (40%).


Large Animal Husbandry (6N5567)

This course will equip the learner with a detailed knowledge of the handling skills required for working with farm animals (i.e. sheep, horses, and cows). The student will also gain knowledge of the husbandry of these species.

Assessment: Skills Demonstration (60%), Project (40%).


Wild Animal Management (6N5570)

This module equips the learner with knowledge and skill to understand the requirements of wild native animal species. The learner will gain an understanding of the first aid needed by wild animals including their rehabilitation and release.

Assessment: Examination - Theory (50%), Project (30%), Learner Record (20%).


Animal Grooming (6N6226)

The student will learn some advanced grooming techniques. This will include an understanding of the clips required for the showing of certain dog breeds. The student will also explore how a grooming business might be set up and run.

Assessment:  Skills Demonstration (60%), Assignment (20%), Examination - Theory (20%).


Canine Obedience and Training (6N6228)

This module equips the student to understand all aspects of canine behaviour. The student will learn the skills necessary to run a basic beginner training class. The student will gain knowledge on the principles of canine learning and the theory behind this.

Assessment: Skills Demonstration (40%), Project (30%), Examination - Theory (30%).


Kennel and Cattery Management (6N5585)

To give students the theory, techniques; legal and health considerations to aid in the setting up and management of a kennel or cattery.  To foster great caring skills, ethical principles and knowledge to deal with behavioural issues and security.

Assessment: Project (40%), Examination - Theory (30%), Skills Demonstration (30%).


Work Experience (6N1946)

The learner will gain skills and a theoretical understanding of the general supervisory nature of their work in a specific animal-related workplace. This work experience will take place over 6 weeks.

Assessment:  Portfolio/Collection of Work (60%), Skills Demonstration (40%).


Customer Service (6N0679)

Customer Service is important in all organisations, whether commercial or not-for-profit.  This module aims to equip the student with the relevant knowledge, skill and competence to direct quality customer service within a work, social or voluntary environment, independently and or in a supervisory capacity.

Assessment: Skills Demonstration (50%), Portfolio/Collection of Work (50%).


Humans, Animals and Society (6N5569)

This is a subject that gives students an understanding of the animals' role in human society, historically and in the current day. It looks at animal societies and animal rights and ethics. It also looks at animal behaviour and how we affect it. It looks at our relationships with animals and the benefits that come from this reciprocal relationship.

Assessment: Project (60%), Skills demonstration (40%).


Horse Conformation and Evaluation (6N3389)

This subject looks at the anatomy of the horse from the buyers' point of view. The student will learn about ideal conformation traits for different disciplines i.e. showjumpers, dressage, leisure horses etc. The student will gain knowledge of common conformation faults of the horse which affect performance and competition horses.

Assessment: Examination - Theory (40%), Skills Demonstration (60%).


  • Level 6 QQI Award Animal Science (6M5153)

Special Features

Technology Enhanced Learning with iPads

Utilising technology to deliver course work and enhance teaching and learning is particularly important for scientific subjects.  DFEI's Animal Healthcare department has been successfully using iPads since 2015 to help their students gain a fuller understanding of their subject matter through the multimedia features of the iPad.  This innovative practice has proved to be very effective and is now a central aspect of the learning experience for all Animal Healthcare students in DFEi.

All DFEi students are provided with an M365 account, which gives them access to the tools and resources needed to deliver assessment work while attending their course. M365 Apps include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, outlook and OneDrive.

Work Experience

Students will be required to undertake a period work placement in an organisation connected to their vocational area during the academic year. Work Experience is mandatory for all of our full-time Level 6 courses. Students are required to source their own work placement but will be assisted in this by the work experience teacher. Students as part of this programme must complete six weeks' work placement: five weeks' in a veterinary practice and one weeks' compulsory residential course in an agricultural college (to gain large farm animal experience). Students usually find the work experience element of the course to be invaluable and should bear in mind that a successful work placement can sometimes lead to further opportunities.

Additional Information


Assessment techniques will be used to assess the knowledge and skills that students will have achieved on successful completion of modules:

  • Student Record
  • Portfolio/Collection of Work
  • Assignments
  • Examinations - Written or Practical
  • Project

All assignments are submitted electronically.  Therefore all students need access to a device such as a computer/laptop.

A full major award is granted on passing the relevant eight components.  On successful completion of each component, you will be awarded a pass, a merit or a distinction grade. See for more details

Progression Opportunities

Although Level 6 is directed more at employment whereas Level 5 is the primary CAO route, Graduates are eligible to apply through the CAO and/or the Higher Education Links Scheme to a range of higher certificate and degree programmes, at Universities, Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities using their full QQI Level 5 and Level 6 major awards. Places are not guaranteed and are subject to students meeting certain criteria. It is the students' responsibility to consult with the relevant HEI for information on the admissions process, especially if a student is looking for advanced entry into third level. Students may also refer to the QQI FET section of the CAO website.

Examples of CAO progression routes are listed below.

Progression Examples

BSc Veterinary Nursing (AL731)

Entry into 1st Year

Athlone Institute of Technology -

BSc Veterinary Nursing (DK784)

Entry into 1st Year on completion of Level 5 and Level 6 

Dundalk Institute of Technology -

BSc Veterinary Nursing (LY847)

Advanced entry into 2nd Year on completion of Level 5 and Level 6

Letterkenny Institute of Technology -

Career Paths

Graduates may seek employment in veterinary clinics, dog grooming parlours, pet shops, catteries/ dog kennels, animal welfare organisations, agricultural, science industries, farms (including petting farms), zoos, wildlife parks, and self-employment (both in Ireland and abroad).

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly


Angela McDermott

2017 graduate. Currently studying Agricultural Science in UCD.
"I loved the course in DFEi. Some of the modules like Animal Grooming were very hands on while others were more academic like Anatomy. I liked the variety.  I applied through the…

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Angela McDermott

2017 graduate. Currently studying Agricultural Science in UCD.
"I loved the course in DFEi. Some of the modules like Animal Grooming were very hands on while others were more academic like Anatomy. I liked the variety.  I applied through the higher links programme to Agricultural Science in UCD and I got a place.  I am hoping to specialise in equine after my first year."

Course Coordinator

Tara Lovett

Tara Lovett

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly