Animal Care/Animal Care Assistant

Level 5 QQI Award


This is a Full-time One Year course


This course is designed to equip students with the knowledge and the skills to work in a variety of areas within the Animal Health Care sector, or to progress to Higher Education through the Higher Education Links Scheme. Students will study core areas of Animal Health Care and are enabled to put theory into practice through experiential learning in a fully equipped Animal Health Care Suite. This course is delivered by specialists who are currently practising within the profession. Regular field trips and the handling of a wide variety of animals are key features of this course. 

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

Entry Requirements

One of the following:

  • Leaving Certificate - You must have achieved five passes or five O6/H7's or combination of five O6/H7's or its equivalent
  • Leaving Certificate Applied with a Merit Profile
  • A Full Level 4 QQI Award
  • Mature Applicants (aged 21 or over) - appropriate experience will be considered
  • As there is an emphasis on the science subjects, Biology, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, a background in science would be desirable, but not essential

Course Modules

  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology
  • Animal Grooming
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Small Animal Husbandry and Housing
  • Veterinary Assisting Skills
  • Biology
  • Word Processing
  • Work Experience
  • Communications
  • Mathematics (Optional) for those students requiring Mathematics for progression through the CAO
Module Information

Module Information

Animal Care/Animal Care Assistant

Level 5 QQI Award: Animal Care 5M2768

Course Content (Module and Codes)


Animal Anatomy and Physiology (5N0705)

The student will be facilitated to explore and understand how the different systems operate in various animal species. Students will be given the opportunity for hands on practical examination of the systems through dissections and skills demonstrations.

 Assessment: Learner Record (30%), 5 Skills Demonstration (30%), Examination - Theory (40%)


Animal Grooming (5N0752)

The student will learn how to groom a pet dog. The skills including correct shampooing, brushing out and finally clipping. The student will also learn how to notice signs of health and ill health of the dogs coat and skin.

Assessment: Skills Demonstration (40%), Learner Records (40%), Examination - Theory (20%)


Animal Welfare (5N0753)

Animal behaviour will facilitate the student in skill and competence of all aspects of animal welfare including domestication of animals and the provisions needed for the physical and mental wellbeing of both domestic and captive animals.

Assessment: Skills Demonstration (30%), Learner Record (30%), Examination - Theory (40%)


Animal Behaviour (5N0751)

Animal behaviour will facilitate the student in discussing how animals have adapted and the purpose of different reproductive strategies.

Through the course content and project/skills demonstration work, students will scientifically observe, measure, record and interpret a variety of animal behaviours and species. Additionally, developing the academic, vocational; literacy and numeracy skills related to animal behaviour.

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


Veterinary Assisting Skills (5N1363)

This course equips the student with the practical skills and knowledge of managing animals under supervision in a veterinary environment. The student will learn about the use of preventative healthcare, first aid and the care of animals in a veterinary hospital.  

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


Small Animal Husbandry (5N1898)

This subject offers students a full hands-on experience with small animals. Students are given the opportunity to bring in their pets to demonstrate handling and restraint of animals and to discuss topics such as housing, behaviour and suitability as a pet.

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


Biology (5N2746)

The student will be facilitated to explore and develop and understanding of living things. Various aspects of the living world such as, micro-organisms, genetics and ecology will be investigated and assessed through experiments and skills demonstrations.

Assessment: Learner record (25%), Skills Demonstration (25%) Examination - Theory (50%)


Word Processing (5N1358)

The Student will learn how to navigate and create word documents. This course will improve the student confidence in improving the presentation of documents created on a computer.

Assessment:  Assignment (20%), Examination - Practical (80%)


Work Experience (5N1356)

The student will complete a period of work placement in an aspect of the animal industry. This might include, grooming, retail, veterinary clinics, stables, or animal shelters.  This course will equip the student to prepare for this period of work experience, create a CV  and understand employment law.  The student will gain a greater awareness of their employment or further education options.

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


Communications (5N0690)

This module explores the role of communication in human interaction in theory and practice. Students are facilitated to gain relevant knowledge, skills, and competence to communicate verbally and nonverbally in standard everyday tasks and in work-related situations. Students will have the opportunity to develop important vocational related skills such as report writing, report reading, listening, and speaking skills (through oral presentation, interviews, group work) and modern information communication technology.

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


Mathematics (5N1833) - Optional

Acquire mathematical skills in problem solving and mathematical investigations in the following areas: mathematical modelling, statistics and probability, graphing functions, differential and integral calculus, complex numbers and trigonometry.

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

This component is available as an option for those students requiring Mathematics for progression through the CAO.


  • Level 5 QQI Award Animal Care (5M2768)
  • AniEd Canine First Responder Certificate

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 Care department has been successfully using iPads since 2015 to help their students gain a fuller understanding of their subject matter through the multimedia feature 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 Care students in DFEi.

Work Experience

Students will be required to undertake a period work placement in an organisation connected to their vocational area during the academic year.  Students are required to source their own work placement but will be assisted in this by the work experience teacher.  The work placement is usually for a period of 10 days or a minimum of 60 hours.  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

Progression Opportunities

DFEi: Graduates may progress to the Level 6 QQI Advanced Certificate in Animal Health Care/Advanced Animal Care Assistant at DFEi.

Elsewhere: 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. Places are not guaranteed and are subject to students meeting certain criteria.  It is the students' responsibility to consult with the individual third level college websites for more information. Information is also available at

Progression Examples

BSc in Veterinary Nursing 

Bachelor of Science 

Bachelor of Agricultural Science 

University College Dublin

BSc in Veterinary Nursing 

BSc in Bioteveterinary Science

Athlone Institute of Technology

BSc in Veterinary Nursing 

Dundalk Institute of Technology

BSc in Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology 

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Bachelor of Science

TU Dublin - City Campus

BSc in Wildlife Biology

BSc in Veterinary Bioscience

BSc in Agricultural Science

BSc in Animal Bioscience

Institute of Technology, Tralee

Career Paths

Graduates may seek employment in: large and small 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

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Leah O’Neill

Class of 2017. Employed as riding instructor in Corballils Farm in Donabate.
"When I graduated from DFEi I immediately got a job as a riding instructor in Corballis Farm in Donabate. It is a trekking and therapeutic centre and also a working…

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Leah O’Neill

Class of 2017. Employed as riding instructor in Corballils Farm in Donabate.
"When I graduated from DFEi I immediately got a job as a riding instructor in Corballis Farm in Donabate. It is a trekking and therapeutic centre and also a working farm.  I did my work experience there and after that they offered me a job. I loved the course in DFEi. It was more than what I had expected. I found the modules so interesting, the Veterinary modules and animal grooming were my favourite. The grooming facilities in DFEi are far better than another training place I have seen.  I am delighted I did the course. It opened up many doors for me."

Course Coordinator

Tara Lovett

Tara Lovett

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly