Animal Care/Animal Care Assistant

Level 5 QQI Award - Animal Care 5M2768


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 course is designed to equip students with the knowledge and the skills to work in a variety of areas within the Animal Healthcare sector or to progress to Higher Education through the Higher Education Links Scheme. Students will study core areas of Animal Healthcare and are enabled to put theory into practice through experiential learning in a fully equipped Animal Healthcare 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 (LC Established, LCVP, LCA) or equivalent
  • A Full Level 4 QQI/FETAC Award (or equivalent)
  • 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.
  • As there is an emphasis on the science subjects, Biology, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, a background in science would be desirable, but not essential
  • 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 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 include 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 the 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 an 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 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

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 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 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 5 courses. 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

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

DFEi: Graduates who have completed and achieved the full Level 5 Animal Care Award may progress to the Level 6 QQI Advanced Certificate in Animal Healthcare at DFEi.

Elsewhere: Graduates are eligible to apply through the CAO and/or the Higher Education Links Scheme for entry to year one of a range of higher certificate and degree programmes, at Universities, Institutes of Technology and Technological Universities using their full QQI Level 5 major award. Places are not guaranteed in these Institutes 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 and any specific entry requirements. Students may also refer to the individual HEI prospectus or may also refer to the QQI FET section of the CAO website.

There are progression options in a wide range of areas including general science, veterinary nursing, agricultural science, marine biology and many other related areas. 

Whilst many of the Our 2021 graduates of this course have progressed onto the Level 6 Award in Animal Science at DFEi, many other graduates of this course have progressed onto UCD, TUS Athlone, and Dundalk IT.  For example, four of our graduates got into Veterinary Science and three got into Agricultural Science in UCD. Others have progressed directly into employment in Animal Healthcare related areas.

Examples of CAO progression opportunities are listed below.

Progression Examples

BSc Veterinary Nursing (DN310)

Bachelor of Science (DN200)

Bachelor of Agricultural Science (DN250)

Bachelor of Science in Sustainability (DN240)

University College Dublin -

BSc Veterinary Nursing (AL731)

BSc Bioveterinary Science (AL842)

Athlone Institute of Technology -

BSc Veterinary Nursing (DK784)

Dundalk Institute of Technology -

BSc Applied Freshwater and Marine Biology (GA780)

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology -

Bachelor of Science (TU755)

Technological University Dublin (City) -

BSc Wildlife Biology (MT880)

BSc Veterinary Bioscience (MT881)

BSc Agricultural Science (MT877)

BSc Animal Bioscience (MT781)

Munster Technological University -

Career Paths

Graduates may seek employment in: large and small veterinary clinics as animal care assistants, dog grooming parlours, pet shops and other animal retail, catteries/dog kennels, doggie day-care facilities, animal welfare organisations (for example Dogs Trust), agricultural, science industries, farms (including petting farms), zoos (for example Dublin Zoo), wildlife parks, safari parks (for example Tayto Park), self-employment (both in Ireland and abroad), and further/third level education.

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly


Alanah Crowe

Class of 2022
Now studying Veterinary Nursing in Athlone Institute of Technology

I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It was very well structured. I especially enjoyed the grooming classes. There was lots of practical elements to the course…

Read More

Alanah Crowe

Class of 2022
Now studying Veterinary Nursing in Athlone Institute of Technology

I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It was very well structured. I especially enjoyed the grooming classes. There was lots of practical elements to the course which I loved. 

Course Coordinator

Tara Lovett

Tara Lovett

Thank You

we will be in touch shortly