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Short Course
Ectothermic Vertebrates Handling and Ethics
In Zoology live organisms, which inter alia includes the aquatic ectothermic vertebrates such as fish, amphibian and reptiles, are regularly used in research. This also applies to the field Aquatic research which focuses on the biology of organisms, biodiversity, environmental pollution, conservation as well as molecular, genetic and toxicology studies. In the process ectotherms are either purchased or collected in the field. In the latter case live organisms are temporarily kept for identification purposes but in both instances they are transferred to a laboratory for research purposes. The emphasis in all the situations is on limitation of stress, humane handling and observing animal welfare aspects. Ethics involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts and procedures of right and wrong conduct. A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a set of step-by-step instructions created to help carry out routine operations in order to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations. The reason why NWU wishes to offer the course is based on the need to expose postgraduate students and future researchers to the ethical aspects of animal care and to ensure that they fully understand the SOPs involved in the field of aquatic research. Currently there is no similar course available in South Africa and proof of certification in animal handling is needed for any ethics application.

Purpose of the course:

All persons involved with the advancement of scientific knowledge through the use of aquatic ectotherms need to understand and appreciate these animals, their ecosystems and their requirements for essential life processes. The first objective of the course is to inform all persons involved of animal welfare and ethical principles, also referred to as tenets, which apply to each and every situation where aquatic ectotherms are involved. Secondly the course will focus on Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that form part of operations for specific organisms.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
NQF level 5.
Learning assumed to be in place: 
Physical & Life Sciences @ NQF level 5.

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit


Assessment Criteria


Knowledge of cross cutting animal welfare principles.

(To be assessed in the formal theoretical test)

Knowledge of general SOPs involved in the general handling of aquatic ectothermic vertebrates.

(To be assessed in the formal test)

Knowledge of general SOPs involved in handling of specific aquatic ectothermic vertebrates.

(Assessed during practicals)



A certificate will be issued based on the outcome/results of: The formal test at end of the course.The practical experience of the specific SOPs. Attendance.
Method of assessment: 
Theoretical and practical examination at the end of the course. (Last day).

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Target group: 
Researchers, students and consultants in Biological Sciences.
Contact us
Prof PSO Fouché
Telephone number: 
082 927 0272