Economic Principles and Concepts for the Veterinary Sciences

Economic issues play an important role in the often risky decisions that need to be made about disease control. The aim of this introductory course, which is intended for participants with an interest in the field of animal health economics, is to provide you with the basic economic principles and concepts that underlie decision-making about animal health problems.

Diseases have a significant influence on animal production and the animal trade. The economic consequences of diseases on an animal, herd and national level can be considerable and need to be investigated to successfully implement and evaluate animal health programs and policies. Many economic tools have been developed and are currently being applied to support decisions concerning animal health. This course will enable you to gain a basic knowledge of economic concepts and theory, thereby enabling you to better understand animal health economics and to apply economic tools more effectively.

Economic Principles and Concepts for the Veterinary Sciences is one of the online medical courses of the MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate Online; the online MSc program in Epidemiology offered by Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht, MSc Epidemiology and Elevate Health.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Have a basic overview and understanding of the broad subject of economics
  • Discuss the role that economics play in the field of animal production

In particular, you should be able to:

  • Understand the economic decisions made by consumers by learning about the forces that influence consumer behavior, the concept of market demand and the concept of elasticity of demand
  • Understand the supply side of the market, as reflected in resource use and the production response of businesses (production function theory) and their reflection in the market supply curve
  • Understand the mechanisms behind clearing market prices as they are determined under perfect and imperfect competition conditions
  • Understand some of the background of the governmental role in food production and the ways in which the government can be involved in food production
  • Have some understanding of the principles underlying the growth and instability of international trade

Course topics

  • The role of economics in the field of animal production
  • Economic decisions, including consumer behavior, market demand and elasticity of demand
  • The supply side of the market, resource use and the production response of businesses (the production function theory)
  • The mechanisms behind market prices as they are determined under perfect and imperfect competition conditions
  • The background of the government’s role in food production
  • Principles underlying the growth and instability of international trade

Learning methods

The whole course will take place online. The following learning methods will be used:

  • Web lectures
  • Assignments
  • Online discussions
  • Articles, e-books and papers
  • Multiple-choice questions

Course Deadlines

Please note that you are required to hand in assignments during some of the learning units in this course:

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1

Week 2
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 2

Week 3
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 3

Week 4
Thursday – submit short report
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 4

Week 5
Monday – provide peer feedback on short report
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 5

Week 6
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 6

Approximately 2 weeks after course closure - submit final assigment. The exact deadline needs to be determined.


To successfully complete this course, you need to participate actively in the discussion forums and complete the learning unit assignments, including:

  • One final essay.


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.    

Entry requirements

To enrol in this course, you need:

  • A BSc or MSc, or a similar level of academic ability
  • A basic understanding of veterinary epidemiology
  • An interest in animal health management
  • Basic MS Excel skills
  • Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Please note
As this is an online course, you do need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants.

Course reviews

 “I really could recommend this course to anyone who has to deal with animal disease.” Alexandra Knossenburg

“The quality and the content of this distance learning course were excellent.” Chiek Er

“I would very much recommend this course to other veterinarians or others interested in animal health economics!''  Anne Cathrine Whist

“I would recommend this course to anyone who is actively involved in animal production systems and to people who are involved with decisions about animal health at a governmental level.” Gordon Adam

Course staff


Quick overview

  • 23 Sep 2019 – 3 Nov 2019
  • 6 weeks
  • 12 hrs/wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 2.5 EC
  • Online
  • English
  • Textbook, lectures, assessment
  • Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet
  • 685

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