What is the MSc/PGDip in Veterinary Epidemiology?
In a world where global transport links allow rapid movement of people and animals, disease can spread more quickly than before and is harder to control than ever. In such a world there is a growing need for trained epidemiologists at the front line of disease surveillance.
The UK leads the way in providing this training and, in order to meet the demand for skilled professionals, the RVC has developed a unique postgraduate veterinary epidemiology course, delivered jointly with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
This demanding masters in veterinary epidemiology programme is led by veterinary epidemiologists and supported by policy makers from the forefront of UK government and you will gain a fascinating insight into the work of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, formerly AHVLA). Your areas of study will combine LSHTM’s strengths in epidemiological principles and communicable disease epidemiology, with the RVC’s expertise in veterinary epidemiology, animal health and production.
The MSc programme comprises six compulsory modules, followed by a 12-week research project on a relevant topic of your choice. PGDip students study five modules only and are not required to complete a research project.
Why study at the RVC?
Founded in 1791, the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, is a long-established institution with a global reputation for veterinary and biological sciences. Our mission is to provide visionary leadership and excellence in veterinary science through innovative scholarship and pioneering clinical activity. We are the only veterinary school in the world to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council.
The LSHTM is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public health and global health, and was recently named the world’s leading research-focused graduate school (Thomson Reuters / Times Higher Education, 2013). It has been cited as one of the world’s top universities for collaborative research.
The LSHTM's mission is to improve public health and health equity in the UK and worldwide, working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.
What will I learn?
Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:
- Demonstrate and understand the key concepts underpinning the discipline of veterinary and medical epidemiology
- Select an appropriate study design when confronted with an epidemiological research question and develop a detailed study protocol capable of answering the research question
- Analyse and interpret epidemiological data derived from cross-sectional, case-control and cohort studies
- Review critically the published epidemiological literature
- Apply epidemiological principles to surveillance, and infection and disease control, within animal and human populations
- Communicate effectively with researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds
- Communicate effectively with other people with an interest in human and animal health, including the general public and key policy makers.
You can choose to complete the Veterinary Epidemiology postgrad course over one year full-time study, or part time over two years.
All participants begin the course in September. Over three terms, you will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practicals and tutorials. Both MSc and Diploma students complete the Term One foundation module. MSc students then complete a further five compulsory modules over Terms Two and Three, while Diploma students complete a further four modules, with some module choice available.
Students on both courses sit written examination papers in June, after which the veterinary epidemiology MSc students will work on a research project from June to August, culminating in an oral examination in September.
Part-time students attend the course full-time from October to December in year one, followed by classes two to three days a week from January to May. You will usually study the remainder of the course in year two, including the summer research project (MSc students only).
We recognise the need for flexibility, however, and are happy to tailor your part-time study to meet your specific requirements (subject to agreement with the course director).
The teaching is delivered using the excellent facilities of the LSHTM in London as well as at the RVC’s London and Hertfordshire campuses. The course also includes a visit to the APHA (Weybridge).
The field of Veterinary Epidemiology straddles several different areas. Therefore, although you will be based at the RVC, aspects of basic epidemiology applicable to both human and animal diseases are taught at the LSHTM, and risk analysis and surveillance are taught by APHA staff.
Please see an example of a recent student project by Katherine Lewis (MSc Veterinary Epidemiology 2015-16 graduate): Creating a predicted typology for cattle herds based on routine, pre-collected data using three sample areas of the UK
If you are working in the state veterinary service and/or are interested in veterinary epidemiology, then our Masters programme will be highly relevant to you.
You must have (or expect to receive) a first or second class university honours degree. Please contact our Admissions Office if you are unsure whether your degree is equivalent to a first or second class university honours degree. As this is a multidisciplinary subject, we welcome candidates from many different backgrounds. If you have a degree in veterinary science, biological science, veterinary or human medicine, mathematics or statistics, and relevant postgraduate and veterinary work experience, then we encourage you to apply.
English language requirements
A good working knowledge of scientific English is essential in order to follow the course. All applicants must have an acceptable English Language qualification:
- IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 or above with minimum 6.5 in each component
For those without IELTS, please see our English Language Requirements page for a full list of qualifications we will accept as alternatives.
The course has highly quantitative components and, although there are opportunities to brush up on basic computer and mathematics knowledge at the start of the course, you will be expected to have basic numerical skills.
Please do have a look at the sites below to help you decide whether this course is for you.
Click here for a package of materials developed by LSHTM staff to help you refresh your basic maths skills prior to progressing with your application. The materials include an online interactive self-assessment exercise (in which you are provided with immediate feedback and solutions), PowerPoint slides and a Word document of notes, exercises and solutions.
You may also find the links below of use:
Math Tutor - UK-based site with video tutorials on more than 80 topics, including diagnostics, summary text and exercises (with those on arithmetic and algebra of most relevance for the majority of LSHTM MSc students)
The Math Forum@Drexel University - a good source to find online links to a number of topics
S-Cool A Level - includes a useful statistics section under The Basics
S-Cool GCSE - useful for indices, percentages, approximations, graphs, representing data, probability & calculators
BBC Maths GCSE Bitesize - useful for basic algebra and number (rounding & fractions)
BBC Maths Key Stage 3 Bitesize - useful for formulae and rounding off.
What will I be able to do with my qualification?
Demand for trained veterinary epidemiologists currently outstrips supply, and there are excellent opportunities in a variety of organisations involved in disease control at national, regional and international level, as well as in teaching, research and various food-related industries.
RVC graduates hold senior positions within government departments in many different countries. Many go on to work alongside the people who have taught them during the previous year. Within the UK, graduates are employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, formerly AHVLA), as well as in research centres and pharmaceutical companies.
For example, 2013/14 MSc Vet Epi graduate Luisa Dormer started work at the APHA right after completing the course. She writes, '[I am] enjoying working at APHA. I have realised just how much I learnt during the MSc [Vet Epi] now that I am putting it into practice!'
Please see Luisa's full testimonial below:
2015/16 MSc Vet Epi graduate, Anna Borlase, is doing a PhD with the RVC and LSHTM on a Bloomsbury studentship. She writes, 'I’m doing a PhD...on modelling transmission dynamics of zoonotic schistosomiasis in Senegal. Just got back from first field work in Senegal last week, and it was definitely an experience! The MSc and especially the modelling module at LSHTM are going to prove absolutely crucial for me. Without the training last year I a) would never have been offered the PhD(!), and b) wouldn’t have a clue where to start!'
Anna Borlase in Senegal.
Further afield, graduates from this programme work for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Livestock Research Centre in Nairobi. Others hold positions in government departments in New Zealand, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Spain, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Zambia, Croatia, Slovenia, Ireland, Switzerland, Pakistan, Iceland, Norway and France.
Former students have also enrolled on PhDs at leading universities worldwide, including Bristol, UK, the RVC Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health (VEEPH) Group, Cornell University, USA, and Massey University, New Zealand.
Key academic staff - RVC
Dr Julian Drewe
Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology
Professor David Brodbelt
Professor, Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine
Professor Javier Guitian
Professor of Veterinary Public Health
Dr Barbara Haesler
Lecturer in Agrihealth
Dr Jackie Cardwell
Lecturer in Epidemiology
Dr Ana Mateus
Lecturer in Veterinary Public Health
Dr Kim Stevens
Dr Kristien Verheyen
Senior Lecturer in Clinical Epidemiology
Dr Pablo Alarcon
Research Fellow in Food Systems
Key academic staff - LSHTM
Ellen Fragaszy: Research Fellow Epidemiology
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Professor Simon Cousens: Professor of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics and Research Degrees Director
Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Key academic staff - APHA
Dr Jessica Parry: Epidemiology Group Leader, Department of Epidemiological Sciences, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Defra
The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2018/19 are as follows:
Alumni Fee Discount
The Royal Veterinary College is offering a postgraduate tuition fee discount to Alumni who are self-financing their postgraduate study and meet the eligibility criteria.
Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses
RVC bursary for outstanding home/EU and international students undertaking a Masters in 2017/18.
Canadian Student Loans
The Royal Veterinary College is not involved in processing your application for a loan, however we can confirm your student status; please direct your queries to the Financialaidoffice@rvc.ac.uk
For an overview of the financial aid process for Canadian students, please visit the Campus Access website
Students should apply through their provincial student assistance office or website. When you apply for a loan, you are considered for funding by both the Provincial and Federal Government, meaning you only have to apply once for funding for the year. Federal loans are processed via the National Student Loans Service Centre and provincial loans through the provincial governments and student aid branches.
Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (DFID)
Other Sources of Financial Information for Postgraduate Taught Courses
for more information see
Postgraduate Master's Loan 2018/19
The Postgraduate Loan (PGL) will be available to students studying a postgraduate Master’s course only (taught or research-based) either full-time or part-time (including distance learning). They’ll only have to apply once, even if their course is longer than one year.
USA Student Loans
The RVC participates in the Direct Loan Program in which federal financial assistance is made available from the US Department of Education to US students studying at the RVC. The purpose of this page is to inform you about the process of applying for financial assistance.
The RVC College will originate Direct Stafford loans and Direct Graduate and Parent PLUS loans and full-time students from the USA who are attending at the RVC are normally eligible for funding. The RVC also participates in the VA Educational Benefits programme.