What is the RVC/ZSL MSc in Wild Animal Health?

Since its inception in 1994 this world-class Masters course has produced hundreds of graduates, originating from dozens of countries.

It provides qualified veterinarians with a critical understanding of the management of wild animals and the epidemiology, treatment and control of wildlife disease. The course provides practical exposure to wild species in a captive setting and an understanding of their health, welfare and conservation. This masters also provides training in research methods relevant to the study of wildlife in both captive and wild settings.

The Masters in Wild Animal Health is taught jointly by the Royal Veterinary College and the Zoological Society of London. Aimed at qualified veterinarians, the course will equip you with an in-depth knowledge of the management of wild animals and epidemiology, treatment and control of diseases. You will benefit from working and studying alongside biology/zoology graduates taking the associated MSc in Wild Animal Biology as well as learning from internationally renowned experts in their field.

Programme delivery

This specialist Masters course is completed over one-year full time study, commencing in the Autumn. The bulk of teaching takes place at The Zoological Society of London, Regents Park, with time also spent at Whipsnade Zoo and Royal Veterinary College, Camden and Hawkshead Campuses.

We deliver the course through two terms of lectures, seminars, tutorials and problem-based learning, with modular examinations.

The MSc includes a research project over the summer months (May-August) prior to final assessment. The course is organised by discipline (eg epidemiology, anaesthesiology, virology) with information relating to specific taxa included in lectures throughout the course.

You will learn the principles of each subject, and taxa-specific lectures are included to exemplify these principles.

Course participants play an active role in lectures, seminars, tutorials and clinical work. There are no part-time or distance learning options available.

The course starts in September each year.

Full Time

Term 1

There is a two-week orientation period that includes an introduction to studying at the Royal Veterinary College and ZSL, followed by four compulsory modules: 

  • Conservation Science (ZSL)
  • Ecosystems Health & Anthropogenic Drivers of Disease Emergence (ZSL)
  • Principles of Epidemiology and Surveillance (RVC)
  • Research Skills and Statistical Analysis (RVC)

Term 2

All students take the following 4 compulsory modules:

  • Health & Welfare of Captive Wild Animals (ZSL)
  • Practical Studies/Rotations (ZSL)
  • Wild Animal Health & Conservation Interventions (ZSL)
  • Wildlife Disease Investigation & Surveillance (ZSL)

Term 3

Research Project

The Research Project runs in Term 3 from end of April/beginning of May through to the end of August. 

To enquire about the exact start date please email admissions@rvc.ac.uk.

What will I learn?

The course provides participants with:      

  • A critical awareness of current problems in wildlife disease with implications for wildlife conservation and welfare. 
  • A new insight into veterinary interventions for the management of captive and free-living wild animal.      
  • A systematic understanding of the biological principles underpinning wild animal conservation and management, and the epidemiology, diagnosis and control of wildlife disease.      
  • Basic competence in veterinary techniques and preventative medicine for wild animals.
  • A conceptual and practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create knowledge in the field of wild animal health.      
  • A comprehensive understanding of scientific skills, including critical review of the scientific literature, and design and analysis of laboratory or field studies.

Upon completion of the MSc in Wild Animal Health, you will have gained the analytical skills, the understanding, the confidence and the language to influence thinking and policy making within a wide range of organisations, such as zoos, national parks, universities, conservation organisations and government departments worldwide.

Useful links

Here are some other useful and interesting veterinary and wildlife-related web sites:

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Academic qualifications

We invite applications from candidates with a first or second class honours Veterinary degree from a recognised veterinary school and at least one year of postgraduate veterinary experience.

We are keen to see some relevant work experience in a zoo, wildlife rehabilitation centre or wildlife hospital.

Graduates of the MSc Wild Animal Health, are, unfortunately, not eligible to apply for either the European College of Zoological Medicine Residencies offered by ZSL/RVC (Zoo Health Management or Wildlife Population Health). This position is the result of the way these positions are funded and UK government tax rules. 

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.

What will I be able to do with my qualification?

The world-class specialist MSc in Wild Animal Health has produced over 190 graduates since its inception in 1994.

Our graduates have gone on to work with both captive and free-living wild animals as clinicians, pathologists, epidemiologists, academics and senior management in zoological collections, national parks, universities and government departments worldwide.

Others continue to work towards a PhD or DVetMed with either the ZSL or RVC, or at other leading research institutes.

See the ZSL website for detailed career profiles of some recent graduates.

Jessica Quinlan, MSc Wild Animal Health - Graduated in 2023

During the course, I enjoyed gaining new insights into different methods of conservation and understanding wildlife disease from an epidemiological perspective and receiving lectures from many of the top scientists and conservationists in their fields.

I was able to have chances to monitor the general anaesthesia and take blood samples from a variety of species that I have not worked with before, including marmosets and penguins.

One particular highlight of the course is all of the people across the world that you are able to meet, both lecturers and colleagues. The research project was also a particular highlight and provided a lot of fun and experience as well as hard work.

I would recommend this course for biologists and veterinarians who are interested in learning about the epidemiology of wildlife disease, as well as wildlife conservation.

I am currently a practising vet and I am working more with exotic species. I hope to complete a PhD focused on wildlife disease in the future.

María José Duque-Correa, MSc Wild Animal Health - Graduated in 2020

I am currently a Ph.D. student at the Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets, and Wildlife at the University of Zurich. My research is about ecological and evolutionary anatomy. Specifically the relationship of diet and other biological factors on intestinal length across vertebrates. I also supervise masters and undergrad students and do some teaching.

Studying at the RVC helped my career in several ways. First, I acquired and improved skills that I use every day now. Critical thinking, data management, and scientific writing, among others. Second, during the year, we had lectures from several invited lectures, which is how I came across the research being done by my current supervisor.

What I enjoyed most about studying at the RVC was the quality of the teaching and variety of subjects covered. It was also good to be in a very international environment and be able to meet people from around the world.

Key academic staff

Co-Course/Deputy Co-Course Directors

  • Dr Maria Diez Leon (RVC)
    María is the co-course director on the MSc WAB and WAH courses and is based at the RVC. María graduated in Biology at the University of Navarra. She went on to pursue an MSc. in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a PhD in the same field at the University of Guelph. Along with Chris, her role is to oversee the whole course, ensure that the modules are well integrated, and to ensure that the courses are meeting their objectives. 

  • Chris Yesson (ZSL)
    Chris Yesson is the co-course director on the MSc WAB and WAH courses and is based at ZSL. Chris works in Greenland and other areas, using a range of survey techniques, including a variety of camera surveys, to examine temperate and polar seabed habitats such as kelp forests and cold-water coral fields. 

  • Dr Becki Lawson (ZSL)
    Becki Lawson graduated from the MSc WAH course in 2000 and has lectured and acted as module leader on the MSc WAB and WAH courses in recent years, before becoming deputy co-course director at ZSL. Becki is a wildlife veterinarian whose research focuses on wildlife disease investigation and surveillance of native species in Great Britain.

Module Leaders:

  • Dr Becki Lawson (ZSL)
    Senior Research Fellow

  • Dr Marcus Rowcliffe (ZSL)
    Senior Research Fellow

  • Lewis Rowden (ZSL)
    Zoo Research Officer

  • Dr Tony Sainsbury (ZSL)
    Senior Lecturer, Wild Animal Health

  • Dan Simmonds (ZSL)
    Team Leader, Primates

  • Dr Simon Spiro (ZSL)
    Wildlife Veterinary Pathologist

  • Dr Taina Strike (ZSL)
    European Veterinary Specialist in Zoological Medicine (Zoo Health Management) 

  • Dr Ben Tapley (ZSL)
    Curator of Reptiles & Amphibians

  • Andres Valenzuela-Sanchez (ZSL)
    Research Fellow in Wildlife Health

  • Chris Yesson (ZSL)
    Research Fellow

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2024/25 are as follows:

Home Tuition Fees including Island Fees (Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

International Fees


Tuition fee amounts are subject to increase each academic year, please be aware of this when making your calculations and planning how much money you will require.

Funding Options

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.

The value of the discount is 20% for all Alumni.

Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses

RVC bursary for outstanding home and international students undertaking a Masters in 2024/25.   

The RVC postgraduate bursary will be offering a discretionary amount, typically of £5,000 upwards per recipient, to select outstanding home and international students undertaking a Masters in 2024/25. These will be allocated on a highly competitive basis to students applying for a full-time place.

Bursaries will be allocated in or by July 2024 at the discretion of the Scholarship Allocation Board. All students who have applied by the course deadline or 5 June 2024 (whichever is soonest) and have been offered a full-time place will be considered. Priority will be given to those who have met the English language requirements, or shown evidence of their exam booking, by 5 June 2024.

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 Master’s Scholarships

This scholarship is only available to students from Member countries of the Commonwealth.

Applications for Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships for the academic year 2023/24 are now closed

Applicants can expect to hear the outcome of their applications by June 2024.

Commonwealth Master’s Scholarships are for candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, to undertake full-time taught Master’s study at a UK university.

For full details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit: https://cscuk.fcdo.gov.uk/scholarships/commonwealth-masters-scholarships/

Fulbright scholarship

Other Sources of Financial Information for Postgraduate Taught Courses

Other sources of financial information for postgraduate taught courses:

  1. Contact your local ministry of education/education department. They may provide a scholarship scheme that supports study in the UK.
  2.  Visit the British Council. They will be able to advise you on British scholarship schemes and provide other information about studying in the UK.
  3. The UK government and other UK and EU organisations offer a number of scholarships to enable international students to study in the UK.

Postgraduate Master's Loan

Postgraduate Master's Loan is funding to help with course and living costs whilst studying a postgraduate Master’s level course. The loan is seen as a contribution to the costs of postgraduate study, and is paid directly to the students, so you can spend it as you wish – tuition fees, accommodation, course books, and living expenses.

Further Information

Russell E. Train Fellowship Grant

The 2023 Russell E. Train Fellowship Application deadline for submission was 15th February 2023.

Study a Master's in Europe Scholarship

Study abroad scholarship worth €5000. This scholarship is open to students from any country who are planning to study a Master's degree at a European university in the autumn 2024.

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