Our Biological Sciences and Bioveterinary Sciences courses explore the basic biological sciences that inform current biomedical research and clinical practice.

In addition to the three-year BSc Biological Sciences or BSc Bioveterinary Sciences course, you will undertake a placement year, usually in your third year.

You will spend this year working in industry, the charity sector, a government department or research institute. As well as learning on the job, you will be able to develop your employability and research skills, gain an invaluable understanding of the work place and the biosciences sector, and form new contacts – all of which will help you secure your chosen job after graduation.

You will be exposed to cutting-edge fields of research in comparative physiology and medicine, livestock production and health, and animal welfare science and ethics. You will also carry out investigative research projects in the second and fourth years of the course.

Work placements

The Certificate in Work-Based Learning and Research is achieved by completing a placement project during a placement year, which will form part of your assessment. You are required to be proactive in searching for, applying to and securing your own placement, although support and guidance on finding a placement will be provided in specific timetabled sessions and further advice will be available during lecturers’ office hours.

Most placements are salaried and students can expect to earn between £8,000 and £17,000 during the year. A placement sometimes leads to an offer of a position after graduation or future sponsorship for studying a PhD and you can certainly expect to extend your professional network.

This programme has received Advanced Accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from accredited programmes meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including subject knowledge, technical ability and transferable skills.

Please note that these are indicative modules and may be subject to change.

Year 1

- Biology of cells / 15 credits
Gain understanding of cellular structure and function, placing particular emphasis on cellular architecture, cell communication and the processing of signals received by each individual cell, and how cells are affected by the structure and function of the specialised extracellular matrix environment. This will be combined with an introduction to homeostasis at the cellular, extracellular, tissue and organ levels of the body.

- Inheritance, genetics and evolution / 15 credits
Appreciate how different characteristics are inherited leading to a fuller understanding of the mechanisms underlying all biological processes in health and disease. This module will provide a comprehensive overview of genetics from molecules to populations, and how genetics can be applied to increase our understanding of diseases and in the design of new therapies to treat them.

- Developmental biology / 15 credits
An introduction to the principles of developmental biology in humans and other vertebrates. By the end of the module, you will understand the concepts of how a single cell forms an embryo and how genes control this process.

- The moving animal / 15 credits
Locomotion is one of the primary behaviours of daily living in humans and animals, and healthy locomotor function is essential to well-being. The aim of this module is to introduce you to the principles of movement across the range of organisational levels: from the whole organism interacting with its environment, to integrated systems, tissues, and cells. This module will provide a framework to recognise healthy and impaired locomotor function, and highlight interactions among different body systems in the whole organism. You will explore how many fundamental structures and mechanisms are shared between different body systems, and how the different systems interact and influence one another.

- Integrated physiology I / 15 credits
Explore the reproductive physiology in humans and other mammals from fertilisation to an adult capable of reproduction, and study the basic concepts in immunology by defining the components of the immune system, and how they work in concert to eradicate pathogens.

- Integrated physiology II / 15 credits
A comprehensive introduction to the fundamentals of physiology using a systems-based approach. Units on fundamentals of cellular biochemistry and metabolic processes, digestive physiology, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, neurology and renal physiology, will provide a good overview of how biological processes at the cellular, tissue and organ level contribute to function of the organism as a whole.

- Problem definition and investigation / 30 credits
Develop your critical and analytical thinking whilst consolidating the biological principles learned in Year One. You will work in small groups to answer scientific questions in different areas of current research strength within the various departments of the RVC. Then, you will undertake an in-depth independent library-based project focused on an active area of research, under the supervision of an academic member of staff. Through independent analysis of the scientific literature, you will review why the scientific question that you are focusing on is important, describe the methods by which it is being investigated, and provide an analysis, with appropriate conclusions, drawn from published data.

Year 2

- The enemy within / 30 credits
Investigate various aspects of health degeneration, through genetic differences present at birth or through changes in the genetic material leading to dysfunctional growth, how ageing affects health, as well as cancer biology and immune dysfunction. You will cover genetics, protein malfunction and disorders, principles of pathology, cell division and transformation, homeostasis, breakdown and repair, and immunopathology.

- The enemy without / 30 credits
Gain insight into how pathogens enter a host and establish infections. You will study examples of bacterial, viral, parasitic and prion diseases; rather than learning a long list of pathogens, you will focus on principles and general concepts, with some illustrative examples. You will cover principles of infection, bacterial pathogenesis, virology and parasitology.

- Principles of pharmacology /15 credits
Build further understanding of physiology and pathophysiology. The module will provide fundamental knowledge of pharmacodynamics (drug action) and pharmacokinetics (the effects of the body on drugs). This module is divided into three units: principles of drug action, drug targets and selectivity of drug action.

- Research project
Undertake a pathway-specific research project. These projects involve a topic selected by an RVC supervisor in light of the areas of expertise and cutting-edge research found within the college. However, you are welcome to propose specific topics for investigation to a supervisor in that area of expertise.

Optional modules (select one):

- Applied pharmacology / 15 credits
Build on the knowledge gained in ‘Principles of Pharmacology’ and discusses issues that are relevant to the clinical use of drugs. These include drug development, registration and post-marketing surveillance. The module is divided into three units: selectivity of drug action, drugs and diseases, and from drug discovery to patients and beyond. This module will be supported by guest lecturers from the pharmaceutical industry.

- Imaging of disease / 15 credits
An overview of the different ways in which disease processes can be visualised at the molecular, cellular, tissue and whole animal level. It is organised into three week-long blocks covering the principles of pathology, the imaging techniques used in vitro to study cells and tissues, and the techniques used in vivo to study whole animals. The module will be of interest if you plan to develop a career in biomedical or comparative research using whole animal models and/or in vitro modelling systems.

- Introduction to One Health / 15 credits
An introduction to One Health principles and current disease challenges, and the application of a One Health perspective to disease prevention and control. You will explore the relationships between animal, human and ecosystem health using examples of infectious and non-communicable diseases to illustrate One Health principles within an evolutionary and ecological context.

Year 3 (Placement Year)

- Certificate in Work-Based Learning and Research
The certificate allows you to spend a year working in industry, the charity sector, a government department or research institute. As well as learning on the job, you will be able to develop your employability and research skills, gain an invaluable understanding of the work place and the biosciences sector, and form new contacts – all of which will help you secure your chosen job after graduation.

Year 4

- Research project
Undertake an investigative hypothesis driven project or dissertation allied to your own research interests, and at the end of the year present the results in the form of a written report and as an oral presentation. These projects involve a topic selected by an RVC supervisor in light of the areas of expertise and cutting-edge research found within the college. However, you are welcome to propose specific topics for investigation to a supervisor in that area of expertise.

Optional modules:

- Advanced concepts in bio-business / 15 credits
Develop a work-relevant theoretical and practical understanding of commercial innovation, within the context of human and veterinary bio-medical sciences. You will learn and experiment with the knowledge, skills and attitudes scientists need in order to play a more effective and integrated role during the development of innovative life-saving and life-enhancing products and services including new medicines, diagnostics and healthcare provision. You will be required to solve commercial problems in small groups and further develop your understanding of bioscience business, management and enterprise.

- Advanced concepts in reproduction / 15 credits
Build upon the knowledge you have gained in the first year in Reproduction. You will concentrate on the veterinary applications of research and highlight how it makes a real impact on animal health and welfare. You will learn cellular and molecular aspects of reproductive biology from gonadal development and function to ovulation, fertilization and embryo and germ cells development, and establishment and maintenance of pregnancy and placental immunology in animals.

- Applied molecular microbiology / 15 credits
In addition to their importance as pathogens, microbes have many beneficial uses. This module will give students the opportunity to explore the beneficial biotechnological use of microbes in the food industry, and in human and animal health. The module will explore the use of microbes as factories, microbes and food, microbes in research and microbes and health. The module will highlight the historical and state of the art applications of microbes as useful organisms, and you will have hands-on opportunities to explore how microbes can be used for the production of biopharmaceuticals.

- Advanced skeletal pathobiology / 15 credits
Failures in the skeletal system, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, provide one of the major challenges to human and animal welfare. Research activities in skeletal pathobiology are commonly directed at understanding the development, growth, ageing and functional maintenance of the skeletal system as well as the evolution of bone and joint pathologies. This module will introduce you to a broad range of skeletal tissues, and explore the anatomy, physiology and functional failure and on occasion include comparative aspects of the skeletal system across species.

- Animal behaviour and cognition / 15 credits
Conduct theoretical and applied training in animal behaviour science and animal cognition. You will focus on wild animals, but relevance to domesticated animals will be made clear and examples will be given. You will cover mammals and birds in depth, but will also build your understanding of reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. This module includes a dog training demonstration and a visit to a professional animal behaviour conference.

- Applied animal welfare / 15 credits
Examine important animal welfare issues from a national and global perspective. Investigate and critically evaluate the demands of current and future practices on the welfare of animals under the domain of humans. This module will include visits to an abattoir, livestock market, London Zoo and to a farm.

- Comparative animal locomotion / 30 credits
An exciting, hands-on introduction to the field of comparative animal locomotion at all levels. If we can understand how brains, muscles, and skeletons work together to produce locomotion, in the full context of other animals and the natural environment, then we will not only have solved one of the great mysteries of the natural world, but we stand to improve the lives of all animals, including humans, through treatment of neurological and musculoskeletal disease.

Animal locomotion is an integrative, dynamic field of study and it is currently at an extraordinary juncture. You will need a willingness to think conceptually about how animals move, and examples will be drawn across the animal kingdom so you can appreciate the breath-taking diversity of movement strategies.

- Comparative models of disease / 15 credits
The role of animal models in the understanding of human and animal physiology and in the treatment of infectious diseases is controversial. Modern society is increasingly re-evaluating the value of animal life and, consequently, questioning the use of animal disease models. In this module, you will be introduced into the rationale behind the use of animal models and the increasing number of alternatives, including cells, isolated tissues, zebra fish and drosophila. You will examine the key aspects that need to be considered when developing and analysing models of disease and its uses and limitations.

- Development and disease / 15 credits
The nervous system is by far the most complex tissue in any animal. By understanding the molecular and cellular basis of nervous system development, we aim to understand how changes in these processes result in developmental defects – both morphological and function. For example, significant change in the morphology of the brain can be seen in conditions such as holoprosencephaly whereas functional changes are seen in autism and schizophrenia. This module will give insight into the latest research in nervous system development, and will give you the opportunity to develop your understanding of how researchers employ animal models in this research and inform you of the latest applications of developmental biology research, including the use of stem cells and molecular editing techniques.

- Endocrine and metabolic syndromes / 15 credits
The increasing problem of obesity in the human and pet population has resulted in a dramatic increase in research efforts to understand and influence metabolism, and treat associated side effects. We will seek to integrate the basic science of endocrinology into more translational topics relating to the diseases and syndromes associated with disorders of endocrinology and metabolism. The module will focus specifically on clinical abnormalities affecting blood glucose regulation and feeding, growth and metabolism, endocrine-related cancers, and reproductive disorders including those affecting sex differentiation and intersex.

- Epidemiology: the bigger picture / 15 credits
Discover more about how diseases affect animal and human populations, and how to select the best ways to try to control diseases. You will explore what One Health is, how to investigate a disease outbreak, pandemic prevention, and what the challenges are of working with wildlife. You to discover the patterns, causes, and effects of diseases in animal populations. The key concepts of epidemiology are taught in a structured way, and case studies of pets, livestock, horses and wildlife will show you how to apply what you learn in the real world.

- Infection and immunity / 30 credits
Infectious diseases continue to be one of the major challenges to animal and human health worldwide, and new pathogens are emerging and spreading to new geographical ranges. An understanding of the biology of pathogens, how they behave in the host animal and animal populations, and an understanding of how the host combats infection are all requirements of modern and successful control strategies. This module will introduce you to key aspects that need to be considered when defining and controlling infectious diseases in individual animals and populations, using examples from virology, bacteriology and parasitology.

- Parasitology of human and veterinary tropical diseases / 15 credits
Study major human and veterinary parasitic tropical diseases from the viewpoints of immunology, epidemiology, pathology, treatment and control. This module will cover major human tropical diseases caused by protozoan and helminth parasites. Major veterinary tropical parasitic diseases that cause significant production losses and/or are significant zoonoses will be covered. For each disease, interesting aspects of research conducted on these organisms will be highlighted.

- Practical investigative biology / 15 credits
An intense training course in cell and molecular biology, with a view to equipping you with the practical and design skills required to undertake research in areas of molecular biology. You will complete a ‘mini-project’, where you will generate a plasmid DNA construct, amplify this in bacteria, purify and analyse the resulting DNA, then transiently express this gene in a eukaryotic cell line before analysing the effects of its expression by cell imaging techniques (confocal microscopy and flow cytometry).

- Science of animal welfare / 15 credits
Undertake theoretical and methodological training in animal welfare science, which is broadly equivalent to the biology of sensations, motivation and emotions. This module will cover a range of behavioural, physiological and other indicators of diverse welfare states, illustrated with examples including wild, farm, companion, and laboratory animals. As part of this module, you will take small group tours of appropriate animals in the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals to observe behavioural indicators of pain and sickness and the efforts made to alleviate suffering.

You can also take several optional modules at King’s College London during your fourth year.

Teaching
The Royal Veterinary College is a dynamic place to study, where you will utilise state-of-the-art technology in our research labs, and a modern, innovative curriculum. You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and group work scenarios. The practical elements of your course will be carried out in our laboratories, and may be related to the College’s ongoing research activities.

Self-directed learning
Outside of your timetabled lectures and practical sessions, you are expected to undertake self-directed learning. Typically, this involves working on your own research project, reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for examinations.

Teaching staff
The RVC has renowned researchers and scientists delivering each module. Our staff are passionate about their field, and they are highly qualified. All RVC students are assured teaching of the highest standard.

Teaching contact hours

In a typical week, you will have between 15 - 20 contact hours of teaching. These contact hours are usually made up from:

  • Personal tutorial, small group and practical teaching: 8 – 10 hours per week
  • Large-group teaching: 8 – 10 hours per week
  • Self-direct learning: 5 hours per week

Assessment and feedback

You will be continuously assessed throughout your course, followed by final examinations. You will also be assessed on in-course work, such as completing tests, analysing data and samples, delivering presentations, and writing essays. A major part of your biological sciences courses is the undertaking of a research project.

The estimated breakdown of assessment for your final grade is:

  • Written (coursework, which may include essays, presentations, journal clubs) - 25%
  • Examination (practical, written) – 50%
  • Projects (individual and group work, research) - 25%

Academic qualifications

The academic entry requirements for the BSc Biological Sciences or BSc Bioveterinary Sciences with a Certificate in Work-Based Learning and Research are the same as those for the Biological Sciences or Bioveterinary Sciences courses.

Click below for further details:

Entry onto the Placement Year is subject to satisfactory progression and preparation in Years 1 and 2.

English language requirements

  • IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 or above with minimum 6.5 in each component

All applicants must have an acceptable English Language qualification, many of which are listed under 'Academic qualifications' above. Please see our English Language Requirements page for a list of qualifications we accept as alternatives.

What will I be able to do with my degree?

During your placement year, you will learn on the job, develop your employability and research skills, gain an invaluable understanding of the work place and the biosciences sector, and form new contacts – all of which will help you secure your chosen job after graduation.

Employment options

Our Bioveterinary science students often opt to stay within the veterinary industry although their knowledge is also applicable to humans. Our Biological science students may wish to translate their knowledge to either animal or human related health industries. For those who wish to translate their knowledge into clinical practice, the degree allows one to apply for both graduate Medicine and Veterinary Medicine programmes.  

Other graduates go on to hold prominent positions in:

  • the pharmaceutical industry
  • the agricultural industry
  • government
  • the medical research sector
  • publishing

Some graduates use their skills to become entrepreneurs or to go into alternative careers such as graduate schemes in the actuarial and banking sectors, the conservation and charity sectors or education. There is a broad range of potential careers out there waiting for our graduates in whatever field they wish to turn their hands to. We encourage our graduates to seek fulfilment and enrichment in their careers and aim to expose them to a variety of opportunities that may pique their interest and broaden their horizons. 

Postgraduate research options

One very popular route following graduation from the BSc Bioveterinary Sciences programme is postgraduate study. Since the course was established in 2002 (first graduates 2005) numerous graduates have gone on to study PhDs at the RVC. These have included the following research projects:

  • Renal proteases, ENaC, P2X receptors and blood pressure control
  • Fat and foul, foal fiends: the role of fatty acid and cholesterol catabolism in the pathogenesis of Rhodococcus equi
  • Tissue-specific roles for cyclooxygenase isoforms in endothelial cell function and angiogenesis
  • The regulation in bone cells of Sost/sclerostin by mechanical strain
  • Spatial vision and social discrimination in the hen: from perception to cognition
  • Structural and functional specialisation of locomotion in the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)
  • Effects of camelid antibodies on disease progression in prion-infected mice
  • Comparative sensory biomechanics of locomotion in horses, dogs, and insects
  • Identification of host factors which restrict African swine fever virus replication
  • Role of the sulphatases Sulf1A and Sulf1B in canine cancer
  • Predisposition to pasture-associated laminitis: role of insulin resistance and chronic inflammation
  • Deciphering the chemokine repertoire in chickens and their role in disease resistance
  • Physiological and biomechanical assessment of free-ranging sports dogs.

BSc Bioveterinary Sciences graduate Michelle Reeve, who is currently a PhD student in the RVC's Structure and Motion Lab, has been featured in The Independent newspaper discussing her research in the lab and the path that has brought her here - Where might a career in science take you?

RVC INSIDER:

"Working within molecular diagnostics was a once in a lifetime chance.

I was incredibly lucky to get a placement at Lumora Ltd. I have always had an interest in DNA and genetics.

During my placement I have had the opportunity to evaluate and develop several DNA tests, some of which are now on the commercial market! It was fascinating to be involved with the development process from an initial target organism to a fully viable test. I also had the chance to work on blue skies research – a daunting but extremely liberating experience. Lab book writing, sequence analysis and primer design are just some of the highly valuable and transferable skills I now have, that should put me in good stead for the future.

I hope to continue my career in genetics for a long time to come."

--Kirsty Davies, BSc Bioveterinary Science student with Certificate in Work-based Learning

The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2018/19 are as follows:

UK/EU Tuition FeesInternational Fees

Island Fees (Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

£9,250 £18,570 £10,500

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.

  • For Sandwich/ Placement year fees for UK, EU and international students see link
  • Students from countries outside the European Union (EU) who wish to undertake full-time study at the RVC are required to pay the international fee for their programme of study (please see Fee status section).
  • Information on Fees & Funding for existing students can be found here

Funding Options

Bank Of England Scholarship Programme

Bank of England Scholarship for new students starting a full-time undergraduate degree in September 2017 from a black or mixed African/Caribbean background.

Bank of England in partnership with Windsor Fellowship

If you're from a black or mixed African/Caribbean background and are looking for financial support whilst at university, our scholarship programme may be for you.

It’s a great way to experience our fascinating work as a central Bank in a collaborative and inclusive environment. The programme will provide you with:

Up to £30,000 to support living costs during your undergraduate degree.

• Paid summer internships.

Mentoring, coaching and support from a member of our team.

The programme is open to students who are eligible to work and study in the UK, with at least 260 UCAS points and a household income below £50,000. You must be planning to start a full-time undergraduate degree in Autumn 2017.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 26th February 2017

Applications for the 2017 intake are now closed.

To register your interest for the 2018 and to find out more about the full eligibility criteria, visit see link.

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