Veterinary nurses play a vital role within the veterinary industry in caring for sick, injured and hospitalised animals, and contributing to the ongoing care of animals.

This includes undertaking minor surgeries and procedures, and delivering medical treatments and tests.Veterinary nurses also take on the responsibilities of customer care within a surgery, clinic or hospital setting, and therefore must develop client-facing skills alongside knowledge of animal care.

The BSc Veterinary Nursing course is designed to produce veterinary nurses who have the knowledge and skills to make a significant contribution to animal health and welfare. You will be exposed to practical training within the first three foundation years of the programme, where you have the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills within a real-life environment. At the end of this period (providing you have met the assessment requirements), you will achieve your professional veterinary nursing qualification via the award of a FdSc Veterinary Nursing. The FdSc Veterinary Nursing is accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and successful completion of this interim award permits registration with the RCVS as a veterinary nurse.

During your final year, you will undertake a research project on an area of clinical interest and choose from a range of innovative modules taught by RVC nurse educators and world-renowned clinicians from the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals. This is a challenging degree course that delivers a broad programme of learning, and offers a fascinating introduction to veterinary nursing.

Veterinary Nursing courses are delivered primarily at our Hawkshead Campus as well as utilising a variety of placement practices to gain the practical skills required for a Registered Veterinary Nurse. 

Lyuben Dzhugdanov, BSc Veterinary Nursing

The course is so comprehensive and covers every aspect of the veterinary nursing profession. You navigate so many different topics while learning. Each module gives you the theory to become a knowledgeable nurse while placement allows you to learn and grow clinical skills whilst applying what you’ve learnt on campus to practice.

Undertaking placement at your own local practices and the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals will see you experience a range of medical departments that will leave you feeling like an accomplished veterinary nurse by the time you graduate.


You will be entitled to practise as a veterinary nurse as soon as you have earned your degree and registered as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Our FdSc and BSc courses are accredited by ACOVENE, setting the standard for the delivery of veterinary nurse education.

The BSc Veterinary Nursing course consists of modules totalling 360 credits. You will also complete at least 1,800 hours of practical training at a range of excellent veterinary practices, giving you real insight into the day-to-day role of the veterinary nurse. To ensure fair evaluation, the skills and knowledge you acquire will be assessed in a variety of ways as the course progresses.

The course is undergoing reaccreditation with the regulatory body and internal review in 2019. While the content covered will remain the same in line with the RCVS day one skills and competencies and the QAA subject benchmarks, the proposed changes will result in changes in module size and style of delivery for the September 2020 intake.

Year 1

Academic and Professional Development 1 (30 credits)

  • Study skills for university
  • communication skills
  • Veterinary legislation and professionalism
  • veterinary ethics

This module will also prepare the student for practical placement and introduce them to the requirements of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) day one skills and competencies of a Registered Veterinary Nurse.

Applied animal health and welfare 1 (30 credits)

  • introduction to animal behaviour
  • animal welfare 
  • animal accommodation 
  • handling and restraint
  • introduction to nursing techniques
  • patient assessment - formulating care plans
  • nutrition
  • breeds and breeding
  • pharmacy
  • key principles of anatomy and physiology
  • comparative anatomy of common exotics and bird

Applied animal health and welfare 2 (30 credits)

  • Health and safety - working safely in veterinary practice
  • infection control - hospital hygiene
  • preparing and assisting with veterinary procedures
  • aims and principles of first aid
  • assessment and triage of the emergency patient
  • nursing care of emergency patients
  • key principles of anatomy and physiology
  • comparative anatomy of common exotics and birds

Year 2

Academic and Professional Development 2 (15 credits)
This module is designed to continue building on the introductory module in year one and will be delivered alongside the modules in year two to continue to develop the students’ academic skills. Study strategies in academic writing, reflection and working together and presentation will be developed further.  Reflection on working in placement and application of previous experience to the theoretical modules will be encouraged. Students will have opportunities to continue building on their day one skills portfolio through attending the Royal Veterinary College hospitals.   

Diagnostic Techniques (30 credits) 
This module gives you an insight into all methods of diagnostic imaging and enables you to prepare a range of species assisting with various diagnostic procedures. In addition, it will cover the theory and practice in order to be able to process pathological samples for diagnostic purposes. The principles of parasitology, virology and bacteriology are also covered and clinical relevance explored.    

Understanding Disease (15 credits) 
This module builds on the content covered in the first year and focuses on the pathophysiological processes involved in animal disease and malfunction. Applied clinical pharmacology is an essential part of the nursing care of a range of species. Recognition of side effects of drugs and acknowledgement of barriers to compliance are key aspects of veterinary nursing. An understanding of the absorption, effect on the body and excretion of the drugs used to treat a variety of conditions is essential.    

Theatre Practice (15 credits) 
The role of the veterinary nurse in running a surgical suite at the veterinary practice encompasses a range of activities from ensuring an aseptic environment to assisting with surgical interventions. This module also encompasses aspects of postoperative veterinary nursing care to ensure a smooth recovery from the surgical procedures for a range of species.  

Veterinary Anaesthesia (15 credits) 
Monitoring anaesthesia in veterinary patients is a key role for the veterinary nurse. Knowledge of the equipment to deliver anaesthesia as well as methods of monitoring anaesthesia is required. This module covers the principles of anaesthesia in a range of species; from the pre-anaesthetic assessment to maintaining anaesthesia and the recovery period. Methods of pain scoring and the physiology of pain will be explored. The effects of the anaesthetic and analgesic drugs on the physiology of the body will also be covered.    

Emergency and Critical Care (15 credits) 
Building on the aspects of first aid discussed in year one, more intensive nursing and the emergency triage of body systems for a range of species are introduced. Fluid balance in the body is revisited with respect to the main electrolytes and their replacement in fluid therapy techniques. Transfusion medicine and blood typing are introduced. Intensive nursing care of the critical patient requires intensive monitoring and patient care techniques.   

Year 3

Academic and Professional Development 3 (30 credits) 
This module builds on the previous two Academic and Professional Development modules ensuring the graduate RVN has the academic and professional skills required for life-long learning.  The focus will be on critical appraisal and evaluation of evidence, independent learning and problem-solving skills.  Students will be expected to complete the RCVS day one skills and competencies, required placement hours and will be summatively assessed on a sample of these skills in a 16 station Objective Structured Clinical Examination.   

The Professional Veterinary Nurse (30 credits) 
This module consolidates the theory and practical experience gain during the course ensuring that the students are prepared to encompass the responsibilities of a Registered Veterinary Nurse. The framework of clinical governance will be explored identifying how this may improve veterinary practice. Reflection on professional identity and the future of the profession.  Working in a veterinary practice can be stressful and while this may initially increase productivity, the highly emotional nature of the job can lead to anxiety and compassion fatigue. Methods of coping with this aspect of the role will be explored and development of coping strategies encouraged. Registered Veterinary Nurses are often involved in practice management and so an introduction to running a business is incorporated. This module will be delivered alongside the placement activity in year 3 to enable students to apply their knowledge to practice situations.  

Year 4

Research methods (30)

Build on the skills gained in the Professional Practice module studied in your third year, or the Introduction to Research module studied in the ‘top-up’ degree. In this module you will enhance your awareness of a range of research methods. Statistical analysis will be introduced and you will undertake small scale analyses of data collected. You will also undertake a number of tasks that enable you to apply generic research skills.

Final year project (60) 

Use the skills examined in the Research Methods module to investigate an area of clinical interest and present information and findings in the form of a project. This may be proposing a project for improvement in clinical nursing practice or by carrying out a project based on a hypothesis concerning clinical practice. At the end of this module, you will have experience of carrying out independent research and be able to relate theory to current practice. You will be able to further development your skills in critical analysis and reflection.

Elective pathways (students undertake 2 x 15 credit modules or one 30 credit module)  

Advanced Practice Toolkit (15 credits) 

The aim of this module is to encourage students to investigate veterinary nursing in terms of the wider community to allow students to appreciate the role of the veterinary nurse in leadership. Students will be encouraged to evaluate and analyse the frameworks that define veterinary nursing and develop arguments to both challenge and support convention and tradition and, through the process of reflection, develop ideas and plans for the future.  Students will be encouraged to reflect on the role and identify their own strengths and weaknesses in relation to leadership skills and mechanisms for staff development. In addition, the role of training and mentorship within the practice will be explored.

Pathology (15 credits)

This module is designed to deepen your understanding of the development of diseases and their diagnosis. It will enable you to provide the most appropriate care for your patients and also assist you in supporting the client, to help them understand about the disease process in their pet. The module is designed to build on the skills you have already attained in the earlier parts of the course and to develop new skills where appropriate.

BSc Anaesthesia (30 credits)

This module consists of two units form the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing course concentrates on developing and integrating theoretical knowledge which can be used to provide advanced nursing support applicable to anaesthesia in all types of veterinary practice. You will cover different types of drugs used during anaesthesia, while using patient scenarios to build upon and develop your newly acquired knowledge. You will also cover different types of anaesthetic maintenance and monitoring equipment, while using patient scenarios to build upon and develop your newly acquired knowledge. Content will be explored by critically reviewing current practice, and problem-solving and thus equipping you with the competence to assess future developments and where they might fit into improving the nursing care of patients.

BSc Emergency and Critical Care (30 credits)

This module consists of two units form the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Nursing course and will provide you with an advanced level of knowledge of emergency nursing. You will develop knowledge and understanding of the skills and techniques required to provide advanced nursing support to emergency and trauma patients, integrating theoretical and practical knowledge to develop a structured and analytical approach to these patients.  You will gain an advanced level of knowledge to enable you to develop a more critical appreciation of, and approach to, emergency and critical care nursing.


Students learn knowledge and understanding through attendance at lectures, seminars, workshops and through a variety of directed and self-directed learning activities and through placement time.

Self-directed learning

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

Teaching staff

World-renowned clinicians and registered veterinary nurses teach the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing, and you will benefit from studying in an environment of cutting-edge veterinary research.

Assessment and feedback

The course is undergoing reaccreditation with the regulatory body and internal review in 2019. While the content covered will remain the same in line with the RCVS day one skills and competencies and the QAA subject benchmarks, the proposed changes will result in changes in module size and style of delivery for the September 2020 intake.  

(Based on 2019) You will be assessed throughout your course by coursework, clinical assessment, examination and report writing.

The estimated breakdown of assessment for your final grade is:

  • Written (coursework, tests, essays) - 30%
  • Examination (written) – 35%
  • Examination (practical) – 9%
  • Projects (individual and group work, research) - 21%
  • Presentation (presenting case studies, posters) - 5%

You will need to fulfil our requirements in each of the following areas to be considered for interview:

Academic qualifications

The standard academic requirements for entry onto the BSc in Veterinary Nursing are outlined below. 

A Levels

BCC in three A Level subjects including:

  • Biology at grade B

Two AS Levels at grade C would be accepted in place of one of the further A Level subjects. 

We also require a 'pass' in the science practical for each subject, where taking the English curriculum.

For further information on our policy on reformed UK qualifications, please click here.

We support the opportunity to take additional subjects at AS Level, but do not prescribe or prefer any particular subject choices or combinations. 

The non-prescribed A Level subjects should not overlap with Biology.  

Northern Irish applicants:

A Level ‘Life and Health Sciences (Double Award)’

We welcome applications with A Level ‘Life and Health Sciences’ (double award only) in place of A Level Biology. However, Unit A2 5 is mandatory; Unit A2 6 or A2 8 is also required. The grade requirement is BC and a C in a different A Level that does not overlap in content.

See additional GCSE requirements below.

Welsh, Scottish and Irish Applicants

Welsh Baccalaureate

Applicants who have achieved the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate with grade C will be accepted with two A Levels, including:

  • Biology at grade B
  • Another subject of your choice (excl. General Studies) at grade C

We support the opportunity to take additional subjects at AS Level, but do not prescribe or prefer any particular subject choices or combinations.

See additional GCSE requirements.

Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

Two Advanced Highers at grades BC including:

  • Biology at grade B

In addition to:

Three Highers at grade C or above

and at least five National 5* A-C grades including:

  • Mathematics

with at least grade B in:

  • English
  • Biology, Chemistry or Physics

* If you have bypassed one or more of these subjects at National 5, you will need this subject/grade at Higher level. 

Irish Leaving Certificate

H3 in Biology, plus H4 H4 H4 H5. 

If not achieved at H4 as part of the above, O3 required in:

  • English

If not achieved as part of the above, O4 required in:

  • Mathematics

Diplomas and Further Certificates (Including Access and L3 Extended Diploma)

All qualifications below are considered on top of existing Level 2 requirements (e.g. GCSEs, National 5s, O Levels, etc). If you are not sure you have equivalent qualifications, please contact us at 

Access to HE Diploma (England and Wales)

Pass a Science-based Diploma with a minimum of:  

  • 15 Level 3 credits in Biology at Merit or higher, and
  • 9 further Level 3 credits at Merit or higher. 

See the Access to Higher Education website to search for possible courses in your area. 

Birkbeck College's CertHE in Life Sciences for Subjects Allied to Medicine

Pass all modules within this qualification with:

  • Merits in all Biology modules, and
  • One other module at Merit or higher.  

See the Birkbeck website for further details. This course is based in London. 

Level 3 Extended Diploma    

Applied Generals

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Applied Science / Applied Science (Biomedical Science)

DDM overall (no specific unit requirements).

Tech Levels

City & Guilds Level 3 Advanced Technical Extended Diploma in Animal Management (Science)

DDM overall with Distinctions in:         

  • Biological Systems of Animals        
  • Theory Exam (1) 

Candidates also need to achieve at least Merit in elective module:         

  • Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Animal Management (1080)

DDM overall with Distinctions in:

  • Animal Biology (120)        
  • Animal Health and Diseases (60)        
  • Practical Animal Husbandry (60)

Candidates also need to achieve at least Merits in elective modules:         

  • Principles of Animal Nursing (60)        
  • Exotic Animal Husbandry (60)

Level 3 Extended Diploma (unreformed syllabus)

Applied Science (2010 syllabus) QCF

DDM overall required.

We would expect applicants to be studying ample units covering the life sciences.

Animal Management (2010 syllabus) QCF  

DDM overall required, including Distinctions in all the following units:  

  • Understand and Promote Animal Health
  • Understand Animal Anatomy and Physiology
  • Undertake Animal Handling and Safe Working

Candidates also need to achieve Merits in the following units:  

  • Understand the Principles and Undertake the Practice of Animal Nursing
  • Understand the Principles and Carry Out the Practice of Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry

If you are not predicted to achieve Distinctions/Merits in the required modules, you may want to see the entry requirements for our FdSc in Veterinary Nursing.  

Cambridge Pre-U

M2, M3, P1 in three Principal Subjects including:  

  • Biology at grade M2

Applications are welcome from those who meet our science requirements and are taking a combination of A Levels and the Cambridge Pre-U. Offers will be made on an individual basis, depending on the combinations.  


We have considered the programme specifications and assessment materials for the T-level subjects currently available and these do not provide suitable preparation the degrees that we offer at the RVC. We are therefore currently unable to accept T-levels as entry qualifications to any of our courses.

As further T Level subjects are introduced the specifications will be reviewed and, if they are suitable for entry to the RVC, they will be added to the lists of acceptable qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

Pass the IB Diploma with 544 in the Higher Level subjects, including:

  • HL Biology at grade 5

Our standard offer is based on specific subject-grade requirements, rather than a total points score.

See additional GCSE requirements above.

Where candidates have not taken GCSEs or an equivalent qualification prior to the IB, they will need:

  • EITHER grade 4 in MYP Mathematics (standard or extended) OR grade 4 in SL Mathematics Analysis and approaches OR grade 4 in SL Mathematics Applications and interpretation.
  • SL English A at grade 5 (or English B at grade 6)

Mathematical Studies cannot be accepted in lieu of Mathematics.


GCSEs (only in addition to other qualifications)

At least five GCSEs required at Grade 4 (C) or above including:

  • Mathematics 

and at least Grade 6 (B) in:

  • English Language 
  • 6-5 in Combined Science or BC in Science (Double Award) or 6/B in one of: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Science or Additional Science.

For further information on our policy on reformed UK qualifications, please click here.

Welsh applicants

Please note, GCSE Mathematics-Numeracy will not be accepted instead of an C in GCSE Mathematics but is welcomed alongside it, and as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate.

International and EU Applicants

We welcome applications from international students. Where not listed below, for advice on the acceptability of your qualifications please send details to, referring to each of the required subjects (Biology, Maths and English).


Where an English grade is not specified, applicants will need to meet one of our accepted English Language qualifications. 

European Baccalaureate

Pass the Baccalaureate with 65% overall, with 8 in elective Biology and 7 in Maths and L1 English. 


Pass the Baccalauréat général with 12 overall. 13 required in Earth & Life Sciences, which needs to be taken as an enseignement de spécialité and taken through to terminale. Mathematics needs to be sat in the penultimate year, and grade 12 achieved. [OIB Anglais: if 14 is achieved in English, no further English language qualification is required.]


Pass the Titulo de Bachiller with an overall grade of 7 and individual grades of 8 in Biology and 6 in Mathematics. 


Hong Kong

Obtain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades 444 in Biology and two other elective subjects, plus grade 4 in Maths and grade 5 in English core subjects. We will consider Maths as an elective subject alongside Biology provided both the compulsory and the extended modules are taken with grades 5 (compulsory part) and 4 (extended part).


Obtain grades BCC at H2 level in three Singapore A Level subjects including Biology at grade B. In addition, O Level grade B is required in English (first language) and a science. Grade C is required in Maths. In place of O Level English, we can accept grade B in Secondary 4 IP Language Arts/English Language. 

If you do not meet the required grades/points in these qualifications, why not check the requirements for our FdSc in Veterinary Nursing?

Work experience

To apply for the BSc in Veterinary Nursing you will need to have prior work experience in order to have developed animal handling skills and obtained an insight into the work of veterinary nurses. You will need to have completed the minimum requirements to enter onto the course:

  • A total of 70 hours (e.g. 10 full days) of work experience (paid or voluntary) in one or more small animal or mixed veterinary practices
  • A total of 70 hours in one or more non-clinical working environments with live animals (excl. the home environment/family business/pet ownership).

Preference is given to those who have completed all required work experience by the application deadline. Applications are still encouraged from those whose work experience is ongoing, but to be considered for interview, you must have completed at least 70 hours in total, with at least half of these being in a small animal or mixed veterinary practice.

We encourage you to think creatively about these environments and are interested to hear about any experiences that have helped to give you a sense of the veterinary role in the wider world. Examples of suitable non-clinical environments might include, but are not limited to: kennels, cattery, animal shelter, rural or city farm, stables, pet shop, lambing, intensive livestock, abattoir, animal research laboratory, wildlife park, zoo, etc. You do not have to have gained experience in all these areas.

All applicants will be sent a Work Experience Form to complete in order for us to gain more information about their work experience placements and applications will not be assessed until this form is returned. Applicants successful in getting to interview will be required to provide references (see example) to support the information given on this form.

NB: We strongly advise obtaining references as you go as they can be difficult to obtain later on. Failure to produce a satisfactory reference will result in the placement becoming void for the purpose of meeting the entry requirements. 

Mitigating circumstances

If you wish to make us aware of any mitigating circumstances related to your application please see our guidance on mitigating circumstances here:

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.


How are applications assessed?

We have put together a document with advice on our process for selecting Veterinary Nursing students, from initial screening of applications through to making offers post-interview. This can be downloaded here.

Does it count against me if I do re-sits?

The RVC admissions policy is to accept re-taken grades or modules at GCSE, A Level or equivalent without penalty. We would expect applicants to achieve the required grades on the second sitting.

If you are regularly finding it hard to pass exams, or indeed if you struggle to motivate yourself to do school/college work, then you should consider whether studying veterinary nursing at university degree level is the right training route for you. See the RCVS website for details of the work-based training route.

Can I re-apply if I've been unsuccessful previously?

We accept repeat applications for this course and new applications will be treated separately from any previous one. 

What will I be able to do with my degree?

Our BSc in Veterinary Nursing has a very high employment rate post qualification.

You will be entitled to practise as a veterinary nurse as soon as you have passed the requirements of the first three years of your BSc and have been awarded the FdSc Veterinary Nursing. It is the FdSc Veterinary Nursing that is accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and permits registration with the RCVS as a veterinary nurse.

Our graduates go on to enjoy a wide range of positions in veterinary medicine, including :

  • Registered Veterinary Nurse
  • Locum Veterinary Nurse
  • Head Nurse
  • MSc Wild Animal Biology

They also go on to work for a variety of different employers and institutions, for example:

  • Battersea Dogs and Cats Home
  • Davies Veterinary Specialists
  • Companion Care Vets
  • Queen Mary Hospital for Animals
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Vets4Pets
  • College of Animal Welfare
  • Village Vet

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2023/24 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.

  • For Sandwich/ Placement year fees for UK and international students see link 
  • Students from countries outside the UK 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 can be found here

The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

  • Student membership of the British Veterinary Nursing Association 
  • Access to books and journals essential to your course (print and digital)
  • Open access and bookable IT equipment such as PCs and laptops
  • Largely paperless curriculum plus £10 p.a. printing allowance
  • Annual membership of College gym (both campuses)

  • RCVS student enrolment fees

The following course-related costs are not included in the fees:

  • Specialist clothing and equipment c£150
  • RCVS Student registration £100
  • Travel to placements
  • Placement accommodation

Accommodation and living costs are not included in the fees. Our Housing Advice pages provide further information on College and private housing. 

    Funding Options

    BVNA Bursaries

    The BVNA work alongside some companies and institutions to award a number of bursaries each year with the aim of assisting students or qualified Veterinary Nurses. A number of Grad Dip students in the past have successfully applied for and gained BVNA bursaries.

    Ethnic Diversity Nursing Scholarship

    A scholarship scheme aimed at improving diversity across the Veterinary Nursing professions.

    Successful candidates will be awarded an annual grant, mentored by Ethnic Diversity Nursing Scholarship board members and a support network to help them through their studies.

    For How to Apply, deadlines and all the terms and conditions, please see this link 

    RVC Bursary for Home Undergraduate Students

    RVC Bursaries are customary to assist students from lower income households with the cost of undergraduate study.

    UK Government Financial Support for Undergraduate Students

    Financial support in the form of tuition loan and maintenance loan is available for students from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and EU countries who normally live in UK.

    NB: UK students considering studying on the BVetMed Graduate Accelerated or the BVetMed as a second degree are entitled to maintenance loan (a variable means tested living cost loan) and RVC bursary. However, they are not eligible for tuition fee loans so please consider how you will pay the tuition fees for each year before enrolling. For more info see money-matters.

    For full details of the government financial support visit the links below.

    Tuition fee loan

    Maintenance loan



    Additional important point to note

    Maintenance Grant - this is only available to full-time UK undergraduate students who commenced their studies on or before 2015/16 academic year.

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