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 degree trains you to work within a veterinary team, to be adaptable, and to be able to perform a variety of roles in practice and beyond.

Veterinary nurses will typically work within a veterinary surgery or veterinary hospital and are involved in a wide range of care and treatment, including:

  • Providing skilled supportive care for sick animals
  • Undertaking minor surgery
  • Monitoring during anaesthesia
  • Medical treatments and diagnostic tests under veterinary supervision
  • Educating owners on good standards of animal care

The FdSc Veterinary Nursing course will equip you with the ability to understand the healthy and sick animal, and the role that nursing plays in a veterinary team. The course teaches you to be a lifelong learner – an essential attribute in a rapidly changing world of animal healthcare.

This is a challenging degree course that delivers a broad programme of learning, and offers a fascinating introduction to veterinary nursing. You will cover everything from professional development and clinical skills to more advanced modules such as diagnostic techniques.

Veterinary Nursing courses are delivered primarily at our Hawkshead Campus.

“My favourite thing about the course is caring for the animals and making them feel comfortable when they most need it. I love the opportunities I have had to help the animals whilst satisfying my desire to help in a hands on way.

“I have had over six months of practical experience in vet practices and I’ve only just started my second year. I have monitored anaesthetic, taken blood samples, placed catheters and provided hydrotherapy for neurology patients already.

“I already feel like I am a vet nurse. The placements promote learning on the job. The clinical coaches allow you to get stuck in and learn through experience. I feel I will definitely be prepared for my first day at work after I have qualified.”

Ayesha Ali, FdSc Veterinary Nursing


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 FdSc Veterinary Nursing course consists of modules totalling 240 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.

Year 1

- Professional development and clinical skills I (20 credits)
Professional development and clinical skills is a practical placement module running across placement blocks in the first three years of your course. You will become competent in a range of skills associated with your training, which will be monitored through an electronic portfolio – the Nursing Progress Log.

A number of reflective blogs will also be completed throughout. All aspects of this module must be completed by the end of the third year in order to attain the Foundation degree and in order to register with the RCVS.

- Clinical nursing practice I (25)

  • Introduction to animal behaviour
  • Animal housing and hospitalisation
  • Handling and restraint
  • Patient assessment
  • Introduction to nursing techniques
  • Nutrition
  • Breeds and breeding
  • Basic nursing care of common exotic and other companion animals
  • Dose calculations
  • Administration of medicines

- Clinical nursing practice II (25)

  • Communication and record keeping
  • Reception skills
  • Hospital hygiene
  • Health and safety – working safely in the practice
  • Preparation and assisting with veterinary procedures
  • Aims and principles of first aid
  • Common first aid situations
  • Bandaging and first aid techniques

- Veterinary nursing applied science I and II (25 each)
Normal anatomy and physiology of the following systems:

  • Cells and tissues
  • Body fluids
  • Musculo-skeletal integument
  • Nervous system
  • Special senses
  • Blood and circulatory system
  • Cardio-respiratory system
  • Digestive system
  • Urinary system
  • Endocrine system
  • Reproductive system
  • Genetics and embryology

Pathophysiology and disease of the following systems:

  • Cells and tissues
  • Body fluids
  • Musculo-skeletal Integument
  • Nervous system
  • Special senses
  • Blood and circulatory system
  • Cardio-respiratory system
  • Digestive system
  • Urinary system
  • Endocrine system
  • Reproductive system
  • Clinically relevant comparative aspects of anatomy and physiology

Year 2

- Professional development and clinical skills II (10 credits)

- Anaesthesia/emergency and critical care (25)
Building on the first aid knowledge gained in year one, you will undertake more intensive nursing and emergency triage techniques, including the use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). You will also cover the principles of anaesthesia, including methods of monitoring physiological parameters, interpreting the results and also an understanding of the equipment used.

- Diagnostic techniques (25)
An insight into all methods of diagnostic imaging enabling you to prepare the animal and assist with various procedures. In addition, you will cover the theoretical knowledge and practical skills in order to be able to process pathological samples for diagnostic purposes. The principles of parasitology, virology and bacteriology are also examined.

Year 3

- Professional development and clinical skills III (10 credits)

- Applied nursing care (25)
Focus on the nursing care required for a range of surgical and medical conditions and diseases, and discuss nursing care plans and models adapted from human nursing theory. You will explore the action of drugs on animals and investigate the absorption and excretion of different groups of drugs in relations to diseases covered.

Running a busy surgical theatre is often the role of a veterinary nurse, and this module is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to carry this out. You will utilise nursing care plans and models to assist in the development of your nursing care.

- Professional practice (25)
Explore the concepts associated with professional practice and the knowledge required to act in a professional manner. The role of the veterinary nurse is constantly evolving, and, with that in mind, it is essential that you are aware of your responsibilities in relation to animal welfare, ethics and law, and the requirements associated with becoming a regulated professional.

You will acquire skills such as practice management, accounting and marketing, reflecting the increasing expectations of the profession. Integral to this are the more generic skills of communication and conflict management. You will also be introduced to research techniques and topics related to interpreting and evaluating research to assist with the production of a literature review.

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

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) – 27.7%
  • Examination (written) – 55.7%
  • Examination (practical) – 16.6%

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

Academic qualifications

The minimum academic requirements for entry onto the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing degree programme are outlined below.

A Levels


CC in two A Level subjects including:

  • Biology


CDD in three A Level subjects including:

  • Biology at grade C

Two AS Levels at relevant grades 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 and cannot be General Studies.  

Northern Irish applicants:

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

We welcome applications with A Level ‘Life and Health Sciences’ (double award only) instead of A Level Biology. However, Unit A2 5 is mandatory; Unit A2 6 or A2 8 is also required. The grade requirement is CC, or CD and a D 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 one A Level in:

  • Biology at grade C


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

  • Biology at grade C
  • A further A Level at grade D (excl. General Studies)

Two AS Levels at grade D would be accepted in place of the further A Level subject. 

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

Advanced Higher in Biology at grade C

In addition to:


  • A second Advanced Higher at grade D, and
  • 2 Highers at grade C 


  • 4 Highers at grade C

All applicants must have at least five National 5* grade A-Cs including:

  • English Language
  • Biology, Chemistry or Physics
  • Mathematics

* 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

H4 H4 H5, including H4 in Biology. 

If not achieved at H4 or H5 as part of the above, O4 required in:

  • English
  • 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. Merit must be achieved in at least 6 of these Biology credits.

See the Access to Higher Education website to search for possible courses in your area. We do not accept on-line versions of the course.


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

Pass all modules within this qualification. Merit much be achieved in at least one Biology module.  

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


Level 3 Extended Diploma (reformed syllabus)    

Applied Generals

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

MMM overall (no specific unit requirements).


Tech Levels

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Animal Management with Science 

MMM overall with Merits in:

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

Candidates also need to pass these elective modules:         

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

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

M / MMM overall with Merits in:         

  • Biological Systems of Animals        
  • Theory Exam (1)        

Candidates also need to pass this elective module:         

  • Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry  


Level 3 Extended Diploma (unreformed syllabus)

Animal Management (2010 syllabus) QCF

MMM overall required, including Merits 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 pass elective 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

We will also consider the Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management with a minimum overall grade of DD (Distinction, Distinction) and the unit requirements listed above.

Applied Science (2010 syllabus) QCF

MMM overall required.

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


Cambridge Pre-U


P1, P2, P2 in three Principal Subjects including:  

  • Biology


P1, P1 in two Principal Subjects including:  

  • Biology

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.  

International Baccalaureate

Pass the IB Diploma with 443 in the Higher Level subjects, including:

  • HL Biology at grade 4

See additional GCSE requirements below. 

Where candidates have not taken GCSEs or an equivalent qualification prior to the IB Diploma, they will need a minimum of grade 4 in:

  • SL Mathematics 
  • SL English A (or grade 6 in English B)*

Mathematical Studies cannot be accepted in lieu of Mathematics.

*Candidates from outside the UK need to meet our standard English language requirements

GCSEs (only in addition to other qualifications)

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

  • English Language 
  • Science or Additional Science or a single science (Biology, Chemistry or Physics)
  • Mathematics

NOTE: If you do not have any qualifications higher than GCSE, you may wish to consider the work-based training route - see the RCVS website for details.

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 a 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. Candidates must meet the entry requirements by means of the prescribed qualifications listed or acceptable alternative qualifications. 



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 7 in elective Biology, Maths and L1 English.


Pass the Baccalauréat 'S' stream with 11 overall and individual grades of 12 in Biology and 12 in Maths. [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 6 and individual grades of 7 in Biology and 6 in Mathematics. 



Hong Kong

Obtain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades 443 in Biology and two other elective subjects, plus grade 4 in Maths and grade 5 in English core subjects. 


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


For advice on the acceptability of your qualifications please send details, referring to each of the required subjects (Biology, Maths and English), to

Work experience

To apply for the FdSc 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. your home environment/family business/pet ownership).

Preference is given to those who have completed all required work experience by 15 January 2019. 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 to support the information given on this form.


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.



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 FdSc 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 earned your degree and registered as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). 

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

  • Small animal practices
  • Mixed practices
  • Equine practices
  • Farm / livestock environments
  • Wild animal environments
  • Wildlife conservation

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 £13,380 £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.

  • 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

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