What is veterinary nursing?

Veterinary nurses work alongside veterinary surgeons in order to provide a high standard of care for animals. They normally 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.

Many qualified veterinary nurses working in a veterinary practice continue to take on greater responsibilities as time goes by, such as supervision of staff and hospital wards, practice management and teaching/training other nurses or supporting staff.

Positions outside veterinary practice include work in research establishments, laboratories, universities, colleges, zoological/wildlife parks, charities, pharmaceutical companies and breeding/boarding kennels.

So if you’re looking for a career taking care of animals within the veterinary sector or related professions, whether as a Head Nurse, a Practice Manager or within Animal Welfare, the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing is the degree programme for you. Here at the RVC we are uniquely dedicated to veterinary science and education and share your passion for animal welfare.  

What is the FdSc in Veterinary Nursing?

The FdSc in Veterinary Nursing is a full-time three-year degree programme taught at the Hertfordshire campus of the RVC, University of London, with external placements at veterinary practices. The degree will qualify you to work as a veterinary nurse and is fully accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), leading to registration with the RCVS.

The programme is run in partnership with the College of Animal Welfare - a leading provider of vet nursing courses. You will therefore enjoy the best of both worlds: a strong practical training in essential nursing skills underpinned by the academic excellence of the RVC.  

Our students come from many different schools, backgrounds and countries, all sharing common goals: a strong ambition to succeed in the veterinary field and a desire to improve animal health and welfare.

We welcome applications from individuals with great potential and those with the dedication to commit to the course and succeed in the veterinary profession. We demand high levels of motivation and, in return, promise a rich and rewarding experience during your time with us.

What will I learn?

During the programme you will learn, among other things:

  • To understand the healthy and sick animal, and the role that nursing plays
  • To function as an equal intellectual partner in a veterinary team
  • To be adaptable and thus able to perform a variety of roles in practice and beyond
  • To be a lifelong learner – an essential attribute in a rapidly changing world. 

All of this is designed to produce veterinary nurses who have the knowledge and skills to make a significant contribution to animal health and welfare.

Programme delivery

The FdSc in Veterinary Nursing is taught by world renowned clinicians and registered veterinary nurses, and you will benefit from studying in an environment of cutting-edge veterinary research.

Over the course of the degree programme you will be taught in a variety of formats. Sessions will include:

  • Lectures
  • Directed study sessions and group work
  • Clinical skills development during practical sessions
  • Computer-Aided Learning packages

As a veterinary nursing student you'll also complete at least 1800 hours of practical training at a range of excellent veterinary practices – including the RVC's own world-leading hospitals – giving you hands-on experience and real insight into the day-to-day role of the veterinary nurse.

Course content and structure

See the Course Outline (Programme Specification) for further details of the course content and assessment methods.

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. 

Where one is taking science A Levels as part of the new English curriculum (taught from 2015 onwards), it would also be expected that candidates pass their science practical for each subject.

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.  

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


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

Pre-2017 scheme:

  • Higher level Biology at grade B3

plus two other Higher level grades of CC

At Ordinary level (or Higher level), at least grade B3 in:

  • English 
  • Mathematics 

It should be clearly stated on the UCAS form which subjects are being studied at Higher level and which at Ordinary level.

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 admissions@rvc.ac.uk 


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 (syllabus for students starting this qualification from 2016)    

Pearson 'Applied Science' or 'Biomedical Science': MMM overall (no specific unit requirements).

Pearson 'Animal Management with Science': MMM overall with Merits in:

  • Animal Biology        
  • Animal Health and Diseases        
  • Practical Animal Husbandry

Candidates also need to pass these elective modules:         

  • Principles of Animal Nursing        
  • Exotic Animal Husbandry

City & Guilds 'Animal Management (Science)': M overall with Merits in:         

  • Biological Systems of Animals        
  • Principles of Health and Safety        
  • Animal Health and Husbandry

Candidates also need to pass this elective module:         

  • Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry  

BTEC/Level 3 Extended Diploma (syllabus for students who started this qualification in 2010-2015)

Animal Management (2010-2015 syllabus)  

MMP (or 'M' if taking City & Guilds' Extended Diploma) 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

The following units are also preferred:  

  • Understand the Principles and Undertake the Practice of Animal Nursing
  • Understand the Principles and Carry Out the Practice of Biochemistry and Microbiology
  • Understand the Principles and Carry Out the Practice of Exotic Animal Health and Husbandry
  • Fundamentals of Science

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 (2010-2015 syllabus)  

MMP overall required.   

The following units are preferred in conjunction with the core units and may enhance your application:  

  • Physiology of Human Body Systems
  • Physiology of Human Regulation and Reproduction
  • Medical Physics Techniques
  • Microbiological Techniques
  • Physiological Investigations
  • Diseases and Infections   


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 Lang-Lit 

International or internationally-based candidates must meet our English language requirements as linked to further down the page.

Mathematical Studies and English A Literature or English B cannot be accepted in lieu of our English Language and Mathematics requirements, but can be taken on top of existing qualifications that meet our requirements. 

GCSEs (only in addition to other qualifications)

At least five GCSEs required at Grade C 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.

New GCSE curricula (teaching starting 2015-2017)


Where we currently ask for grade C, we will require a grade 4. 


Please note, GCSE Mathematics-Numeracy will not be accepted instead of GCSE Mathematics but is welcomed alongside it.

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. Alternative qualifications will need to satisfy the requirements of the RCVS as well as the RVC.

For advice on the acceptability of your qualifications please send details, referring to each of the required subjects (Biology, Maths, English and any other science subjects), to admissions@rvc.ac.uk

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 two weeks of work experience (paid or voluntary) in one or more small animal or mixed veterinary practices
  • A total of two weeks in different animal environments (excluding your home environment/family business/pet ownership).

To be considered for interview, you must have completed at least two weeks of work experience, with at least one of these being in a small animal or mixed veterinary practice, by 15 January 2018.

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 such 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, pharmacy, wildlife park, zoo, etc. You do not have to have gained experience in all these areas.

Applicants who satisfy our preliminary requirements will be sent a Work Experience Form to complete in order for us to gain more information about their work experience placements. 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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