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 as well as utilising a variety of placement practices to gain the practical skills required for a Registered Veterinary Nurse. 


“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


Accreditation

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.

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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.

The course received full accreditation from regulatory body (The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) in 2019 and the course aligns with the RCVS day one skills and competencies and the QAA subject benchmarks. 

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 (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.

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

You should fulfill our requirements in each of the following areas to be considered for interview.

Academic qualifications

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

A Levels

EITHER:

CC in two A Level subjects including:

  • Biology

OR:

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.

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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

Alternatively:

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.

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Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers

Advanced Higher in Biology at grade C

In addition to:

EITHER

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

OR

  • 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. 

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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 admissions@rvc.ac.uk 

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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. 

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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. 

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Level 3 Extended Diploma   

Applied Generals

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

MMM overall (no specific unit requirements).

We will also consider the Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science/Applied Science (Biomedical Science) with a minimum overall grade of DD (Distinction, Distinction) depending on units taken.

.

Tech Levels

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

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  

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

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)

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.

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Level 3 Extended Diploma (unreformed syllabus)

Applied Science (2010 syllabus) QCF

MMM overall required.

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

We will also consider the Level 3 Diploma in Applied Science with a minimum overall grade of DD (Distinction, Distinction).

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.

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Cambridge Pre-U

EITHER:

P1, P2, P2 in three Principal Subjects including:  

  • Biology

OR:

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:

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

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

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: 

  • 4-3 in Combined Sciences/CD in Science (Double Award) OR 4/C in Science or Additional Science or one of Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
  • English Language
  • Mathematics

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

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. Where not listed, for advice on the acceptability of your qualifications please send details, referring to each of the required subjects (Biology, Maths and English), to admissions@rvc.ac.uk

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Europe

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.

France

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.]

Spain

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

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Asia

Hong Kong

Obtain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades 443 in Biology and two other elective subjects, plus grade 3 in Maths and grade 5 in English core subjects. 

Singapore

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. 

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 the 15th January 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. 

Work experience for those applying in January 2022 only

We appreciate that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some applicants who are planning to apply in January 2022 may have experienced difficulties in obtaining the level of work experience we normally require prior to application. Therefore, for those applying in the 2022 application cycle only, the following principles will apply:

Prior to application, all applicants must have completed the following:

  • A total of 35 hours of work experience (paid or voluntary) in either one or more veterinary practice or one or more non-clinical working environment. All prior experience completed will be considered towards the total 35 hour requirements at point of application, including any that is over 18 months old. 

By 31 July 2022, all applicants will be required to have fulfilled the following requirements:

  •  A total of 70 hours (e.g. 10 full days) of work experience (paid or voluntary) in one or more veterinary practices – one week of which must have been obtained within 30 months of the course start date.
  •  A total of 70 hours in one or more non-clinical working environments with live animals

Applicants with less than 35 hours at the point of application will not be considered. Where an applicant has completed less than the 70 hours clinical and 70 hours non-clinical hours, it will be a condition of any offer of a place to achieve these by the 31 July 2022 deadline.

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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.

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FAQs

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 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

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees for students commencing the course in 2021/22 are as follows:

UK Tuition FeesEU Tuition FeesInternational Fees

Island Fees (Channel Islands & Isle of Man)

£9,250 £14,470 £14,470 £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

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

  • Student membership of the British Veterinary Nursing Association for course duration
  • 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)

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

  • Specialist clothing and equipment c£100
  • RCVS Student registration £190
  • 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

BAME Nursing Scholarship

For How to Apply and all the terms and conditions

Who is eligible?

In order to apply for this scholarship, you must be:

  • A UK citizen
  • Currently applying to enter one of the UK or ROI veterinary nursing colleges, on a higher education course which is accredited with the RCVS as a ‘licence to practice’ in veterinary nursing, for the 2021 intake
  • You must self identify as being from the BAME community
  • The financial background of your family will be taken into account during the application process and you will be asked to submit proof of this as assessed by Student Finance, with priority given to students from lower household income families.

What does the scholarship include?

  • There will be up to 4 scholarships available, each offering £2,500 a year during the course of your degree, plus mentoring and support.

Timeline

  • Applications open: May 3rd 2021
  • Applications close: June 30th 2021
  • Shortlisted applicants notified: July 31st 2021
  • Shortlisted applicants required to submit confirmation of place from their university by 30th August 2021
  • Scholarship winners notified by September 6th 2021

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.

Loans and Grants - 2021/22 Government Financial Support for Undergraduate UK and EU Students

Please note: SLC issues guidance for prospective students and answers common questions related to the COVID-19 outbreakIncluding information for part-time undergraduate and postgraduate Master’s students. 

Alongside the bursaries and scholarships offered by the RVC, there is financial support available from the Government to help cover the costs of living and studying. Financial support is available for students from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other EU countries.

Financial support is made up of four main elements

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

For further details visit;

NB: UK students considering studying on the BVetMed Graduate Accelerated or the BVetMed as a second degree are entitled to 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.  

RVC Bursary for Undergraduate UK and EU Students

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

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