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Veterinary surgeon: Entry requirements

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A degree in veterinary science/medicine and registration as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)  is required to practise as a vet. There are seven institutions that currently offer this qualification. These are:

  • Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Nottingham

Degree courses are generally five years in length, six in some schools. Fees will depend on individual circumstances so applicants should check with the institutions where they intend to study.

The entry requirements for the courses differ between universities. In general, biology at A-level is an essential requirement for all of the courses, as well as one or two out of chemistry, physics and maths. The minimum grades required are usually two As and a B, although some universities ask for three As. With regards to GCSEs, it depends on the entry requirements for each university.

Some universities will consider applicants who have relevant vocational qualifications, such as a BTEC diploma in Animal Science with distinction. Some universities will accept applicants without the relevant A-level or vocational qualifications due to special six-year programmes. In the first year of these programmes, the basics learnt at A-level will be covered to prepare the students for the five-year course.

Applicants to Cambridge or the RVC must also register for, and pass, the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)  before receiving an admissions interview.

All universities look for evidence that the applicant has a passionate interest in veterinary science/medicine. This evidence will come in the form of work experience, either in a paid or voluntary capacity. This experience can be gained in farms, stables, kennels, veterinary practices and animal charities, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)  and The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) , amongst others.

As well as the relevant qualifications and work experience, candidates for university courses will also have to show evidence of:

  • commitment to animal welfare;
  • flexibility;
  • an ability to communicate to clients in a way that is easy to understand - especially in emotional circumstances;
  • being caring and approachable;
  • good organisational skills;
  • being able to work in a practical and unsentimental way with animals;
  • commercial and management skills, for those wishing to progress to practice partner.

This is a competitive career but gaining relevant work experience may help strengthen your application for employment.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search postgraduate courses.

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Written by AGCAS editors
December 2013

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