Guide to UK Applications • Undergraduate

Exploring Veterinary Medicine in the UK: What You Need to Know

POSTED ON 04/24/2023 BY The Red Pen

BVetMed student interning at veterinary clinic

Veterinary medicine is a medical science branch that deals with animal healthcare, husbandry and breeding. It also supports human healthcare by monitoring and controlling zoonotic diseases transmitted from animals to humans and food safety when it comes to the consumption of animals. Those who study veterinary medicine often collaborate with epidemiologists and other health or natural scientists, depending on the type of work. To pursue a career in veterinary medicine at the undergraduate level, consider the UK

Here’s what you should know about undergraduate veterinary medicine courses in the UK:

Can international students study at UK veterinary medicine colleges?

In the UK, a degree in veterinary medicine or a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetMed) is highly competitive and usually oversubscribed. Medicine courses in the UK offering BVetMed have a rigorous selection process. You can expect to be interviewed by each university, and some also employ additional screening tests. 

For international students, the competition is higher. The University of Edinburgh accepts only 35 non-UK students for their class of 107. Applicants must showcase both a strong aptitude for veterinary medicine and academic merit. 

Where can you study veterinary medicine courses in the UK? 

If you’re interested in studying veterinary medicine courses in the UK, consider universities that offer programmes accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). It is the governing body for veterinary medicine in the UK. You must register with RCVS to practise as a vet in the country. Here are some of the colleges that offer BVetMed degree: 

Newer veterinary schools yet to be accredited by the RCVS are the Harper & Keele Veterinary School, Aberystwyth School of Veterinary Science (in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College) and the University of Central Lancashire

The evaluations by RCVS for these schools will happen in 2025, 2026 and 2028, respectively, when the first cohort of students will have completed their degrees. Together these 11 universities make up the Veterinary Schools Council in the UK. 

What is the course duration at veterinary medicine universities in the UK?

The full-time BVetMed degree usually takes five years to complete. The course curriculum typically includes modules on animal anatomy and physiology, animal care and management, microbiology, public health, parasitology, and pathology.

The first two years of the degree programme are known as the foundation phase, while the third and fourth years are focused on clinical training. The fifth and final year is dedicated to professional development. Note that this course is structured differently at veterinary universities. For instance, at University of Cambridge it takes six years to complete your degree in veterinary medicine. 

However, students pursuing biology-related undergraduate degrees can apply for Graduate Accelerated Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine after three years of undergraduate study and complete their degree in four years

What are the subject requirements to pursue veterinary medicine in the UK?

To pursue a BVetMed in the UK, students must study biology and chemistry in grades 11 and 12. Some universities also require math or physics as additional subjects. For example, The University of Glasgow requires IB candidates to achieve an overall score of 38, and at least six points in higher-level (HL) chemistry and biology and six points in either standard-level (SL) physics or maths. Additionally, a minimum of six points in English SL is also required. 

The CBSE equivalent of this requirement is a minimum of 85 percent overall in grade 12 examinations and, similarly, 85 percent in chemistry, biology, maths and English. International applicants must also take IELTS or TOEFL tests to prove their English proficiency.

What is a standard veterinary degree with a preliminary year?  

BVetMed applicants who haven’t met the requirements of science subjects and have high scores can take an additional preliminary year at the beginning of the standard degree to ensure they have the scientific knowledge required for veterinary medicine. However, not all veterinary schools offer this option. The academic requirements for this degree are: 

  • International Baccalaureate: 34 points
  • A-level: A-A-A
  • IELTS: 7.5 overall, no lower than 7.0 in any component.
  • For other curricula (e.g. AP, CBSE, ISC), consult the university directly

What is the application process for a veterinary medicine degree in the UK?

Applications to veterinary colleges are submitted through a centralised online platform called the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applicants must submit their grade 10 final results and grade 12 predicted grades—provided by school teachers through a realistic analysis of your past performance. They can apply to a maximum of four veterinary colleges in the UK, with application deadlines in mid-October. Apart from grades and subjects, the application process for veterinary universities have the following requirements: 

1) Online form: 

The veterinary degree programme in the UK does not require an entrance exam. Instead, most universities send applicants who fulfil the minimum academic entry necessities an additional online form to complete. Applicants must demonstrate two prerequisites through this form: 

  • Minimum work experience: According to UCAS, veterinary medicine applicants must fulfil minimum work experience criteria. It involves working with animals (farms, kennels, stables, rescue and wildlife centres, catteries, zoos etc.) and some experience in a veterinary practice. However, the duration and specific experiences vary depending on each school. The University of Surrey expects applicants to gain four weeks of animal-related work experience, including one week in a veterinary practice. On the other hand, The University of Edinburgh does not ask for a specific type of experience or duration. The university website says, “it [work experience] depends, to some extent, on the opportunities available to individual candidates. However, the broader the experience, the better, but not to the detriment of academic studies.” Several veterinary colleges in the UK have also developed online work experience courses, which were developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but they continue to exist. 
  • Knowledge questionnaire: The second part of the form has questions which enable applicants to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the veterinary profession. It tests whether they have the motivation and insight to undertake the rigorous veterinary medicine degree. Applicants answering these questions to the satisfaction of the admissions review committee are considered for the final stage of the admission process, which is the interview. 

2) Personal Statement:

In addition to excellent grades, the rigorous application review process of veterinary colleges in the UK includes a personal statement as a critical component. In the BVetMed personal statement, besides showcasing their academic ability and passion for the subject, applicants must reflect on their work experience in the veterinary field. The quality of insights into the profession is crucial. 

While it’s essential to research what individual veterinary schools expect regarding work experience, one must refrain from stating college preferences, as UCAS allows applicants to submit only one personal statement to all colleges of their choice. 

3) Interview:

One of the primary purposes of the interview round is for the admissions committee to assess whether applicants can endure and thrive during rigorous training. 

According to the Veterinary Schools Council in the UK, “the interview method used varies between schools. Some will offer multiple mini-interviews consisting of several stations or small interview scenarios. Others will have fewer, though potentially longer, interviews. The selection process may include assessed individual or group tasks, tests and additional questionnaires.” Examples of small interview scenarios are scientific data interpretation, awareness of animal welfare, numeracy, career exploration and practical tasks. 

These interviews may require applicants to travel—many universities host interviews closer to students. For example, the University of Edinburgh interviewed candidates from India in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. However, it is also possible that the interview is entirely conducted online. 

The Veterinary Schools Council further advises “to prepare for your interview by thinking about why you want to study veterinary medicine and the skills and attributes you possess which make you a suitable candidate. Focus your preparation on reflecting on your experiences and what they have taught you, and give real-life examples to back up any point you make. It is a good idea to demonstrate that you are engaging with the field outside of your work experience and school work, for example, by keeping up-to-date with current veterinary and science news.”

What careers can you pursue in the UK with a degree in veterinary medicine?

A BVetMed degree is your passport to several opportunities in the UK. You can start a clinical practice where you work with animals as a behaviourist, nutritionist, or physiotherapist. You may even apply for jobs in the government’s civil service departments, which can be laboratory or desk-based roles (ranging from basic administration to policy advice). The most obvious jobs are in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Institute for Animal Health and the DECC. Other agencies, such as the Food Standards Agency, may also be relevant because of their work on diseases. However, if you wish to practise veterinary medicine outside the UK, check with your country of residence for eligibility. 

Studying veterinary medicine courses in the UK can be highly competitive with rigorous selection processes in place. International students should expect even more competition with only limited open seats. Therefore, showcasing a solid aptitude for veterinary medicine in your application is essential. Read up on how to prepare for traditional medical interviews and nine compelling reasons why you students apply to study in the UK

Whether it’s shortlisting veterinary medical universities in the UK, strategising work experience for your application or writing your personal statement, please get in touch with us. Our undergraduate team and UK specialists will be happy to offer any support that you may require.