The River Thames outside DLD College London

Do you want to study Veterinary Medicine at University?

6th March 13

What A Levels Do I Need to Study Veterinary Medicine at University


What A Levels will I need to study Veterinary Medicine at University?

Veterinary Medicine and Sciences is a very specialist degree course, and there aren’t that many universities offering the course right now, so competition is going to be fierce, and offers are going to be high. And Veterinary Medicine is just that – a medicine – so you will be expected to produce grades on par with any other medical degree. That means you will need As, and lots of them. A*s and As in Chemistry and Biology A Levels are pretty much standard across the board.  Other science subjects like Physics or Psychology, along with Maths as are looked on very favourably. Some universities specify that humanities based A Levels are completely unacceptable. So do check what universities want before you chose you’re a Levels. You will also need a pretty impressive set of GCSEs, with most places asking that you have top grades in science subjects and Maths. Also, demand is so high, that some universities will not take you if you are referring or resitting. So check before you apply.

Cambridge and The Royal Veterinary College also require that you sit the Biomedical Admissions Test (the BMAT). The BMAT is a short exam that tests your Maths and Science abilities, as well as asking you to write an essay. At the moment these two institutions are the only two that make the BMAT a required part of their entry requirements, so if you’re not planning to go to either of these, you don’t need to sit it.

As this is a very competitive course, anything that can advance your cause is encouraged and looked upon favourably by universities. Work experience is a really good way to catch admissions tutors’ attention, and more and more applicants are doing it, so you will need to as well. This may mean you doing unpaid volunteering work at your local farm or animal shelter, and a lot of the work can be extremely hard work, and often quite unpleasant, but it shows that you have some idea of the demands the course will make on you, and that you are happy to meet those demands head on.

Where should I go and study Veterinary Medicine at University?

The Complete University Guide 2013 graded the best universities in the UK that offer Veterinary Medicine as:

University of GlasgowSchool of Veterinary Medicine

Glasgow will most likely offer you A*AA at A Level. You’ll definitely need Chemistry and Biology and a third subject. Your third A Level doesn’t have to be a science subject, but it is recommended, and subjects like Art, Drama, and General Studies are not accepted. Check first. You’ll also need an A or B in GCSE English.

University of NottinghamSchool of Veterinary Medicine and Science

Minimum requirements for Nottingham are usually AAB at A Level. As inBiology and Chemsirty A Level are a must. And you must have at least 5 As at GCSE including all three sciences or Double Science. You’ve also got to have at least a B in GCSE Maths and English.

University of CambridgeDepartment of Veterinary Medicine

As usual, competition for places at Cambridge is high, so expect an offer of no less that A*AA at A Level in two science or Maths subjects, and a third at AS Level.  Some colleges will ask higher than that and expect you to have A Level passes in three from Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics – most require that one of those passes be in Chemistry. So it’s a good idea to check before you apply. You will also need at least a C in GCSE Double Science and Maths. Cambridge applicants are also required to sit the BMAT.

University of EdinburghCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Edinburgh will most likely offer you AA at A Level. Two of those must be Chemistry and Biology, and a third must be from their approved subjects list. You will be required to have what they describe as a “good pass” at GCSE Physics, and if you have deferred or are doing resits, don’t bother applying, they won’t accept you.

The Royal Veterinary College

The RVC prefer you to have AAA at A Level, and if you are resitting, you must have AAA. Whatever you are, you must have As in Biology and Chemistry, and your third must be an academic subject. 5 As at GCSE are also required, and that includes AA at Double Science or in Chemistry and Biology, and you must have A or B grades in English, Physics and Maths. The RVC also require you to sit the BMAT.

So once I’m there, what can I expect?

A lot of hard work, basically! Veterinary Medicine is not for the faint hearted. Degree courses are highly interactive with a lot of hands on work, and typically range from between 5 and 6 years. The pace is relentless from the start and never lets up. This is a medical degree, and like all medical degrees you will be expected to work hard both in and out of class. You will most likely face a full day of lectures, tutorials and lab work, be expected to read around the subject in your own time, and to undertake vital work experience in your holidays.

At the start of your course, you will learn fundamental knowledge about animals’ bodies. That includes mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish. You will learn about anatomy, physiology, ethics, animal behaviour, diseases and nutrition, amongst many other things. All the basic building blocks that your career will be based on. You will handle animals from a very early stage, engage in dissections, diagnostic techniques, hone your clinical skills, and learn animal husbandry. By the end of your second year you will have a decent set of veterinary skills.

In the next couple of years of your degree, you will begin the clinical phase, providing you with broader training in professional practise, focussing more on common and important problems faced by professional veterinarians. You will learn about animal trauma and trauma management, diagnosis and treatment of disease, management and prevention.

In your final year, you will enter the Professional Phase of study and gain vital clinical experience. Some universities have animal hospitals of their own, and you will go and work there. Others encourage you to get placements at professional institutions. Either way you will gain bags and bags of invaluable professional experience.

What skills will I develop?

When you have graduated, you should be confident enough and have the professional experience to work as a vet, be that in a practise, in a zoo or on a farm. You will have a fantastic grounding in the subject, but, like all medicines, should be always ready to learn more. Veterinary Medicine is a constantly evolving science, with new theories, techniques and treatments coming out every year.

What will my career prospects look like?

Very good. Veterinary professionals are always sought after, and the work is varied and can take you to many different places. Most graduates are employed straight out of universities, going to work in zoos, animal shelters and rescue centres, practises, farms, and even the Armed Forces, for example in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Depending on your speciality you can be whisked off to exotic climes as well. There are many organisations, practises and institutions abroad, so you could end up travelling the globe.

Good luck!