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Guide to studying Veterinary Medicine

Studying for a Veterinary Medicine degree is stimulating, challenging and rewarding. If you’re passionate about improving the lives of animals, this could be the study area for you.

Veterinary medicine at the farm


  1. What's Veterinary Medicine?

  2. Why study Veterinary Medicine?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Veterinary Medicine graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?
  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Veterinary Medicine?

Veterinary Medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the disorder, disease and injury in animals.

The curriculum varies between universities, but generally speaking, earlier years focus on the structure and function of the healthy animal. This includes topics such as anatomy and physiology and involves learning about the structure and function of cells, body tissues and body systems, and the animal as a whole.

At the same time, you learn about animal husbandry (how to look after animals) and begin to learn foundation clinical skills.

In later years, the curriculum focuses more on the disease of animals and addresses diagnosis, treatment and control of diseases. Generally the final year is lecture free, and you're able to concentrate on clinical application by rotating through a range of clinical disciplines.

Courses similar to Veterinary Medicine include:

  • Pre-clinical Veterinary Medicine

Why study Veterinary Medicine?

A degree in Veterinary Medicine will set you up for a challenging but rewarding career. As well as improving the health and lives of animals, you'll be improving the wellbeing of animal owners and lovers.

Every day can be different as you'll encounter many different types of animals and their many different issues. You'll also meet lots of people, and have opportunities to work in a variety of communities.

Veterinary Medicine has some of the highest graduate prospects and starting salaries possible. It's a big commitment, and one you should take seriously, but the hard work you put in will pay off.

On top of the specific skills you'll learn, you'll also develop transferable professional skills such as communication, organisation and time management.

Male veterinary surgeon examining dog in surgery

What jobs can you get as a Veterinary Medicine graduate?

This degree is designed to train and prepare you for a career as a veterinary practitioner either in general practice or a more specialised field such as small animal, farm animal, equine or exotic animal practice.

It also prepares you for further training in a specialised clinical field. Examples of this would be orthopaedic surgery, cardiology, dentistry or soft tissue surgery.

As well as private practitioners, you may choose to pursue research, industry (such as pharmaceutical companies), veterinary charities at home or abroad, or academia.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Veterinary Medicine have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Veterinary Medicine students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Academic requirements are high, and you'll be expected to demonstrate practical relevant work experience. Competition for places on Veterinary Medicine courses is tough.

Academic requirements vary among UK veterinary schools. You'll usually need very good A Levels (or equivalent) in Biology and Chemistry, and often a third science. You may also need to sit a BMAT exam.

Always check and confirm with the university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc)
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetMed or VETMB)
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVM&S/BVMS)
  • Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing (BSc)

How will you be assessed?

A degree course usually involves five years of undergraduate study. As would be expected from this type of course, a wide variety of teaching and assessment methods are used throughout.

Assessment types could include written tests, practical examinations, clinical observations and coursework.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

As well as furthering veterinary skills in clinical and diagnostic practices and surgery, you can go on to study in areas such as wildlife health and conservation, immunology, infection and global health, parasitology and pharmacy. Or you can specialise in livestock, aquatic or small animals, for example.

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