University of Cambridge



Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge offers a world class opportunity to study the scientific basis of veterinary medicine and clinical veterinary science. Our course provides the fundamental building blocks on which to develop and excel in your specialist professional field.

UCAS code D100 MB/VetMB

Duration Six years

Colleges Available at all Colleges except Christ's, Corpus Christi, Homerton, Hughes Hall, King's, Peterhouse and Trinity

2013 entry Applications per place: 6
Number accepted: 74

Open days and events 2015
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Contact details 01223 330811


Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge

Cambridge provides a unique intellectual and social environment in which to study to the highest level. The Department of Veterinary Medicine has an international reputation as a centre of excellence in many clinical fields, and is performing world class veterinary research.

A major strength of the Cambridge course is the extensive use of practical teaching. Our staff includes world leaders in their fields and our facilities include state-of-the-art equipment (see Resources, below). Cambridge was the first veterinary school to introduce a hands-on lecture-free final year, in which students take full responsibility for cases under the watchful eye of senior clinicians. This allows you to develop your clinical and problem-solving skills and client communication skills in a real clinical practice environment.

The emphasis on small-group teaching in all six years, with the teacher paying close attention to your progress, is also central to our philosophy of producing the highest calibre veterinary graduates.


At Cambridge, you study the basic veterinary sciences that underpin veterinary medicine first (in the University's science departments), before learning to apply that knowledge to veterinary practice as a clinical student.

During the first three years of the course (the Pre-Clinical Studies), teaching is provided through lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and small-group supervisions, and you can typically expect 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week.

The teaching during the second three years of the course (the Clinical Studies) is a mixture of lectures (Years 4 and 5), practicals, tutorials, supervisions and clinical rotations.

During your Pre-Clinical Studies, you must complete your Pre-Clinical Extramural Studies. This involves a minimum of 12 weeks' work experience during the University vacations in order to gain knowledge of animal husbandry. Work experience carried out before starting the course cannot be counted.

During your Clinical Studies, you must complete at least 26 weeks of Clinical Extramural Study during University vacations, some of which may be undertaken abroad.


Your College supervisors review your progress on a weekly basis in subject-based supervisions, and your College Director of Studies monitors your overall progress in all aspects of the course. Formal assessment, which determines your progression through the course, takes a variety of forms including written essays, short answer questions and practical examinations.


The modern facilities in the Queen's Veterinary School Hospital include:

  • a five-theatre small animal surgical suite
  • a fully-equipped intensive care unit
  • an equine surgical suite and diagnostic unit with an MRI machine capable of imaging standing horses
  • farm animal facilities
  • a superb post-mortem unit

We also have one of the leading cancer therapy units in Europe with a new linear accelerator used for delivering radiotherapy to both small and large animals with cancer.

In addition, a new Clinical Skills Laboratory will be opening in 2014, which will house interactive models and simulators for students to practise and refine essential technical skills.

Professional qualification

While the University is responsible for the teaching and examination of the courses leading to the degrees of BA and VetMB, their content and standards are scrutinised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and must also conform to the Veterinary Directives of the European Union.

Achievement of the VetMB degree allows you to become a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which is the professional qualification required to enter practice.

Careers and research

The prospects for employment within veterinary science are very diverse. The Cambridge course provides excellent hands-on clinical teaching which equips you with the clinical skills required to enter practice (in the UK and EU).

At the same time, it gives you the scientific understanding needed to enter many other areas of veterinary work or biomedical science, and to understand and respond to the rapid progress being made in veterinary science.

Many Cambridge graduates have gone on to prestigious posts in the profession and some have become leaders of research and industry. There are also many opportunities to enter research in universities, Research Council institutes and private companies, and to obtain specialist postgraduate qualifications.

In addition, career openings are available with government agencies, animal charities (RSPCA, PDSA etc), in many pet food and drug companies, and in academic clinical posts.

Course outline

Years 1, 2 and 3 (Pre-Clinical Studies)

Years 1 and 2

In Years 1 and 2, the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos (MVST), you are taught the relevant core scientific knowledge and skills that you will need as a veterinary medicine professional.

Taught by some of the world's top academic scientists and veterinary surgeons, we provide you with the scientific and practical basis that will allow you to develop your veterinary career to the full, whether your aim is to deliver outstanding care or whether you wish to contribute to pushing forward the boundaries of academic veterinary medicine.

The main areas of learning in the MVST are covered by courses in:

  • Homeostasis – covering the physiological systems which underpin the body's regulation of its internal environment and its responses to external threats. You also have related practical classes in experimental physiology and histology
  • Molecules in Medical Science – looking at the chemical and molecular basis of how cells and organisms work
  • Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology – functional anatomy of organs and tissues of domestic animals
  • Introduction to the Scientific Basis of Medicine – covering epidemiology and how it is applied in medicine
  • Biology of Disease – dealing with the nature and mechanisms of disease processes
  • Mechanisms of Drug Action – providing an understanding of the basic mechanisms of drug action at the levels of both drug-receptor interactions and the effects on body systems
  • Neurobiology and Animal Behaviour – covering the structure and function of the sense organs and central nervous system, and the effects of drugs on brain function
  • Veterinary Reproductive Biology – looking at the physiology of reproduction in domestic animals
  • Comparative Vertebrate Biology – an introduction to the study of fish, reptiles, birds, laboratory and exotic mammals

In addition to core science, you follow the Preparing for the Veterinary Profession course (an introduction to the ethical, social and professional responsibilities of the profession) and a course in the Principles of Animal Management (the fundamental concepts of breeding and raising livestock).

You can find more details about the MVST online at:

Year 3

You specialise in one of a wide range of other subjects offered by the University (sometimes referred to by other universities as intercalation) to qualify for the BA degree. Options include:

Successful completion of the Pre-Clinical Studies leads to a BA degree. All veterinary students then continue to the three years of Clinical Studies at the Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Years 4, 5 and 6 (Clinical Studies)

Putting science into practice

The emphasis of the Clinical Studies is to give you sufficient clinical knowledge and skills to begin to practise veterinary medicine (day one competencies), and also to provide you with the scientific background you need to respond to future trends and advances in veterinary medicine.

Year 4

You study topics including:

  • animal breeding
  • nutrition and welfare
  • animal pathology
  • microbiology and veterinary parasitology
  • species medicine
  • clinical pharmacology
  • radiography
  • gastroenterology
  • communication skills

You also learn about veterinary public health, including food hygiene, state veterinary medicine and the medicine of laboratory animals.

These topics are examined in Part I of the Final Veterinary Examination in a series of 14 single-subject examinations.

Clinical tuition begins with basic clinical methods and integrated teaching in the husbandry and medicine of horses and farm species. Two mornings each week are given over to practical clinical work including basic clinical examination of the main animal species, radiography and post-mortem investigation.

Year 5

You complete the courses in species medicine started in Year 4, and instruction is given in subjects including:

  • cardiology
  • neurology
  • oncology
  • clinical pathology
  • endocrinology
  • various surgical topics
  • communication skills

Two mornings every week are again set aside for practical clinical work, including visits to external establishments such as the RSPCA clinic, and one morning a week is used for medical demonstrations.

Part II of the Final Veterinary Examination tests your understanding of principles and concepts of veterinary medicine, as well as your ability to integrate information across the Part I series of subjects.

Year 6

This is a 40-week lecture-free year with tuition centred on small-group clinical teaching in which groups rotate through different disciplines in the hospital with individual clinicians.

You are given the maximum possible responsibility for the management of clinical cases, allowing you to develop your clinical and problem-solving skills and client communication skills in a real clinical practice environment.

Finally, you have a period of eight weeks' elective study in which to explore a special interest.

During the year, marks awarded in continuous assessment count towards Part III of the Final Veterinary Examination, which is examined in May of the final year.

Entry requirements

Typical offers require
A Level:
IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
For other qualifications, see our main Entrance requirements pages.

Course requirements

Course requirements and selection for Veterinary Medicine

You may enter up to four veterinary medicine/science courses in your UCAS application. Your remaining choice can be used for an alternative course without prejudice to your commitment to veterinary medicine.

Please note that in the following 'science/mathematics subjects' refers to Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. It does not include Psychology.


Students wishing to study Veterinary Medicine must have achieved:

  • grade C or above in GCSE (or equivalent) Double Award Science and Mathematics
  • two single awards in GCSE Biology and Physics may be substituted for Double Award Science

AS and A Levels

  • Applicants must have AS or A Level passes in Chemistry and two of Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics. At least one pass must be at A Level.
  • Most applicants for Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge have at least three science/mathematics A Levels and some Colleges require this and/or ask for particular A Level subject(s). See individual College websites for details.

Although some Colleges consider applicants offering only two science/mathematics subjects at A Level, please note that the success rate of such applicants is much lower. In the past three admissions rounds, 94 per cent of applicants for Veterinary Medicine offered three or more science/mathematics A Levels and, of these, 24 per cent were successful in obtaining a place. Of the six per cent of applicants who offered only two science/mathematics A Levels, just four per cent were successful in gaining a place.

International Baccalaureate

The GCSE and AS/A Level subject requirements also apply to the IB.

  • Individual Middle Years Programme subject results validated by the IB at grade 4 or above will satisfy the GCSE requirements
  • Standard Level subjects will satisfy AS Level subject requirements, and Higher Level subjects will satisfy A Level subject requirements.

Other examination systems

We expect applicants taking other recognised examinations to demonstrate a level of understanding in science and mathematics roughly equivalent to those applying with A Levels. Refer to the Entrance requirements for details of other qualifications and please consult any College Admissions Tutor for further advice.

Mature Entry

We welcome applications from mature students - those who will be 21 or over by the time they start their course. While mature students can apply to any of the undergraduate Colleges, the majority choose a 'mature' College. Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund's and Wolfson are the three mature Colleges at which students can study the Veterinary Medicine course.

Admissions test

All Colleges require applicants to take the Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT). Applicants are responsible for registering for the BMAT by 1 October 2014, which means you must enter for the BMAT test before submitting your UCAS application by 15 October. The test will be taken on 5 November 2014.

Information about how to register for BMAT is available from the BMAT website.

Graduate entry

Graduates wishing to study Veterinary Medicine may apply as an affiliated student to one of Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund's or Wolfson Colleges with:

  • a good Honours degree (II.1 or above, science subjects are desirable)
  • passes at GCSE and AS/A Levels (or equivalent), as above


We are looking for students who are committed to the veterinary profession, and who are really interested in the scientific principles that underlie both the health and disease of animals.

Please note that the University of Cambridge does not accept applications from students who have failed at, or been removed from, other veterinary schools.

Professional expectations

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has certain expectations regarding the attitudes, behaviour and performance of veterinary students. Trainee veterinary surgeons at Cambridge must satisfy the RCVS fitness to practise requirements, both during the application process and throughout the course. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety of patients and patients' owners.

Disclosure and Barring Service check
(formerly criminal record check)

If you are offered a place to study Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge, you're required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously called an enhanced CRB check).* Minor misdemeanours will not necessarily prevent you from entering the veterinary profession but you should declare these in your UCAS application and you will be sent the relevant forms to complete if you are offered a place.

Overseas students will be asked to provide similar evidence.

More details can be found on the University's Disclosure and Barring Service webpage at: and on the Faculty of Biology's website.

* The Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority merged on 30 November 2012 to create the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Further details can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Your health

Veterinary surgeons, even as students and trainees, have a responsibility to be honest and open about their own health and all successful applicants are required to complete a confidential occupational health assessment.

The assessment is also to inform the University of any health conditions or disabilities that you have which require specific support, so that this can be in place before you start the course.

Disability, specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) and health conditions

A disability, SpLD or health condition needn't prevent you from becoming a veterinary surgeon if you can satisfy the professional fitness to practise requirements. In these circumstances please contact a College Admissions Tutor, or the Dean or Director of Teaching at the Department of Veterinary Medicine as early as possible to discuss your needs and the course requirements. Such disclosures will be considered independently of your academic qualifications and the interview process.

The University's Disability Resource Centre (DRC) can provide general advice and guidance to prospective and current students with a disability, SpLD or health condition.

Work experience

Work experience is not a requirement for applicants, but some experience is useful in order to understand the profession and what is required of its members. However, successful applicants do not necessarily have extensive work experience and we stress that other forms of relevant extra-curricular activity can be beneficial.

Admissions tests and written work

The table below sets out the ways in which each College assesses applicants for this subject. For more information about these methods of assessment and why we use them, see the main Admissions tests and written work page.

College Assessment of applicant for this subject
Christ's Not available at this College
Churchill BMAT
Clare BMAT
Corpus Christi Not available at this College
Downing BMAT
Emmanuel BMAT; Preparatory study at interview
Fitzwilliam BMAT
Girton BMAT
Gonville & Caius BMAT
Homerton Not available at this College
Hughes Hall Not available at this College
Jesus BMAT
King's Not available at this College
Lucy Cavendish BMAT
Magdalene BMAT
Murray Edwards BMAT
Newnham BMAT
Pembroke BMAT
Peterhouse Not available at this College
Queens' BMAT
Robinson BMAT; Preparatory study at interview
St Catharine's BMAT
St Edmund's BMAT
St John's BMAT
Selwyn BMAT
Sidney Sussex BMAT
Trinity Not available at this College
Trinity Hall BMAT
Wolfson BMAT
How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course, please see our Applying section for more details.

Further Resources

Find out more about Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge

Improve your knowledge of Veterinary Medicine

Tools to help you with your Veterinary Medicine application

  • Additional course costs - Information on the additional costs associated with the study of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.
  • Application information - Information about applying to study Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge.
  • BMAT Test Preparation Information - BMAT cannot be 'crammed' for; however, basic familiarity with a test's question and answer style will help you prepare. Everything that you need to prepare for the BMAT is on, or mentioned on, this website, and you can practise the test with the specimen papers available for download.
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Checks - All offers to study Medicine or Veterinary Medicine are dependent on an enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau) for UK applicants. Overseas applicants are required to provide similar evidence as available.

Veterinary Medicine and your future

The student experience

  • Student comments - Some current students comment on their experience of studying Veterinary Medicine.

Unistats info

Contextual Information

From September 2012, every undergraduate course of more than one year's duration will have a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS allows you to compare 17 pieces of information about individual courses at different higher education institutions.

However, please note that superficially similar courses often have very different structures and objectives, and that the teaching, support and learning environment that best suits you can only be determined by identifying your own interests, needs, expectations and goals, and comparing them with detailed institution- and course-specific information.

We recommend that you look thoroughly at the course and University information contained on these webpages and consider coming to visit us on an Open Day, rather than relying solely on statistical comparison.

You may find the following notes helpful when considering information presented by the KIS.

  1. The KIS relies on superficially similar courses being coded in the same way. Whilst this works on one level, it leads to some anomalies. For example, Music courses and Music Technology courses can have exactly the same code despite being very different programmes with quite distinct educational and career outcomes.

    Any course which combines several disciplines (as many courses at Cambridge do) tends to be compared nationally with courses in just one of those disciplines, and in such cases a KIS comparison may not be an accurate or fair reflection of the reality of either. For example, you may find that when considering a degree which embraces a range of disciplines such as biology, physics, chemistry and geology (for instance, Natural Sciences at Cambridge), the comparison provided is with courses at other institutions that primarily focus on just one (or a smaller combination) of those subjects.

  2. Whilst the KIS makes reference to some broad types of financial support offered by institutions, it cannot compare packages offered by different institutions. Different students have different circumstances and requirements, and you should weigh up what matters to you most: level of fee; fee waivers; means-tested support such as bursaries; non-means-tested support such as academic scholarships and study grants; and living costs such as accommodation, travel.

  3. The KIS provides a typical cost of private (ie non-university) accommodation. This is very difficult to estimate as prices and properties vary. University accommodation can be substantially cheaper, and if you are likely to live in College for much or all of the duration of your course (as is the case at Cambridge), then the cost of private accommodation will be of less or no relevance for you. The KIS also provides the typical annual cost of university accommodation and the number of beds available. Note that since most universities offer a range of residential accommodation, you should check with institutions about the likelihood of securing a room at a price that suits your budget. Knowing the number of beds available is not necessarily useful: it may be much more important to find out if all students are guaranteed accommodation.

  4. Time in lectures, seminars and similar can vary enormously by institution depending on the structure of the course, and the quality of such contact time should be the primary consideration.

  5. Whilst starting salaries can be a useful measure, they do not give any sense of career trajectory or take account of the voluntary/low paid work that many graduates undertake initially in order to gain valuable experience necessary/advantageous for later career progression.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other important factors that are relevant to the choices that you are making, but we hope that this will be a useful starting point to help you delve deeper than the face value of the KIS data.