Studying to become a vet is challenging wherever you choose to do it, but the Cambridge course offers the most diverse and rewarding veterinary education experience possible. Cambridge provides a uniquely supportive environment in which to learn, succeed and enjoy your university years. Our veterinary school has a long tradition of producing the finest veterinary graduates – based on a combination of world-beating science, and a focus on practical skills.
A major feature of the Cambridge course is its practical emphasis – progressively guiding you towards your clinical goals. From their first week, our students learn handling and management skills in all the major domestic species, and subsequently with amphibians, reptiles, birds and ‘exotic’ mammals. In the early years this is supplemented by integrated sessions in clinical examination, thoracic auscultation, abdominal palpation, orthopaedic evaluation, echocardiography and neurological examination. Our students have the use of superb facilities – bespoke consultation and examination facilities, imaging and surgical suites, a linear accelerator for radiotherapy, clinical pathology and post mortem labs, and our Clinical Skills Lab is available 24 hours a day for students in all years.
The key to being a skilled vet is combining practical skills with excellent grounding in the science underlying practice. Cambridge gives you the unique opportunity to study to become a vet at the world’s premier science university – also consistently ranked as one of the best-funded and most productive UK universities. You will be fully immersed in our environment of cutting-edge biomedicine, and experience shows that this makes our graduates better equipped to deal with the high pace of change in veterinary medicine, and poised for a wide variety of flexible and challenging careers.
Most important is the additional third year – when those of our vet students who do not already have a degree study a single subject to a high level to gain a full Cambridge BA science degree. Most select a biological discipline, but other options are available, such as Management Studies – ideal for a role leading a veterinary practice. The unique opportunities provided by a Cambridge veterinary education are invaluable in our graduates’ future career progression and flexibility. Indeed, external feedback confirms that our graduates are better equipped to deal with unexpected clinical situations and the high pace of change in veterinary medicine.
Ours is the smallest UK vet school, training around 70 each year, and this is central to our students’ experience. Right from the start, you will be in very small dissection, animal handling, and lab practical groups. You will also benefit from Cambridge’s unique ‘supervision’ small group teaching system – which gives you regular opportunities to consolidate your learning and follow up on your interests. Later in the course, the small class size become even more valuable. Our clinical rotation groups are tiny, which ensures a high caseload, and thus more experience and confidence by the time you qualify.
All vet students at Cambridge are members of one of the University’s colleges – and most students say that, apart from the vet course itself, college life is the main reason they are glad they trained here. For at least the first three years, and often more, you would live in college accommodation alongside other students studying the whole range of subjects offered by the University. Colleges are much more than halls of residence, though. They are often students’ main social hub, as well as providing many of the facilities they use – for study, sport, music, and fun.
Being a vet student at Cambridge here is probably less expensive than you think. A recent survey by the Association of Veterinary Students and the British Veterinary Association showed that, per term, Cambridge is the least expensive UK vet school to attend. Our students live in competitively-priced college accommodation for up to four years of their course, and the University is inexpensive in other ways, too. There is an array of financial support available. The generous Cambridge Bursary supports students from low-income households, and there are also many sources of funding to prevent financial hardship, and also support student study, travel and recreation. Cambridge is also the only vet school which provides funding to support its students during their Clinical Extramural Studies.
Almost all Cambridge vet graduates go into veterinary practice when they graduate, and many stay for the rest of their careers - in farm, equine, small animal and exotics practice, in the UK and across the world. Those who decide to do further training, or study for qualification as a veterinary specialist find that the unparalleled scientific and clinical training they received at Cambridge puts them in an excellent position to further their career. Cambridge vets are also well placed to exploit all the opportunities their science BA and veterinary VetMB degrees offer them, be they in scientific and clinical research or teaching, industrial research, government and management.
Cambridge is a beautiful, exciting place to spend your university years. Importantly, Cambridge Vet School is only a ten-minute cycle ride from the very centre of the city – far closer than the other UK vet schools. This means you can easily access the Vet School in your ‘pre-clinical’ years, yet not be isolated from all the city has to offer in your ‘clinical’ years.
For much more information about the Cambridge veterinary course, including the structure of the course, vet student life at Cambridge, the careers of our vet graduates, and specific information for mature, graduate and non-UK applicants, see this page [http://www.vet.cam.ac.uk/study/vet] on the Cambridge Veterinary School’s website.
Studying at Downing College
At Downing College, between one and three undergraduates for Veterinary Medicine are admitted each year.
The Downing Whitby Medical Society for both Veterinary and Medical students is run entirely by the undergraduates and meets about twice each term for social occasions and academic evenings with outside speakers. The President and Secretary of the Society are elected from among the second and third-year Veterinary and Medical students.
The Director of Studies in Veterinary Medicine is Mrs Jill Pearson.
We seek applicants with strong scientific and clinical potential, as evidenced by performance in science/maths subjects at school, and in the University’s admissions assessments, as well as an ability to discuss any veterinary work experience they have seen. Indeed, if you are doing well in science/maths at school, then you may find that Cambridge is the veterinary course on which you have the highest chance of gaining a place.
The University’s typical conditional offer for Veterinary Medicine is A*AA at A-level, and for the IB, 40-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level. For information about other examination systems see this link http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/entrance-requirements.
We require that applicants should be taking Chemistry and one of Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics, but recommend that applicants should take three such maths/science subjects. Psychology would not normally be considered a qualifying ‘maths/science subject’.
Work experience is not a requirement but some experience is useful to understand the profession and what is required of its members. We suggest that a total two weeks of experience shadowing a vet or vets in any clinical setting is sufficient. You will probably be asked about your work experience at interview, and the focus will be on how observant, questioning, interactive and thoughtful you have been about the veterinary practice you have seen.
All applicants are required to sit the Natural Sciences Admission Assessment, which they will sit at an authorised centre local to them (for many applicants, this will be their school/college). This is an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate the ability in the physical and biological sciences, and maths – it is considered alongside all the information we receive about each applicant. There is no fee for this assessment, but your school/college must register you for it by October 15th. Further information is available at this link http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/veterinary-medicine.
Veterinary applicants are no longer asked to take the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT).
Applicants whose on-paper information suggests that they might be successful will be called for interview – usually in early December. Applicants usually have two interviews on the same day. These will focus on candidates’ aptitude in science/maths subjects, as well as discussion of any work experience. While we will ask about clinical cases you have seen, or any additional reading in science, maths or Veterinary Medicine, we will not expect you to know any detailed information normally taught as part of a university veterinary course.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has certain expectations regarding the attitudes, behaviour and performance of veterinary students. For information about the (1) RCVS fitness to practise requirements, (2) Disclosure and Barring Service checks, and (3) Cambridge’s confidential occupational health assessment, see this link http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/veterinary-medicine.
Open Days and Information
As well as our own College Open Days, you may wish to consider attending one of the Vet School’s own open days, residential courses and subject masterclasses. For more information about these, see this link. http://www.vet.cam.ac.uk/study/vet/vetcam. Many potential applicants find these events enjoyable, informative and helpful in making their decisions about vet school, but it is important to note that attending these events confers no advantage in the admissions process.
Introductory reading for students
You can find some information about the underlying scientific concepts of the Veterinary Medicine course, together with a list of recommended reading material at the Faculty site.
Further details about studying Veterinary Medicine can be found at the University of Cambridge site.