skip to primary navigationskip to content

Course structure



Most undergraduate courses are called ‘Tripos’ here at Cambridge, and when students start the Veterinary Medicine course, they will be undertaking study which forms the Medical and Veterinary Science Tripos (MVST). The MVST is the pre-clinical course for students wishing to become doctors or vets. During this course, students receive their lecture and practical teaching in the university departments - either as a vet-only group, alongside natural scientists, or medical students.

In the first two years (Parts IA and IB) some of the constituent courses are taken in common by both sets of students, while some are parallel. In the first two years of the course, the colleges consolidate and amplify student learning by the provision of 'supervisions' - teaching sessions for small groups of two to four students, highlighting areas of clinical relevance in the veterinary course.

I cannot emphasise enough what a wonderful opportunity the supervisions have been.

Renata 2013

After the first two years, students will progress into their third year (Part II year), which is similar to intercalated courses offered by other universities, during which they pursue a subject of their choice for a whole year. This year gives Cambridge veterinary students an unparalleled and exciting opportunity to work with researchers at the cutting edge of their field, and they often also carry out an in-depth research project of their own. Most vet students study a biological subject - ranging from palaeontology to developmental neuroscience to the history and philosophy of science - but non-scientific subjects may occasionally be chosen, such as Management Studies.

At the end of the third year, vet students receive a full Cambridge BA degree equivalent to that awarded to Natural Scientists - and having such a qualification from the world's premier science university can prove invaluable in their later career. This is why the Cambridge course is one year longer than the other UK veterinary schools, and you should bear in mind that this is the most distinctive feature of the Cambridge course.
For more information about the preclinical years of the course (i.e. years 1 to 3), please go to the following link:

Following the third year, graduate students progress into the fourth year of the course, which is the start of your three clinical years of study. During this time, the course gradually transforms from a lecture/practical system to a final year which is entirely taken up by rotations in various clinical fields (e.g. small animal orthopaedics, farm animal medicine, equine surgery). A summary of the clinical curriculum is given below:

The myths that in Cambridge you don't get to touch an animal until your fourth year are completely wrong! It's only the end of my first term and I have already had real live animal handling with so many different species..

Rachel 2013




4th Year

(Clinical year one)

Integrated body systems pathology and basic medicine (alimentary, respiratory, urology, dermatology, dentistry)


Animal housing, handling, husbandry, management, nutrition,

breeding and welfare

Reproductive pathology

Principles of Infectious Diseases, including Parasitology

Food animal diseases and medicine

Food hygiene

Evidence based medicine

Diagnostic imaging

Principles of surgery Clinical pharmacology

Clinical pathology

Exotic Wildlife & Conservation Medicine

5th Year

(Clinical year two)


Integrated body systems pathology and basic medicine (cardiology, endocrinology, metabolic diseases, haematology, cytology, neurology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, dentistry)

Food animal diseases and medicine (cont.)

Equine medicine, surgery and orthopaedics

Small animal medicine, orthopaedics and soft tissue surgery

Critical care

Infertility and obstetrics Oncology

Food Hygiene (cont) Humane Slaughter

State Veterinary Medicine


Practice & business management

6th Year

(Clinical year three – lecture free)


Clinical Rotations:


Equine studies: Equine medicine, surgery & general practice

Farm animal studies


Small animal medicine / Oncology/Clinical Pathology/Neurology

Small animal orthopaedic surgery Small animal soft tissue surgery Elective study


An important part of the veterinary course is Extra-Mural Studies (EMS). The objective of pre-clinical  EMS, undertaken during vacations in years 1-3, is to give students experience in United Kingdom farming enterprises involving livestock, and also experience of working with and handling other domestic animals, particularly horses. Such experience includes handling, housing, feeding, breeding, work routines, health problems and preventive measures for a variety of animal species.  This will provide an important and necessary background for future clinical studies.

Clinical EMS, undertaken during vacations in years 4-6, is to provide each student with practical veterinary experience. It exposes students to the ethical, financial, business and inter-personal realities of professional practice and gives an appreciation of other veterinary work and career opportunities. By allowing a flexible approach, it is hoped that every student will have the opportunity to practise a wide range of veterinary and communication skills within a variety of different practice situations.

At the end of the six years, students are awarded the degree of Vet MB and thereby membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (and the ability to work as a vet in the UK, EU and most of the Commonwealth).