Veterinary Medicine

What makes the Cambridge Veterinary Medicine course so special?

Cambridge is a popular choice for a wide variety of students, providing an intellectually satisfying preparation for clinical studies. 

The subjects within years 1 – 3 (pre-clinical) of the Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Tripos (MVST) are treated very much as scientific disciplines. That being said, all pre-clinical Vets have extensive periods of practical extramural studies in species-specific areas.  farm practice this is not just farm practice but covers all main animals kept in the UK. They have to complete 12 weeks of farm (cattle, sheep, pigs), small animal (dogs, cats, rabbits and other common small pets) and equine during their first three years, and the very long Cambridge vacations give ample time for this. 

Cambridge has long prided itself on the breadth and depth of the scientific training that it can offer to its Veterinary and Medical students. All students now complete all of their pre-clinical exemptions by the end of their second year. 

In your third year you may choose from a variety of subjects to study. The option of a single scientific subject within Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos is a popular choice for many students, as it allows for a year of specialized study, involving a research project or dissertation. It provides a useful foretaste of what research might be like, as well as introducing students to exciting scientific work at the forefront of our knowledge in a particular discipline. For those preferring a broader course, Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences has a wide range of biomedical courses, with many attractive and varied options available. A dissertation often forms an integral part of the Part II Veterinary Medicine examination, enabling students to research a particular topic of interest in depth. 

All Veterinary students continue their clinical studies in Cambridge on a further three-year course. 

Applicants take Parts I, II and III of the Final Veterinary Examination, leading to the VetMB degree; this entitles the holder to Membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and thus to practice. During the clinical years students are required to complete clinical extra-mural studies (EMS) in their vacation time. This involves spending time at veterinary practices that are offering clinical experience working with the main farm species, horses and pets kept in the UK. The final year is lecture-free and does not follow the terms of the rest of the university. This allows students to rotate between clinical disciplines and EMS during both term and vacation time and avoids pressure to complete EMS during vacations only. Students are advised to find a local practice that they can visit repeatedly and can build up a relationship with whilst looking for broader clinical experience at other, more specialized practices, the aim being to get exposure to as many practice types and clinical techniques as possible. When qualified, students should satisfy the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) day one competencies. EMS is coordinated by the Department of Veterinary Medicine and by Dr Barbara Skelly MRCVS who acts as your Veterinary School Clinical Advisor (VSCA). 

Why choose Newnham for Veterinary Medicine?

Newnham is a great place to study Veterinary Medicine. Most teaching within the College is in small groups (supervisions), which allow plenty of opportunity for each student to contribute to the discussion and ask questions. 

‘Newnham is a fantastic place, making it a definite first choice I think! The great atmosphere and beauty of the college make it a wonderful place to live and study. Also, the smaller numbers of students studying Medicine and Veterinary Medicine means there is small group teaching with students.’ 3rd year Vet student 

‘I have found the staff at Newnham to be very supportive and approachable during my clinical years and have really enjoyed being part of the Newnham graduate community. It is also a bonus that the college is so close to the Clinical Vet School!’ Previous final year Clinical Vet student 

How many students take Veterinary Medicine at Newnham?

Although the Cambridge Veterinary School is small, the number of students whom we are allowed to admit has increased significantly over the last few years. At Newnham we offer to four applicants each year. 

It must be said that competition for places in Veterinary Medicine is very strong, however we very much welcome applications. 

How will I be taught at Newnham?

College-based teaching at Newnham is provided by both research scientists and by qualified veterinary surgeons and clinical students. This ensures sound coverage of the essential basic sciences with added clinical interest and relevance. As well as the Veterinary Medicine Fellows, we are fortunate to have a number of Special Supervisors. These are vets or academics who have a close connection with Newnham College. 

Can you tell me more about the Veterinary Medicine Fellows?

For information on the current teaching staff and Fellows for Veterinary Medicine, please visit our teaching webpages.

What jobs do Newnham Vet students go on to do?

Newnham Vet students go on to a wide range of jobs when they qualify. After postgraduate training, most will go on into veterinary practice. With the scientific grounding of the Cambridge course, some may choose to study for a PhD and pursue a clinical academic career. Many recent graduates have pursued a career in academic veterinary medicine by becoming Junior Clinical Training Scholars (interns) and Senior Clinical Training Scholars (residents) at UK veterinary schools with the aim of achieving their European or American Diplomas in specialty subjects. 

Are there any A-level subjects that are particularly useful?

We require A-level Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Mathematics and Physics. 

The standard A level conditional offer made by the Cambridge Colleges for entry is A*AA. 

Can I take a gap year?

We are open-minded about applicants having a gap year. We are equally happy to accept applications from students applying pre-A level and wishing to come straight from school and those who have chosen to have a gap year and are applying post A-level (or equivalent). 

Applicants wishing to apply pre-A level (or equivalent) for deferred entry will also be considered, but borderline applicants would be less likely to be successful, as we would usually only defer a place for a particularly strong applicant, or if there are extenuating circumstances. 

How should I prepare for interview at Newnham?

You should read widely and be able to demonstrate a real interest and enthusiasm for studying Veterinary Medicine. It is especially important that you have read the websites and understand what the course entails (see also the information given below about the Cambridge Veterinary course). 

You will usually have two interviews, each lasting 20-30 minutes. During your interview we will ask you questions about what you have done so far, including any work-placements or work-shadowing and we will also ask you to tackle some problem-solving questions. We will talk you through these activities e.g. interpreting a graph, so that we can get a chance to assess how you approach and think about problems and how you respond to guidance and advice. You will have an opportunity to ask questions. You may find it helpful to visit the section on interviews on the main Cambridge University website: 

If you are invited to interview, you may be asked to do a pre-interview reading for 10 minutes before the interview.  If so, this will be noted in your interview invitation. 

Is there an Admissions Assessment for Veterinary Medicine?

Yes – applicants for the 2024 admissions cycle are required to take a pre-interview written assessment, for which you need to register, separately from your UCAS application, by 29th September. For information about the format of the assessment, and how to register, see the University website:

Where can I find out more?

Veterinary Medicine course information on the University website and on the Department website. 

The Veterinary Medicine Subject Overview on the ‘My HE+’ website also provides information and resources for exploring your subject. 

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