• Question: What qualifications do you require to study animals

    Asked by whercus2 to Nina on 10 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 10 Jun 2019: last edited 10 Jun 2019 4:55 pm


      Thanks for the question! It depends on what you mean by ‘studying animals’.

      If you want to be a veterinarian and be able to treat animal patients, this involves a lot of time studying animals and how animals and drugs work (so a lot of basic science to start with such as physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology) before moving onto to more clinical subjects such as cardiology (heart medicine), neurology (brain medicine), surgery (soft tissue or orthopaedic with bones) etc.

      Currently in the UK, all vets train as general practitioners first (obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine or Veterinary Science) which qualifies you to work with any species. The vet degree is 5 years at most vet schools (and 6 years at Cambridge where there is compulsory intercalated year to focus on one of the basic sciences e.g. physiology or zoology).

      Getting into vet school remains very competitive, but the key A-levels requirements are similar across the board (i.e. top grades in biology, chemistry and either maths or physics (or both)). That said, if you don’t get your predicted A-level grades, it is still possible to do another basic science degree first (e.g. I did physiology) and go to vet school as a post-grad. This route is more expensive but there are advantages – as a more mature student you might be better prepared for the vet course (how to get the most out of it, and well-versed in how to pass uni exams). I think it also helps to teach you how to be a scientist first (since there is little opportunity to think for yourself in a standard vet degree because you have to absorb so much information – the intercalation year can help make you think more critically though and is definitely worth doing if you have any interest in research later on).

      You certainly don’t need to be a vet or veterinary nurse to study animals. Zoology courses can often be quite animal focused and there are also degrees in animal science and agriculture. I guess it depends on what your specific animal interest is, and why you want to study them. Most basic science courses leading onto to an MSc or PhD will offer some training in laboratory animals (e.g. rodents).

      You can find out more about the various animal-related courses available in the UK here:

      https://digital.ucas.com/search/results?SearchText=Animal%20science

      There are also many animal technician jobs out there which may not require a University degree, but perhaps more vocational College training.

      Hope that helps. Definitely consider trying to get some work experience placements to find out what animals or what aspects of animals you are most interested in learning about.

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