Veterinary Medicine

What makes the Cambridge Veterinary course so special?

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

The first three years of the course are intended as the pre-clinical study in scientific disciplines for students reading for Veterinary Medicine degrees. There is no integration with clinical studies, although a few relevant clinical demonstrations may be arranged. That being said, all pre-clinical Vets have extensive periods of farm practice 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 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.

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 three or four applicants each year.

It must be said that competition for places in Veterinary Medicine is very strong, however we very much welcome applications. The typical A level conditional offer made by the Cambridge Colleges for entry is A*AA.

How will I be taught at Newnham?

College-based teaching at Newnham is provided by both research scientists and by qualified veterinary surgeons. 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. They include Professor Josh Slater (who is Professor of Equine Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College), who teaches veterinary anatomy, Dr Stuart Eves, College Lecturer in Veterinary Medicine at Selwyn College who teaches veterinary physiology, and Dr Dervila Glynn (who did a PhD in Pharmacology and who is currently the Cambridge Neuroscience Co-ordinator,) who teaches pharmacology.

Can you tell me more about the Veterinary Medicine Fellows?

Professor Jenny Morton (Professorial Fellow in Neurobiology) is Director of Pre-clinical Medical and Veterinary studies at Newnham College and Professor of Experimental Neurobiology in the University. She is very active in research into neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Huntington’s disease, and leads a team of researchers in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. She teaches pharmacology.

Dr Barbara Skelly is Director of Studies in Clinical Veterinary Medicine.
She works as a lecturer and clinician in the Department of Veterinary Medicine in the Small Animal Medicine unit, where she is actively involved in teaching students, seeing clinical cases and undertaking research into canine genetic diseases.

Dr Barbara Blacklaws is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Veterinary Medicine and was Director of the Fundamentals of Veterinary Science Summer School. She is active in research into the immune response to persistent viral infections in particular a lentivirus infection of sheep, visna maedi, and norovirus infection in mice and her research group is based in the Department of Veterinary Medicine.

The full list of Fellows and Special Supervisors can be found here.

What jobs do Newnham Veterinary Medicine 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.

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

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

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?

All applicants for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine are required to take the Natural Sciences pre-interview assessment at an authorised centre local to them (for a lot of applicants, this will be their school/college).

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 three 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.

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.

Back to course list