The College of Animal Welfare
Course: BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Degree (Edinburgh Napier University)

BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Degree (Edinburgh Napier University)

Course overview

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This programme will not be recruiting in 2021.

This course, awarded by Edinburgh Napier University and delivered in conjunction with The College of Animal Welfare, was the first, and is the longest standing, veterinary nursing degree programme in Scotland. Having been given direct accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), upon graduation you will be eligible to apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses in accordance with the requirements of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) and the RCVS Veterinary Nursing Registration Rules without any further assessment, unlike those studying on non-directly accredited courses. It is by means of RCVS registration that veterinary nurses achieve their highly valued professional status.

Additional financial support may be available for this course.
Subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.

Key Facts

  • Applications: This programme will not be recruiting in 2021.
  • Attendance: Full time
  • Duration: Four years
  • Start Date: September
  • Location: This programme is based primarily at the new, state-of-the-art, Sighthill campus of Edinburgh Napier University with access to The College of Animal Welfare’s facilities at South Gyle.

Completion of the qualification will give you both the theoretical knowledge and practical experience needed to fully prepare you for your future career as a veterinary nurse. Clinical practice placements at veterinary practices will be arranged for you by our placement liaison team throughout the programme, however you must be prepared to make your own travel arrangements to your placements.

Course content

This programme is modular and each module represents a discrete unit of the total programme. It is comprised of theory and practice modules that normally attract 20 SCOTCAT credits each with a 40 SCOTCAT credit dissertation during the honours year at SCQF level 10. Modules are taken over two semesters per academic year although some placements must be undertaken in the summer holidays of years one, two and three. You will cover the following subjects:

Year 1:

  • Principles of Small Animal Care
  • Foundations of Veterinary Nursing Theory
  • Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology
  • Veterinary Nursing Practice 1 & 2
  • Veterinary Science in Action

Year 2:

  • Veterinary Pathology
  • Diagnostics for Veterinary Nurses
  • Ethical, Legal & Professional Issues in Health Care
  • Veterinary Theatre Nursing & Anaesthesia
  • Application of Small Animal Veterinary Nursing Care
  • Veterinary Nursing Practice 3a

Year 3:

  • Veterinary Nursing Practice 3b
  • Advancing practice through research
  • Animals in Society
  • Option module
  • Veterinary Nursing Practice 4

Year 4:

  • Pharmacology
  • Honours Project
  • Specialised Veterinary Nursing
  • Practice Elective
  • plus one option from a range of core modules

You will be taught through a variety of learning methods, including: lectures, tutorials, discussions, seminars and group work.

Clinical Experience

There is an emphasis on practical veterinary nurse training throughout your studies. Alongside theoretical modules, clinical practice will be undertaken in RCVS approved Training Practices (TPs) throughout Scotland, although it may be possible to undertake placements in other parts of the UK.

During the summer holidays at the end of years one, two and three you will be required to undertake work placements. All placements are arranged by the University.


In order to complete this veterinary nurse degree you will be required to pass all of the University’s practical and written assessments and examinations.

Entry requirements

This programme will not be recruiting in 2021.

Admissions for this programme are high and, as such, the selection process is competitive. Offers of places are given through a process of initial application and academic assessment. Following this, candidates are invited to attend an interview day where group discussion and individual interviews will take place.

A list of  acceptable entry requirements can be found on the Edinburgh Napier University website.

Prior to applying for this programme, please ensure you read the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disability Guidance on the Recruitment of VN Students which can be downloaded here.

Work experience

It is important that all applicants have a first-hand appreciation of the veterinary profession, and the work that would be expected of them as a veterinary nurse, prior to admission onto the course. All candidates are therefore required to provide evidence of a minimum of two week’s work experience in a veterinary practice. A satisfactory reference provided by the practice head nurse or a veterinary surgeon is also required.

Course fees

Further information regarding fees can be found on the Edinburgh Napier University website.

What next?

Registering as a newly qualified veterinary nurse (RVN)

Graduates of Edinburgh Napier University’s BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing programme are eligible to apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses. Following the submission of the registration form and fee, successful applicants will then become entitled to call themselves a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) and use the post nominal term, RVN, after their name. They will also receive a Registered Veterinary Nurse badge from the RCVS that, when attached to their uniform, identifies them to members of the public and their colleagues as being of professional status. The registration also demonstrates to employers and the general public that the RVN is accountable to the RCVS for their professional conduct and are committed to keeping their knowledge and skills up-to-date. CPD is an important part of this.

Progression and employment prospects in veterinary nursing

Job prospects for newly graduated veterinary nurses, due to high demand across the UK, continue to remain high both within first opinion veterinary practice and in specialist roles in a referral practice or large veterinary hospital. What’s more – you can now expect a veterinary nurse salary to be in excess of £20,000 per year on average, as salary prospects have also increased in recent years. On completion of degree level training, your career prospects could also expand into team leadership, research, teaching, sales or rehabilitation. We advertise current vacancies in veterinary nursing and related industries on our job board, if you’re looking for a place to begin.

Remember that, on achieving professional status, it is the responsibility of veterinary nurses working in practice to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on a regular basis. Our CPD and short courses are designed for both registered and student veterinary nurses, allowing delegates to refresh their veterinary knowledge and understand the latest developments in the profession.

CAW Connect

After you complete your studies with The College of Animal Welfare, you will be invited to join our alumni association, CAW Connect. CAW Connect is a social networking website and education hub which gives you the opportunity to connect with other alumni, enjoy industry discounts, make use of exclusive careers advice and resources, find new job opportunities and keep up-to-date with the latest industry news. Find out more about CAW Connect


“I have most enjoyed the practical work; including the practice placement modules. Using what I have learned, I enjoy providing care to patients when I am in practice placement. Through assistance and guidance from veterinary staff, I have a much better understanding of the treatment and care that patients require; whether they be in for surgery or as emergency cases”. Read the case study
Martin McAndrew
BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Student

“Going on placement is, in my opinion, the best part of the course. It allows you to see first-hand exactly what happens behind the scenes in a veterinary practice and you get the opportunity to expand your learning and understanding while also gaining experience in the profession you are working towards”. Read the case study
Craig McPhee
BSc Honours Veterinary Nursing Student

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