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Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge offers a world class opportunity to study the scientific basis of veterinary medicine and clinical veterinary science. Our course provides the fundamental building blocks on which to develop and excel in your specialist professional field.

This is an exciting time for the Veterinary Profession with more and more state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment techniques becoming affordable and usable in ordinary private practice. It is an era of increasing professionalism, with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons carefully monitoring the continuing professional development of its members, and of specialisation, with a huge range of Specialist Certificates and Diplomas available as veterinary surgeons seek to make themselves experts in a particular field. The Cambridge Veterinary School aims to produce well-rounded graduates who are competent in the treatment of equine, farm animal and companion species and in public health and who are ready to start making informed choices about their careers. In addition, Cambridge vets have all had the opportunity, in the third year of pre-clinical study, to specialise in some branch of medical science. In this year a range of advanced study options is offered that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. This brings our students right to the cutting edge of current science, enabling them to study a topic in depth and even to undertake original research – it is not unusual for these research projects to be published as papers in scientific journals. The many courses offered by the Zoology Department and the ‘Infectious Diseases of Man and Animals’ option are particularly popular with the vet students. We believe that veterinary graduates who also have a science degree will not only be able to make more informed decisions in day-to-day practice but also have open to them wider career opportunities.

The course is divided into two halves. The first three ‘pre-clinical’ years lead to a B.A. degree; the students then move onto the Veterinary School itself and the world-renowned Queen’s Veterinary Hospital for three more years of clinical training leading to the degree of Vet.M.B. (Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine). Graduates are then entitled to be registered as Members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and are qualified to practice. The curriculum is continually undergoing revision to reflect the needs of the modern profession. The final (sixth) year is lecture-free to allow students to concentrate on studies with the clinicians in the various specialities and on acquiring hands-on expertise in medicine and surgery. There are about 70 students in each year, scattered through most of the Cambridge colleges – the smaller numbers make for very good relationships with the staff and a very socially cohesive student group. There is a very active University Veterinary Society with weekly speaker meetings and many other events and a Veterinary Zoological Society for those with an interest in ‘exotic’ animals.

Further information about the Veterinary course and the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos, and its many exciting options, can be found here.

Veterinary Medicine at Caius

The Cambridge Veterinary course is very demanding, and so admission is very competitive. Admissions decision are made on the basis of the candidate’s academic record, school reference, personal statement and performance in the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA) after interviews held at the College. The team at Caius (who will conduct the interviews) includes an (external) Veterinary Director of Studies, Professor Alun Williams of Wolfson College, and four Medical Directors of Studies: Dr Julian Sale, a molecular biologist, Dr Dino Giussani, a fetal and neonatal physiologist, Dr K.J Patel, a molecular biologist and Professor David Riches, an Anatomist - all of whom are Caius Fellows. Dr Williams supervises Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology and anatomical aspects of Neurobiology and Reproductive Biology. He organises teaching in the other specifically veterinary aspects of the pre-clinical course. Other subjects are taught together with the medical students by a large team of scientists and medically qualified supervisors within the College. At the Clinical School, Caius students are advised by Professor Nick Jeffery, a veterinary clinician specialising in neurology and neurosurgery.

Admissions

The number of places Caius has on offer is strictly limited by a public quota system. Caius, in common with several other colleges, has a quota of two places per year. This might seems a small number, but Caius vets have the advantage of being part of the larger Medical and Veterinary Sciences community. The College has a long and famous history in Medicine and admits a large number of medical students each year. About half of the pre-clinical veterinary course is the same as the medical one and so the vets share contact with teachers whose research is very much at the cutting edge of Medical Science. Applicants must have Chemistry to A/S level or beyond and we would encourage potential candidates to study in addition at least two of Biology, Mathematics and Physics, though Caius will consider students with other subject profiles at A level or equivalent.

The qualities we are looking for are intelligence and imagination, a breadth and flexibility of outlook, but above all an intellectual curiosity and a passion for science itself. In trying to estimate the extent to which you have these qualities, we rely on your UCAS reference, on what you say about yourself and your interests in your personal statement, the details of your academic record so far, your performance in the Natural Sciences Admissions Assessment (NSAA), and on the interviews when you come to Caius (or, for some international applicants, interviews held by the University overseas).

We interview all suitably-qualified candidates. These interviews need not be a daunting experience; many candidates have in the past said that they have found them enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. You will have normally have three one-to-one interviews of twenty minutes each. We are very likely to ask candidates about veterinary experience they may have had, to discover whether their perception of veterinary medicine is a realistic one. This is likely to be an important factor in ranking candidates. We may also initiate a discussion on something that really engages their interest, probably related to their school work, to see whether they can argue coherently and have the imagination and flexibility to cope quickly with novel points of view. We are likely to ask about which of your subjects most interests you, and why, and encourage you to demonstrate some independent enthusiasm for it - for example, by talking about things you have done that are not simply part of your course. We will certainly ask about what you read: at university, you will to a large extent be teaching yourself through guided reading, and someone who has no liking for books and is not interested enough in science to spend some of their free time reading about it is not likely to make a good impression. Discussion may well centre on experimental and particularly project work that you have done at school, for this often gives a good idea of a student's scientific understanding independently of how well they have been taught. As well as finding out how deeply you understand the work you have been doing at school, we may also challenge you with new information and data. Finally, you will be given a chance to ask any questions that you may have concerning Cambridge, the medical course, and the College.

Due to the public quota system, every year we are forced to say no to academically strong candidates whom we also liked personally at interview. Strong candidates who miss out at Caius are entered for the 'pool', where they are available for consideration by any college that has not yet filled its quota. The result of all this post-interview activity is communicated to all candidates simultaneously, in early January.

If you have any queries, please contact the Admissions Tutor at admissions@cai.cam.ac.uk.