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Course content

What is the MSc/PGDip in Veterinary Epidemiology?

In a world where global transport links allow rapid movement of people and animals, disease can spread more quickly than before and is harder to control than ever. In such a world there is a growing need for trained epidemiologists at the front line of disease surveillance.

The UK leads the way in providing this training and, in order to meet the demand for skilled professionals, the RVC has developed a unique postgraduate veterinary epidemiology course, delivered jointly with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

This demanding masters in veterinary epidemiology programme is led by veterinary epidemiologists and supported by policy makers from the forefront of UK government and you will gain a fascinating insight into the work of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, formerly AHVLA). Your areas of study will combine LSHTM’s strengths in epidemiological principles and communicable disease epidemiology, with the RVC’s expertise in veterinary epidemiology, animal health and production.

The MSc programme comprises six compulsory modules, followed by a 12-week research project on a relevant topic of your choice. PGDip students study five modules only and are not required to complete a research project.  

Why study at the RVC?

Founded in 1791, the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, is a long-established institution with a global reputation for veterinary and biological sciences. Our mission is to provide visionary leadership and excellence in veterinary science through innovative scholarship and pioneering clinical activity. We are the only veterinary school in the world to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council. 

The LSHTM 

The LSHTM is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public health and global health, and was recently named the world’s leading research-focused graduate school (Thomson Reuters / Times Higher Education, 2013). It has been cited as one of the world’s top universities for collaborative research.

The LSHTM's mission is to improve public health and health equity in the UK and worldwide, working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.

What will I learn?

Upon successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate and understand the key concepts underpinning the discipline of veterinary and medical epidemiology
  • Select an appropriate study design when confronted with an epidemiological research question and develop a detailed study protocol capable of answering the research question
  • Analyse and interpret epidemiological data derived from cross-sectional, case-control and cohort studies
  • Review critically the published epidemiological literature
  • Apply epidemiological principles to surveillance, and infection and disease control, within animal and human populations
  • Communicate effectively with researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds
  • Communicate effectively with other people with an interest in human and animal health, including the general public and key policy makers.

Programme delivery

You can choose to complete the Veterinary Epidemiology postgrad course over one year full-time study, or part time over two years.

All participants begin the course in September. Over three terms, you will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practicals and tutorials. Both MSc and Diploma students complete the Term One foundation module. MSc students then complete a further five compulsory modules over Terms Two and Three, while Diploma students complete a further four modules, with some module choice available.

Students on both courses sit written examination papers in June, after which the veterinary epidemiology MSc students will work on a research project from June to August, culminating in an oral examination in September.

Part-time students attend the course full-time from October to December in year one, followed by classes two to three days a week from January to May. You will usually study the remainder of the course in year two, including the summer research project (MSc students only).

We recognise the need for flexibility, however, and are happy to tailor your part-time study to meet your specific requirements (subject to agreement with the course director).

The teaching is delivered using the excellent facilities of the LSHTM in London as well as at the RVC’s London and Hertfordshire campuses. The course also includes a visit to the APHA (Weybridge).

The field of Veterinary Epidemiology straddles several different areas. Therefore, although you will be based at the RVC, aspects of basic epidemiology applicable to both human and animal diseases are taught at the LSHTM, and risk analysis and surveillance are taught by APHA staff.

What will I be able to do with my qualification?

Demand for trained veterinary epidemiologists currently outstrips supply, and there are excellent opportunities in a variety of organisations involved in disease control at national, regional and international level, as well as in teaching, research and various food-related industries.

RVC graduates hold senior positions within government departments in many different countries. Many go on to work alongside the people who have taught them during the previous year. Within the UK, graduates are employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA, formerly AHVLA), as well as in research centres and pharmaceutical companies.

For example, 2013/14 MSc Vet Epi graduate Luisa Dormer started work at the APHA right after completing the course. She writes, '[I am] enjoying working at APHA. I have realised just how much I learnt during the MSc [Vet Epi] now that I am putting it into practice!'

Please see Luisa's full testimonial below:

Luisa Dormer


Visit the Veterinary Epidemiology - MSc/PGDip page on the Royal Veterinary College website for more details!

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