Study this programme anywhere in the world and receive a fully accredited University of London degree


Livestock Health and Production

MSc, PGDip, PGCert and Individual modules

Available to study anywhere in the world

This programme offers a thorough overview of the factors that influence livestock production - including breeding, nutrition, welfare and disease processes and management.

Deborah Alexander at University of London graduation 2018

Deborah Alexander, PG Diploma Livestock Health and Production, UK

‘The diploma has helped me have sensible meaningful conversations with farmers about their businesses, their animals and the welfare and nutrition of their animals. It has also helped me understand modern buildings and ventilation systems etc. This qualification has given me confidence and a feeling that I am up to date, i.e. current, in the farming world.’

Gain a thorough overview of the factors that influence livestock production, including breeding, nutrition, welfare and disease processes and management.

Programme details

Programme structure, modules and specification

This programme will help you improve the health and production of livestock by providing greater understanding of the interaction of livestock with people and the environment.

Learn how to implement control strategies by integrating your knowledge with the principles of epidemiology, economics and disease control within the context of management and infrastructure.

  • MSc: You complete 7 modules (3 core, 4 options).
  • PGDip: You complete 4 modules (2 core, 2 options).
  • PGCert: You complete 2 core modules.

Entry levels:

CPD options

You can study individual modules of the degree as 240-hour individual modules for CPD purposes. On successful completion, you may apply to transfer onto the degree programme and use the completed module as a credit. Refer to the MSc Entrance Requirements.

There is also a range of shorter 50-hour and 35-hour modules.

Key dates

This programme has one intake date per year: February.

2023 Session
Application deadline 15 December 2022
Registration deadline 15 January 2023

How you study

The programme is offered by distance learning and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study independently, at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines), using the study materials provided.

Online support

When you register, we will provide access to both the Royal Veterinary College’s Virtual Learning Environment (RVC Learn) and your personal RVC email account:

  • RVC Learn provides access to academic tutorials, study materials, previous exam papers and student discussion forums.
  • Online tutorials provide the opportunity to ask questions of RVC academics and you are strongly advised to plan for these sessions. Typically, two scheduled, online tutorials, are offered throughout the academic year Feb to Sept) and run for one week.
  • The RVC library holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated help desk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Academics will offer feedback, along with a numerical mark on two written assignments and the highest mark will count towards your overall assessment. Academic feedback helps you to reach high standards and support your preparation for exams.

Study materials

We will provide study materials developed by academics at the Royal Veterinary College. Your materials will include access to a study guide and specially selected readings. For some modules, materials are available via the Virtual Learning Environment only.

Student Support

We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently or with a Recognised Teaching Centre.

You will have access to support through:

  • The Student Advice Centre – provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
  • TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.

Time commitment

To complete the programme in the minimum study period, we recommend that you should study approximately 15 hours per week. (Academic year: February to September).


The assessment for each module includes a three-hour written examination which takes place in October (80 per cent of the mark) and you submit up to two written assignments, from which the highest mark will count towards the overall module assessment (20 per cent).
The optional Research Project (MSc only) is assessed through a research paper, written in the style required by an identified scientific journal (80 per cent) and an oral examination (20 per cent).
You can sit exams at an approved centre anywhere in the world.

More about exams.

Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?

MSc degree: Either a second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a scientific subject, veterinary, animal science, agriculture, biological sciences, or medicine. Or a second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a scientific discipline which has included suitable training.

PGDip / PGCert / 240-hour modules: an appropriate degree, professional or technical qualification and work experience that we deem appropriate.

Reference letters will be requested when your application is processed by the Admissions Office.  Alternatively, you can upload signed letters of reference to your application when you apply.

English Language requirements

You will meet our language requirements if you have achieved one of the following within the past three years:

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall, with 6.0 in each sub-test.
  • TOEFL iBT: 92 overall, with 22+ in reading and writing, and 20+ in speaking and listening.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (at grade C or above).
  • Duolingo: must achieve an overall score of at least 120.

Alternatively, you may satisfy the language requirements if you have at least 18 months of education or work experience conducted in English.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment and it is vital that you can access this regularly.

More about computer requirements.

Please see the individual module outlines for information concerning specific software requirements.


The fees below are effective from 1 March 2022 for the 2023 session only, and are subject to annual review.

Academic year 2022-2023
Application fee (non-refundable) 107
Registration fee (MSc) 2173
Registration fee (PGDip) 1638
Registration fee (PGCert) 1075
Module fee 2173
Total fee: (includes 5% discount of whole fee paid at outset)
MSc 16515
Postgraduate Diploma 9814
Postgraduate Certificate 5150
Continuing Professional Development 2022-2023
240-hour short course 2364
50-hour short course 870
35-hour short course 652

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

If you pay the total fee at the point of registration, this covers your registration fee, all module fees, and offers a discount on the individual components of the qualification.

You can also spread out your payments. In the first instance, you pay for registration plus your first-year modules. In subsequent years, you pay for each new module you take.

More about programme fees

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for:

  • Textbooks (could extend to around £300 per year)
  • Exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams
  • Tuition costs if you study at a Recognised Teaching Centre.

How to pay your fees.

Please note: all student fees shown are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.

Further information on Sales Tax.

Your payment provider may apply additional transaction fees. (If in doubt, please check with them before making a payment.)

Further information about fee payment options can be found in the “How to pay your fees” link above.

Career opportunities

The Livestock Health and Production programme is aimed primarily at veterinarians, animal health specialists and livestock farmers.

Graduates of this programme are employed in a variety of organizations, including the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), University Veterinary faculties and international organisations including the FAO and World Health Organisation (WHO).

What do employers think of our graduates?

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

Academic leadership

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has maintained its position at the top of the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022. This is the third time the RVC has ranked first in the past four years.

The RVC is the UK’s longest established veterinary school and one of the most highly regarded institutions of its kind in Europe. It has over 1,500 students enrolled on its programmes and four state-of-the-art teaching and referral hospitals, providing services to the public and the veterinary profession.

The RVC’s independent status enables it to innovate and to remain at the forefront of knowledge and practice. Postgraduate students learn alongside experts in their field and are provided with the specialist knowledge and skills required to make it to the very top of their chosen profession.

Academic leaders

Dr Christine Thuranira-McKeever is the Distance Learning Director at the Royal Veterinary College, providing academic leadership for the two MSc postgraduate courses offered by distance learning. She manages course content, monitors your progress, oversees teaching strategies, co-ordinates the course administration, and liaises with external partners and collaborators.

Professor Dirk Pfeiffer is a Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology. His current projects cover animal health surveillance methods and animal diseases such as avian influenza, PPR and African swine fever. Dirk holds an Honorary Professorship at the LSHTM and an Adjunct Professorship at the China Animal Health & Epidemiology Centre, Qingdao, China.

Funding your study

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

Royal Veterinary College staff members and alumni receive a 20% bursary off fees for this programme (excluding resit fees).


Available for nationals of Commonwealth countries for this programme, see Commonwealth Scholarships.

More on funding your study.

Can I get sponsored?

If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fees if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.

Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.

More on employer sponsorship

240-hour modules (credit bearing)

Choose from a range of 240-hour modules available for Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

If you complete one module successfully, you can apply to transfer onto the degree programme.

50-hour modules (non credit bearing)

There are also a number of 50-hour modules available for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). There are no entry requirements for these modules and you may register and commence studying immediately.

Once you register for an individual module, you will receive a letter of registration and a pack containing all the materials you need (e.g. learning notes, readings and textbooks). Access to the VLE is limited for 50-hour modules.

If you successfully complete the assessment we will send you a Certificate of Achievement, which notes the number of study hours required for the module.

50-hour modules - what can you study?

Advanced risk analysis using @ RISK software (LVM501)

Understanding risk analysis has become essential for people working in animal health policy. This module provides a basic understanding, with particular emphasis on qualitative and quantitative risk assessment. Discover how to use frameworks and probability theory to build a simple quantitative model using a software package called @RISK.

Animal disease surveillance (LVM503)

Animal disease surveillance has become more important given increasing concerns for food safety and the emergence of new diseases. This module introduces the principles of disease control and how programmes are implemented and evaluated. Understand the complexity of the decision-making process and how epidemiological tools can help in the control and eradication of animal diseases.

Control of food safety: red meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products (LVM509)

This module concerns microbiological aspects of food safety in the production of red and poultry meat, eggs, milk and milk products. Examine methods to reduce microbiological contamination in meat during the entire production chain. Understand the importance of egg shells and milk as vehicles for human infection and the methods used to reduce contamination.

Design and analysis of epidemiological investigations - observational and intervention studies (LVM513)

This module introduces you to observational and intervention studies conducted on populations, and how to measure association between disease and risk factors. Learn more about different measures of association and the most suitable application for each one. This allows you to evaluate these studies and statistical testing requirements.

Development of a disease control programme: salmonella in pigs and bovine TB (LVM510)

Analyse two examples of national disease control programmes in veterinary public health - salmonella in pig herds in Denmark and tuberculosis in cattle in the UK - to recognise the important elements of a disease eradication programme. By the end of this module, you can develop your own strategies for combating similar chronic farm animal diseases.

Herd health management (LVM502)

Information management is the foundation of food animal production-oriented health programmes. Good information allows managers to make good decisions, identify shortfalls, and monitor interventions. This module introduces herd health programmes and the economic principles governing their design and delivery, plus the role of computers in herd health management, using the CamDairy software package as an example.

Introduction to statistics, hypothesis testing, study design and analysis of data (LVM511)

Assuming you have no prior knowledge of statistical analysis, this course explains the basic concepts of statistics and provides a basic introduction to statistical analysis in veterinary and animal health fields. Learn about hypothesis testing, sampling, study design and parametric and nonparametric methods of data analysis.

Introduction to veterinary public health, risk analysis and risk assessment (LVM506)

Explore the diverse nature of Veterinary Public Health (VPH) in this introductory module. Discover how food can constitute a hazard to human health, and how to measure the risk to consumer health. Gain a basic understanding of risk analysis, with particular emphasis on qualitative and quantitative risk assessment.

Principles of food safety control and 'farm to fork' concept (LVM508)

Examine how to control food safety hazards throughout production, storage and distribution. Identify suitable control measures to avoid food poisoning bacteria and viruses that may contaminate ready-to-eat food. Examine the controversial use of antibiotics, the associated problem of antibiotic resistance, and the implications for public health.

Principles, methodology and sampling in epidemiological investigations (LVM512)

The module emphasises the practical use of sampling theory to answer epidemiological questions, with examples of effective use of sampling techniques for epidemiological investigations. Discover methods for describing the frequency of disease occurrence in animal populations; examine techniques for making inferences about large populations on the basis of a sample; and learn about the techniques used for effective sampling of populations.

Tools for economic analysis in epidemiology (LVM515)

Assuming no prior experience of animal health economics, this practical module introduces the principles of economic analysis and a number of tools used to aid decision making. Learn how to use the tools in a number of activities and case studies while understanding issues so you can critically review the work of others.

Zoonoses of parasitic, bacterial and viral origin (LVM507)

This module provides an overview of some major zoonotic diseases, their epidemiology and their control. It considers some emerging and re-emerging zoonoses that are important to human health. The course provides separate coverage of parasites, bacteria, viruses, rickettsia and prions.

35-hour modules (non credit bearing)

There are also a number of 35-hour modules available for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). There are no entry requirements for these modules and you may register and commence studying immediately.

Once you register for an individual module, you will receive a letter of registration and a pack containing all the materials you need (e.g. learning notes, readings and textbooks). Access to the VLE is limited for 35-hour modules.

If you successfully complete the assessment we will send you a Certificate of Achievement, which notes the number of study hours required for the module.

35-hour modules - what can you study?

Animal disease modelling (LVM334)

Simulation models have become important for the control of infectious diseases. They examine 'what if' scenarios for current disease control and herd production, plus a mechanism for generating hypotheses about the components of epidemiological systems. This module introduces the concepts of deterministic and stochastic disease modelling.

Animal health analysis and database management on farms (LVM333)

Learn how computer software can be used to interrogate and handle databases to generate summary statistics and graphs. Get to grips with some of the technical language used to describe databases, and learn more about the important points to consider when designing them.

Animal transport and slaughter - critical welfare considerations (LVM305)

Learn about the animal welfare issues involved in the handling, transport, and slaughter of livestock, and how auditing systems can maintain welfare levels. This module prepares you to provide advice on the design and management of facilities for loading and unloading animals, stockyards, and restraint equipment to prevent welfare problems.

Diagnostic decision making and epidemiological disease information management (LVM323)

Applying epidemiology to the improvement of livestock health and production requires responsible management of information. From milk production on a single farm to countrywide diseases, data management is essential. Find out about the types of data you might encounter, methods of collecting and storage, and tools that will help you extract useful information.

Principles of farm animal economic analysis (LVM319)

This module introduces the role that economics plays in animal health decision making. Assess the issues, then learn about concepts used in animal health economics. The conclusion is a practical session, which guides you through how to calculate the output of livestock enterprises.

Tools for economic analysis (LVM320)

Investigate the methodologies used for decision making in animal health and production so you can critically evaluate studies. Explain the basic principles involved and familiarise yourself with the techniques of partial and benefit-cost analysis, as well as the economic tools used to analyse the risk and uncertainty associated with livestock production.

Welfare issues in extensive farming systems (LVM304)

The welfare of extensively farmed animals is influenced by factors including climate, food availability, handling, parasites, predators, etc. As these factors interact in a complex way, there are no simple answers regarding animal welfare. Understand the complex interplay between them and the dilemmas they bring.

Welfare issues in systems involving confinement (LVM303)

Intensive farming systems, including small-space confinement, have led to many animal welfare issues. Scientists and agricultural engineers are working on enclosures and environments to better meet the needs of animals. Explore these issues in detail and gain a better understanding of the economic and political ramifications involved in improving husbandry systems.

What our students think


agreed the reality of their programme was what they expected or better.


agreed the flexibility of the programme met their needs.


agreed the programme was intellectually stimulating.

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Alumni video: Livestock Health and Production
This programme will help you improve the health and production of livestock. Hear from USA-based graduate Wendy Weirich.