MSc Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health
Studying this degree will help you to understand veterinary epidemiology and economics and how it relates to livestock. Learn about risk analysis approaches to food safety, protecting human health through the control of zoonotic diseases, and interpret statistics to undertake epidemiological investigations and disease modelling.
Quality of learning
Academic leadership is provided by the Royal Veterinary College, ranked as the world’s top veterinary school in the QS World University Rankings 2023. The RVC is the UK’s longest established veterinary school and one of the most highly regarded institutions of its kind in Europe.
Global career opportunities
Graduates are employed in a variety of organisations such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and international organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Study online anywhere in the world
Our flexible approach allows you to study at a pace which suits you and to fulfil your career ambitions by combining your other commitments with your studies. Choose the full MSc degree, or an individual module and progress in instalments to the PGCert or PGDip.
Whilst you study, become part of the wider Royal Veterinary College (RVC) community, with access to an RVC email account and Student Hub, which offers access to the online veterinary library and learning resources.
Global alumni network
After you graduate, you'll continue to enjoy a lifelong link to the University of London, with benefits including global alumni events and free online courses. You'll join a distinguished community of alumni around the world, which includes Nobel prize-winners and leaders in veterinary public health, law, humanities and other fields.
A mark of excellence
Earn an internationally valued degree that will help you pursue a career in veterinary epidemiology and public health. The University of London has been a trusted provider of distance and flexible learning for over 160 years and is a reputable name to attach to your qualification.
The degree is available to be studied as a full master’s degree, a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip), a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) or Individual modules (credit and non-credit bearing).
You complete seven courses for the MSc: three core modules and four optional modules.
You complete four courses for the PGDip: two core modules and two optional modules
You complete two core modules for the PGCert.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – Individual module options
We also provide the opportunity to study individual modules for CPD purposes:
240-hour individual modules (credit bearing):
These modules are the same content as the degree modules, but enable you to sample our studies before committing yourself to the full programme. On successful completion, you may apply to transfer onto the degree, using your earlier module studies as a credit.
- 15 December application deadline applies.
35 and 50-hour individual modules (non-credit bearing):
These modules are extracts of the longer, 240-hour individual modules (as above) and enable you to study a short extract of these longer modules. These modules are ideal if you wish to study and learn about one key element.
- There is no application deadline and you may apply and start studying whenever you feel ready.
The Programme Specification and Programme Regulations contain information and rules regarding what courses you can choose and the order in which they must be studied.
You complete 7 modules (3 core, 4 options)
Veterinary public health
You complete 4 modules (2 core, 2 options)
You complete 2 core modules.
The degree is offered by distance learning and is fully supported by the RVC's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study independently, at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines), using the teaching materials provided.
We will provide teaching materials developed by academics at the Royal Veterinary College and fully supported by an academic and administrative team. Many of our modules are offered fully online via the VLE. The academic year runs between February and September, with exams in October.
When you register, we will provide access to both the Royal Veterinary College’s VLE and your personal RVC email account.
- This area provides access to your Teaching Material. This includes an online study guide, selection of specially selected readings, model exam paper/examiner’s comments and indicative study calendar.
- Tutor Marked Assignment Submission Area Academics will offer feedback and a numerical mark on two written assignments.
- Student Discussion Forums which enable you to communicate with other students studying the same material as you. This connection enables you to arrange regular study groups, if you wish.
- Ask an Academic, an online tutor, who you may contact with academic queries at any time.
- Module Revision Tutorials (one per module) led by an RVC academic and to assist you with exam preparation.
- Occasional webinars and ‘live’ teaching (one per module).
- Student Hub Area, this provides access to support services, such as the RVC’s online, veterinary library, which holds thousands of journal articles (available free of charge) and a dedicated team will assist with any library, or IT related, support issues, along with learning resources, such as academic writing skills. Student support areas such as a Student Advice Centre.
Period of Study
MSc and PGDip students have between two and five years to complete their qualification. PGCert students have between one and five years. If you progress in your studies between the different levels of award, your registration end will remain unchanged.
Each module of the degree (this includes the 240-hour individual modules) is estimated to take 240-300 hours to complete (teaching material and completion of Compulsory Tutor Marked Assignment). Some of the units may take you more, or less time, depending on your familiarity with the subject. Additional time will be necessary for revision.
The assessment for each module includes a three-hour written examination scheduled in October (80 per cent of the mark) and you may submit up to two Tutor Marked Assignments, the highest mark of which 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).
Examinations are held online and in the location of your choosing. The format and mode of assessment may change due to events or circumstances beyond our control.
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has maintained its position at the top of the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023. 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.
Dr Christine Thuranira-McKeever is the Director of Distance Learning at the Royal Veterinary College, providing academic leadership. 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. Dirk holds an Honorary Professorship at the LSHTM and an Adjunct Professorship at the China Animal Health & Epidemiology Centre, Qingdao, China. Dirk has worked in many countries around the world as an advisor to international and national organisations.
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.
- Choose and apply for 240-hour modules
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 course.
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 course 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 module 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.
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 a short course, 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 course.
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.
|Programme starts||February 2024|
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 individual modules: an appropriate degree, professional or technical qualification and work experience that we deem appropriate.
(Note: Reference letters will be requested when your application is processed by the Admissions Office. Alternatively, you can upload your signed letters of reference to your application when you apply.)
35 and 50-hour individual modules: There are no entrance or English language requirements. You may apply and commence studying whenever you feel ready.
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.
Please see the individual module outlines for information concerning specific software requirements.
For the modules 'Management of infectious disease outbreaks in animal populations', you will require the following additional requirements:
- Industry-standard PC (as some of the software is not compatible with Macs)
- Pentium processor or better (Pentium IV or higher recommended)
- 512MB RAM (One GB or higher recommended)
- CD-ROM drive, double speed (or faster recommended)
- Windows 2000 or higher
- 10GB of hard disk space.
If you have studied material as part of a previous qualification that is comparable in content, level and standard to our Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health modules, you may be exempted from the equivalent course of our degree. This is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Exemption. You will not need to study or be assessed in the module(s) to complete your award.
To be considered for RPL you should make a formal request within your application when applying for the programme. Or, you can submit an online enquiry, if you have already applied.
You will need to have met the entrance requirements for the programme to be considered for RPL.
We will not consider RPL if you have already entered for the assessment in the module concerned.
Your qualifications will need to be assessed by specialist academics on a case by case basis, before we can approve RPL. This is known as discretionary RPL. A formal application is required and an RPL application fee is payable. The RPL application fee is non-refundable, even if your prior learning is not recognised.
Your qualification must be at the appropriate level (equivalent to a UK Level 7 or postgraduate qualification and above) to be considered.
For your discretionary RPL request to be processed, you will need to provide: a completed RPL request form, the supporting documentary evidence (normally a scanned copy of an official transcript and syllabus of your previous studies) and the discretionary RPL fee.
You should apply as early as possible to ensure we have sufficient time to review your qualifications and so you can register by the registration deadline.
Note: All discretionary RPL requests must be submitted by the dates specified for the study session, in the year that you apply. We must receive all required supporting evidence by the deadline stated.
|2024 Session |
|Submit RPL request by ||15 December 2023 |
|Submit supporting evidence by ||18 December 2023 |
If you submit your discretionary RPL application but are too late to be considered for RPL in the current session, we will still process your application to study the programme. If you receive an offer, you can still register. If you wish to be considered for RPL in a subsequent session, then you shouldn’t register on the modules you want to apply for RPL.
How to request RPL
Information about how to apply for RPL and how the process works: Recognition of Prior Learning
It is possible to progress through the programme in stages. You may commence with a 240-hour individual module (credit bearing) and on successful completion, this may be used as a credit towards further studies, such as the MSc, PGDip or PGCert. Please contact the RVC Programme Office for further information: DLP@rvc.ac.uk
Maximums apply as to the number of 240-hour individual modules which may be used for progression purposes.
Fees, funding and payment
The fees below relate to new students registering for the 2023-2024 session. On average, fees are subject to a five per cent year-on-year increase.
Students who registered earlier can view their fees on the Course Fees page.
|Academic year 2023-2024|
|Registration fee (MSc)||£2281|
|Registration fee (PGDip)||£1720|
|Registration fee (PGCert)||£1130|
|Total fee: (includes five per cent discount of whole fee paid at outset)|
|Continuing Professional Development 2022-2023|
|240-hour individual module||£2482|
|50-hour individual module||£912|
|35-hour individual module||£684|
|Online examination fee*||£10|
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.
*The online examination administration fee is charged for each examination paper held online, including resits. This does not apply to any coursework submissions.
You will also need to budget for:
- Online examination fee (£10 per examination)
- Exam resit fee (to be advised at the opening of exam registration)
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.
Your payment provider may apply additional transaction fees. (If in doubt, please check with them before making a payment.)
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 per cent bursary off fees for this programme (excluding resit fees). Please contact the RVC Programme Office for further information: DLP@rvc.ac.uk.
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 programmes are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.
The Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health degree is aimed primarily at animal health specialists, epidemiologists and public health specialists and successful completion of the programme may serve as preparation for students who wish to go on to take further study in the subject area – whether to be undertaken at the Royal Veterinary College, or elsewhere.
Graduates of this degree are employed in a variety of organisations, including the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), University Veterinary faculties and international organisations including the FAO and World Health Organisation (WHO).
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.
You’ll have access to a wide range of careers and employability support through the University of London Careers Service, including live webinars and online drop-in sessions.
Tailored support for careers in the refugee and humanitarian fields is available through regular programme events, webinars and careers resources.
“The degree enabled me to improve my professional skills and provide high-quality and valuable service to my customers.”
“The knowledge that I gained can be directly applied to control many infectious diseases endemic in local situations.”
“Distance learning let me complete my degree alongside my job, so I could keep gaining valuable industry experience whilst studying.”
- February 2024 - application deadline closes