‘To provide excellence In Veterinary nurse training that surpasses expectations’

Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (DipVN™) Small Animal 

Course Length: Up to 36 months

Course Overview:

The Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Small Animal) is a Level 3 qualification designed to prepare and support those who wish to pursue a career as a veterinary nurse.

The programme comprises a balance of practice-based learning and theoretical teaching to enable learners to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to practise veterinary nursing safely and competently. Learners can undertake the qualification on a full or part-time basis, and employment within an approved training practice is required.

Primary units of study include applied animal welfare, health and husbandry; support of diagnostic imaging and laboratory diagnostics; and principles of small animal veterinary nursing emergency and critical care. In addition to key practical competences, learners will be encouraged to develop life skills essential for professional development such as, building professional relationships and effective communication for veterinary nursing practice.

The programme allows flexibility for Centres to use different training styles and structures, and provides additional helpful details for learners and facilitators looking for further guidance. The learning objectives and unit structure of this qualification are equivalent to that of the RCVS level 3 Diploma.

CQ procedures ensure that quality assurance is robustly monitored and enforced within all qualifications and delivery methods.

Entry requirements

Students must be 16 years or older to commence training and must have achieved a minimum level of education qualifications either 5 GCSE’s at grade C or above (now graded as 4 - 9) or 5 Scottish grades 1 to 3. These passes must include English Language, Mathematics, a Science and 2 additional subjects.

Alternative qualifications of a comparable or higher standard may be accepted at the discretion of CQ. 


For the level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, students cannot apply to come onto the course unless they have secured a position within an RCVS training practice as an employed member of staff on a full time basis or part time basis and completed at least 3 months’ probation with their training practice.

Overall period of training:

Total Qualification Time (TQT) 2990 hours

Guided Learning Hours (GLH) 1290 hours

TQT is an estimate of the total time that learners would typically complete to achieve and demonstrate the learning outcomes in this qualification; this includes Guided Learning Hours. Guided learning is learning that takes place under the immediate guidance or supervision of a lecturer, supervisor, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training.

Examples of activities that can contribute to guided learning include:

  • Classroom-based learning supervised by a teacher
  • Work-based learning supervised by a teacher
  • Live webinar or telephone tutorial with a teacher in real time
  • E-learning supervised by a teacher in real-time
  • All forms of assessment which takes place under the immediate guidance or supervision of a lecturer, supervisor, tutor or other appropriate provider of education or training, including where the assessment is competence-based and may be turned into a learning opportunity.

 [Ofqual; Guidance to the General Conditions of Recognition – Ofqual 2016]

Course tutors should familiarise themselves with the qualification units and structure before designing a supporting course curriculum. On condition that the learning outcomes of the qualification are addressed and suitably assessed under CQ’s guidance, Centres may deliver the award via methods that best focus on the needs of their learners.

Practical work-based learning outcomes are incorporated throughout the syllabus. Practical skills should also be supported by skills teaching within taught programmes and through teaching and supervised experience in a relevant clinical veterinary practice. Centres are also required to have in place suitable arrangements for the teaching of practical skills.

Achievement of this qualification can lead to professional registration. In order for the learner to register with the RCVS upon achievement of the qualification, they must have evidence to show that they have completed a minimum of 94 weeks and not less than 2990 hours in training as part of this qualification – this includes both practical experience in an approved training practice and time attending college. The training programme must include a minimum of 1800 hours in an approved training practice in addition to the taught course in college.


Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, Foundation Degree Veterinary Nursing, BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing Top Up Degrees.

You can view/download details of the course here. 

Education & Skills Funding
British Veterinary Nursing Association
Royal Collge Veterinary Standards
Cyber Essentials
Lantra Awards
Central Qualifications
City & Guilds