Individual modules - RVC

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The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) offer a range of 35-hour, 50-hour and 240-hour individual modules, developed by the RVC as stand-alone modules for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and they also allow you to sample a discrete learning unit.

Once you register for an individual module you will receive a letter of registration. If you successfully complete the assessment you will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement, indicating the number of notional study hours required for the particular individual module.

The study pack we send you includes all the required study materials, such as directed learning notes, readings and textbooks.

240-hour individual modules

  • These are the individual modules of the two degree programmes.
  • Assessment includes one three hour written examination and submission of up to three* Tutor Marked Assignments. Within the course material, there is a choice of questions to respond to. If successful, we will send you a Certificate of Achievement.
  • Examinations take place in October and may be sat in the country of your choice.
  • These are credit bearing modules. Upon successful completion, you may request to transfer to the degree programme.
  • There is a maximum number of 240-hour individual modules which may be used for progression.
  • Access to on-line resources, which allows students to participate in online discussions and tutorials.
  • The application deadline is 1 November, for studies which will commence the following February.

*Note: From 2018 up to two compulsory written assignments may be submitted.

50 and 35-hour individual modules

  • These modules are taken from the degree programmes.
  • These modules enable you to study a stand-alone unit without committing yourself to a full module.
  • These modules are suitable for nongraduates or graduates.
  • There are no entrance or English language requirements.
  • You may choose to be assessed and, on successful completion, we will send you a Certificate of Achievement.
  • From these modules, you cannot transfer onto the degree programme.
  • There is no on-line access to the VLE.


Individual modules 2018
35-hour £510
50-hour £675
240-hour £1,840

Note:  The 2018 fees are effective from 1 March 2017 until 28 February 2018.

Apply online for:  35-hour individual modules | 50-hour individual modules | 240-hour individual modules

List of all individual modules

Click any of the module titles below to view the module outline.

240-hour individual modules

Advanced statistical methods in veterinary epidemiology

This module will provide an introduction to advanced methods of statistical modelling of epidemiological data. Subject areas: analysis of spatial data; advanced aspects of multivariable regression analysis; analysis of correlated data; meta-analysis and systematic reviews; modelling of production data.

Note: Students must already have passed the compulsory core module 'Statistical methods in veterinary epidemiology' and will require access to the following software: Microsoft Office and ArcGIS (version 8.0 or later), plus the extensions, Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst. The cost of the GIS software is not included in your course fee and you will need to purchase it, if you do not have access to it already.

For details of how to purchase the software:

  • United Kingdom students, please contact the Course Administrator.
  • Outside of the United Kingdom, please contact ESRI and select your country of residence.

Note - There may be compatibility issues with:

  • Windows Vista – please contact ESRI (details at the link above) if you have any queries
  • the ‘R’ software used. Please view the ‘R’ software FAQs for further information at

You are strongly advised to refer to this information before registering for this course.


Animal disease (current concepts)

This module will enable the student to appreciate the external and internal components of health, agents of disease and how animals respond to them, at an individual and population level. Subject areas: immunology; parasitology; microbiology; introduction to veterinary epidemiology; principles of veterinary pathology.

Animal welfare

This module will provide a comprehensive appreciation of welfare and ethical issues connected with farm animal practice, animal breeding, transport and slaughter, companion animals, laboratory animals, animals used in competition and wildlife. Subject areas: An introduction to veterinary ethics; the physiology of pain, distress, fear and anxiety; the effects of genetics on animal welfare; welfare issues in animal husbandry systems; transport and slaughter; and specific welfare issues in companion, farmed, laboratory, wild and competitive animals.

For more information see the following:

Developing and monitoring of livestock production systems

This module will adopt a farming systems approach to permit the student to place livestock production within the context of the utilisation of resources. This will allow a critical consideration of appropriate husbandry for different animals in diverse environmental and socio-economic conditions. Subject areas: An introduction to farming systems; Details of major livestock production systems; Developing and monitoring of functioning livestock systems with farmers, including organic farming; Environmental, welfare and breeding issues in sustainable livestock husbandry.

Economics for livestock development and policy

The objectives of this module are to stimulate awareness of the socio-economic, political and environmental issues that will affect future livestock development and to provide the tools to analyse the issues confronting producers, their advisers, planners and policy makers. Subject areas: Basic concepts of the economics of livestock production; Extensive, medium intensity and intensive systems of livestock production; Marketing and policy; Further economics for the analysis of livestock development; Tools for livestock economists.

Epidemiology and animal health economics

This module will enable students to understand the role of epidemiology and economics in the design and delivery of effective veterinary services aimed at improved animal health and productivity. Subject areas: introduction to statistics; introduction to veterinary epidemiology - basic principles, descriptive epidemiology, study design, sampling, quantitative aspects of diagnostic testing; animal health economics - principles, partial budgets, decision tree analysis, cost-benefit ratio, economics and project planning.

Management of infectious disease outbreaks in animal populations

This module is designed to teach both the theoretical and practical information required for the management of a major infectious disease outbreak of farm animals. Topics will include epidemiology of infectious diseases, risk and cost-benefit analysis, surveillance, diagnosis and vaccination strategies before and during an outbreak, contingency planning and case studies to illustrate how disease outbreaks could be better managed.

Note: A Windows-based operating system is recommended for this module, however, should you wish to use an Apple Mac, please contact the Course Administrator for advice.

Principles of livestock production

This module will enable the student to understand how feeding, breeding, management and interaction with the environment influence animal production and disease. Subject areas: general principles of nutrition; specialised areas of nutrition (students will select three of the following options which must include at least one ruminant and one non-ruminant choice: feeding dairy cows; feeding dual-purpose, beef and draught cattle; feeding sheep and goats; pig nutrition; poultry nutrition; nutrition of horses, camelids and rabbits. In all the above cases, consideration will be given to the different resources available in temperate and tropical/subtropical regions); environmental studies, including climatic effects and housing; genetics; the physiology of growth and lactation; the relevance of reproduction to livestock production.

Please download the Indicative Study Calendar for Principles of livestock production. [PDF: 1pg 332KB]

Reproduction and fertility - a species approach

This module will enable students to gain a comprehensive insight into the physiology of reproduction and the management and manipulation of fertility to optimise animal productivity. Subject areas: general principles of reproduction; introduction to reproductive anatomy and physiology; control of breeding; fertilisation, conception and pregnancy; reproductive disorders and disease; embryo transfer and assisted reproduction; reproduction management. Students will be required to specialise in three of the following: cattle; small ruminants; pigs; camelids, rabbits and poultry; equids.

Please download the Indicative study calendar for Reproduction and fertility [PDF: 2pgs 347KB]

Research design, management and grant application writing

This module will enable students to undertake a research project, with an appropriate study design to validate a hypothesis and analyse the data, including the presentation of results and writing a grant application. Subject areas: introduction to scientific research and how to formulate a hypothesis; literature search, critical analysis of papers and writing a scientific review; experimental and statistical design in project planning; project management; preparing data for analysis - qualitative data, quantitative data; statistical analysis and analysing the validity of findings; report writing, presentation of data and writing a scientific paper; introduction to grant application writing, planning the project and budget; guidelines to writing a good grant proposal.

Statistical methods in veterinary epidemiology

The objectives of this module are to introduce statistical methods used in veterinary epidemiology to enable students to conduct multivariable analysis and statistical modelling of epidemiological data. Subject areas: introduction to measures of effect; analysis of cohort studies and case-control studies; likelihood, multivariable analysis and statistical modelling; simple logistic model, logistic regression, Poisson regression and Cox regression.


-Please note, that as of 2017, Statistical methods in veterinary epidemiology has been updated and is delivered fully online. Students are given access to the Study Guide and Reader on the RVC Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), called Learn.

-There may be compatibility issues with Windows Vista and the ‘R’ software used. Please view the ‘R’ software FAQs for further information at

Surveillance and investigation of animal health

This module will provide in-depth knowledge of qualitative and quantitative risk analysis, animal health surveillance programmes and introduce students to disease modelling. Subject areas: qualitative and quantitative risk analysis; design and evaluation of animal health surveillance and control programmes involving multiple herds; Farm-level animal disease and production surveillance; Disease modelling using Deterministic and Stochastic modelling.

Introduction to the course - Surveillance and investigation of animal health [PDF: 4pgs 99KB]


-The fee for the software licence required has already been incorporated into the module fee. The software is valid for one year and if studies for the module extend into a second year, then an additional software fee will be payable.

-There may be compatibility issues with Windows Vista and Windows (Excel).

Sustainable livestock farming in the environment

This module aims to provide an understanding of the threats presented by changes in the environment on livestock production and wildlife population, and explains the ways in which global and regional environmental change can impact on sustainability of farming systems, conservation of ecosystems and animal health. It will outline approaches that can used to minimize unwanted environmental impacts of modern farming and land use systems, as well as consider the values academics, researchers, veterinarians and livestock specialists attach to the environment and to conservation issues. The course will also guide students in the approach they take in future when considering animal–environment interactions.

Veterinary public health

The module will examine the role of veterinarians and other related professionals in the protection of human health through the safe production of foods of animal origin, control of zoonotic disease and environmental contamination. Subject areas: disease surveillance and risk analysis; zoonoses and their control; disseminating information on veterinary public health; quality and safety assurance in food production (meat, milk and eggs); development of disease control programmes.

To hear the content discussed by leading RVC academics, view the video featuring Prof Dirk Pfeiffer and Dr Christine Thuranira-McKeever who talk about One Health, or watch Prof Katharina Stärk discussing the spread of diseases between animals and humans.

50-hour individual modules

Advanced risk analysis using @ RISK software

Risk analysis is being used increasingly in animal health, particularly in relation to trade. It therefore has become essential for people working in animal health policy to have a basic understanding of the terminology and methods used in risk assessment. This module aims to give you that basic understanding, with particular emphasis on qualitative and quantitative risk assessment. The final part of the course explores quantitative risk analysis and demonstrates how you can use the frameworks and probability theory to build a simple quantitative model.To do this you will be working with a software package called @RISK.

Animal disease surveillance

Animal disease surveillance is one of the key functions of animal health services. It has become more important in the last twenty years with the increasing concern for food safety and the emergence of new and exotic diseases, along with the traditional role of measuring disease and monitoring the control of endemic diseases. The evaluation of surveillance is another integral part of any system and must be considered at design stage. This module will introduce you to the principles of disease control, the components of such programmes and their implementation and evaluation, focused on infectious diseases. The detailed description of the traditional disease control strategies will provide you with a deep understanding of the complexity of the decision-making process and how epidemiological tools can help in the control and eradication of animal diseases at regional and national level.

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

This module is concerned primarily with microbiological aspects of food safety in the production of red and poultry meat, eggs, milk and milk products. Methods to reduce microbiological contamination in meat during the entire production chain, from farm – slaughterhouse – to the retail outlet are discussed.

The module also enables students to understand the importance of contaminated shell eggs, and products derived from them, as vehicles for human infection, principally that caused by salmonella enterica serovar enteritidis. In the final part of the module infections that may be transmitted to the human population via milk and milk products and methods to reduce such contamination are described.

Design and analysis of epidemiological investigations – observational and intervention studies

This module will introduce you to observational and intervention studies that are conducted on populations.The module will demonstrate techniques for measuring association between disease and risk factors from these studies. You will learn about the subtle but important differences between the measures of association and the most suitable application for each measure. The strengths and weaknesses of these studies will be presented and the statistical testing requirements will be discussed.

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

This module will allow you to analyse two examples of national disease control programmes in veterinary public health, namely the salmonella control programme in pig herds in Denmark and the tuberculosis control programme of cattle in the UK. Examples from these two programmes will be used extensively to illustrate the important elements of a disease eradication programme. At the end of this course you will be encouraged to develop your own strategies for combating similar chronic farm animal diseases.

Herd health management

The management of information that relates to production, animal health, reproduction and financial records is the foundation of food animal production-oriented health programs. Good information allows managers to make appropriate decisions for the day-to-day operation of their farms, identify shortfalls in performance, and to monitor the effectiveness of interventions.

This module will introduce you to herd health programmes and describe the economic principles which should be applied in the design and delivery of these programmes. The programmes that operate in dairy cattle herds, sheep flocks, pig herds and poultry flocks are explored with examples. In the last part of the module the role of computers in herd health management are described in detail, using the CamDairy software package, which is designed to manage dairy farms as an example.

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

This module is designed to explain the basic concepts of statistics and provide a basic introduction to statistical analysis in veterinary and animal health fields. You will also learn about the principles of hypothesis testing, concepts of sampling, study design and parametric and nonparametric methods of data analysis. It is assumed that you have not previously attended any statistics modules, so that the whole subject of statistical analysis is new to you.

Introduction to veterinary public health, risk analysis and risk assessment

In this module the diverse nature of Veterinary Public Health (VPH) is explored and your perceptions of what constitutes VPH are challenged. This introductory module to VPH will introduce you to the concept that food can constitute a hazard to human health, and will show you how to measure the risk to consumer health. It is aimed to give 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

This module will introduce the concept that foods can be hazardous and examines how to control food safety hazards throughout the chain of production, storage and distribution. Suitable control measures to avoid food poisoning bacteria and viruses that may contaminate ready-to-eat food are also identified. In the second part of the module an overview of the controversial subject of the veterinary use of antibiotics, the associated problem of antibiotic resistance, and the implications for public health is discussed. The module will provide you with the necessary tools to make an objective judgement of this topic.

Principles, methodology and sampling in epidemiological investigations

This module is intended to provide you with an overview of the scope of modern epidemiology and to introduce the basic concepts of epidemiological investigations. The module will introduce methods for describing the frequency of disease occurrence in animal populations, including risks and rates. During the module you will examine the technique of making inferences about large populations on the basis of examination of a sample. You will learn about the techniques required for the effective sampling of populations and examine the statistical assumptions that underpin sampling theory. The module emphasises the practical use of sampling theory to answer epidemiological questions, giving examples of how sampling techniques may be used effectively in epidemiological investigations.

Tools for economic analysis in epidemiology

This module will introduce the principles of economic analysis and a number of tools used to aid decision-making in the field of animal health economics. This is a very practical module, throughout which you will learn how to use the tools in a number of activities and case studies at the same time as gaining an appreciation of the issues involved so as to be able to critically review the work of others. It is assumed that you have not previously studied animal health economics, so that the whole subject is new to you.

Zoonoses of parasitic, bacterial and viral origin

This module will provide an overview of some major zoonotic diseases, their epidemiology and their control. It considers some emerging and re-emerging zoonoses that are of importance to human health. The module is subdivided to allow separate coverage of parasites, bacteria, and finally viruses, rickettsia and prions.

35-hour individual modules

Animal disease modelling

Simulation models have become an important component of decision making in relation to control of infectious diseases, as had been demonstrated during recent epidemics of FMD and SARS. Models provide the facility to examine 'what if' questions regarding contemplated management choices in the context of current disease control and herd production performance. They also provide a mechanism for generating hypotheses about the important components of an epidemiological system. The course represents an introduction to the concepts of deterministic and stochastic disease modelling.

Animal health analysis and database management on farms

In this course you will learn what is meant by database management and how computer software can be used to interrogate and handle databases to gain meaningful information from them, including summary statistics and graphs. You will become acquainted with some of the technical language used to describe databases, and you will gain an understanding of the important points to consider in designing them.

Animal transport and slaughter - critical welfare considerations

In this module you will learn about the animal welfare issues involved in the handling, transport, and slaughter of livestock. You will learn about the behavioral principles of animal handling, animal welfare issues that arise during transport and the importance of well-designed and managed pre-slaughter handling systems. At the end of the module you will be able to provide advice on the design and management of facilities for loading and unloading animals, lairages, races, stockyards, and restraint equipment to prevent transport-related animal welfare problems. Implementation of auditing systems to maintain high levels of welfare during transport, handling and slaughter is an essential component of the knowledge gained.

Diagnostic decision making and epidemiological disease information management

This module will introduce you to diagnostic decision-making, a process which most clinicians deal with by combining factual knowledge, experience and intuition. The application of epidemiology to the improvement of livestock health and production requires responsible management of disease information. From collecting data on milk production from a single dairy farm to using country-wide disease data to determine national livestock import policies, careful and appropriate data management is essential. This module will introduce you to the types of data you might encounter, methods of collecting and storing those data, and some of the many epidemiological tools available to extract as much information as possible for production and disease management decisions.

Principles of farm animal economic analysis

This module on farm animal health economics will provide you with an introduction to the role that economics plays in decision making in the field of animal health.You will start by looking at the sorts of issues that might be involved, and the different perspectives from which issues can be considered. You will then go on to learn about important concepts used in animal health economics before preparing for the practical work in the module by reading about the tools used by animal health economists. The final part is a very practical session which will take you through the steps involved in calculating the output of livestock enterprises.

Tools for economic analysis

This module concentrates on the methodologies used for decision making in the field of animal health and production. The emphasis will be to explain the basic principles involved and will enable you to familiarise yourself with the techniques of partial and benefit-cost analysis through a series of exercises. The course will also provide you with knowledge to critically assess work done by others. Finally the module will present some of the economic tools that can be used to analyse the risk and uncertainty associated with livestock production.

Welfare issues in extensive farming systems

The welfare of extensively farmed animals is influenced by a number of characteristic factors, such as climate, food availability, handling, parasites, predators, etc. Uniquely, these factors interact in a complex way to ensure there are no simple answers to questions of animal welfare. The six sections in this module will help you to understand the complex interplay between the different factors and will provide insights into interpreting the dilemmas they bring.

Welfare issues in systems involving confinement

Intensive farming systems have reduced production costs and maximised outputs but have led to many animal welfare issues. Confinement of animals to smaller spaces leads to many psychological, behavioural and physical problems. Today these issues are debated and scientists and agricultural engineers have worked together to produce enclosures and environments which better meet the needs of animals. This module will explore these issues in detail and you will gain a better understanding of the economic and political ramifications that may be involved in improving husbandry systems.