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Information for universities

We have developed a modular Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP) and universities (not just veterinary schools) are invited to seek accreditation to assess modules.

We delegate the assessment of the modules to universities, which are well equipped to manage this process, with established quality assurance systems already in place.

The RCVS acts as the 'credit bank' by maintaining the database of modules which candidates have achieved and awards the final certificate when the candidate has met all the requirements. We develop the outlines of the modules and defines the level at which they should be assessed, to ensure overall comparability between universities.

Universities are encouraged to collaborate with other CPD and course providers in the delivery of modules. Universities need not necessarily be associated with a veterinary school in order to be involved, although they will need access to appropriate expertise, either through their own staff, or through partnership arrangements with other veterinary organisations.

The development of the modular certificate scheme

In 2002, the RCVS Education Strategy Steering Group produced a document entitled Veterinary Education and Training: A Framework for 2010 and beyond. The proposals in this document were ratified by RCVS Council, with the goal of creating a coherent structure for veterinary education and CPD.

This led to the development of a new certificate structure. It is based around modules, which are compatible with the Quality Assurance Agency's (QAA) national framework for higher level qualifications, and equates to a university postgraduate certificate.

The RCVS delegates the assessment of individual modules to universities which may, if they wish, work in collaboration with other organisations. One of the benefits of this is that universities have the necessary experience of quality-assuring assessments and this helps to ensure that standards are maintained.

In some cases, where the university runs modular postgraduate degrees and a credit accumulation and transfer system, it may choose to allow RCVS credits to count towards a university postgraduate qualification, as well as the RCVS certificate.

The new structure also opens up opportunities for universities and other CPD providers to develop tailored courses and distance learning materials to support candidates through the assessment process, thereby providing better links between CPD provision and accredited qualifications.

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Structure of the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice

Under the modular system, candidates can build up credits towards the RCVS postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice by successfully passing a series of modules.

Alternatively, candidates can simply be assessed against individual modules as part of their ongoing CPD, and the RCVS will keep a record of their achievements.

Candidates will be able to build up credits achieved through a number of universities if they wish, and this will provide clear evidence of their ongoing commitment to professional development.

Modules are divided into three groups - A, B and C. The A and B modules cover professional and clinical key skills, and the C modules cover more specific skills in various subject areas.

Candidates accrue credits by passing individual modules, one credit being roughly equivalent to 10 notional study hours. The modular structure can be found in the 'Related documents' box. 

To achieve the full Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice (CertAVP), candidates must complete the A-Foundations of Advanced Veterinary Practice (10 credits), at least one B module (10 credits), together with either four C modules or a combination of B and C modules (40 credits), up to a total of 60 credits.

Candidates who work in mixed practice may choose to take more than one B module.

Modules can be taken in any order, though most candidates would be encouraged to take the A and B modules first, as this will help them prepare for their C modules. More information about the structure can be found in the 'Rules for Administration of the Modular System' document (see 'Related documents' box). 

There is also a range of designated (named) qualifications in addition to the general CertAVP. For further information please see the Designated certificates page.

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The RCVS has developed module specifications in a number of species-based and discipline-based areas. For a full list of modules please select the Module subjects page. The middle column of the module list provides a link to the syllabus and suggested assessment methods for each module.

In addition, universities may develop further modules in subject areas not already covered, subject to accreditation by the RCVS. Universities may use the RCVS module specifications to develop further additional learning materials and guidance for candidates.

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In most cases, the RCVS has made recommendations about the assessment methods to be used for each module. Universities are free to vary the assessment methods, subject to RCVS accreditation.

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Assessment for individual modules will be undertaken under the aegis of universities which the RCVS will accredit for the purpose.

Although universities and other course providers will normally wish to organise courses to support modules, universities must provide 'assessment-only' routes for candidates, as well as their more traditional short courses and postgraduate qualifications, to allow for candidates who may wish to submit themselves for assessment without necessarily attending a particular course at that university.

The RCVS only accredits universities to offer the assessment process, not any supporting courses or study materials. However, there will be many opportunities for CPD providers and other organisations to work in collaboration with universities in the delivery and assessment of modules.

Although accreditation to assess modules is only available to universities, partnership arrangements are encouraged, and the RCVS is particularly interested to encourage the development of different course delivery methods such as online learning, local professional networks and learning sets, which CPD providers outside the university system may be well placed to offer.

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Getting accredited

Universities which wish to offer modules as part of the CertAVP system must be RCVS-accredited.

After an application for accreditation is received, it is reviewed by a RCVS sub-committee set up for that specific purpose. Universities will receive feedback from the sub-committee and will have the opportunity to revise their submission if necessary.

Once accreditation is approved, the university will be invited to sign an accreditation agreement, which forms a legal contract between the university and the RCVS.

The cost of submitting an accreditation proposal to the RCVS depends on the number of modules the university wishes to offer, as set out below (2023 prices):

  • £398 for a submission with up to 6 modules
  • £1151 for a submission covering 7 to 12 modules
  • £1195 for a submission covering more than 12 modules

These figures are reviewed annually.

Accreditation application forms are available in the 'Related documents' box. Universities should refer to the 'Rules for Administration of the Modular System' and the 'RCVS Bye-laws' (also available in the 'Related documents' box) before applying for accreditation.

Universities interested in applying for accreditation, or wishing to receive further information on the process, should contact the RCVS Education Department on:

T 020 7202 0777 (direct line), F 020 7222 2004, or E [email protected]

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