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Choosing what to study can be challenging. Speak to one of our advisors to find out what your options are.

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This study programme is designed for 16-18 year olds only (age 19-24 for students with an Education, Health and Care Plan).

Please visit our Adult Education, Degrees and Employer section for alternative courses.

About the course

The ABC Animal Nursing Assistants qualification has been developed for learners seeking a specialised qualification in animal nursing, with the overall aim being to prepare learners for a career in animal care or Veterinary Nursing, based within a Veterinary Practice. The Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants is held in high regard in veterinary practices, providing an alternative route to GCSE's and enhanced opportunities to progress to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (usually within a training practice).


The course covers a number of units including Anatomy and Physiology, Principles of Infection Control and Parasitology and Zoonosis. It provides learners with the information required to play a valuable support role to qualified veterinary staff and to assist owners in the correct management of their companion animals. Further to this, learners have the opportunity to learn basic practice reception skills and retailing of products. 


The course is a mix of both practical and based theory learning, in addition to the further development of both English and Maths. You will have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to assist with the care and health and well-being of a wide range of animals safely and with confidence, including domestic mammals, livestock and exotic mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish. The course will also include trips to businesses associated with the animal industry, as well as input from visiting speakers and current employers. 

Entry requirements

Learners wishing to study the Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants require a minimum of four GCSE's at Grade 3 or above (grade D+ on the old GCSE scale), in English and Maths and a Grade 2 or above in Science. Due to the nature of the qualification, these entry requirements are fixed.


Learners that have undertaken the Level 1 Diploma in Land-Studies (Animal Care) may also be considered if they obtain a merit grade for their course, improve on their English and Maths grade and collated between 30 - 50 hours of work experience in an external placement (please see Level 1 course information page for progression criteria). 


ABC Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants [60002219]

What you'll learn (core modules)

Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants is a full-time vocational course studied over one year, three days a week.


Topics studied will include;

  • Principles of Basic Animal Nursing Assistance
  • Companion Animal Anatomy and Physiology
  • Control and Restrain Animals
  • Deliver Basic Treatments
  • Parasitology and Zoonosis
  • Principles of Infection Control
  • Anaesthesia and Fluid Therapy
  • Exotic Animal Anatomy and Physiology
  • Maintain Animal Accommodation
  • Provide Feed and Water


Learners that do not hold a grade 4 or above (GCSE grade C+) in GCSE Maths or English will be required to undertake these subjects alongside their Level 2 Certificate for Animal Nursing Assistants until those grades are obtained.  Learners will be asked to complete an initial assessment for English and Maths for the college to ascertain what level will be best for you to learn.

Benefits, skills and character strengths

Learners will develop your character strengths and overall workplace effectiveness whilst undertaking 'Routine Duties' in the Animal Centre. They will work with other Animal Studies team members to manage our animal collection, providing the highest standard of animal welfare to a range of species and receive regular feedback to develop their technical skill and to meet our Professional Standards (please see below for further information). This course will develop their confidence working with a range of species, working with others, communication skills and time management skills ultimately supporting with progression into further study or into a career within the Animal Sector.  


Professional Standards within Animal Studies includes; 

    Attendance must be above 95% in all areas of the Study Programme, including English and Maths. 
    Demonstrate commitment to the Animal Sector by challenging yourself to excel. 
    All interactions with staff (both within the college and externally within your work placement) and peers must be respectful.
     Demonstrate accountability for the quality of your own work.
    Support other students on your course and within the Animal Studies department.
    Display model behaviours in both theory and practical areas that demonstrate our values in action.
    Ensure optimal animal care and welfare alongside compliance with legislation.
    Demonstrate behaviours that support equality, diversity and inclusion.

How will I be assessed?

This course is largely portfolio based, but will also include practical assessments. 


Study at home and the appropriate use of 'Directed Study' sessions is essential in order to successfully meet assessment deadlines, however all students will be supported across all aspects of their learning.


To support students in completing the above assessments, regular formative assessments will take place throughout year covering a variety of different formats including tests, oral presentations, posters, leaflets, reports etc. 

Where is the course delivered? (facilities/classrooms)

This course is delivered at the colleges main campus in Bury St Edmunds. 


For a tour of the Animal Centre please visit our Animal Studies Facebook Page.

Where will the course take me?

The Level 2 Animal Nursing Certificate (plus GCSE Grade 4/Level 2 qualifications in Mathematics and English) opens up opportunities to progress to the RCVS Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, which leads to a professional qualification as a veterinary nurse. The Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing is a vocational qualification designed to prepare veterinary nurses for professional registration on the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses. It is available on either a full-time basis or apprenticeship-style alongside a job in a veterinary practice. Learners would need to research the RCVS approved Small Animal Training Practices in Region 7 to see where they could progress to after the completion of the Level 2 Animal Nursing course. 


If, at the end of the course, the learner decides that veterinary nursing is not the career that they wish to progress to, they will still have gained valuable training which will enable them to work within other areas of veterinary practice such as veterinary kennels/wards and veterinary reception. Their experience will also allow progression in other sectors of the animal industry, such as pet stores, boarding kennels or animal charities.

Will I need any materials or equipment?

Whilst working with animals it is of upmost importance that you wear Personal Protective Equipment to protect yourself and the animals.

To work safely within our Animal Centre and with our animals we ask that you wear;

  • Navy veterinary style tunic embroided with the West Suffolk College logo (approx. £26)
  • Steel toe capped boots


You are welcome to purchase your steel toe capped boots from any shop you wish (Screwfix, Amazon, eBay, Sports Direct etc.). These must not be worn to and from college, they must be an additional piece of footwear that you only wear whilst in the Animal Centre. You will need to bring a padlock to keep your PPE safely within one of the on-site lockers. 


To order your tunic (and optional Animal Studies Hoodie) you will need to use the information provided within the 'Summer Workbook' which will be provided by the Admissions Team. 

How much will it cost?

The cost of the PPE required for the course is approximately £40. 


Trips will be run throughout the academic year at an additional cost, but these costs will be detailed within a letter before the trip takes place. 

I'm interested. What should I do now?

You are welcome to apply online where you will be invited for an interview at with a member of the Animal Studies course team. However, if you would like the opportunity the see the campus sooner and discuss your options please visit us on one of the colleges open events. 


Summer Work
You will be asked to undertake work over the summer holidays to ensure that you are ready to start your course with us in September. Your summer work also allows us to ensure that you are the right candidate for the course.


You will be asked to undertake the following before starting with us;

  1. Sign up to idea.org.uk using the code provided to you and achieve bronze medal. 
    The idea.org.uk website is an international programme that helps you develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. Through a series of online challenges, you can win career-enhancing badges, unlock new opportunities and, ultimately, gain industry-recognised Awards that help you stand out from the crowd. This is very important as careers within the Animal Sector are highly competitive so your CV needs to stand out to make you more employable! The qualification you are embarking on contains a variety of assessment methods that require a good level of digital skills which this will assist you with. 

  2. Research and arrange your own work experience placement within the Animal Sector.
    By researching and arranging your own placement you'll have a better chance of working in an industry or profession you're actually interested in. You will need to contact potential placements in a formal manner, either in person or via the telephone/email. A brief email explaining why you want to do work experience at the business, along with your CV, demonstrates your initiative and self-motivation, two qualities employers value greatly.

  3. Complete all activities within the Animal Centre Induction Handbook.
    This will include important information on animal welfare and human safety. We must make sure that all users of the Animal Centre understand the health and safety risks involved when working with the animals housed at college. This ensures that there is a lower risk of accidents and a lower risk to the animals welfare. We will be reviewing the work you produce within the booklet during induction week. There will be a multiple choice test for the health and safety element of this handbook within the first 6 weeks of your course. 

Days & times

Starting September 2021
Monday 09:15 - 16:15
Wednesday 09:15 - 16:15
Friday 09:15 - 16:15

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