Veterinary Public Health - PgCert

2024/25 Part-time Postgraduate course


Postgraduate Certificate


Faculty of Life and Health Sciences


School of Biomedical Sciences


This course is taught online so you can study where you want, when you want.

Start date:

September 2024


The programme provides postgraduate training in Veterinary Public Health.


Veterinary Public Health (VPH) is a subject area which includes all aspects of public health that can be protected or improved by application of veterinary science. It links the animal and human health with the environment and plays a pivotal role in the development of an integrated ‘farm to fork’ approach to food safety. This programme is designed to provide postgraduate and professionally relevant advanced training in VPH. The programme focuses on the core domains of VPH in relation to the regulatory responsibilities of the official veterinarians for the protection of animal health and welfare and human health.

This programme enables official veterinarians to meet the demands for straightforward and clear answers regarding the potential risks (both microbial and non-microbial) associated with the consumption of, or exposure to, products of animal origin, issues of animal welfare and protection of the environment. This programme fulfils the additional requirement for the training of official veterinarians as set out in European Regulation 625/2017.

This is a part-time programme which is entirely internet delivered. European and global experts in veterinary science, law, economics, and policy contribute to the course. The awards are granted jointly between the Ulster University (UK), and University College Dublin (IRL).

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course


This programme provides students with broad knowledge and understanding of veterinary public health and promotes their ability to assess available evidence and data, make sound judgements and communicate findings effectively to all stakeholders in the food chain – producers, regulators, industry and consumers. Relevant EU food regulatory policy is integrated within the lectures and translated into a coherent regulatory framework so that students will grasp the complex idea of total regulation of the food chain from primary production through to consumer health issues. Core domains of VPH are addressed in relation to the regulatory responsibilities of the veterinarians and the protection of animal health and welfare and human health.

Teaching is through online lectures, online discussions, individual support, video and internet links with staff, independent learning, and work in small groups.


This course is delivered fully online.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The programme consists of modules at master’s level (level 7), and aims to provide a broad range of learning experiences that will enable students to enhance their knowledge and skills. The learning experience provided will encourage students to become active and motivated learners, who can seek information, question and analyse its validity and draw appropriate and logical conclusions.

The overall aim of these courses is to provide an academically challenging and professionally relevant focussed, programme of study for those who wish to develop their careers in Veterinary Public Health. The course will also provide the student with opportunity for critical reflection and evaluation of current practice and policy, enabling lifelong learning and fostering continuing professional development. This is in line with two of the University’s strategic teaching and learning aims: to promote and foster creativity and innovation in curriculum design and delivery and to promote learning, professionalism and employability through the integration of academic theory and relevant professional expertise.

All students will be provided online with a course handbook which contains details of the organization of teaching and learning, and the programme-wide arrangements for submission of work and return of assessed material, as well as specific details regarding the expectations of the programme team. All modules will be hosted on-line within BBLearn and, in addition to core module content, will contain all relevant details regarding module content, and a schedule of events, information on assessment, including marking schemes, and any other relevant information.

BBLearn is the online teaching tool for the University and is used extensively in the modules delivered on the PgCert Veterinary Public Health programme. eLearning at the University of Ulster facilitates a number of distance-learning courses, in which teaching and learning are delivered to students primarily via eLearning. BBLearn, which is also increasingly used to supplement campus-based programmes, provides an alternative and stimulating learning environment. eLearning at the University of Ulster includes personalised online access to course material, university library systems, academic and student support programs, and electronic communication tools. E-learning is therefore fully blended into the traditional delivery of on campus material. Training in BBLearn is readily available to teaching staff via the University’s Staff Development section, and an increasing number of campus-delivered modules are supplemented with a range of materials presented via BBLearn. All students are informed about the availability of, and have access to, the set of on-line tutorials regarding general and specific use of BBLearn. Students are also provided with personal support from technical and academic staff if required.

Students learn by a variety of means and these programmes will use a variety of methods to support and enhance the student learning experience:

  • Formal lectures remain a key feature in teaching and learning within academic institutions and are increasingly interactive, and may include discussion elements, particularly at postgraduate level. Within these distance-learning programmes lectures are delivered using PowerPoint presentations with teaching material specifically adapted for presentation on BBLearn to ensure all students are provided with a similar information set. The interactive nature of face-to-face teaching is mirrored in the e-learning environment by discussion boards and, increasingly, by asynchronous chat rooms. The School of Biomedical Sciences monitors attendance at all timetabled face-to-face teaching activities and in line with this policy a similar approach is used in the online environment to ensure all students are engaging with the material and to quickly pick up those who may be struggling with some concepts so that tutorial support and peer support may be provided.
  • Case studiesare used for many classes to illustrate the practical application of subject specific knowledge. They can also be used in assessment with students asked to select and apply knowledge to a given problem, and illustrate the practical aspects of this problem thereby embedding knowledge.
  • Online discussionsare designed not only to extend the lecture topics but also equip students with the skills to seek out relevant subject material and to present and defend the material within a given time-frame. With the increasing amount of information available on the web, the knowledge and skills to select appropriate, scientifically sound material, is vital to equip students for continuing personal, professional and intellectual development throughout their careers. The presentations may take many formats and it is the experience of many academic staff who also teach on the distance programmes delivered by the School that production of posters certainly allows all learning outcomes to be achieved. Technological developments have also resulted in greater use of embedded narration into documents. This is increasingly used as a feedback mechanism and very popular with students. It is envisioned that the production of slideshows with embedded narration by students will further streamline this process.
  • Online tutorialsare used to support students who need help with their studies in specific subject areas. The advantages of the BBLearn environment is that students who may feel intimidated about articulating their problems often are more engaged when encouraged to outline their difficulties in an anonymous system.
  • Group workingis an important element of learning and is used to help students acquire, integrate and apply knowledge from a variety of sources, solve problems, engage with case studies, and prepare for and present seminar work. Group work is facilitated for distance learning students to allow for relevant group interaction via Discussion and Chat tools. It is also relatively easy for academic staff to monitor by reviewing log-in and postings for all group members within BBLearn.
  • Assignments are an essential part of teaching and learning as they encourage students to be independent learners. Assignments take a variety of forms are used to encourage students to read the literature underpinning lectures, integrate and apply knowledge and improve written skills. Assignments can include structured essays, literature reviews, case studies, word-limited reports, data analysis, and presentations.

Encouraging contact between students and staff

The Subject team seeks to encourage contact between students and staff as illustrated through induction processes, student-staff consultation and personal development planning (PDP).

Induction processes: At registration all students are given access to the BBLearn Student Orientation Course which aims to help students become familiar with the VLE and how to use it effectively to assist with their learning activities. This course helps students to gain the skills necessary to learn effectively in an online environment. The course introduces students, not only to the various policies and procedures that they are expected to follow, but also the scope and sources of support that they may need as they establish themselves at the Ulster. In particular, these include the University Handbook, Student Charter and support charters, academic calendar, link to Library Skills Training page and all the essential tools necessary to access course materials, communicate with classmates and tutors, submit assignments, take tests and check their grades. The Course Director contacts the students at this starting point and provides advice, information and a detailed Programme Handbook.

Studies advice: Ulster has a formal Code of Practice for Advisors of Study (Programme Approval Management and Review Handbook, 2012). Subject specific advice is provided through Module Coordinators while the Course Director acts as mentor and provides personal/academic guidance to students on an individual basis. Distance learning students also receive studies advice from their designated e-tutor who would be the first point of contact for both pastoral and academic matters and who, if necessary, would direct the student to one of the university support services if it was deemed necessary. As part of the Induction process, students are introduced to the PACE System and PDP participation is encouraged and facilitated on-line by e-tutors and the Course Director.

Assessment Strategies

The diversity of assessment within the programme reflects the course team’s awareness of the kind of knowledge and skills needed at a postgraduate level in this area. Students are provided online access to the module handbooks at the beginning of the module, and these contain comprehensive information regarding module content, learning outcomes, assessment requirements, and criteria and marking schemes. The module handbooks and course handbook are available within the course support area; a central area in BBLearn where all students can access general information and communicate with one another.

All modules will be assessed either exclusively through the submission of coursework (defined as any non-examination/coursework based assessment). The assessment methods are designed to test both knowledge and skills, and include, but are not limited to, critical evaluations of current literature, problem-based case studies, and development of an online scientific discussion board. A self-assessment tool will be also offered to students.

In line with the University’s support for students with special educational needs, reasonable adjustments will be made to assessments to accommodate the needs of students under SENDO.

Assessments aim to promote independence of learning, and encourage students to apply their experience and expertise to case studies, and problems in veterinary public health.

Where possible, module coordinators will make every effort to ensure that summative assessment deadlines are spread over the semester. Some aspects of coursework occur across the semester whereas other pieces of coursework will naturally fall towards the end of the module. Students will be given prompt feedback, and the focus in the early parts of the modules will provide formative feedback to help future assessments. Students will be given details of all pieces of assessment at the beginning of the module, and encouraged to manage their schedule of assessments.

Students will be encouraged to engage with and use feedback to feed-forward into future assessments, and to carry feedback into new modules as they move through the MSc programme.

Submission of student work: All course work is submitted through the electronic drop boxes and Turnitin drop boxes via BBLearn. Students submitting work must complete an assessment cover sheet and sign a declaration of originality pertaining to their work. Late submission of coursework will result in the assignment not being marked. Any pleas for the extension of the deadline for the hand in of an assignment should be discussed with the Course Director and supported by written acceptable evidence.

The module coordinator or recognized teacher will mark assessments. Marks are collated, checked and moderated by the Module Coordinator who returns these via BBLearn, with comments and feedback to the students. Marking sheets will be returned to the student and these include the marks as indicated by the marking scheme and include opportunity for detailed feedback to be given.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Veterinary Public Health 1 - Regulatory

Year: 1

Veterinary Public Health 1 - Regulatory, will translate the requirements laid down in relevant regulations underpinning food regulatory policy into a coherent framework. This will equip students with the knowledge base and skills necessary to progress to the more specific elements of Veterinary Public Health which will be studied in the second semester.

Veterinary Public Health 2 - Applied

Year: 1

This module builds on the knowledge base and skills from the previous module (Veterinary Public Health 1 - Regulatory) and aims to integrate the disparate elements of the documented requirements for training of official veterinarians so that students will grasp the complex idea of total regulation of the food chain from primary production, animal welfare, food processing, monitoring and surveillance, environmental and waste issues to protection of consumer health.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have an Honours or non-Honours degree in Veterinary Medicine from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland or from an institution of another country, which has been recognised as being of equivalent standard. In addition the potential students are expected to have a minimum of one year post qualification experience. The work experience, knowledge and skills required for admission to the course must be sufficient to ensure that the student is able to follow the programme of study.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least 50% of the credit value of the award in respect of a Postgraduate Certificate award.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

The academic content of this programme helps students to develop knowledge and understanding of legislative, policy and scientific aspects of VPH as well as to acquire skills to disseminate and implement knowledge in practice. Graduates of the PgCert VPH could be eligible to obtain employment as Official Veterinarians employed by the competent authorities in any of the EU Member States (or applicant country), employment by government (EU and international) and non-government organisations. On successful completion of PgCert VPH students can also proceed to register for the PgDip and MSc Food Regulatory Affairs (VPH specialisation).


Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

Important notice - Tuition fees for this course may vary

Visit Tuition Fees pages for more details on the price of this course.

Additional mandatory costs

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.


We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

For more information visit


  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.


Our graduates say:

“I left college nearly 20 years ago but I found the challenges of learning again very rewarding. The course content was of a very high standard and the online discussions were extremely helpful and encouraging. The course has awoken the desire to learn and broaden my knowledge in the area of Veterinary Public Health. I felt a great sense of achievement after the graduation.”

“The Course gave me a better understanding of the operation of the EU food safety legislation; it provided me the opportunity to research and study areas of VPH which are not normally associated with my work. The e-learning allowed me to fit the course around my busy work and domestic life.”