Programme overview

The New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing provides a platform for you to build the hands-on skills and knowledge you need to become a qualified veterinary nurse and help animals maintain the best possible health and quality of life in a clinical environment. It is the ideal next step if you have already completed the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Veterinary Nursing Assistant) or equivalent and want to advance your capabilities to the next level.

Through demonstrations, practical sessions, group work, small group tutorials and real life case studies, you'll learn how to manage patients and clients, and contribute to the treatment and care of animals. There are plenty of opportunities to put theory into practice at external veterinary clinics across New Zealand and at Unitec’s on-campus veterinary facilities including our veterinary simulation clinic, Vet Care Unitec (our fully functioning vet clinic), or the on-site specialist veterinary hospital, Veterinary Specialist Group.

You will graduate as a qualified veterinary nurse who is able to work effectively and efficiently in a clinical setting, and you’lll be eligible for registration with the New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association.


  • Build advanced technical skills through a significant amount of clinical practice at Unitec's on-campus veterinary facilites and at external clinics across New Zealand
  • Develop a thorough understanding of: what's considered best practice in a clinical environment and the ethical and welfare implications of veterinary care
  • Learn from experienced lecturers who are knowledgeable in veterinary medicine/science, animal health and welfare, microbiology, genetics and animal behaviour
  • Benefit from a blended learning approach that includes practical sessions, group work, online/small group tutorials, and one-on-one supervision
  • The opportunity to apply for a practical placement at the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine at Auckland Zoo (placements limited)

What next?

Once you’ve completed this programme, you could continue your studies with the Bachelor of Applied Science (Animal Management and Welfare) which allows for the cross crediting of multiple papers.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General admission

For Level 6 Diploma programmes applicants must have a total of 60 NCEA credits at level 2 in best 4 subjects, OR a maximum total of 16 in best 4 Sixth Form Certificate subjects, OR equivalent OR completion of an appropriate qualification at Level 3 or above;

Special Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the diploma is to commence;
  2. provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a successful outcome in the qualification.

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the diploma is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language requirements

For Level 6 Diploma programmes, applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 2 in English (4 in Reading, 4 in Writing).

English language entry requirements for international students for whom English is not their first language:

Applicants must have at least ONE of the following:

a) Gained NCEA level 3 and met New Zealand university entrance requirements;

b) Clear evidence that they satisfy one of the following criteria for existing English proficiency:

  1. Previous primary and secondary study in English as evidenced by completion of one of the following at schools with English as the language of instruction in countries with a student visa approval rate of at least 80 per cent:
    • Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13), or
    • Completion of at least five years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13)
  2. Previous tertiary study in English: clear evidence of completion of a tertiary qualification of at least three years’ duration with English as the language of instruction in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
  3. Achievement of the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA).

c)Achieved, within the preceding two years, at least one of the English proficiency outcomes listed below:

  1. NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL) (Academic) (Level 4)
  2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5. The IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form.
  3. An overall TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) score of 550 (essay 5 TWE) OR an overall TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) Score of 60 (writing 20)
  4. University of Cambridge English Examinations: FCE, or FCE for schools, or CAE, or CPE with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill
  5. Pearson Test of English PToE (Academic) with a score of 50.

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

The General Admission requirements set out in the Diploma Generic Regulations do not apply to this programme; to be admitted to this programme, all applicants must:

  1. have completed the requirements of the Veterinary Nursing Assistant strand of the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Level 5), or equivalent; and
  2. complete a self-declaration of criminal conviction(s) and any medical condition(s) that may prevent full participation in the programme; and
  3. sign a consent form allowing a Ministry of Justice convictions database search by a third party (in this instance Unitec Institute of Technology). Any applicants with undeclared convictions identified will be referred to the Admissions Committee; and
  4. provide a completed medical declaration indicating there is no evidence of a medical condition that will impact on their ability to practice safely as a veterinary nurse.

Graduates who hold the Unitec Certificate in Animal Management (Animal Clinical Care) and have been practising as a Veterinary Nursing Assistant for no less than two years are considered to meet the admission requirements.

Courses and timetables

Please check back in November for timetable information for 2017.

Courses Credits Aim
Animal Disease & Pharmacology (NSCI6102) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to understand disease processes as well as the prevention, identification and treatment of diseases.
Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (NSCI6103) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to develop an understanding of the theoretical and practical application and the use of diagnostic tools within a veterinary clinic setting.
Veterinary Medical and Surgical Care (Sem A) (NSCI6104-SA) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to manage and apply the principles and practices of medical and surgical veterinary nursing care in a range of clinical situations.
Veterinary Anaesthesia (NSCI6300) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to apply the principles and practices of anaesthetic and analgesic procedures in the role of the veterinary nurse.
Veterinary Laboratory Procedures (NSCI6504) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable the student to integrate microbiology knowledge with laboratory procedures to detect and identify pathogens and parasites that cause diseases relevant to the New Zealand Veterinary Industry.
Courses Credits Aim
Veterinary Medical & Surgical Care Practicum (Sem A) (NSCI6101-SA) 15 credits (0.125 EFTS) To enable students to employ advanced veterinary nursing skills required to support the medical and surgical team within a veterinary clinic and a specialist veterinary hospital.