Our History


Our Heritage

The Faculty of Veterinary Science opened its doors on the 22nd March, 1910. Sixteen students enrolled in this premier Australian university course in veterinary science.

These students learned from skilled practitioners and world class academics, with access to the know-how of a nation, which was already an emerging power in animal health and production.

All this located in the heart of the bright and booming harbour city of Sydney.

Since humble beginnings, the Faculty has grown beyond recognition; we have developed outstanding research and clinical facilities and strong reciprocal links with academic peers around the world; we are recognised internationally as a leading provider of education and a key contributor to world best practice in the care and welfare of animals.

Today, our students have the ambition, compassion and integrity that it takes to make great veterinarians; faculty members have the spirit of innovation and leadership that is required to make a leading university; and we are still based in the heart of Sydney with our own rural facilities on the outskirts of the city.


Our History

The Early Days

Veterinary Education began in the 1880s as a two year course of instruction at the Sydney Technical College called 'Elementary Veterinary Science'.

The current Veterinary School, at the University of Sydney, was officially opened in 1910. James Douglas Stewart, MRCVS, was appointed as the Director and Professor. Sixteen students enrolled in the first year of the five-year course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science.

Initially, students were accommodated in the basement of the then Fisher Library in the southwest corner of the Main Quadrangle, but towards the end of 1913 they were moved to the present present location, main building (J.D. Stewart Building).

The early development of the School was delayed when many graduates and undergraduates volunteered for active service in the First World War.

In 1920 the Veterinary School was given full status as a faculty and Professor J.D. Stewart became Dean of Veterinary Science. He then managed to bring about the regulation of the practice of veterinary science in New South Wales with the passing of the Veterinary Surgeons Act in 1923.

Gradually, the number of enrolled undergraduate students increased from 25 in 1928 to over 100 in 1935. The Sydney School became solely responsible for veterinary training in Australia due to the closure of the Veterinary School of the University of Melbourne in 1930.

In 1936 the University, in association with the McGarvie Smith Institute, purchased and developed a 160 hectare property at Badgery's Creek, to be used for the training of veterinary students in animal husbandry. The purchase coincided with the reintroduction, in 1937, of a five-year course of studies and training for the BVSc degree - the course had been reduced to four years in 1914.

JD Stewart, retired in 1939 after a distinguished career that led to the growth of the Faculty between the two World Wars.

With the temporary closure of the Queensland Veterinary School during the Second World War, Sydney once again became solely responsible for veterinary education in Australia.

In 1939 extensions to the main buildings were added and in 1946 the temporary building for the Department of Veterinary Pathology and Bacteriology was constructed. In 1949 some temporary buildings were erected to provide further accommodation for the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

In 1954 additional farm facilities were acquired at Camden for teaching large animal medicine, husbandry and disease control. The facilities included a veterinary teaching hospital, lecture theatres, teaching laboratories, and a hall of residence.

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Infastructure and Building Developments

In 1997, Departments of Veterinary Anatomy and Veterinary Pathology amalgamated to form the Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Pathology which was relocated to the McMaster Building.

The Department of Animal Health was incorporated into the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Finally, in 2001 the three departments were amalgamated into one.

A modern hospital and clinical buildings (Evelyn Williams Building), an Animal Science building (R.M.C. Gunn Building) and the Veterinary Science Conference Centre (opened 1998) have been erected at the Sydney campus.

In addition, new facility specialising in wildlife, feline and canine health has been opened:

The Valentine Charlton Cat Centre is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built veterinary facility designed to specifically address issues relating to the unique nature of feline practice. It has a key role in providing internationally renowned excellence in feline clinical research and instructs undergraduate veterinary students in ‘best’ clinical feline practice.

The Canine Teaching Hospital is the most recently redeveloped state-of-the-art facility at the Faculty which incorporates a 16 slice CT scanner and an MRI.

Course Expansions

In 2005, the Faculty offered a new undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience. This 4-year degree involves studies in the structure and function of animals, their management and welfare in an agricultural, para-veterinary, laboratory or wildlife context.

Apart from the growth in undergraduate teaching, a number of Postgraduate coursework programs have also been developed and are a flexible way for recent and past graduates to enhance their skills and advance their career prospects. Courses are offered in a range of areas and can lead to certificates, diplomas or ultimately masters degrees in a number of subjects including Animal Science, Public Health and Veterinary Studies.

Postgraduate higher research programs which lead to the degrees of Master of Animal Science, Master of Science in Veterinary Science, Master of Veterinary Science, Master of Veterinary Studies, Master of Veterinary Clinical Studies and Doctor of Philosophy are also offered.

The Faculty has established itself as an institution of world renown. Our graduates are widely regarded as some of the most competent clinical veterinarians. The Faculty has attracted outstanding scientists who conduct research at the cutting edge of Veterinary Science, providing a world class environment for postgraduate students, many of whom continue to excel as leaders in their fields.


The Roundhouse

The Roundhouse has become one of the Faculty's most recognised structures. A black wooden shingled rotunda with a weather vane depicting a pointing dog, the Roundhouse has both architectural and historic significance and is currently a heritage-listed building on the Camperdown campus of the University of Sydney.

In 1910, when the University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science first opened its doors, the horse was one of the key animal species for the veterinary profession. Professor J D Stewart, the first Professor and Dean of the school, persuaded the University to provide funds for an animal observation box.

By October 1920, plans for the observation box had been drawn up by none other than prestigious architect Professor Lesley Wilkinson, said to be the University's first architect. The tender accepted placed a value on the building of 2,202 pounds sterling and the Roundhouse was completed around 1924.

Professor Lesley Wilkinson also designed the nearby animal attendant's lodge, constructed at the same time.

The use of the Roundhouse declined with the use of the horse, but the building remains an important part of the Faculty's heritage and tradition.