Study Medicine in United Kingdom: 7 Things to Know

The United Kingdom is one of the most popular destinations for foreigners who wish to study Medicine. After all, it is home to some of the best medical schools in the world. As these institutions continuously undergo strict accreditation and regulation, they keep true to the quality education for which British medical schools are famous.

If you’re considering taking your dreams of becoming a doctor abroad, then here are the things you need to know about studying medicine in the UK.

1. Can you study medicine in the United Kingdom as an international student?

Yes. However, the slots are quite limited in some schools. For example, Oxford follows a 14-student cap for international students, which in practice translates to just 1-2 foreign Medical students a year.

2. What are the requirements for enrolling in UK medical schools?

All medical school applications, as with other courses, should be coursed through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Here, applicants have the option to list down 4 Medical School options. As for the fifth choice, it could be left blank or it could be used to apply to a non-medical course.

Apart from submitting a high school diploma (for undergraduate entrants) or a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.1 grade (graduate students), applicants also need to submit a personal statement.

Aspiring medical students also need to undergo an entrance test. Depending on your school of choice, you may need to take the Biomedical Admissions Test (required by 7 universities) or the Universities Clinical Aptitude Test (required by 30 schools).

Should you apply for a graduate entry Medicine program, you need to undergo a GAMSAT exam. This is also required by 7 British medical schools.

After being deemed eligible for the program, applicants will need to undergo an interview. Depending on the school, the student may undergo a 15- to 30-minute traditional interview with 2-4 panelists. At Oxford and Cambridge, the focus is often on the applicant’s scientific knowledge.

Schools such as the University of Aberdeen, on the other hand, require a multiple-mini interview. This tests the student according to must-have physician skills such as empathy, dexterity, academic ability, communication skills, and teamwork skills.

3. What are some forms of UK medical programs?

Studying medicine in UK come in four forms:

Standard Track
This is a 5 or 6-year undergraduate degree Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery course. Depending on the school, the acronyms for this program may be MB ChB, MB BS, BM BS, MB BChir, or MB BCh BAO.

At Oxford, the course is divided into pre-clinical and clinical phases. The first 3 years cover the basic knowledge and understanding needed for clinical medicine practice. As such, these semesters include subjects in Physiology, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Medical Genetics, Population Health, Patient/Doctor Course, Pathology, and Medical Psychology.

Clinical education is tackled in years 4 to 6. Here, the bulk of teaching is held in hospitals and general practices in Oxford, Swindon, Northampton, and Reading.

During the last 6 months of schooling, students get to pursue their desired subjects/electives. This is in preparation for their work as an NHS Foundation Year 1 doctor.

Medicine program with a preliminary year
As this includes an additional year in the beginning, this course lasts for 6 years.

Medicine program with a gateway year
This is offered to high-ability students who might have met barriers to effective learning. This runs for 6 years, with its curriculum being similar to the Medicine program with a preliminary year.

Graduate Entry Program
Foreign students who have finished a bachelor’s degree can take up a 4- to 5-year graduate-level course. At Oxford, the first 2 years feature subjects in basic medical science and clinical skills. The last 2 years are similar to its standard program, wherein students spend their attachments at medical and surgical firms.

4. What is the language of instruction in UK medical programs?
All UK Medical Schools use English as the primary medium of instruction. This necessitates proof of English proficiency through tests such as the IELTS or PTE. At the University of Nottingham graduate medicine program, for example, a student must attain an IELTS score of 7.5 or a PTE of at least 67 to be considered.

5. How hard is the UK medical program?

For foreigners to study medicine in UK, the struggle starts with the application. As mentioned, there are only a few slots for international students. At the University of Birmingham for example, there are 4.5 international applicants per interview, compared to 2.2 for UK/EEA students. This results in about 18 foreigners vying for a spot in the school, compared to only 8 for UK/EEA placements.

Even if someone is successful with the admission part, the UK is quite known for its high rate of attrition. According to a ten-year study, the dropout rate in the UK is 14%, which is several notches more than the global average of 11.1%. Causes of this range from:

Lack of commitment, motivation, or resilience
Medical school factors such as entry requirements, assessment, teaching, curriculum, and delivery
Academic struggles
Physical or psychological morbidity
Financial problems
Relationship problems

6. How many medical schools are in the United Kingdom?

There are 33 medical schools in the United Kingdom. The bulk of the universities are in England (25), with 5 more in Scotland, another 2 in Wales, and 1 in Northern Ireland.

7. What do you need to become a UK doctor afterward?

After studying medicine in the United Kingdom, students need to enter a two-year foundation program. Application is done through the UKFPO site.

Foreign students need to submit proof of medical education (diploma), a Dean’s statement, and proof of English proficiency (IELTS or OET). Evidence of right to work is also required. For some doctors, a Certificate of Sponsorship will be given as this is required for a Tier 2 visa application.

A provisional license is given to the doctor during the first year, followed by full registration after completion of the first-year program.

During the F2 year, a physician can apply for specialist training. Core training takes 3 years, while Higher Specialist training requires another 3 years. Additional 2 years of training may b needed for some sub-specialties.

After completing the training, the doctor will be given a Certificate of Completion. This is needed for one’s entry to the General Medical Council specialist register.


I hope that this article on how to study nursing in the United Kingdom was helpful.

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