Complete Guide To All UK Medical Schools

This is the most comprehensive guide to UK Medical Schools.

In this new guide, you’ll learn everything there is to Medical Schools.

(Including teaching styles and a series of complete reviews for all UK Medical Schools).

We wrote this guide to answer all of your questions so you’ll finish reading this with zero uncertainty.

Sounds good? Let’s dive right in.

Contents Menu:

Click on an icon below to take you through our Medical School guide or just read on.

The UK Medical Schools

Medical Schools select future doctors and set them up for a career in supporting and looking after the health of many generations.

Each year, UK Medical Schools attract the top students across the world. High achieving students, combined with thousands of applicants makes the admissions process extremely competitive.

According to the Medical Schools Council, there are currently 44 Medical Schools in the UK. This might sound like a lot of Medical Schools but with 28,690 students applying to Medicine for 2021 entry (I wonder why 🦠😷), only 9,500 places available (lifted from 7,500 in 2020) and an average UK Medical School acceptance rate of 16.7%, the competition is fierce. 

2022 Medical School Rankings

The 2022 UK Medicine League Table has already been published by The Complete University Guide. Interestingly, Oxford and Cambridge have not taken the number one spot but have moved up the table since 2021. Currently, Swansea has taken the number one place with Oxford in second and Dundee in third. Cambridge has made the top 5 places in 4th and Edinburgh secured 5th place. 

medical-school-table-2022

Looking at countries, England has only just taken the majority in the league table securing 5 top ten spots with Scotland following closely with 3. Wales has taken the number one spot and a single place in the top ten and Northern Ireland’s top Medical School is Queen’s University Belfast which ranked 21st overall.

Rankings will, of course, differ between other tables. The Guardian includes different aspects to the Complete University Guide and when making your own decision on which table to look at, think about what you place more importance on such as spending per student or career prospects. Keep in mind that all of these Medical Schools are highly rated universities with excellent ratings across the board.

The 5 Main Routes To Get Into UK Medical Schools

Being accepted into a Medical School does not mean you have to study Undergraduate Medicine. There are multiple routes in:

Undergraduate Medicine

Under-graduate Medicine

The common route into Medical Schools in the UK is through an undergraduate degree which is around 5 or 6 years of studying. 5-year degrees earn students a Primary Medical Qualification (MBBS, BMBS or MB ChB). 6-year degrees give students the opportunity to study an area in-depth such as through a research project with the university. Students earn a BSc/BA along with their Medical Degrees.

Graduate Medicine

Post-graduates who hold a degree are able to apply for graduate entry-degrees. With fewer Medical Schools offering Graduate Medicine than Undergraduate Medicine, it can be more difficult to achieve a place on the course. Graduate degrees can be shorter than undergraduate degrees, and for Medicine, the course usually lasts between 4 and 5 years.

Foundation Course

Students can choose between Medicine with a preliminary year (1-year standalone course in basic science) or Medicine with a gateway year (1-year course for highly academically able students that have had barriers to their learning due to situations where they have come from).

Allied Subjects

Students can study allied subjects to Medicine at Medical Schools such as Pharmacy. This allows graduates to register as pharmacists who are embedded in the community and hospitals. In a hospital, their role is to manage and distribute prescriptions, fulfilling a vital duty in patient management.

Related Subjects

Medical Schools often offer other degrees that are not strictly Undergraduate/Graduate Medicine. These include subjects like Biomedicine which are closely related to aspects of medical degrees but do not provide clinical teaching. Students tend to use these subjects as their 5th UCAS choice when applying to four medical degrees.

Applying To UK Medical Schools 

Medical School Admissions Tests

With half the population of Guernsey applying for Medicine (the population equivalent, that would be weird otherwise), how are students selected? Generally, Medical Schools are split into two categories, UCAT accepting and BMAT accepting universities.

What does this mean?

The UCAT and BMAT are Admissions Tests used by university admissions tutors, along with other factors including Personal Statements, Interviews and references, to select which candidates should receive an offer. Not to brag or anything but us medics tend to be fairly brainy, so being selected on school grades alone is tricky when applicants tend to hit all A*-As and 9s at A-levels and GCSEs. 

Here is the rundown of the number of UK Medical Schools requiring Admissions Tests:

44

Medical Schools

31

Require the UCAT

8

Require the BMAT

4

Do not require Admissions Tests

2

Only require the GAMSAT (Graduate Medicine)

1

Requires both UCAT & BMAT for international or home 

Admissions Tests are used in different ways between Medical Schools. For example, Brighton and Sussex Medical School operate a strict average cut off with BMAT points earned for each section (good performance in one section can compensate for another). We will discuss how each Medical School uses the tests in more depth in our Medical School reviews later on.

Medical School Personal Statements

With nearly 29,000 students applying for Medicine, standing out is crucial. The Personal Statement is an opportunity for students to demonstrate why they are a strong candidate, their passion for Medicine and why they deserve an Interview. Personal Statements for Medical Schools should include:

Motivation (Medicine is a tough degree, admissions tutors want to be confident you are motivated enough to complete the 5 or 6 years).

Passion (your enthusiasm and what truly interests you in Medicine, without chucking in lots of clichés).

Suitability (the skills and qualities you have that will make you a good doctor, e.g. empathy and resilience).

Evidence of interest (work experience and being proactive, specifically your reflection and critical thinking of the experience you have gained, rather than just listing the work experience you have completed).

Similar to Admissions Tests, Medical Schools use your Personal Statement in different ways, for example, Nottingham use it alongside UCAT scores to settle tiebreaks between Interview scores, whereas others, such as UCL, use it more holistically. To optimise your chances of getting offers, you should do thorough research and hit all the criteria that Medical Schools ask for.

Medical Schools Interviews

Interviewing for Medical Schools is pretty much the norm. If you meet the selection criteria of a Medical School, you will be invited to interview. As we keep mentioning, Medical Schools love to do it their way so you will find that there are different interview styles used between schools. For example, Cambridge use traditional/panel interviews whereas Leeds use MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews). 

So what are the differences?

Multiple Mini Interviews

MMIs are the most common interviewing style for Medical Schools. They consist of numerous stations that test your skills, something that will be needed in a clinical environment. An example of an MMI station is being asked to pass bad news to someone (who is usually an actor) or to describe a photo in detail to someone over the phone. Different Medical Schools will have different stations. For instance, Belfast tests empathy, morals and reasoning, whereas Sheffield looks at communication skills, values and work experience.

Traditional or Panel Interviews

Traditional or Panel Interviews are less common than MMIs and mostly consist of being asked questions around your application itself (Personal Statement, school work, work experience) and your reasons for wanting to study Medicine. These questions are usually asked by a panel of two or more interviewers. Using Oxford as an example, admissions tutors look to see if a candidate matches with criteria such as personal integrity, leadership potential and evidence of self-motivation. At an Oxford Medicine interview, students may be asked questions like “why do we have red blood cells?” or “should the NHS treat people who smoke?”.

Every year, there are certain ‘hot topics’ that crop up during interviews. A hot topic that students face is medical ethics. Fortunately, admissions tutors are not expecting their candidates to be moral philosophers, but they do want to see applicants weighing up and balancing arguments.

It is a bit of a given that the NHS comes up. Discussions around budgetary pressures, priorities, and access to care should all be expected and we recommend that you read how the NHS was founded, how it is funded and how it operates in the modern age. From our experiences of going through the Medical School application process, we found that loads of fellow students were stumped by these topics due to a lack of preparation.

Generally, the Admissions Tests and Interviews have the highest weighting (importance) on your application with academic grades in third and Personal Statements and References in last place. This does not make the Personal Statement any less important though!

Make sure to keep reminding yourself that different Medical Schools require different entry requirements. Our Medical School reviews below will explain what the specific entry requirements are for the School.

Book today and craft the perfect medical application.

The 6med Complete Bundle puts all of our bundles together. It’s the bundle of all bundles! You’ll get a place on five of our Crash Courses, Personal Statement re-drafts, mock interviews, Personal Statement, BMAT, UCAT and Interview Online Courses, access to BMAT & UCAT.Ninja™, BMAT essay marking and all of our critically acclaimed workbooks as e-books. 

UK Medical School Teaching

Surprise surprise, different Medical Schools have their own ways of teaching. There are five main types of courses in UK Medical Schools, and we suggest that students choose a school that will help them maximise their potential as a student and future doctor.

1

Traditional

A rarer style of teaching, now only found at Oxford and Cambridge. Students spend their first 3 years of Medicine studying a normal undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences. This is taught through lectures, supplemented by tutorials at Oxford and supervisions at Cambridge, and there are written exams every year. Students will spend their 3rd year working on a research project. The final 3 years of Medicine is spent in clinical placements, along with lecture teaching and college tutorials/supervisions.

2

Integrated

A style seen in Medical Schools such as UCL and KCL. An integrated course consists of pre-clinical and clinical teaching hence the term integrated. Students have the opportunity to apply their learning from lectures in a clinical setting. This teaching style means that students have contact with patients throughout the course.

3

PBL

Problem Based Learning (PBL): is used by the majority of universities including Glasgow, Keele and Manchester. This teaching approach gives students medical cases to solve and learn from which is often facilitated by a tutor in group sessions, although a significant amount of teaching is self-directed learning. Learning is supplemented with lectures and traditional bedside clinal teaching.

4

CBL

Case-Based Learning (CBL): is different to the other teaching styles because it uses virtual cases in small group teaching sessions. The case-based teaching is supported with lectures, dissections and clinical skills. Students learning is then applied to medical cases. Universities such as Cardiff, Imperial and Warwick use this approach.

5

EBL

Enquiry Based Learning (EBL): is another rare style used only at Birmingham. This style is all about posing questions, problems or scenarios to students, rather than simply presenting facts or providing a smooth path to knowledge. Students are more in charge of their own learning and must identify and research issues and questions to develop their knowledge.

UK vs International Medical Schools

Why Study At A Medical School Abroad?

We have already covered the high demand for places at Medical Schools, so it should come as no surprise that students look elsewhere instead of facing the competition and risk of not gaining a place for another year. Of course, you will have learnt from earlier that choosing a relative subject is another way of securing your place at a UK Medical School. But if you are set on studying Medicine, then this option is probably not for you.

By mentioning competition, we are not suggesting that studying abroad will secure you a place; the risk is always there, so it is down to you to smash your grades and dominate the admissions process. Another reason why some British students choose to study abroad is the difference in tuition fees and living costs. In some European Medical Schools, tuition fees can be less, starting from €7,000 (around £6000) compared to the UK Undergraduate Medicine fees of £9,250 each year.

US Medical Schools

Studying Medicine in the USA is different to the UK because all Medicine degrees are postgraduate. Students are required to complete a 4-year pre-med degree in subjects like Chemistry or Biology. The majority of US and Canadian Medical Schools also require applicants to sit the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Similar to the UCAT and BMAT in the UK, the MCAT is an important aspect of the US admissions process. It tests critical thinking and scientific knowledge. For most US Medical Schools, students apply through the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Students are spoilt for choice with over 150 Medical Schools, and the leading schools tend to be Harvard and New York who take the top two spots in the 2022 ranking.

European Medical Schools 

Although the English language is the international language of education and research, not all European Medical Schools teach in English. More and more are now doing so, but it is important to identify which schools do, such as Riga Stradins University, Latvia and Debrecen University, Hungary. Leading European Medical Schools tend to be Karolinska Institutet (ranking 6th in the world) and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (ranking 30th in the world). Here is the list of European Medical Schools that teach in English:

Can I still practice in the UK after studying abroad?

The answer is yes. European Medical Schools are well respected across the world. However, as long as you study in the EEA (European Economic Area), then your degree is recognised throughout Europe. This gives you the ability to register with the General Medical Council (GMC) to practice in the UK without sitting the Professional Linguistic and Assessment Board (PLAB).

UK Medical School Reviews

Coming soon…

Book today and craft the perfect medical application.

The 6med Complete Bundle puts all of our bundles together. It’s the bundle of all bundles! You’ll get a place on five of our Crash Courses, Personal Statement re-drafts, mock interviews, Personal Statement, BMAT, UCAT and Interview Online Courses, access to BMAT & UCAT.Ninja™, BMAT essay marking and all of our critically acclaimed workbooks as e-books.