Medical School Rankings UK – Who are the Top Medical Schools?

Have you been wondering which medical school is the best in the UK? Or perhaps you’ve seen the rankings table and need help figuring out what it all means. This guide will show you all the data you’re looking for and answer all your most pressing questions in order to help you decide your university choices.

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Choosing which medical schools you want to apply to is one of the trickiest parts of the whole application process, and one of the toughest decisions you’re going to have to make in your life. Which university will be right for you? Which one will give you the best education? Or just simply, which med school is the best in the UK? These are super important things to consider, but to help you in your decision-making process are University Rankings.  

Like most things in life, Universities are reviewed and ranked by various measures in order to provide a somewhat definitive answer to which is the best. Of course, things are rarely as simple as that, so let’s dive straight into our guide to UK Medical School Rankings.

What Are Medical School Rankings?

There are two ways to look at this question. In a general sense, rankings are lists of subjects organised based on some form of criteria, whether its quantity, scoring, votes or personal preference. 

That much is obvious though, so what do we mean by Medical School Rankings, or in a broader sense, University Rankings? It’s not just any random list of universities but rather, the rankings of universities (in this case medical schools) based on data and ratings which are consolidated by an official body.  Many outlets have provided rankings for universities in the UK, but the two most unanimously trusted sources are: 

(Bear in mind that this is just for UK universities, international universities will have their own trusted sources). 

Before we continue, let’s take a look at each of these tables to provide context for the rest of this discussion:

Complete University Guide Medical School Rankings

RankUniversityOverall ScoreEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityGraduate Prospects
1University of Cambridge100.0 (100%)212 (86%)3.98 (80%)3.63 (91%)99
2University of Oxford99.6 (100%)203 (82%)NA3.52 (88%)99
3University of Glasgow98.3 (98%)233 (94%)4.15 (83%)3.56 (89%)97
4The University of Edinburgh98.2 (98%)227 (92%)3.92 (78%)3.48 (87%)99
5University of Bristol97.9 (98%)179 (72%)4.30 (86%)3.56 (89%)100
6Imperial College London97.9 (98%)187 (76%)4.15 (83%)3.58 (90%)98
7University of Leicester97.4 (97%)170 (69%)4.24 (85%)3.56 (89%)100
8University of Dundee97.4 (97%)247 (100%)4.08 (82%)3.38 (85%)100
9University of St. Andrews97.3 (97%)216 (87%)4.32 (86%)3.17 (79%)95
10Queen’s University Belfast97.3 (97%)190 (77%)3.97 (79%)3.41 (85%)99
11University of Exeter97.1 (97%)183 (74%)4.08 (82%)3.38 (85%)98
12University of East Anglia (UEA)96.9 (97%)183 (74%)4.12 (82%)3.26 (82%)98
13University College London (UCL)96.9 (97%)192 (78%)3.76 (75%)3.57 (89%)97
14Swansea University96.9 (97%)NA3.96 (79%)3.53 (88%)100
15University of Manchester96.6 (97%)190 (73%)3.73 (75%)3.39 (85%)99
16Barts Medical School (Queen Mary)96.5 (97%)185 (75%)4.09 (82%)3.37 (84%)100
17Cardiff University96.5 (97%)189 (77%)3.95 (79%)3.22 (80%)100
18King’s College London (KCL)96.2 (96%)173 (70%)3.79 (76%)3.49 (87%)99
19Newcastle University96.1 (96%)179 (72%)3.95 (79%)3.26 (82%)99
20University of Aberdeen96.0 (96%)239 (97%)4.10 (82%)2.92 (73%)100
21Lancaster University95.9 (96%)165 (67%)3.98 (80%)3.32 (83%)100
22Hull York Medical School95.9 (96%)165 (67%)4.00 (80%)3.42 (86%)100
23Keele University95.8 (96%)168 (68%)4.27 (85%)3.38 (85%)100
24University of Liverpool95.7 (96%)169 (69%)4.12 (82%)3.23 (81%)99
25University of Sheffield95.6 (96%)166 (67%)3.89 (78%)3.33 (83%)100
26University of Birmingham95.4 (95%)174 (71%)3.72 (74%)3.39 (85%)99
27University of Southampton95.4 (95%)170 (69%)3.95 (79%)2.32 (81%)99
28University of Leeds95.3 (95%)175 (71%)4.06 (81%)3.13 (78%)99
29University of Nottingham95.1 (95%)175 (71%)3.46 (69%)3.29 (82%)100
30St. George’s, University of London95.0 (95%)174 (71%)3.52 (70%)3.23 (81%)99
31University of Plymouth94.8 (95%)169 (69%)3.98 (80%)2.99 (75%)100
32Brighton & Sussex Medical School94.7 (95%)168 (68%)4.45 (89%)3.14 (79%)100
33University of Warwick94.7 (95%)NA4.06 (82%)2.79 (70%)100
34University of Buckingham89.6 (90%)136 (55%3.94 (79%)NA100
35University of Central Lancashire88.5 (89%)137 (55%3.84 (77%)3.00 (75%)NA

The Guardian University League Table Medical School Rankings

RankUniversityOverall ScoreSatisfied with CourseSatisfied with TeachingSatisfied with FeedbackStudent/Staff RatioSpend per Student/10Average Entry TariffCareer After 15 MonthsContinuation
1The University of Edinburgh10085.491.260.75.71022710098.9
2University of Aberdeen97.990.295.869.06.6324110097.8
3Brighton and Sussex Medical School96.895.897.487.19.48167NA98.1
4Swansea University96.783.592.878.58.29NA10099.4
5University of Oxford95.589.795.768.09.7102039998.4
6University of Dundee94.
7University of Cambridge91.5NANANA7.3102129898.8
8University of St. Andrews90.996.995.576.111.54213NA100
9Keele University90.588.893.178.27.5417210098.4
10University of Bristol88.796.696.879.29.851819999.1
11Imperial College London87.286.787.666.17101919995.7
12University of Leeds86.389.293.875.47.741819898.9
13University of Glasgow86.287.792.368.29.6323710098.0
14Bart’s Medical School (Queen Mary)
15University of Liverpool81.788.092.771.37.8716910099.8
16University of Warwick80.982.290.672.07.74NA1009996.9
17University of Exeter77.392.494.866.29.3418510098.3
18Newcastle University77.288.293.372.98.8517410096.5
19Queen’s University Belfast75.984.289.974.210.641859899.1
20Cardiff University75.486.189.866.0971869998.5
21Hull York Medical School73.184.891.373.89.4416810097.6
22University of Leicester72.587.591.766.310.3516610099.8
23University College London (UCL)71.180.884.456.76.561849996.8
24University of East Anglia (UEA)70.994.394.762.18.7316810098.7
25University of Sheffield68.782.489.073.710.7317110099.4
26University of Manchester68.673.083.668.78.961809997.5
27University of Southampton68.583.
28Lancaster University68.482.984.776.19.7316110097.4
29King’s College London68.379.488.460.51061749998.8
30University of Plymouth64.590.
31University of Birmingham64.484.488.161.59.6417410098.7
32University of Nottingham52.564.385.551.88.5316310097.8
33University of Central Lancashire51.774.680.766.59.84127NANA
34St. George’s University of London48.172.584.252.613417610099.3
35University of Buckingham38.778.686.863.917.2NA127NA96.8
36Anglia Ruskin University38.3NANANA16.12157NA100

As it currently stands, these two organisations provide rankings and scores for each medical school in the UK based on a variety of factors. Each of these lists is heavily researched and based upon reliable data which is updated frequently to maintain reliability. However, there are differences between the two that you should be aware of…

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Which Medical School Ranking Should I Use?

Let’s start off by quickly taking a look at how each University Ranking Table is created and presented.

Complete University Guide

The Complete University Guide published its first Ranking Table back in the 1990s and has been available exclusively online since 2007. They have rankings available for many different subjects beyond medicine and have covered almost every university in the UK within their general University League Table. 

They’re known for focusing more on the quality of the academics provided by each university, although other factors are also measured. There are a total of 4 separate criteria that are ranked out of 100, which is also presented as a percentage. These are combined to provide an overall score out of 100%. These categories are as follows: 

Entry Standards: This score is based on the average UCAS tariffs from the new students entering each year.

Research Quality: Based upon a score out of 5 regarding the quality of the research undertaken at each university.

Student Satisfaction: The percentage score is based upon a score out of 5 provided by students of each university based upon their satisfaction with their experience. The source of this feedback is unfortunately not explicitly specified on the website. 

Graduate Prospects: This score is based upon two criteria, ‘outcomes’ and ‘on track’, which judge the number of successful applicants leaving the university and the opinion of current students about their chances of success. 

The overall score based upon these factors should give applicants a good idea of the quality of the teaching within each medical school on the list, with the ranking simply ordering them from highest to lowest. 

The Guardian University League Table

Like the Complete University Guide, The Guardian provides various Ranking tables for different subjects as well as a general university league table. The criteria used by The Guardian is a mixture of quantitative figures and student ratings taken from the most recent National Student Survey (NSS). The Guardian also provide a general score based upon all the data collected (scored out of 100), but they have more metrics to consider, so let’s go over what they are: 

Satisfied with Course: This score is determined by the score given by final-year students regarding their feelings on the overall course. This data is collected from the NSS.

Satisfied with Teaching: Similar to the previous one, this metric is based on student ratings for the teaching provided in their course. 

Satisfied with Feedback: The final metric based on NSS ratings, this score is based on the feedback and assessment that students received for their work during their course.

Average Entry Tariff: Similar to the “Entry Standards” criteria of the previous list, this simply states the average UCAS tariff for new students each year. 

Career after 15 Months: This is the percentage of graduates who found a graduate-level position or further education after 15 months. 

Spend per Student/10: This determines the average amount of money spent per student, rated out of 10. 

Student/Staff Ratio: This one simply states the number of students per university teacher.

Continuation: This score is the percentage of students who continue from the first year to the second. 

As you can see, there are a lot of metrics to consider within this league table! However, seeing these two side by side, you’re probably asking the question “Which one should I use?”. 

The first thing to state is that there isn’t one that is more or less trustworthy. Each table is based on statistics and ratings provided by trustworthy sources, so the answer to this question comes down to what you want to know about the universities.

The Complete University Guide has fewer metrics to study, but they cover the major areas that you would want to know about before choosing a university. The Guardian provides more options that generally cover the same information with additional ratings and data straight from the NSS. As we said before, the Complete University Guide is based more upon academic statistics while The Guardian takes various student rankings into account when calculating its overall score. 

This is the major divide between the two tables and should help influence your decision. Are you more inclined to listen to the thoughts of other students, or would you rather trust the professional rankings based on the quality of the academics? 

Why Are Medical School Rankings Useful?

If you’re not sure why all this information is important for you to consider when choosing your university, then allow us to explain. 

When deciding on a medical school, it’s very important to consider the success and employment rates of their graduates. While getting a job is down to the individual, a larger amount of unemployed graduates from a university is obviously a red flag. These figures aren’t reflective of the entire cohort as the results rely on graduates providing feedback to the unis, but more graduates tend to do this than not (incidentally, you should also fill out any graduate surveys your university asks you to complete as it’ll help future applicants who are in the same position as you).

Having access to each university’s average UCAS Tariff is extremely valuable for any applicant. While you won’t receive your UCAS Tariff until after you’ve made your choices, knowing the averages should help you understand how difficult each med school is to get into. If you’re not as confident in your application, you may need to consider one of the lower-ranked universities, so understanding which ones are more viable is a necessity. Or if you’re willing to take the risk of applying for a higher-ranked medical school, having an idea of the Tariff you should aim for can help you in your preparation. 

It may not feel like it when you have to work so hard to get a place, but the medical schools are selling their courses to you as a service. Official information provided by universities will always focus on the positive aspects of their courses, as they are marketing themselves to you first and foremost. Therefore, it’s important to have an impartial source of information regarding these courses for applicants to use when making their decision. With no bias or preference, you can be sure that these rankings only rely on genuine statistics and facts. 

As helpful as it is to hear from medical and teaching experts, sometimes the most qualified people to discuss the quality of these courses are the current students and recent graduates. They will have the most recent experiences of the course meaning their feedback will be the most representative of what you will face during your time there. While these rankings don’t include in-depth reviews, having the student ratings can give you the clearest idea of what each course is actually like for the average student. 

With that being said, it would be unwise to consider just one university ranking on its own. Considering both together will help you get a larger picture of what the university is like. And more importantly than this, you should look beyond these rankings. Written reviews, course outlines, open days. These are all designed to show you exactly what each university and course is like, including information beyond the scope of these lists, such as teaching styles and university lifestyle. All of this, combined with the rankings, should give you the best idea of which one is right for you. 

One major part of your application that you’re going to need to consider is the admissions tests. For the most part, you’ll be required to sit the UCAT, but different universities have different testing standards, marking schemes and score thresholds. This may well be a deciding factor for you as you may not wish to apply to a university with particularly high admissions standards. If you want to learn more about this, you should check out our UCAT Universities guide. 

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Complete University Guide vs The Guardian

Now let’s take a closer look at the data from each table and compare the two to see which medical schools come out on top! 

Firstly, here are the Top 10 Medical Schools from each University Ranking: 

Top 10 UK Medical Schools

Complete University Guide

PositionUniversityOverall Score
1University of Cambridge100
2University of Oxford99.6
3University of Glasgow98.3
4The University of Edinburgh98.2
5University of Bristol97.9
6Imperial College London97.9
7University of Leicester97.4
8University of Dundee97.4
9University of St. Andrews97.3
10Queen’s University Belfast97.1

The Guardian

PositionUniversityOverall Score
1The University of Edinburgh100
2University of Aberdeen97.9
3Brighton and Sussex Medical School96.8
4Swansea University96.7
5University of Oxford95.5
6University of Dundee94.1
7University of Cambridge91.5
8University of St. Andrews90.9
9Keele University90.5
10University of Bristol88.7

As you can see, these two organisations don’t see eye to eye in regard to the best medical schools in the UK. While eight of these universities are featured in both lists, the placements are all very different.

Starting at the top, we can see that The Guardian has chosen two of the major Scottish universities as the best in the UK, while Complete University Guide has picked the much more predictable Oxbridge Universities, with Cambridge coming out on top. Some may have expected the top 10 to be filled with London-based unis as these are often seen as the most prestigious, but only Imperial hits the mark in either list!

The remaining medical schools are generally considered very high-quality so there are few surprises there, excluding The Guardian’s relatively low placement of Oxford and Cambridge.  You’ll notice a lack of major English city universities, with Bristol and Oxbridge being the main representatives here. This goes to show that you should explore outside the big cities to smaller medical schools, as you may well find the education you get there more up your alley. Either way, there’s no doubt these are all fantastic medical schools to attend. 

On the opposite end of this, let’s also look at the Bottom 10 Medical schools according to each University Ranking:

Bottom 10 UK Medical Schools

Complete University Guide

PositionUniversityOverall Score
35University of Central Lancashire88.5
34The University of Buckingham89.6
33University of Warwick94.7
32Brighton and Sussex Medical School94.7
31University of Plymouth94.8
30St. George’s, University of London95.0
29University of Nottingham95.1
28University of Leeds95.3
27University of Southampton95.4
26University of Birmingham 95.4

The Guardian

PositionUniversityOverall Score
36Anglia Ruskin University38.3
35The University of Buckingham38.7
34St.George’s, University of London48.1
33University of Central Lancashire51.7
32University of Nottingham52.5
31University of Birmingham64.3
30University of Plymouth64.5
29King’s College London68.3
28Lancaster University68.4
27University of Southampton68.5

So, what can we unpack from this? Firstly, you will notice that Complete University Guides has a total of only 35 medical schools compared to The Guardian’s 36. The missing med school here is Anglia Ruskin University, which also happens to be The Guardian’s lowest-rated school. 

Looking back at the full table, we can see that the major reason for this is due to the lack of data available from the NSS for this university. While we’re not sure why this data couldn’t be obtained, it may be the reason why Complete University Guide have omitted it from their list entirely. 

Moving on from that though, we can see that the ratings from The Guardian are much lower overall, with the highest rated 10th lowest rated university being 68.5 compared to 95.4 from the other table. This highlights the differences in the scoring systems, with Complete University Guide clearly being more designed to present higher scores overall. 

The universities we can find on both lists include Central Lancashire, Buckinghamshire, Plymouth, St.George’s, Nottingham, Birmingham and Southampton, over half the list! However, the important thing to bear in mind is that these ratings aren’t an indication of these universities being bad. Any medical school in the UK is going to give you an education good enough to get a good job in medicine. At the end of the day, some places will need to be at the bottom of the list, and these medical schools are competing against some of the best in the entire world. 

Next, we’ve put the scores of similar metrics side by side in order to compare them: 

Top 10 Medical Schools - Average UCAS Tariff

Complete University Guide

PositionUniversityEntry Standards Score
1University of Dundee247 (100%)
2University of Aberdeen239 (97%)
3University of Glasgow233 (94%)
4The University of Edinburgh227 (92%)
5University of St. Andrews216 (87%)
6University of Cambridge212 (86%)
7University of Oxford203 (82%)
8University College London192 (78%)
9Queen’s University Belfast190 (77%)
10Cardiff University 189 (77%)

The Guardian

PositionUniversityAverage UCAS Tariff
1University of Aberdeen241
2University of Dundee241
3University of Glasgow237
4The University of Edinburgh227
5University of St. Andrews213
6University of Cambridge212
7University of Oxford203
9Queen’s University Belfast195
8Imperial College London191
10Cardiff University 186

You would expect these results to be the same between each list, but we can see some differences in the top 10 here. The top and second spots for each list are interchanged as they supposedly have the same average. However, the big takeaway from the top five is that Scottish Universities generally require a higher UCAS Tariff. This may potentially be due to conversions between Scottish Highers and UCAS points when compared to A-Levels. 

Towards the end of the top 10 you’ll find that UCL appears in Complete University Guide’s list but not The Guardian. You’ll find UCL at 13th place in the full Guardian list, so the difference isn’t too major. However, these differences show that the two organisations clearly gather their data from different sources. 

10 Best Medical Schools for Student Satisfaction

Complete University Guide

PositionUniversitySatisfied with Course Rating
1Brighton and Sussex Medical School4.45 (89%)
2University of St. Andrews4.32 (86%)
3University of Bristol4.30 (86%)
4Keele University4.27 (85%)
5University of Leicester4.24 (85%)
6Imperial College London4.15 (83%)
7University of Glasgow4.15 (83%)
9University of Liverpool4.12 (82%)
8University of East Anglia (UEA)4.12 (82%)
10University of Aberdeen4.10 (82%)

The Guardian

PositionUniversitySatisfied with Course Rating
1University of St. Andrews96.9
2University of Bristol96.6
3Brighton and Sussex Medical School95.8
4University of East Anglia (UEA)94.3
5University of Exeter92.4
6Bart’s Medical School (Queen Mary)92.0
7University of Aberdeen90.2
9University of Dundee90.2
8University of Plymouth90.2
10University of Oxford89.7

These results provide some interesting talking points. Firstly, we can see that both lists agree on the top three medical schools with the highest student satisfaction ratings (though the order is changed). With this information, you may want to get these unis on your radar!  

Interestingly, we can see that Oxbridge only appears once between the two lists, with Oxford ranking 10th on The Guardian’s list. We can see some other universities that haven’t been included in any of our lists so far, including Liverpool, Bart’s and UEA. It goes to show that some of the lesser talked about medical schools can actually provide the best experiences for students. The figures will always be skewed by cohort sizes and student feedback totals, but it’s a very important statistic to consider if you information from a first-hand source. 

International Medical School Rankings

As we alluded to earlier, you can expect to find university league tables for practically every country! Naturally, you would also expect a global ranking of medical schools, which is provided to us by QS Top Universities. These rankings aren’t as in-depth as the previous two that we’ve seen so far but it’s interesting to see which medical schools are considered the best in the world. Let’s take a look at the top 20 of the list and see how the UK’s top med schools fare: 

Top 20 Medical Schools Globally

PositionUniversityCountryOverall Score
1Havard UniversityUSA99.5
2University of OxfordUK95.7
3Stanford UniversityUSA93.6
4University of CambridgeUK92.7
5Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA92.4
6University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)USA90.8
7University College London (UCL)UK90.1
8Imperial College LondonUK89.6
9Yale UniversityUSA89.5
10University of TorontoCanada89.4
11Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)USA89.2
12Karolinska InstitutetSweden88.8
13University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) USA88.4
14Columbia UniversityUSA88.3
15University of PennsylvaniaUSA88.2
16King’s College LondonUK87.6
17Duke UniversityUSA86.5
18The University of SydneyAustralia85.6
19University of WashingtonUSA85.3
20The University of MelbourneAustrailia85

The first obvious observation here is that the USA dominate this list, with the UK following just behind. This list features all of the big-name Universities you would expect, including Oxbridge and Ivy League schools. 

Outside of the USA and UK, we can see that just four of the top 20 medical schools are located in other countries. These countries are Canada, Sweden and Australia respectively, with Australia featuring twice on the list. Beyond the top 20, you’ll find universities from many other countries, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany and The Netherlands. So if you’re looking to study outside of the US and UK, you’ll find plenty of quality options. 

However, staying within the top 20, it’s not a particularly diverse list. That is to be expected though, as these places will tend to be the first thing you think of when you imagine the top medical schools in the world. For many international applicants, these countries are the ultimate goal for their education due to the quality of teaching and levels of employment. 

It’s important to understand that the difference between a university in 1st place versus 50th place is not as big as it may seem. At the end of the day, any qualified medical school is going to give you a good education and get you on the right track to your dream career. Attending a prestigious medical school certainly makes some opportunities easier and will give you certain bragging rights, but the education you get is the most important thing you take from your time at university and many, many medical schools can give you the education that you need to become an amazing medical professional!   


Let’s quickly summarise what we’ve learnt here: 

  1. University Ranking Tables are impartial collections of data organised typically from highest to lowest in order to determine the top universities in a given category. 
  2. The most trusted of these ranking providers are Complete University Guide and The Guardian. 
  3. The data between these two ranking tables differ, meaning each table has different top universities.
  4. It’s down to your preference between academic statistics and student feedback to determine which list you would consider more accurate, as neither one is objectively wrong. 
  5. It’s important to use these rankings as just one part of your tools to decide which universities to apply to. 
  6. You don’t need to attend the highest-ranked medical schools in order to get a great education!

If you want to learn more about medical schools in the UK, we would recommend checking out our Complete Guide to All UK Medical Schools, where you’ll learn more about the application process, how to decide your five choices and reviews for some of the highest-rated medical schools. 

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