Overview of the Medical School

  • The teaching of medicine at the University of Cambridge dates back to 1540 when Henry VIII endowed the University’s first Professor of Physic, Dr John Blyth. And in 1976 in response to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Medical Education, a complete medical course was re-established in Cambridge with the opening of the School of Clinical Medicine at the new Addenbrooke’s Hospital site.
  • Now, studying medicine at the University of Cambridge involves teaching by lectures, discussions, practical class and clinical practice at the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos (MVST). On completion of pre-clinical training, students can enter the School of Clinical Medicine. While patient-centred learning remains at the heart of modern medical education, research in the field of biomedical science provides the stimulus for much of the Clinical School’s core activity.
  • Among Cambridge notable alumni are Francis Crick and James Watson, who discovered the three-dimensional structure of DNA, for which they won the Nobel Prize; pioneering biochemist Marjory Stephenson; psycho-analyst Alix Strachey, who with her husband translated the works of Sigmund Freud; Kavli Prize-winner Brenda Milner; Sir Ian Wilmut, the man responsible for the first cloning of a mammal through Dolly the Sheep in 1996.

Campus and Facilities

  • Campus:
    • Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Addenbrooke’s Hospital (School of Clinical Medicine)
  • Research Facilities:
    • Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre
    • Hershel Smith Centre for Brain Sciences
    • Brain Repair Centre

National and International Rankings

  • Complete University Guide ranking for medicine: rank 1 (2016)
  • Guardian University ranking for medicine: rank 1 (2016)
  • QS World ranking for medicine: rank 3 (2016)
  • Times Higher Education for medicine: rank 3 (2016)

MBBS Programme Information

General overview

  • For studying medicine you can apply for the the A100-standard course and if you are a graduate you have the following options:
    • Apply as an affiliate student – taking the pre-clinical component of the Standard Course (A100) in two years instead of three, to one of Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s or Wolfson Colleges
    • Apply to the accelerated Graduate Course in Medicine (A101) to Hughes Hall, Lucy Cavendish College or Wolfson College
    • Apply for both, but you must apply to the same college for both courses.

Number of students on this course:

Around 265 students in each year.

Course Structure and Length:

  • The course duration is 6 years.
  • The programme includes studying the medical science first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student.
  • Pre-clinical studies: years 1-3
    • Taught through lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and supervisions, with typically 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week.
    • Successful completion of the first three years leads to a BA degree.
  • Clinical studies: years 4-6
    • Learning in clinical settings: at the bedside, in outpatient clinics and in GP surgeries, which is supported by seminars, tutorials and discussion groups.
    • Successful completion of the clinical studies in Cambridge you are awarded two degrees, the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BChir).
  • Assessments are on weekly and termly basis. Formal assessments, includes written and practical examinations, coursework submission and clinical assessments.
  • The Cambridge Graduate Course (A101) is 4 year length, starting in September year 1 and finishing in June of year 4. The structure of the course is:
  • Level 1 (Years 1-2): Core Clinical Practice and Core Medical Sciences
  • Level 2 (Year 3): Specialist Clinical Practice Course
  • Level 3 (Year 4): Applied Clinical Practice Course

Course Content:

  • Year 1 and 2: The main areas of learning in the MVST (Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos) are covered by courses in:
    • Functional Architecture of the Body –examining and dissecting the human body, and includes living anatomy, and the use of modern imaging techniques.
    • Homeostasis – covering the physiological systems which underpin the body’s regulation of its internal environment and its responses to external threats.
    • Practical classes in experimental physiology and histology histology (the microscopic structure of tissues)
    • Molecules in Medical Science – looking at the chemical and molecular basis of how cells and organisms work
    • Biology of Disease –nature and mechanisms of disease processes
    • Mechanisms of Drug Action – providing an understanding at the levels of both drug-receptor interactions and the effects on body systems
    • Neurobiology and Human Behaviour – covering the structure and function of the sense organs and central nervous system, the effects of drugs on brain function, and various psychological aspects
    • Human Reproduction –its social context, and its influence on demographic trends
    • Introduction to the Scientific Basis of Medicine – covering epidemiology and how it is applied in medicine
    • Social Context of Health and Illness – an introduction to the broader cultural aspects of healthcare and the medical profession in Britain
    • Preparing for Patients – which involves meeting patients in general practice (Year 1), in a hospital setting (Year 2), and through visiting community-based health-related agencies (Years 2 and 3)
  • Year 3: specialize in one of a wide range of other subjects offered by the University to qualify for the BA degree. Options include:
    • Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences in Natural Sciences (offering a range of subjects such as Pathology, Physiology, Zoology, History and Ethics of Medicine)
    • A single Part II Natural Sciences subject
    • A subject less obviously related to medicine, such as Anthropology, Management Studies or Philosophy
    • Preparing for Patients continues.
    • Visit community-based health-related agencies and follow a woman and her family through her pregnancy.
  • Years 4-6: Clinical Studies:
    • Following an introductory course, each of the three years has its own focus:
      • Core clinical practice (Year 4)
      • Specialist clinical practice (Year 5)
      • Applied clinical practice (Year 6)
    • Is built around several major themes, including:
      • Communication skills, patient investigation and practical procedures
      • Therapeutics and patient management
      • Core science, pathology and clinical problems
      • Evaluation and research
      • Professionalism and patient safety
    • Weekly small-group ‘clinical supervisions’ with junior doctors to develop and monitor your clinical skills.
  • The Cambridge Graduate Course (A101) students work alongside Standard Course students attending the same programme of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and supervisions. Pre-medical is 2 years instead of 3.

Teaching locations:

  • Pre-clinical Studies: At the Faculty of Biology – University of Cambridge
  • Clinical Studies: Cambridge Biomedical Campus
    • Addenbrooke’s Hospital
    • Other Teaching Hospitals:
      • Bedford Hospital NHS Trust
      • Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mental Health
      • Hinchingbrooke Health Care
      • Ipswich Hospital
      • Luton and Dunstable Hospital
      • Papworth Hospital
      • Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals
      • Queen Elizabeth II hospital
      • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
      • West Suffolk Hospital
      • Whipps Cross University Hospital
  • For the Cambridge Graduate Course (4 years medicine programme):
    • Medical Science in the University of Cambridge
    • Clinical base of the course is the West Suffolk Hospital (a District General Hospital)
    • Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Integrated BSc opportunities:

  • During Year 3 of the programme, students may specialize in a wide range of subjects offered by the University to qualify for a BA degree. This is equivalent to “intercalations” of other universities.

Open day dates:

To attend an open day, you should book by completing the online form at each college.

Term dates:

  • Michaelmas: 04 Oct 2016 – 02 Dec 2016
  • Lent: 17 Jan 2017 – 17 Mar 2017
  • Easter: 25 Apr 2017 – 16 Jun 2017

 MBBS Admissions

Application process:

  • Pre-interview written assessment: BMAT
  • Interview: around 80% of applicants each year
  • The result of the application would be notified before the end of January.

Entry requirements:

  • A Level: A*A*A
  • IB: 40-41 points, with 776 at Higher Level
  • GCSEs:
    • Grade C or above in GCSE (or equivalent) Double Award Science and Mathematics
    • Two single awards in GCSE Biology and Physics may be substituted for Double Award Science
  • AS and A Levels:
    • AS or A Level passes in Chemistry and two of Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Mathematics. At least one pass must be at A Level.
  • International Baccalaureate: also apply the GCSE and AS/A Level subject requirements.
  • Graduate Entry: may apply for the Standard Course (A100) as an affiliate student to one of Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s or Wolfson Colleges with:
    • Honours degree (II.1 or above, science subjects provide the most useful preparation)
    • Passes at GCSE and AS/A Levels (or equivalent), as above
    • Graduates from any discipline may apply to the A101 programme
  • Admission assessment: Biomedical Admission Test (BMAT)
    • It is based on factual knowledge of mathematics and science to GCSE/IGCSE, and doesn’t require special teaching or preparation.

Candidate Selection

  • For every accepted student there are 6 applications
  • In past admissions rounds: 97% of applicants for Medicine (A100) offered three or more science/mathematics A Levels and, of these, 26% were successful in obtaining a place.
  • Interviews help Admissions Tutors to assess applications to identify the students with the most academic ability and potential.
  • Admissions decisions are based solely on academic criteria – your ability and your potential.
  • Key issues to be evaluated:
  • Scientific and related competencies
  • Personal qualities and communications skills appropriate to a would-be doctor
  • Understanding of the professional and career requirements

Interview procedure

  • Interviews usually take place in Cambridge during the first three weeks of December. A small number of candidates may be asked to attend a further interview in January.
  • The College will send out detailed information, explaining where to go, the format and what will be expected of you.
  • There are about 1-3 interviews, each lasting between 20 and 45 minutes. The exact form and length of interviews vary from College to College.
  • Interviews are predominantly academic and subject-related general academic (to expand on the information you gave in your personal statement):
    • Discussion related to the course – you should have some background knowledge and what it involves.
    • To be asked to apply your existing knowledge to new situations
  • The main focus of interviews is to explore your academic potential, motivation and suitability for your chosen course. Questions are designed to assess your:
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Assimilation of new ideas and information
  • Intellectual flexibility and analytical reasoning

Extra important information for candidates

  • You can apply for both courses (A100 and A101), If you choose to do so you must apply to the same College for both courses (ie Lucy Cavendish or Wolfson).
  • Standard Course available at all Colleges except Hughes Hall.
  • Colleges select their own students, subject to University regulations.
  • If you are made an offer and are still studying, it will be conditional on achieving certain grades in the qualifications you’re taking.
  • For unsuccessful applications, feedback is available upon request.
  • The “pool” is designed for best applicants who have been squeezed out by competition of their original college and other colleges would admit them.
    • Some pooled applicants may be asked for another interview in January
    • Around 1 out of 5 applicants is pooled and from these 25% is made an offer in a different college from the one they applied.


  • Intercalates three years of research with the three years of clinical studies in Cambridge
  • Programme:
    • At the start, students follow the Standard Course Year 4 (Core Clinical Practice) curriculum
    • Following a clinical academic module and subject to satisfactory progress and performance in Final MB Part I
    • Three-year period of full-time research combined with three hours a week clinical education.
    • Concludes with students rejoining the clinical course to complete their studies.
    • For admissions: when returning your offer letter for the clinical course you should indicate your interest in this programme.

Admissions contacts:


Check out our Crash Courses:

BMAT Course
UCAT Course
Interview Course
2021-07-27T10:09:56+00:00Oxbridge, Medical Schools|Comments Off on Cambridge

About the Author:

I'm a medical student at Cambridge University, and one of the co-founders of 6med. I created the BMAT Crash Course and Interview Crash Course, and helped code BMAT Ninja and UKCAT Ninja. If you need a hand with anything, feel free to give me a shout!