Overview of the Medical School

  • The University of Edinburgh Medical School also known as Edinburgh Medical School or Edinburgh University Medical School is part of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It was established in 1726, during the Scottish Enlightenment. Success in the teaching of medicine and surgery through the eighteenth century was achieved thanks to the first teaching hospital, town physicians and the town guild of Barber Surgeons (later to become the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh).
  • The medical school is associated with 3 Nobel Prize winners; 2 winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine (Hermann Joseph Muller, who discovered that mutations could be caused by x-rays) and 1 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Vincent du Vigneaud who discovered oxytocin).
  • Among its notable alumni are: Robert Sibbald, appointed the first Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1685, founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and founder of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh; Benjamin Bell, considered the first Scottish scientific surgeon, he founded the Edinburgh school of surgery; Sophia JexBlake, leader of the first group of female medical undergraduates at a British university; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a graduate of the Edinburgh Medical School who created the fictional character, Sherlock Holmes.

Campus and Facilities

  • Campus: University of Edinburgh
    • King’s Building
    • Little France
    • Western General
    • Easter Bush
  • Facilities:
    • The Chancellor’s Building offers:
      • State of the art lecture theatres
      • Seminar rooms
      • Clinical skills laboratory
      • Library and computing facilities.
  • The Medical Education Centre and other new developments at the Western General Hospital:
    • Clinical skills training area
    • Computer laboratories. 
  • National and International Rankings
    • Complete University Guide ranking for medicine: rank 7 (2016)
    • Guardian University ranking for medicine: rank 12 (2016)
    • QS World ranking for medicine: rank 26 (2016)
    • Times Higher Education for medicine: 12 (2016)

MBBS Programme Information

General overview

  • From 2016 entry onwards, the MBChB programme will be a six-year programme.
  • The MBChB programme is composed of core and option courses and is built up from modules and themes.
  • Modules define learning in each year
  • Themes are integrated and continue throughout the programme
  • Different teaching methods are used, including:
    • Direct teaching using lecture.
    • Ward-based teaching and learning in out-patient clinics.
    • Collaborative group-based learning.
    • Portfolio based learning (building up a collection of reports, diaries and case studies that reflect aspects of learning at each stage)
    • Feedback on performance and progress.
    • Problem based learning.
    • Assessment and formal examinations.

Number of students on this course:

190 for Home/EU and 17 for overseas candidates

Course Structure and Length:

  • The course duration is 6 years, including an academic year of full-time, research-based study in Year 3.
  • The programme is divided into the following modules:
    • Years 1 and 2: ‘Principles for Practice’
      • Provides an introduction to the scientific, sociological and behavioral principles for the practice of medicine structure and function of the human body.
    • Year 3: Honours
      • Completion of this year will lead to a Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours degree.
      • Students study a scientific discipline in depth and submit a dissertation.
    • Years 4, 5 and 6: Final years
      • Integrated system-based courses address the major body systems.
  • The MBChB curriculum content is designed around twelve major outcome themes:
    • Biomedical sciences, psychological aspects of medicine, social sciences and public health, evidence-based medicine and research, the consultation, presentation, diagnosis and management, clinical communication, emergency care, clinical and resuscitation skills, clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, medical informatics, medical ethics, legal and professional responsibilities and personal professional development.

Course Content:

  • Year 1:
    • Study of the biomedical and clinical sciences:
      • Anatomy
      • Physiology
      • Pharmacology
      • Pathology
      • Microbiology
      • Social and ethical aspects of clinical practice
    • The First Professional Examination, completed by the end of the first year, is made up of in-course assignments in the modules and assessments at the end of each semester in Molecules to Society 1 and the end of the Student Selected Component.
  • Year 2:
    • Study of the biomedical and clinical sciences will continue, such as: anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and microbiology.
    • Social and ethical aspects of clinical practice.
    • Practical, clinical and research skills are developed through workshops, community projects, and GP-based teaching.
    • Three student selected components or projects on a range of topics from the clinical to the non-medical.
    • The Second Professional Examination, completed by the end of the second year, is made up of in-course assignments in the modules and assessments at the end of each semester in Molecules to Society 2 and the end of the Student Selected Components.
  • Year 3:
    • Consists of an Intercalated honours year and has a research slant
    • This can include the fields of Experimental Medicine, Biology, Biomedicine, Health Policy and Zoology.
  • Year 4:
    • Systems-based teaching, covering:
      • Cardiology
      • Respiratory
      • Neurology
      • Endocrinology & Reumatology
      • General Practice
      • Principals of Surgery and Orthopaedics
      • GI & Liver
      • Infectious Diseases
    • The fourth Professional Examination is made up of module assessments, portfolio case reports for each module and an end-of-year clinical assessment comprising a practical and an online examination.
  • Year 5:
    • Systems-based teaching that covers:
      • Psychiatry
      • Obstetrics & Gynaecology
      • General Practice & Neurosciences
      • Renal/Urology
      • Haematology/Oncology
      • Dermatology
      • Ophthalmology
      • Otolaryngology
    • The Fifth Professional Examination is made up of ten module assessments, including a Student Selected Component dissertation, portfolio case reports, and a synoptic portfolio-based assessment.
  • Year 6:
    • Completes the systems-based learning, covering:
      • Medicine/General Practice
      • Medicine of the Elderly
      • Surgery/Emergency Medicine & Acute Care
      • Child Life & Health
    • Three-week assessment period of Finals Part 1 in February
    • The final assessments include an oral examination or Viva based on the portfolio, a Clinical Practice Examination (CPE) and a Safety in Practice and Prescribing (SIPP) online examination, based on clinical scenarios.

Teaching locations:

  • For 2016 entry onwards:
    • The 1st and 2nd years are mainly taught at the University main campus in George Square and at the Old Medical School,Teviot Place.
    • Where you are taught in year 3 depends on your choice of intercalated programme but could be on any of the University campuses.
    • The 4th to 6th years teaching takes place in hospitals, general practice and the Chancellor’s Building.

Integrated BSc opportunities (courses on offer):

  • Available to students who have completed their second year of the programme.
  • External students are considered
  • The number of places available is limited and preference will be given to students from the University of Edinburgh.
  • Programmes available:
    • Biochemistry
    • Cell Biology
    • Development, Regeneration and Stem Cells
    • Epidemiology
    • Evolutionary Biology
    • Genetics
    • Global Health Policy
    • Immunology
    • Infectious Diseases
    • Literature and Medicine
    • Medical Biology
    • Molecular Genetics
    • Molecular Biology
    • Neuroscience
    • Pharmacology
    • Physiology
    • Psychology
    • Reproductive Biology
    • Sports Science Medicine
    • Zoology 

Open day dates:

For undergraduate students there are 3 open day dates available:

  • Friday 17 June 2016
  • Saturday 24 September 2016
  • Saturday 8 October 2016

Booking usually opens 6 weeks prior to each open day and are manged centrally in the University by Student Recruitment and Admissions.

For undergraduate students in September there is a Doors Open Day which gives you free access to many buildings across our campuses.   

Term dates:

  • First Semester: 19 Sep 2016 – 21 Dec 2016
  • Second Semester Spring Term: 16 Jan 2017 – 07 Apr 2017
  • Second Semester Summer Term: 24 April 2017 – 26 May 2017


Extra Postgraduate MBBS Programme Information

  • The school offers PhDs, Masters by Research and advanced clinical training within interdisciplinary research institutes and centres.
    • Masters by research:
      • Aims to provide a thorough training in a particular discipline area through original investigation and experiment.
      • Many use it as a stepping stone to a PhD.
      • Two routes are offered: a pure research degree where you spend 12 months in one lab working on one project, or a ‘taught’ Masters by Research that includes seminars and core training alongside two 20-week research projects, letting you work in two different lab environments.
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD): higher degree undertaken by clinically-qualified staff during their postgraduate medical training
    • Clinical Academic Training: Advice for clinicians interested in developing a career as a clinical academic or clinician scientist.

MBBS Admissions

Application process:

  • Meet entry requirements
  • Ensure that you have sat the UCAT
  • Submit the UCAS application:
    • Course code: A100
    • Personal qualities and skills to be considered in personal statement: empathy, interpersonal relationships, ability to communicate.
    • Academic reference
  • Attend the interview (if applicable)

Entry requirements:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAB by the end of S5, to include Chemistry and two of Biology, Mathematics or Physics.
  • A Levels:
    • AAA in Upper Sixth including Chemistry, plus Grade B at AS level in a fourth subject.
    • A Levels must include Chemistry and one of Biology, Mathematics or Physics.
    • Biology at AS Level required as minimum.
  • IB:
    • Overall score of 37 points (including TOK and EE)
    • Including 667 at HL in Chemistry and at least one other science subject (Biology preferred).
    • Biology should be taken to at least SL.
  • Graduate Entry: 1st or 2:1 honours degree, plus school-leaving qualifications with minimum academic requirements at one sitting, as follows:
    • SQA Highers: BBBB in S5.
    • GCE A Levels: BBB in upper sixth.
    • IB: 34 points including 556 at HL.

Candidate Selection

  • Each application is assessed independently by two selectors against the academic and non-academic criteria.
  • A weighting for the UCAT is added:
    • 50% academic
    • 30% non-academic (15% personal statement/reference, 15% situational judgement section of the UCAT test)
    • 20% UCAT (excluding situational judgement)
    • For graduates and mature students who are selected for interview, the interview will account for 30% of the final score, and the remaining 70% will be based on pre-interview academic/UCAT performance (35% academic, 20% UCAT and 15% SJT)
  • As a guideline, UCAT of 2015 entrants were between 2,330 and 3,290. Average: 2,783.
  • Applications are placed in rank order
  • Offers are made to the highest scoring applicants.

Interview procedure

  • For undergraduate applicants, they are currently considering changes to selection, which may include the introduction of interviews. Further information will be made available online if changes are made.
  • Graduates who score sufficiently well in the selection process will be invited for interview.
  • Interviews are in multiple mini interviews format, for those who are successfully shortlisted.
  • Interviews consist of three 10 minute rotations which cover:
    • Communications skills
    • Critical & ethical reasoning
    • Career exploration (based on your personal statement).
  • Interviewees will have 20 minutes to undertake some preparation work before the interviews commence.

Extra important information for candidates

  • Final decisions are made by the end of March
  • Decisions:
    • Successful: all will have conditions to meet.
      • All offer holders will be required to verify their achieved qualifications and at least one non-academic achievement declared on their UCAS form.
      • Some applicants who still need to pass exams may also have academic conditions in their offer.
      • Offers will only become unconditional once all academic and non-academic conditions have been met.
      • If you are successful you will receive an electronic offer pack. If you select us as your firm choice you will also receive a PVG Scheme application form.
      • Once your application is unconditional firm you will receive an electronic joining pack (from July onwards).
    • Unsuccessful: feedback is available upon request to [email protected]. Performance is indicated on a scale from excellent, good, average to below average.

Admissions contacts:

Extra important information on Specialty Programmes for medical students


  • Available to students who have completed their second year of the programme.
  • External students are considered if they have completed at least two years of the MBChB programme.
  • The number of places available is limited and preference will be given to students from the University of Edinburgh.
  • 20 available programmes.
  • The size of honours schools is determined by resources available.


  • They offer research areas for study at PhD level.
  • Interdisciplinary groups, centres and institutes bring together basic and clinical academic staff in broad, thematic research concentrations encompassing basic sciences, translational and clinical research.
  • Research areas:
    • Cardiovascular Sciences
    • Child Life and Health
    • Clinical Brain Sciences/Clinical Neurosciences
    • Clinical Education
    • Clinical Veterinary Sciences
    • Cognitive and Neural Systems
    • Dentistry
    • Developmental Biology
    • Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre
    • Genetics and Genomics
    • Genetics and Molecular Medicine
    • Genomic and Experimental Medicine
    • Geriatric Medicine
    • Global Health
    • Infection and Immunity
    • Inflammation
    • Integrative Physiology
    • Neurobiology
    • Neuroscience
    • Orthopaedic and Trauma Medicine
    • Pathology
    • Pathway Medicine
    • Population Health Sciences
    • Psychiatry
    • Regenerative Medicine
    • Rehabilitation Studies
    • Reproductive Health
    • Respiratory Medicine
    • Science Communication
    • Surgery
    • Tissue Repair 

Other MBBS extras relevant to UK medical students – NA

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2021-07-27T10:10:40+00:00Medical Schools|Comments Off on Edinburgh

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!