Welcome to our UK Medical School Review series. In this series, we work with current students to produce an in-depth overview of each UK Medical School, covering what it is like to study there, how the course looks and what you need to get in.
Today, we are focussing on Exeter Medical School, a member of the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities. Molly, a newly graduated Medic from Exeter, will share her experiences and insights of being a student there throughout.
Let’s start with an overview of Exeter Medical School…
Overview Of Exeter Medical School
Exeter Medical School History
Exeter University dates back to 1965. It was organised into 4 faculties: Arts, Sciences, Social Studies and Law. The Medical School was formed in 2013 as a successor to the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), created as part of a national expansion of medical student numbers in the UK. Before 2013, the BMBS degree was delivered through PCMD in conjunction with Plymouth University.
Nowadays, the Medical School offers the BMBS 5-year Undergraduate Medicine course that leads to the award of a medical degree. There is no Graduate entry course.
The university as a whole has incredibly well-known alumni like J K Rowling and Caroline Lucas. In terms of those from the Medical School, there are famous alumni such as Edzard Ernst (previously a Professor of Complementary Medicine and the founder of multiple medical journals) and Sir John Edward Tooke (Head of the School of Life & Medical Sciences at University College, London).
Exeter Medical School
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
“I had a few main reasons for choosing this medical school. Firstly, it offered a very modern course that integrated early clinical placements with problem-based learning. I felt that this would best prepare me for being a doctor and that the variety of teaching styles would suit me well.
Secondly, I liked the idea of studying in a small city and the surrounding countryside and coastline appealed to me. I like being in the outdoors and I knew that there would be plenty of opportunity for outdoor activity in Devon. Finally, I knew that the application requirements suited me well and the areas they prioritised aligned with my strengths.”
What is the best thing and worst thing about your Medical School?
“The best thing about this medical school is how friendly and approachable all of the staff are. I really felt as though I was treated as a person first, and a medic second. The staff were interested in getting to know me and supporting me as a person throughout. The smaller medical school environment lends itself to this approach which I really enjoyed.
When thinking about the possible negatives; some people felt that because this medical school prioritises clinical placements and problem-based learning, there is less anatomy and physiology teaching. Often, this is something that you needed to learn yourself.”
The following link will take you to the Complete University Guide Medicine League Table. Here, you can see that the University of Exeter Medical School takes 10th position with an overall score of 98%:
The table also highlights 100% graduate prospects for Exeter Medics so there’s little to worry about once you graduate!
Rankings will, of course, differ between other tables; the Guardian includes different aspects to the Complete University Guide. 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 Medical Schools are highly ranked with excellent ratings across the board.
Fees And Financial Support
Annual tuition fees for Undergraduate Medicine is £9,250 for home students. For international students, it is £38,500 per year. Tuition fee loans are offered to all UK students by the Government and cover the course fees in full. Fees do not have to be paid upfront.
The University of Exeter offers over £2.5 million in scholarships for students, alongside financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower-income households and other under-represented groups to help everyone access the same opportunities and progress through University successfully.
What are the living costs like?
“Exeter is not a particularly cheap city to live in, however, I found that as there are so many outdoor activities, I didn’t need to spend a lot of money. A pint costs around £4.50. I found that private accommodation in the city, in shared houses, can cost between £350-£450 per month, per person. Of course, this can vary year on year and depend on how many other people you are living with and whether bills are included.
Public transport is very good and you can easily get around the city for a few pounds on the bus. There are great rail connections to London, and if you book early, you can get a great deal.“
What Is Studying Like?
At Exeter Medical School, teaching is mainly via Problem-Based Learning (PBL) which involves groups of 8-9 working together to learn using real-life clinical examples. This helps students to gain a good understanding of the basic and clinical sciences necessary to be a Doctor. Teaching also takes the form of lectures that focus on the specific subjects relevant to the cases studied.
Anatomy understanding is gained through resources such as medical imaging, models and living anatomy. Students have access to the Clinical Skills Resource Centre where they can learn clinical and communication skills in simulated NHS environments and scenarios. Exeter also encourages early patient contact and give students plenty of clinical experience even within the first month of the programme.
In the later years, this clinical experience becomes full-time and students become immersed in the healthcare environment. This takes place in both primary and secondary healthcare settings across a variety of locations in the South West including Exeter, Truro, Barnstaple and Torbay. Exeter is also keen on focussing students on the importance of the whole health community and recognising the community’s role in healthcare.
What is a week in first year like at Exeter Medical School?
“There is so much variety in a typical week as a medical student in Exeter. There are many different types of sessions and you are likely to have one or two of each, each week. Every week will have a theme or a body system around which all the teaching will be based. There are lectures, which you will have with a large portion of your year group. There are problem-based learning sessions which will be in small groups, where you discuss clinical cases. There are clinical skills sessions, which are also in small groups and involve learning the sort of skills that you will need as a doctor.
You will have anatomy and physiology sessions in the Life Science Resource Centre which will be in slightly larger groups. Here you will learn your anatomy using plastic models, real-life models and some impressive new technologies. You will have a clinical placement with a peer, which could be in a GP practice or in the hospital. You will have plenty of time for self-directed learning and a session with the whole year group to bring it all together at the end of the week. And remember, Wednesday afternoons are always reserved for sports and societies!”
The first 2 years are based on the human life-cycle with emphasis on acquiring core knowledge, skills, and behaviours to relate to the patients. Years 3 and 4 encompass the full-time rotations through healthcare placements to increase experience in a wide field of Medicine. The fifth and final year allows students to learn the job of Medicine and develop their understanding of the principles of practice in the NHS before beginning their Foundation posts.
During Years 1 and 2 students undertake Special Study Units, each taking place over a 3-week block. With more than 200 options, subject matters cover biomedical science, healthcare and the humanities.
In Years 3 and 4 students are given the opportunity to attach themselves to one of the Universities’ renowned research teams to study an area of medical humanities that interests them. The Special Study Unit ‘Doctor as Teacher’ aims to enable students to acquire the professional attitudes and skills of a competent teacher as they prepare for transition from a Medical Student to a Doctor.
Between Years 3 and 4 students have the opportunity to intercalate and explore another discipline at degree level to build upon their interests and learn transferable skills.
Final year offers the chance to undertake an elective in any field of interest both within the UK or overseas, to complete the degree.
Summary of the curriculum:
Year 1: Work across four integrated themes:
- Medical Knowledge: covering the principles, methods and knowledge of biomedical, psychological, sociological and population health sciences.
- Clinical and Communication Skills: patient-centred communication, core clinical skills such as history-taking and examination, and professional and ethical behaviours.
- Personal Development and Professionalism.
- Special Study Units.
Year 2: Work across four integrated themes:
- Medical Knowledge
- Clinical and Communication Skills: four clinical competencies with real patients. undertake an Integrated Structured Clinical Examination which requires you to receive a history from the patient/simulated patient, complete an examination, and perform a skill.
- Personal Development and Professionalism.
- Special Study Units: complete two summatives.
- Medical Knowledge of the medical sciences (biomedical, psychological, sociological, population health) that underpin medical practice, building on the knowledge gained in the first two years of your programme.
- Clinical and Professional Development you will continue to acquire the core clinical skills and professional behaviours that underpin modern patient-centred clinical practice.
- Undertake in vitro and in vivo clinical skills competencies and you will be exposed to real patients during the latter.
- Undertake four SSUs of two to three weeks in length in the areas of Working Together for Patients, Special Environments 1 & 2, and Health Service Management.
- Rotate through a series of hospital and community placements in six pathways of care.
- Learning is centred on patients and will continue to develop your problem-solving skills and increase your experience with the widest possible array of clinical scenarios.
- Learn the job of medicine and start to develop your understanding of principles of practice in the NHS.
- Apprenticeship attachments in hospitals across the South West.
- Student-Selected Elective which may involve clinical or research placements or a combination of both.
What Makes Exeter Medical School Unique?
What makes your Medical School unique?
“The medical school is unique in many ways. One way in which it is unique is having a small campus dedicated to the health sciences. I liked studying on this smaller campus surrounded by like-minded students. This environment helped me to settle in very quickly and meant that I had easy access to everything that I needed within a small area. What’s great is that you still have access to the main campus at the University of Exeter, so you can still experience the bigger facilities and the bustling environment when it suits you.
What’s also unique is the amount of clinical placement that it offers students at such an early stage in their degree. I felt that compared to my peers at other medical schools, I was getting much more experience talking to patients. Another way in which this medical school is unique is that it offers the opportunity to study in Cornwall for a year or two of your degree. This was a highlight of medical school for us as Cornwall is a gorgeous place to live. We all embraced life by the sea and managed to perfect getting from the hospital wards to our surfboards in just fifteen minutes!”
Exeter Medicine Selection Process
Stage 1: applicants are pre-screened against academic criteria.
Stage 2: applications sorted according to academic profile, overall UCAT score and personal statement.
Stage 3: invitations for interview distributed.
Stage 4: applicants attend interview.
Stage 5: scores from interview compiled and offers made.
Exeter Medical School Entry Requirements
|Exam||BMBS Medicine Course|
|GCSEs||C/4 in English Language|
|A-levels||AAA including Biology and Chemistry|
|IB||36/666 with Biology and Chemistry at Higher Level 6|
|BTEC||DDD and also require GCE AL Biology and Chemistry grade A.|
What To Include In A Personal Statement
Exeter Medical School considers the personal statement when deciding on which applicants to invite to interview. They view it as a good chance to distinguish yourself from other students and demonstrate your literary abilities.
Exeter wants to know why you are applying to do Medicine. A difficult question to answer but it’s important they can recognise your motivation and appreciation of the field, and if you have the skills and abilities required to be a Doctor such as communication, integrity, professionalism, compassion and perseverance. You will need to provide evidence of all these attributes using your current studies, work experience, previous employment and outside interests. It is vital to Exeter that you have work experience in a healthcare environment which can include a care home, hospice, GP surgery or hospital.
Exeter may refer to your personal statement during the interview and therefore it’s important that you know it inside out and be candid!
Exeter Medical School Admissions Tests
You need to undertake the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) in order to apply for Exeter. Applications will be sorted according to academic profile and UCAT overall score to decide who will be invited for interview. There is no minimum threshold required for the UCAT however in previous years a score lower than 2500 will generally not be considered. The BMAT is not required.
Interviewing at Exeter
MMI Interview Style
Interviews at Exeter typically take place between December and March. They take the form of Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). There are 7 stations, each assessing a specific criterion.
Students must be awarded a ‘Yes’ judgement to at least 5 of the stations to be considered for an offer. Some criteria that will be assessed include your ability to think critically and flexibly, your work experience, communication skills, teamwork, evidence of empathy and evidence of reflectiveness.
The interview day will also feature tours and presentations and the opportunity to talk to staff and current students.
Exeter Interview Questions and Scenarios
- What did you learn on your work experience?
- Talk to someone who has lost a close relative
- How would you explain the rules of noughts and crosses to someone who has never played the game before?
- Identify some of the significant problems faced by the NHS at present
- Why Exeter?
- Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
- What are the qualities that make a good Doctor and do you have them?
- What is the Hippocratic Oath?
- What is your stance on euthanasia?
What Is Life Like Outside Of Studying?
Outside of study time, what do most people get up to?
“There is so much to do in Exeter outside of studying. Firstly, there is the city which boasts good shopping, lots of great restaurants and a few small clubs – the most well-known are Unit 1, Time Piece and Fever! Then there is the Quayside which is a lovely place to relax and is a good spot for a walk, cycle, paddleboard or canoe along the river. Exeter is full of outdoor activities from canoeing to climbing, as well as swimming and sailing at one of the nearby beaches such as Exmouth or Budleigh Salterton.
Exeter University is particularly strong at sport and there are many different teams to get involved in at all levels. The medical school itself also has teams for netball, football and hockey which is a really fun way to get involved socially. And if you prefer watching, you could book tickets to watch the Exeter Chiefs rugby team or the Exeter City Football Club. Don’t worry if you’re not feeling so active, there are some great coffee shops and cocktail bars to relax in day and night.”
What is the Exeter accommodation like?
“Rowancroft Halls are located just a very short (5 minute) walk from St Luke’s Campus and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where you will study. Most medical students choose to live there in their first year. At Rowancroft Halls there are three tiers of accommodation so you will be able to find something to suit your budget. The accommodation is nice, and it’s fun to live amongst like-minded people. It is worth noting that it is all self-catered accommodation, so those who wanted catered accommodation chose to live nearer the Streatham campus.
After the first year, most students tended to move into shared private rentals. These are often in the Newtown and St Leonard’s area, Heavitree area or the Mount Pleasant area which are all a walkable distance from campus. Most students tend to inherit houses from students in the year above which makes the process quite easy.”
Exeter Medical School Contact
Telephone: +44 (0)1392 724837
Email: [email protected]
College of Medicine and Health
St Luke’s Campus
Final Advice For Studying At Exeter
What advice would you give to a first-year student starting at your Medical School?
“For anyone starting at this medical school I would advise them to go in with an open mind, meet new people, try new things and be prepared for new styles of learning. It can feel a little unsettling initially to learn in such a different way, which is much less structured and much more independent, but it really does prepare you to be the best doctor you can be.
Don’t worry about knowing everything straight away, just try and grasp the basic principles which you can then apply and develop in your clinical placements. And whilst you’re trying a new style of study, I would encourage everyone to try something new outside of work. Why not sign up to a new sport, hobby or adventure at the Fresher’s Fair – it really is a fantastic opportunity. Never be afraid to ask those around you for help and advice.”
Check out our other UK Medical School Reviews:
Exeter Medical School is an exceptional place to study, and we’ll help you get there.
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By Phoebe Baker