Overview of the Medical School

  • Oxford University is one of the oldest institutions, even though there is no clear date of foundation there is evidence that teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. During the 20th and early 21st centuries, Oxford added to its humanistic core a major new research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine.
  • Studying medicine at the University of Oxford involves taught by University lectures, seminars and practical classes. Lecturers are drawn from Oxford’s extensive pre-clinical and clinical departments, and the courses are organized on an interdisciplinary basis so as to emphasise the interrelatedness of all aspects of the curriculum.
  • Oxford is related to 16 Nobel prizes for Medicine: Sir John Gurdon (2012), Oliver Smithies (2007), Sydney Brenner (2002), Sir Paul Nurse (2001), Sir John Vane (1982), Baruch S Blumberg (1976), Nikolas Tinbergen (1973), Rodney Porter (1972), Ragnar Granit (1967), Sir John Eccles (1963), Sir Peter Medawar (1960), Severo Ochoa (1959), George Wells Beadle (1958), Sir Ernest Chain (1945), Lord (Howard) Florey (1945), Sir Charles Sherrington (1932).

Campus and Facilities:

  • Campus:
    • Medical Sciences Teaching Centre, located within the Oxford University Science Area.
  • Research Facilities:
    • Radcliffe Science Library (for Pre-Clinical students)
    • Bodliean Health Care Libraries (The Cairns Library at the John Radcliffe and the Knowledge Centre at the Churchill Hospital).
  • National and International Rankings
    • Complete University Guide ranking for medicine: rank 1 (2016)
    • Guardian University ranking for medicine: rank 2 (2016)
    • QS World ranking for medicine: rank 2 (2016)
    • Times Higher Education for medicine: rank 1 (2016)

MBBS Programme Information

General overview:

  • For studying medicine you can apply for the the A100-standard six-year course and for the A101 four-year programme which is an accelerated medical course for graduates in applied or experimental sciences.

Number of students on this course:

Around 145 students in each year for pre-clinical studies and 30 for the graduate entry programme.

Course Structure and Length:

  • The course duration is 6 years.
  • The programme is divided into pre-clinical studies (years 1-3) and clinical studies (years 4-6). So you can study the medical science first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student.
  • Pre-clinical studies is taught in 2 main parts:
    • First BM (including the Principles of Clinical Anatomy course at the end of year 3)
    • Final Honour School (leading to a BA degree in Medical Sciences)
  • Clinical studies provides a mix of structured teaching sessions, supervised clinical experience and self-directed study:
    • Year 4 – clinical studies: learn the skills needed to communicate with patients, obtain a medical history, examine the principal systems and perform simple procedures
    • Year 5 – specialty rotations: the main focus of which is on developing core skills and knowledge in specialist clinical areas
    • Year 6 – consolidation of skills in care and management and preparation for entry to postgraduate training
  • The Oxford Graduate Programme (A101) is 4 year length.
    • The first two years are designed for graduate-entry students, and cover both basic medical science and clinical skills
      • 1st year: concentrates on science taught within a clinical context but with a gentle introduction to clinical practice
      • 2nd year concentrates on clinical teaching with a smaller science component.
  • The final two years are shared with the standard clinical course, and students are fully integrated with students from the six-year course at this stage:
    • Final two years consist of clinical attachments to various specialties, and to the final (senior) medical and surgical firms.

Course Content:

  • Pre-clinical studies (year 1-3) – First 5 terms
    • Part 1: All courses focus on introduction to the fundamental aspects of the structure and function of the human body, and to the basis mechanisms underlying disease.
    • Organization of the body
    • Physiology and pharmacology
    • Biochemistry and medical genetics
    • Medical sociology
    • Patient and doctor course
  • Part 2:
    • Systems of the body: integrative aspects
    • The nervous system
    • Principles of pathology
    • Psychology for medicine
    • Patient and doctor course
  • Part 3: BA in medical Sciences (Last 4 terms)
    • One from the following advanced options, plus a research project and extended essay. Focus on a spirit of enquiry and critical thinking.
    • Neuroscience
    • Molecular medicine
    • Cardiovascular, renal and respiratory biology
    • Infection and immunity
    • Cellular physiology and pharmacology
    • BA Examination
    • Principles of Clinical Anatomy
  • Clinical Studies (years 4-6): Core curriculum focus on preparation for Foundation Training, complemented by modules that allow development in specialist areas, and offer additional research and presentation opportunities 
  • Year 4: Focus on honing of clinical sciences
    • Patient and doctor course II (+GP residential attachment)
    • Laboratory medicine
    • Rotations in surgery and medicine
    • Hospital attachment
    • Special study module
  • Year 5: Focus on specialist clinical areas. Six 8-week blocks in:
    • Paediatrics, psychiatry
    • Obstretics and gynaecology and genito-urinary medicine
    • Orthopaedics, A&E and musculo-skeletal medicine
    • Clinical geratology, dermatology, palliative care, public health, primary care
    • Neurology and neurosurgery, ENT, opthalmology
    • Year 6: Consolidation of skills and preparation for practice
    • Final examination for BM BCh
    • Senior rotations in medicine and surgery in Oxford and District General Hospitals
    • Options in clinical specialities
    • Special study modules, 10-week elective, work shadowing

Teaching locations: 

  • Pre-clinical Studies: at the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre in Oxford
  • Clinical Studies: Most teaching takes place in the hospitals and general practices in Oxford, but with an important element taking place in other centres in the Oxford Teaching Network, primarily Northampton, Swindon and Reading. 

Open day dates:

  • Wednesday 29 June
  • Thursday 30 June
  • Friday 16 September

The Clinical School holds an Open Day for prospective applicants to the Clinical Course from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge on the first Wednesday in November each year. 

Term dates:

  • Michaelmas: 09 Oct 2016 – 03 Dec 2016
  • Hilary: 15 Jan 2017 – 11 Mar 2017 
  • Trinity: 23 Apr 2017 – 17 Jun 2017


MBBS Admissions

Application process:

  • Check eligibility – entry requirements
  • Attend an open day
  • Think about costs and funding
  • Register to take the BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test)
  • Choose a College: You can choose a college if you want to, but you do not have to.
  • Submit an application through UCAS
    • By the end of October you will received a confirmation email
    • If you do not register to sit BMAT your application will not be considered further

Entry requirements:

  • A*AA in three A-levels taken in one academic year.
    • At least grade A in both Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics.
  • IB: overall score of 39 (including core points), and scores of 7, 6 and 6 in subjects taken at Higher Level
  • Cambridge PREU: D2D3D3 in Three Principal Subjects taken in one academic year
  • Scottish highers and advanced highers: AA in Advanced Highers (taken in one academic year) and AAAAA in Highers (taken in one academic year)
  • European Baccalaureate: Average of 85% or more, with marks of 8 to 9 required in relevant subjects

Candidate Selection:

  • Selection criteria:
    • Personal characteristics: empathy, motivation, communication, honesty and integrity, ethical awareness, ability to work with others, capacity for sustained and intense work.
    • Academic potential:
      • Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach
      • Intellectual curiosity: keenness to understand the reason for observations; depth; tendency to look for meaning; enthusiasm and curiosity in science
      • Communication skills: willingness and ability to express clearly and effectively; ability to listen; compatibility with tutorial format
    • Between two and three people are called for interview for each available place.
    • In recent years we have interviewed 425 applicants (about 30% of the candidates applying to the course, though this varies according to the size of the field for that year).
      • In 2015, 1,674 UCAS applications were received, 425 were called for interview, and 165 were made an offer.
    • Numerical ranking is established on the basis of GCSE performance and BMAT results making a shortlist
    • Candidates who do not make the shortlist are reviewed by tutors
      • Any applicants deemed worthy of further consideration are then reviewed by a cross-college panel, alongside applicants immediately below the initial shortlist.
      • As a result of this process around 40 additional applicants are added.

Interview procedure:

  • Interviews take place in Oxford during December
  • Those short-listed will be interviewed at two colleges: one will be your college of choice (or allocation, if you made an open application), the second will be allocated to you randomly.
  • Your invitation letter will come from the college at which you will spend the first night – You will be asked to be in Oxford for approximately 26 hours
  • The number and format of interviews at each college may vary but the selection criteria are common to all colleges

Extra important information for candidates:

  • The college will write to inform you the outcome of the process – in early January
  • Feedback for unsuccessful applicants is available upon request
  • As a guideline, in 2015 the candidates who were made an offer had a BMAT score of 65%
  • During the third year of the pre-clinical stage of the course students apply for entry to a clinical school at which to complete the clinical stage (years 4 to 6) of their medical training.
    • Entry requirements: First BM Examination (including the Principles of Clinical Anatomy examination) and a Second Public Examination (normally the Honour School of Medical Sciences) for the BA degree.

Admissions contacts:

Pre-clinical studies:

Clinical studies:

Extra important information on Specialty Programmes for medical students


  • Special Study – Clinical Study
    • Opportunities for self-directed study outside the core are provided throughout the course.
    • Four-week blocks of special study in year 4 offer you opportunities to develop a worthwhile project.
    • It is possible to pursue interests ranging from philosophy, theology or ethics to mathematics, management or global health.
    • There are also opportunities to sample medical research in both years 4 and 6 when time may be devoted to a single project.
    • The twelve-week modular programme in year 6 allows you to select up to six modules from a broad range of clinical and scientific options.


Other MBBS extras relevant to UK medical students – NA

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2021-07-27T10:13:42+00:00Oxbridge, Medical Schools|Comments Off on Oxford

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!