You have just entered the 6med UK Medical School review series. With help from current students, we have produced 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 University College London (UCL) Medical School, a key member of the Russell Group and League of European Research Universities. Helena, a UCL Medic, generously shares her experiences and insights as a current student throughout.
Let’s dive right into an overview of UCL…
Overview Of UCL Medical School
UCL Medical School History
UCL was founded in 1826 with Medicine as one of its foundation faculties. The current Medical School was established in 2008 following mergers between UCLH Medical School, the Medical School of the Middlesex Hospital and The Royal Free Hospital Medical School, and is now one of the largest in the country with a yearly intake of 334 students.
UCL offer a 6-year Undergraduate programme including a compulsory integrated BSc year for Year 3. Graduates are able to apply for a 5-year programme, following the same structure as the Undergraduate one without the integrated BSc.
Completion of both programmes leads to the award of a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree.
UCL Medical School
Among UCL notable alumni are Anita Harding – the neurologist who co-authored the first paper which identified pathogenic mitochondrial DNA mutation in human disease, Donald Jeffries – a leading expert on HIV, Bernard Ribeiro – former President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Sydney Ringer – best known for inventing Ringer’s solution and Deborah Doniach – leading expert on auto-immune diseases.
Why did you choose to study at UCL?
“The fact it was situated in London was important as it was connected to excellent trusts such as UCLH as well as infamous hospitals such as Great Ormond Street. This meant that I would get to see some niche parts of medicine that were only practiced in London, and nowhere else in the country. I differentiated it from other medical schools e.g. Imperial as the Medical School is situated along with other departments e.g. arts and humanities and it was important for me to have some subject diversity as opposed to only science. I liked the idea of the course structure being traditional as I felt this would suit my learning style the best.”
What is the best thing and worst thing about UCL Medical School?
“The best thing is the unique access to medics only clubs which allow you to form really strong bonds with the people on your course, but at the same time having other clubs which allow you to make friends from other courses which is also really important. Having a balance of the two is something that not every medical school has, so it really is worth valuing. The worst thing is probably the size of the year – there are around 350 of us per year which is good in providing diversity but means that there are still faces I don’t recognise and people that I don’t know. On some smaller courses, they all know each other so it is a very comfortable environment but with such a big year, it can be quite overwhelming when you only know a small minority of people.”
The 2022 UK Medicine League Table has already been published by The Complete University Guide. Below you can see the top 10 medical schools. UCL has been placed in the 20th position after falling 9 places since last year. The overall score is still very high at 97%.
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
Yearly tuition fees for home students undertaking either the Undergraduate or Graduate course is £9,250, and for international students, it is £31,200. All UK students are able to apply for tuition fee loans that cover the course cost. Students are then able to take out maintenance loans for the cost of daily living, including accommodation fees, should they wish to. No fees need to be paid upfront.
UCL also offers a range of financial awards, scholarships and bursaries for both Undergraduate and Graduate students, and there is funding support available for students with disabilities. The UCL Careers service also helps students seeking to work whilst studying.
What are the UCL living costs like?
“The cost of a pint is roughly £5.50 and accommodation in student halls in my 1st year was £201 a week. Public transport on the tube/bus on average per week is £5-10. Pick and choose where you go for drinks – the UCL student bars e.g. Mully’s, Phones etc. will be your cheapest drinks. Other London pubs can be quite expensive so bear this in mind. I would budget at least £20+ on food per week, and about the same if not more on food and drinks out etc., as you always end up spending more than you think. However, UCL does facilitate jobs working in bars and cafes etc. if you are in need of money. I would come up with a week on week budget though including food, transport etc. just so you know how much you are spending per week, as it will be more than in any other city. I was lucky in not having to take public transport into campus as I could walk, but if you don’t have this luxury, definitely research how much you will be spending per week on this.”
What Is Studying Like?
Undergraduate teaching is spread across 3 campuses and hospital sites including University College Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital and the Whittington Hospital. UCL follow a traditional style of teaching including lectures, tutorials and lab practicals using dissections for pre-clinical years.
Clinical placements encompass Years 4-6, where students are placed at a wide variety of prestigious hospitals in the country including the Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Heart Hospital to name a few.
From your teaching, UCL’s primary goal is of producing ‘The UCL Doctor’ – a competent and literate clinician ready to practise person-centred medicine with a solid understanding of basic sciences.
What is a week in first year like at UCL Medical School?
“We would normally average around 20 hours of contact time a week, with around 15 hours of lectures a week as well as around 5 hours of dry labs and tutorials etc. We would have Wednesday afternoons off to pursue extra-curricular activities.
Modules tend to be changed every 4-8 weeks. Some modules had 25+ contact hours per week whereas others had closer to 15. During first year, as opposed to second year, you still had plenty of time to relax and do other things outside of studying, so do not worry too much, as in 2nd year it does get significantly harder!
I was able to go home for lunch and between lectures as I lived about a 5-minute walk from campus. However, there are plenty of student cafes and libraries where you could spend time between lectures and tutorials also. I never had to wake up that early because the earliest anything would start was 9 o’clock.”
There are two Medicine courses offered at UCL. The first is the Undergraduate Course.
Undergraduate Medicine Course
The course is divided into 5 phases. Fundamentals of Clinical Sciences (Years 1 and 2), Scientific Method in Depth – iBSc (Year 3), Integrated Clinical Care (Year 4), Life Cycle (Year 5), Preparation for Practice (Year 6).
Each module is based around a physiological system, provides integrated teaching across disciplines, it is integrated with the learning within the vertical modules, and is designed to build on knowledge and skills learnt in previous modules. The vertical modules include patient-centred learning, student-centred learning, integrated clinical and professional practice, overarching themes and progression.
Students may choose Student Selected Components (SSCs) in Years 1, 2 and 6 SSCs include choices in science, research, the arts, and humanities and languages.
Summary of the curriculum:
Year 1: Fundamentals of Clinical Science
Year 2: Fundamentals of Clinical Science
Year 3: Scientific Method in Depth (integrated BSc)
Year 4: Integrated Clinical Care
Year 5: The Life Cycle and Specialist Practice
Year 6: Preparation for Practice
The other Medical Course is the MBPhD Programme.
Students interested in academic medicine can choose to undertake the MBPhD programme between Year 4 and 5 of the MBBS programme.
The programme is only available to students who are currently undertaking a Primary Medical Qualification (MBBS, MBChB or equivalent) at a UK Medical School.
After completion of MBBS Year 4, MBPhD students divert to full-time research studies (PhD) for a period of three years. During the research component, a regular clinical teaching programme keeps students’ clinical skills and knowledge up to date.
Re-entry into the MBBS Years 5 and 6 is contingent on submission of the PhD. Students will graduate with a UCL M.B B.S. and UCL PhD.
Graduate Course: there is no fast-track 4 year Graduate entry programme at UCL. Instead, graduate students apply for the standard MBBS programme and complete it within 5 years rather than 6, as Year 3’s iBSc is waived.
What Makes UCL Medical School Unique?
What is unique about your Medical School?
“UCL Medical School has RUMS as a unique feature which allows all medical students to feel represented and included in the medical school. RUMS offer events, support and exclusive medical school sports and societies which allow for a close-knit feel within the medical school. Events such as sports nights, charity events and welfare events allow the medical school to be more social and friendly outside of strictly academic work.
They have great facilities, with access to an amazing library and laboratories, and have a world-class teaching hospital right on campus which is unique to UCLMS. The medical school is diverse, seeing people from different cultures and groups come together as one, and allows inclusivity through things like the LGBTQ and welfare networks. They have a unique style of teaching, where in 1st and 2nd year there are fewer summative assessments than other medical schools, allowing for a less pressurised environment that allows people to settle in. An integrated iBSc is included within the course, allowing every student the opportunity to become well educated in a subject outside a normal medical programme.”
UCL Academic Entry Requirements
UCL Medicine Admissions Statistics
|Number of applicants|
|Applications per place|
|GCSEs||English Language and Mathematics at grade B/6 or above.|
|A-level||A*AA including Chemistry and Biology.|
|EPQ||Students are encouraged to consider taking the EPQ if offered at their school as it provides useful preparation for undergraduate study and may provide a useful topic for discussion at interview.|
|IB||Chemistry and Biology at Higher Level, each with a minimum score of 6, plus 3 subjects at Standard Level, with the standard conditional offer at 39 points out of 45 overall.|
|Other acceptable qualifications||European Baccalaureate, Scottish Advanced Highers and Highers, Welsh Baccalaureate, Cambridge Pre-University Diploma, Irish Leaving Certificate, Singaporean Cambridge A-Levels or NUS Diplomas, HKDSE or HKALE, CAPE.|
Applicants must have:
What To Include In A Personal Statement
In your personal statement, UCL is looking for your passion for medicine, why you would make a good medical student and what you will bring to the University community.
Consider including information regarding academic studies, extra-curricular activities, personal interests, work experience, achievements, projects, exhibitions visited, competitions, taster days, field trips, volunteering and reading. Make sure to reflect on your experiences as reflection is a key part of being a good Doctor!
Check out our Definitive Personal Statement Guide to make sure your statement is as good as it can be!
UCL uses the BMAT to score applicants in their application. There is no cut-off but higher scores in each section increase your chances. The essay in Section 3 can be used as a discussion in your interview. The average BMAT scores for UCL applicants in the 2021 cycle were 5.7, 5.8, 3.4A. The UCAT is not required.
Not sure about what to do in the BMAT? Start with our Introductory BMAT Guide!
Interviewing at UCL
All applicants are given a ‘priority’ score and interviewed in score order until places run out; this is typically 25% of applicants invited for interview. Interviews typically take place between December and March.
Previously applicants were interviewed using a panel, however, UCL anticipate using MMIs for future interviews, which there is unfortunately little information on.
Interviewers score candidates based on their academic curiosity and interest in healthcare, motivation and understanding of a career in medicine, problem-solving, professionalism, teamwork, resilience and communication. You may also be asked to discuss your BMAT essay, so make sure you know it well! If interviewing is something you’re looking to excel at to receive your UCL Medicine offer, then our pro interview support is right for you.
What Is Life Like Outside Of Studying?
Outside of study time, what do most people get up to?
“RUMS sports societies exclusive to medical students only include hockey, cricket, badminton, rowing, football, tennis and netball, as well as some others. I did netball in my 1st year which was a great way to make friends from other years. They ran social sports nights and netball also ran some tutorials ran by more senior years which were really helpful. There were also other societies e.g. anatomy and surgical society which were great if you were particularly passionate about these fields.
There are plenty of niche general UCL societies as well such as scuba diving and even pole fitness! There really are societies for everyone and you don’t have to commit loads of time to them if you don’t want to – you can choose how intense you make it for yourself. There are obviously lots of things to see and do in London in your own time e.g. Regent’s/ Hyde park, a visit to the zoo or museums etc, lots of which are free of charge. if you like nightlife there are plenty of cheap tickets to clubs e.g. Ministry of Sound, XOYO etc. If you go on student nights – tickets start from around £4.”
What is UCL accommodation like?
“My accommodation was very close, about a 5 minute walk from the medical school. It was called Astor College. The closer you are, the more expensive the accommodation tends to be. I think the furthest away UCL accommodation was probably about a 35 minute walk to the medical school which really is not that bad. When making your application, you can choose how much your accommodation budget is, so don’t worry they won’t place you somewhere that you won’t be able to pay for.
My halls were really nice, probably the nicest out of anywhere because they were just refurbished that year and were a real luxury, but other people were not so lucky, although they did pay significantly less, so it just depends what the priority is to you. Astor college was right by Tottenham Court Road so lots of pubs, bars and shops were all super close.”
UCL Medical School Contact
Email: [email protected]
74 Huntley Street
Nearest Tube: Warren Street
Bus routes: 24, 29, 73, 134 and 390
Rail: Euston and King’s Cross
Final Advice For Studying At UCL Medical School
What advice would you give to a first-year student starting at UCL Medical School?
“During freshers, you have nothing to lose. Try out any society you are remotely interested in. If you like it, great! If you don’t, that’s fine – you don’t have to go back. It will be tiring, but in halls when you move in, just stay in the kitchen because that’s where you will meet the people in your flat, and offer to help people carry their stuff etc. In lecture theatres, just introduce yourself to random people and go sit alongside people you don’t know because everyone is in the same boat. I would definitely recommend trying out for a RUMS sport even if you can’t do sports as they have a place for everyone. You can get a social membership where you don’t even have to play but can just join in on the social events. Make sure to keep on top of the work though because, unlike other UCL students, you still have academic teaching during first year which you need to concentrate on so don’t think you can miss these if you’re too tired! Try not to skip lectures and tutorials as this is where you will make your first medic friends.
Check out our other UK Medical School Reviews:
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By Phoebe Baker