A medical degree is a university course lasting between 4 to 6 years that, on graduation, allows you to register with the GMC (General Medical Council) and practice in the UK as a medical doctor. Medical degrees vary enormously between medical schools, and the same medical school may offer several different types of medical degree. There are three main types of medical degree: standard courses, foundation courses and graduate-entry courses.
UK Medical Schools & Courses Map
Above is a map of the medical degree courses available at UK universities. There are three main types of medical degree:
- A standard medical degree, which is 5 or 6 years long and is open to all applicants. These courses have different entry criteria for school leavers and for graduate applicants.
- A graduate entry degree – which is 4 years long and is only open to applicants who have already been to university.
- A foundation degree – which is 6 years long and includes a pre-medical year or spreads the first few years of the degree over a longer period. These courses have specific entry requirements.
Some Universities only offer one type of course while others offer all three. Use the key above to see where in the country you can study each course. Use our course guide to find out more about specific courses.
UK Medical School Courses Guide
Standard courses may be 5 or 6 years in length, and most medical students study on this type of course. They are generally open to both school leavers, graduates and mature students, but the majority of students on these courses are usually school leavers. The entry requirements for graduates and school leavers/mature students are different, but both graduates and school leavers/mature students study alongside each other and take the same exams. School leavers and mature students are usually required to have chemistry and biology A-level or equivalent and achieve at least an AAB overall. Graduates usually need at least a 2.1 in any subject, although some courses may only accept applicants with specific degree subjects. Graduates also often need chemistry and biology A-level, but the required grades may be different to those required by school leavers. Most, but not all, UK medical schools have standard courses.
Foundation courses are 6 years in length and are designed to widen access to medicine to those without science A-levels or to those from less privileged backgrounds. They are generally open to school leavers, mature students and sometimes graduates. The course usually involves a foundation year (hence the name) in which the basic sciences (chemistry, biology etc) are taught. Some medical schools also cover some clinical teaching in the foundation year. On successfully completing the foundation year, students simply join the first year of their medical school’s standard course. The entry requirements vary significantly between different medical schools. Only some UK medical schools offer foundation courses.
Graduate Entry Courses
Graduate-entry courses are only open to those who already have a university degree. They all last 4 years and were first introduced in the year 2000. They are generally very competitive, having a very high number of applicants for each place. Students on these courses get more financial help from the government compared to those on other medical courses, so they are ultimately less expensive as well as quicker than standard and foundation courses.
Intercalating is a term used to describe taking an additional year during the standard or foundation medical course which enables you to obtain an additional BSc qualification on top of your medical degree. It is possible to intercalate at most medical schools, with a variety of degree subjects on offer.
Electives are clinical placements that are chosen by individual students, usually between the 3rd and 4th years of the course. Many students choose to go abroad to undertake their elective, usually spending a month or two working in a hospital and then travelling for a period afterwards.