The UK offers world-class education in medicine, with hands-on teaching from experienced clinicians, making it a popular choice for international students. If you are an aspiring doctor wanting to be trained in one of the best medical schools in the world, keep reading as we discuss the application process for studying medicine in the UK.
Why study medicine in the UK?
The UK welcomes many international students to their universities, and medical school places are usually at full capacity every year. Some of the reasons that make the UK such a popular option for studying medicine include:
Some countries only offer medicine as a postgraduate degree after completing a 4-year bachelors programme. In the UK, students can enter into a medical degree at the undergraduate level, meaning the time to become a doctor is significantly shorter.
UK medical schools and hospitals are home to world-renowned research centres for many medical specialties. This means you could potentially contribute to cutting-edge research in highly specialised topics, and have access to the highly advanced facilities and resources available.
20+ medical schools
There are over 20 medical schools in the UK offering postgraduate and undergraduate degrees. This means more options to explore, and many more places on offer, which is especially good for international students.
f you study to become a doctor in the UK, your degree will be recognised worldwide. This means you have plenty of options for work after graduation, in the UK or otherwise.
What types of medical degrees are there in the UK?
There are two options for studying medicine in the UK:
Anyone who has a degree is eligible for postgraduate entry, with postgraduate studies normally lasting four years. Some universities that offer postgraduate medicine degrees are only available to those who studied a science discipline in their undergraduate degree, so make sure you check thoroughly which schools you are eligible for.
If you want to study medicine straight from high school, or do not have a science degree, you can study medicine at the undergraduate level as a 5 to 6 year MBBS or MBChB.
What does MBBS and MBChB mean in the UK?
An MBBS and MBChB is the acronym for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Degree. The reason they are written differently is that some schools choose to use the Latin word for surgery – ‘Chirurgia’, hence why some schools use ‘Ch’ in their acronym. They both mean the same thing, and there are no advantages to studying one over the other.
Whether you study an MBChB or MBBS, medical students in the UK will learn the same content and both start as junior doctors upon graduation.
What are the entry requirements to study medicine in the UK as an international student?
The entry requirements to study medicine in the UK are different depending on the university, however, almost all of them will require the following:
Undergraduate applicants require high scores in an exam equivalent to the UK A-levels, such as the international baccalaureate. Postgraduate applicants need high scores in a prior degree as demonstrated by their university transcript.
Most universities require proof of study in subjects such as sciences, English and mathematics to be eligible to apply. Not all universities require this, but it is more common than not.
English language requirements
Medical degrees are intense, and also have clinical components; therefore a strong understanding of English is required. Scores for medical degrees are often higher than other degrees, at around at least a 7.0 overall IELTS score.
An additional aptitude test is required for admission into medical schools in the UK, such as the UKCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT. These exams test logic, reasoning, analysis and writing skills, and are run separately to the medical schools admission cycles. Check which test and scores you will need to apply to your chosen schools before sitting an exam.
Can I work as a doctor in the UK after graduation?
After graduating from medical school in the UK, international students can apply for the foundation programme. This is a 2-year training programme which newly graduated doctors can practice in the UK, learning clinical skills and have on-the-job training as a junior doctor. After this, you can apply for the health and care visa, which allows international healthcare professionals to work in the UK.
Undergraduate medical degrees in the UK
Here are some university options for undergraduate and postgraduate medical degrees in the UK, chosen by the Intake advisory team:
University of Dundee – MBChB (5 years)
This programme is 5 years, with the first 3 years focussed on learning medicine fundamentals, and then moving on to clinical practice in years 4 and 5. The University of Dundee is ranked 4th in the UK and has world-class facilities both on campus and their affiliated Ninewells Hospital, where clinical work will be practiced.
University of Glasgow – MBChB (5 or 6 years)
This 5-year programme has many options for hands-on clinical practice towards the later years of the degree, such as elective placements and clinical rotations at 25 affiliated hospitals in Scotland. There is also the option to study the GAP – a medical foundation year programme, to prepare you with the fundamental knowledge before starting the medical degree.
University of East Anglia – MBBS (5 or 6 years)
Undergraduate medicine at East Anglia can be done in 5 years, but if you didn’t come from a science background, you can start from their Gateway year and get caught up with the necessary knowledge. The final year of the programme has assistantships and career development placements, where you can explore ideas for specialisation.
Postgraduate medical degrees in the UK
University of Chester – MBChB (4 years)
This graduate programme is open to students with prior degrees in any discipline. Chester’s graduate medicine programme is brand new, starting its first intake in 2024, meaning the facilities and teaching will be up to a high standard.
University of Worcester – MBChB (4 years)
Open to graduates from any study background, this programme is focussed around problem-based learning using case studies and hands-on learning in hospitals, starting from the first semester. The first two years are spent primarily doing classroom-based learning, with years 3 and 4 heavily involving clinical placements to put your education into practice.
University of Newcastle – MBBS (4 years)
The University of Newcastle offers an accelerated MBBS degree, which fits in years 1 and 2 in one extended academic year. Teaching is coordinated in study groups, led by one clinical lecturer who guides you throughout your classes. Clinical placements follow, where students are given an opportunity to choose placements in their final year. This programme is also open to students who have a degree in any discipline.
Discuss your medical school pathway with Intake
Intake advisors can discuss your medical school options and provide advice based on your unique situation and goals. Reach out to an advisor and plan your pathway into studying medicine in the UK today!