Studying Medicine in the UK


Date of Publication: 16 December 2019

Are you an international student thinking of applying to study medicine in the UK? Or perhaps you’re a UK student but you haven’t got the necessary qualifications to apply to medical school. We’ve created a helpful guide which has all the answers you need to studying medicine in the UK. 


How Many Years Does It Take to Study Medicine in the UK?

A standard medical degree in the UK takes 5 years to complete, however, this degree is only the start of your training. 

In the UK, once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you will then become a junior doctor and will be required to carry out a two-year Foundation Programme which involves working in rotation around various clinical areas (e.g. gynaecology, GP, geriatric units, etc.) You will be provisionally registered with a licence to practice while completing the first year, however you won’t receive full registration until you have completed year one.

After you have completed your Foundation programme, you will then be required to carry out another two-to-three years of core medical training (CMT) or Acute Care Common Stem (ACCS), followed by four-to-seven years of specialist training, depending on which field of medicine you choose to branch into. 


Can international students study medicine in UK? And what are the requirements?

Absolutely. Despite being one of the most competitive courses in the UK, every year thousands of international students are accepted into medical school. 

However, you should be aware of the requirements before applying to make sure you are prepared. For students looking to study an undergraduate degree, most universities in the UK will require:

  • 3 As at A-Level, including chemistry or biology. An IB of 38 or IELTS score of 7.0 is the academic equivalent for undergraduate Medicine degrees.
  • A number of medical schools will also expect completion of the clinical aptitude test, UCAT.
  • Proof that you want to study in the field – have you done some past volunteer work in the care sector? Taken part in a medicine summer school? Can you prove you have the necessary skills required; empathy, ability to pressure, focused and determined? What on your personal statement makes your application stand out?

For those international students who are looking to study their graduate Medicine training in the UK, the following is required:

  • A strong first degree
  • A successful career record, with work experience of one day a week for at least six months in a care environment (e.g. hospital, care home or hospice)
  • A good understanding of the National Health Service (NHS) and how it works. 


How much does it costs to study medicine in the UK?

For international students, the cost of studying at degree level is considerably higher than home students.  The average cost for students from abroad on a medicine degree can be as high as £38,000 per year, depending on the medical school. That could equate to a whopping £190,000 over the five years that they study the degree.

This is compared to just a maximum of £9,250 per year for UK students, meaning around £46,250 in tuition fees over a five year degree. To learn more about how much it costs to study Medicine in Europe, as well as what the experience is like, take a look at this blog post.


What is MBBS Called in the UK?

Most medical schools in the UK offer MBBS qualifications.

An MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) is a professional, undergraduate degree that many students take as their first proper steps to becoming a certified doctor. 

The duration of MBBS courses are around five years, including one year of rotational internships at hospitals and other non-profit care organisations. Once a student has achieved the MBBS degree, they become a certified medical practitioner.

Some students also offer similar qualifications such as MB ChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). Similar to the MBBS, they take 5 years to complete and are recognised by the General Medical Council, meaning students can become certified medical practitioners once receiving their degrees.


Can you Study Medicine Without A-Levels?

Unfortunately, most medical schools will require you to apply with A-Levels or an IELTS or IB equivalent (see above). However, if you have already completed your studies and are looking how to retrain in medicine, there are a number of options you can turn to:


Medical Foundation Year

If you did well academically but didn’t take science A-Levels, you may still be able to apply to medical school by taking a foundation year. These are access courses that usually take a year to complete and will ensure that you’re up-to-scratch with the basics when it comes to you starting your MBBS. They also secure you a place on a medical degree once you have completed them. However, you should be aware that not all medical schools offer the foundation year options. 


Medicine Access Course

If you’re not successful in securing a place on a foundation year, you could consider taking part in a year-long access to higher education course at your local college. Some courses offer medicine and biomedical science courses, while others offer general science subjects, so it’s important for you to shop around to ensure you’re choosing the right option for your career plans. 


Re-Sitting A-Levels

Another option for students who want to study medicine is to consider re-taking your A-Levels, but choosing the more relevant science subjects. Whilst it may be off-putting to think about spending another two years in education re-taking your A-Levels, it is important to note that the best universities consider A-Levels very favourably and will prefer them over access college courses.

Want more information? To learn more about studying for medicine, why not take a look at the UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) website on how to become a doctor in the UK.


Alternatively, take a look at our medicine summer courses – they’re a great way for you to get a taster of the subject before applying to university!

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