Applying to medical school for graduates, mature and foundation students

If you are a student who is studying for or already has another degree, a mature student or even someone who has no qualifications at all, there are a number of routes into medical school.

Location: UK
Audience: Medical students Patients and public
Updated: Wednesday 1 September 2021
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Not everyone's route to medical school is the same. While many medical students start their degrees straight from school or college, others choose to become a doctor later in life or in a different way.


Studying as a graduate

Graduate candidates for medicine normally need a first or upper second class honours degree. Check with the medical school whether your first degree will be considered relevant before you apply.

Almost all UK medical schools require applications from graduates to be made through UCAS.

The GMC has approved a number of shortened courses for graduates. These courses vary in length and structure, but are shorter than standard undergraduate medical degrees and normally last four years.

The majority of graduate entry programmes require students to have their first degree in a science subject, but some medical schools also consider applicants with a first degree in an arts subjects.

As a graduate you can also apply to enter undergraduate, non-accelerated medical courses. These are generally five years long.

Medical schools with a graduate entry programme into medicine

  • Barts and the London Queen Mary's School
  • Birmingham
  • Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • King's College London
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • Southampton
  • St George's London
  • Swansea
  • Warwick 


Studying medicine as a mature student or with few qualifications

Medical schools welcome applications from mature students, depending on your academic background, work experience and other relevant criteria, such as subjects and grades previously achieved.

Many medical schools now accept results of access to medicine courses from mature students, providing a route to university for students who do not have qualifications beyond GCSE/O-level.

These access courses are designed to encourage a more diverse range of students into the medical profession. As well as mature students, they support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, students from ethnic and cultural minorities, and disabled students.

A good place to start looking for access to medicine courses is your local college. Many offer courses at reduced fees for those looking to get skills to change or expand their career.

Selection policy varies across medical schools, so make sure you do your research. Find out more about your eligibility and what requirements you will need to apply, and make sure the access course you are planning on doing is recognised as a way into medical school.


Studying medicine without a science background

While medical schools are now more likely to accept students, who have specialised in some non-science subjects, a general understanding of the sciences is preferred.

If the medical school considers your science background inadequate, you may be required to take a foundation course (also referred to as pre-clinical courses) or sit the relevant examinations to ensure you have the academic capability to successfully complete the course.

Foundation/pre-clinical courses allow students with good grades at A level, or who are graduates in a non-science subject, the opportunity to study basic science, providing a route into studying for an undergraduate medical degree.

Medical schools with foundation or pre-clinical medicine courses

  • University of Bradford
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Dundee
  • Keele University
  • King's College London
  • University of Liverpool
  • Manchester University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
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