Studying medicine

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Applying to medical school for graduate, mature and foundation students

students in lecture

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 through another pathway. 

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 you can access.


  • Studying medicine 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 to medicine
    Barts and The London Queen Mary's School Nottingham
    Birmingham Oxford
     Cambridge Southampton
    Imperial College London St George's London
    King's College London Swansea
    Liverpool 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. 

    See The Student Room's compiled list of Access to Medicine courses as a starter for what is available at various colleges around the UK (updated July 2011). UCAS also lists these courses under 'medicine and dentistry'.

    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 /pre-clinical medicine courses
    University of Bradford
    Foundation in Clinical Sciences/Medicine
    Manchester University
    Six year course with foundation year included
    Cardiff University
    Medicine with a preliminary year
    University of East Anglia
    Medicine with a foundation year
    University of Dundee
    Five year medical course, allocated spaces for post-school students
    University of Nottingham
    Medicine with a foundation year
    Keele University
    Health Foundation Year
    University of Sheffield
    Medicine with a foundation year
    King's College London
    Extended medical degree programme
    University of Southampton
    Six year course with foundation year included
    University of Liverpool
    Foundation to Health and Veterinary Sciences