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Choosing a Medical School: The Key Factors

When you are considering how to choose a medical school, we recommend you look at the list of key factors below. These are not only regular issues that arise among the applicants trying to choose medical schools we interview each year, but also factors that our own tutors – now qualified from their medical schools – found to be the most important differentiating elements to making their own choice.

Young doctors looking at laptop screen

Early Patient Contact

Most universities offer some clinical experience from the first year, with more as years progress. Do you want early clinical exposure, or are you happy to learn the science before you implement it? Very little clinical exposure is given in the first three years at Oxford and Cambridge, in contrast to Exeter and Queen Mary which offer very early patient contact.

Style of Teaching

Do you learn best in lectures or small groups? Would you thrive in the tutorial-based system at Oxford and Cambridge? Do you prefer the problem-based learning offered at Manchester, or the case-based learning offered at Liverpool? Is research that important to you? If so, you might prefer a degree that offers the chance to intercalate such as at Bristol.

Large City or Rural Medicine?

Which would interest you most and suit your personality? Do you want to be based near the busiest and largest teaching hospitals in London such as King’s College, or does a remote and rural programme such as that offered at Aberdeen interest you?

Medical School Rankings

Does the position of the university in the tables influence your choice? Oxbridge and Imperial are consistently situated at the top, whereas St George’s and Nottingham are near the bottom.


If you gain a great UKCAT score it is sensible to apply to more universities which use this admissions test. If unfortunately your score is low, applying to more universities that use the BMAT may give you a higher chance of being successful.


Excellent grades will be required at all universities for Medicine. However, not all universities require straight A*s at A Level, so choose a university where you are likely to achieve the required grades. In addition, choosing a range of universities with different grade requirements means that if you gain more than one offer, and your final grades turn out to be slightly lower than required for your first-choice university, you may still be able to study Medicine at your second-choice university if they have a slightly lower grade offer

Consider – Does It Matter to You?

After completing your medical course, you will be granted provisional registration by the GMC regardless of which medical school you attended. You will then move on to further study and training as a doctor. Does the university matter, or does it just aid you on the way to your chosen career?

Remember that you can apply to up to four universities for Medicine, plus one non-medical course – so give this choice some thought too!

A Guide To UK Medical Schools

With such a wealth of esteemed UK Medical Schools, your choice of university may seem daunting, but there are clear factors to consider when thinking about where you want to study. It is important to think about what aspects matter to you, and which universities you could see yourself attending, as you may be there for up to six years of your academic life.

Here we will break down and compare the various different universities through a number of variables. Our free guide details the course structure, necessary grades, required admissions tests, interview structure, and related subjects offered.

This download contains a list of all current medical schools UK universities provide, with basic information about the courses offered to assist you in making decisions. For more information, see each medical school’s website.


Programmes on the medical school list bearing an asterisk (*) next to the name of the institution are under review and are not entitled to award UK medical degrees until they have been approved by the GMC. For ease of reference these are:

  • University of Buckingham Medical School
  • University of Exeter Medical School
  • Lancaster University Medical School
  • University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine

It is also worth noting that all medical universities will require a criminal record check and a satisfactory health screening assessment.

Organising medical work experience can be challenging for many reasons but in particular due to issues with your age and placements being worried about the confidentially of their patients.

If you have any family or friends with contacts in the medical field, try approaching these people to see if they could help you organise a placement. The field of medicine they work in may not be the field you are interested in but this isn’t important. The most important thing is to learn as much as you can about medicine regardless of where you experience it.

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Our Oxbridge-graduate consultants are available between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm from Monday to Friday, with additional evening availability when requested.

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