Study Medicine: A Comprehensive Subject Guide

Studying medicine is a journey of dedication and compassion. In this guide, we’ll explore the path to becoming a medical professional in the United Kingdom. From academic requirements to clinical experiences, we’ll provide insights for aspiring medical students. Join us on this enlightening exploration of the pursuit of medicine in the UK.

medicine subject guide

Table of Contents

What is Medicine?

Medicine, in the context you’re referring to, typically refers to the field of healthcare that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of illnesses, injuries, and diseases in humans. It encompasses a wide range of practices, which we will cover in the following sections.

Medicine is a vast and diverse field with various specialisations and disciplines, all aimed at maintaining and improving human health and well-being. It’s an essential aspect of society and plays a critical role in saving lives and enhancing the quality of life for individuals around the world.

Why Study Medicine?

Studying medicine is a profound and deeply meaningful choice for many individuals. Here are several compelling reasons why people choose to study medicine:

  1. Passion for Healing: Many aspiring doctors have a genuine passion for helping others and alleviating suffering. The desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives through healthcare is a powerful motivator.

  2. Intellectual Challenge: Medicine is a highly complex and intellectually stimulating field. The continuous learning and problem-solving required in medical practice appeal to those with a thirst for knowledge and a love of challenges.

  3. Job Stability: The healthcare industry tends to be recession-resistant, providing job stability and security. There is a consistent demand for healthcare professionals, which can be reassuring for those entering the field.

  4. Diverse Career Opportunities: Medicine offers a wide range of career options, from clinical practice to research, teaching, and healthcare administration. This diversity allows individuals to find a niche that aligns with their interests and skills.

  5. Personal Fulfilment: Many find personal fulfilment in the ability to positively impact the lives of patients and their families. Witnessing recovery and improved quality of life can be emotionally rewarding.

  6. Financial Rewards: While the journey to becoming a doctor involves significant investment in terms of time and education, it often comes with the potential for financial stability and a comfortable income.

  7. Lifelong Learning: Medicine is a field where learning never stops. Medical professionals are required to stay updated with the latest advancements, which can be intellectually stimulating for those who enjoy ongoing education.

  8. Global Opportunities: Medical qualifications are often recognised internationally, allowing doctors to work and make a difference in various countries, contributing to global health efforts.

  9. Problem-Solving Skills: Physicians are trained to analyse complex medical issues, make critical decisions, and find effective solutions. These skills are transferable to various aspects of life.

  10. Respected Profession: Doctors are typically highly respected members of society due to their role in preserving and improving human health.

It’s important to note that while the reasons to study medicine are compelling, the path to becoming a doctor is demanding, requiring dedication, hard work, and a commitment to lifelong learning. It’s a career choice that should align with one’s values, interests, and personal goals.

Best Universities for Medicine in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the latest QS World University Rankings:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge2143.6399.8100.097.0100.0
2University of Oxford2053.5297.
3University of Glasgow2453.903.5698.
4Imperial College London1924.023.5899.2100.096.097.4
5UCL (University College London)1973.773.5799.899.096.097.4
6University of Bristol1893.883.5699.6100.099.097.3
7Queen's University Belfast1924.153.4198.9100.099.097.2
8The University of Edinburgh2363.723.4898.9100.097.097.2
9University of Dundee2473.933.3897.899.098.096.6
10University of Leicester1704.153.5698.
11Cardiff University1874.013.3399.498.096.095.8
12King's College London, University of London1823.703.4999.1100.095.095.6
13Lancaster University1734.193.3297.9100.0100.095.6
14University of St Andrews2164.083.1799.092.0100.095.5
15University of Sheffield1803.833.33100.0100.098.095.5
16Queen Mary University of London1903.823.3799.698.091.095.2
17Keele University1734.073.3899.596.099.095.0
18University of Aberdeen2434.192.9299.
19University of Birmingham1713.763.3999.699.098.094.8
20University of Manchester1763.553.3999.399.097.094.8
21Hull York Medical School1663.563.4299.8100.0100.094.7
22University of Exeter1673.783.3898.8100.098.094.6
23Newcastle University1793.743.2697.3100.096.094.6
24University of East Anglia UEA1713.813.2698.8100.099.094.6
25University of Leeds1753.753.13100.0100.097.094.1
26Brighton and Sussex Medical School1754.013.1498.
27University of Liverpool1713.853.2399.3100.094.093.9
28St George's, University of London1763.383.2399.699.097.093.9
29University of Nottingham1743.333.2999.499.097.093.9
30University of Southampton1693.553.2399.5100.098.093.9
31University of Plymouth1803.942.99100.0100.093.093.7
32University of Buckingham1483.67100.0100.0100.090.1
33University of Central Lancashire1513.543.0088.988.087.5

Entry Requirements for a Medicine Degree

To study medicine in the UK, you’ll need to meet specific entry requirements. The entry requirements can vary slightly between different medical schools, but here are the general prerequisites:

  1. Academic Qualifications:

    • A-Level or equivalent qualifications in chemistry and biology are usually required. Some universities may also ask for physics or mathematics.
    • Most medical schools require high grades, typically A*AA or AAA at A-Level.
    • For international students, equivalent qualifications like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or other country-specific qualifications are often accepted.
  2. Admissions Test:

    • You’ll likely need to take the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). These tests assess your critical thinking, problem-solving, and scientific knowledge.
  3. Work Experience:

    • Many medical schools expect applicants to have relevant work experience in a healthcare setting. This could include shadowing doctors, volunteering in hospitals, or other healthcare-related activities.
  4. Non-Academic Requirements:

    • Some universities may consider non-academic qualities such as teamwork, leadership, and communication skills.

Jobs for Medicine Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Medical Practitioners: Doctors and physicians who diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatments.

  • Pharmacology: The study of drugs and medications used for treating various medical conditions.

  • Nursing: Nurses play a crucial role in patient care, assisting doctors and providing hands-on care.

  • Surgery: Surgeons perform surgical procedures to treat diseases, injuries, and conditions that require physical intervention.

  • Medical Research: Researchers work to advance medical knowledge, discover new treatments, and improve existing ones.

  • Public Health: Public health professionals focus on preventing diseases and promoting overall health in communities.

  • Alternative Medicine: Practices like acupuncture, herbal medicine, and chiropractic care offer alternative approaches to healthcare.

  • Mental Health: Psychiatrists and psychologists address mental health disorders and provide therapy and support.

Salary for Medicine Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 


Topics for Medicine Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of medicine and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

Clinical Research:

    • Investigating the effectiveness of a particular medical treatment or therapy.
    • Evaluating the impact of a healthcare intervention on patient outcomes.
    • Studying the long-term effects of a specific medication or medical procedure.

Public Health and Epidemiology:

    • Analysing disease trends and patterns in a specific population or region.
    • Assessing the effectiveness of public health policies or interventions.
    • Exploring the social determinants of health and health disparities.

Medical Education and Training:

    • Developing innovative teaching methods or curriculum improvements in medical education.
    • Evaluating the impact of different teaching strategies on student learning outcomes.
    • Investigating the role of technology in medical education.

Healthcare Management and Policy:

    • Analysing healthcare system policies and their effects on patient care.
    • Evaluating cost-effectiveness and resource allocation in healthcare.
    • Studying healthcare quality improvement initiatives.

Patient-Centred Research:

    • Exploring patient perspectives and experiences in healthcare decision-making.
    • Investigating patient satisfaction with healthcare services and communication.
    • Studying patient-reported outcomes and quality of life in specific medical conditions.

Bioethics and Medical Ethics:

    • Examining ethical dilemmas in clinical practice or medical research.
    • Investigating the ethical implications of emerging medical technologies.
    • Exploring informed consent and patient autonomy in healthcare.

Mental Health and Psychiatry:

    • Studying the effectiveness of psychological interventions for mental health disorders.
    • Analysing the impact of social and environmental factors on mental well-being.
    • Investigating the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

Global Health:

    • Examining healthcare challenges in low-income or underserved populations.
    • Studying infectious disease outbreaks and pandemic preparedness.
    • Evaluating international healthcare collaborations and aid programs.

Medical Technology and Innovation:

    • Investigating the development and application of medical devices or diagnostics.
    • Assessing the impact of telemedicine and digital health solutions on patient care.
    • Exploring the ethical and regulatory aspects of emerging medical technologies.

Chronic Diseases and Lifestyle Medicine:

    • Studying the prevention and management of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.
    • Evaluating lifestyle interventions for improving health outcomes.
    • Investigating the role of nutrition and physical activity in disease prevention.

Medicine Degree Enrolment Rate

According to this year’s UCAS application data for Medicine, the last two years saw a record number of people applying to study Medicine, with 29,710 applicants for 2022 entry and 28,690 applicants for 2021 entry. This year, there are slightly fewer applicants for 2023 entry Medicine in comparison: 26,820.

However, although this is a lower number than the last two years, it is still notably higher than the number of Medical School applicants before the pandemic. There are now over 6,000 more applicants for Medicine than there were five years ago – an increase of around 29%. 

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Nursing
  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacy
  • Physician Assistant (PA)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Public Health
  • Medical Research
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Medical Technology
  • Mental Health Professions

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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