The University of Birmingham gives you the first-class opportunity you need to develop the skills to become a medical practitioner.
Academically able with a natural aptitude for science, you’ll have a strong interest in human affairs, a concern for the welfare of others, a flair for communication and the desire to make a real difference. You’ll also need a lot of drive to complete this demanding degree course. Throughout your time with us, you’ll be treated as an individual and we’ll encourage you to develop and explore your own professional interests.
With five-and-a-half million people in the West Midlands area, you’ll be studying in the country’s largest healthcare region, offering a variety of clinical placements. One of these is the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, located next door to the Medical School, which opened in 2010 and has state-of-the-art healthcare facilities. This means you will have plenty of opportunities to gain experience in the diversity of medical disciplines, learning how to manage a wide range of patients from different backgrounds and cultures. Right from the start, you’ll experience the practice of healthcare in the community with a fortnightly attachment to a general practice, allowing you to see how your studies translate into clinical practice.
Your training in hospitals and general practices takes place within a highly organised academy structure. Heads of Academies are senior consultants and GPs who are responsible to the Medical School for ensuring that you receive high-quality training in each speciality.
You will also have the option to choose from several optional intercalating programmes, which you would take after your second, third or fourth year of study. These allow you to engage in a novel laboratory- or community-based research work in either basic or applied medical research.
In 2016, the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) showed that 93% of our students were satisfied with the teaching of this course.
The Birmingham Medicine and Surgery course is an integrated modular based programme designed to give you the essential knowledge and background to begin to work towards your own career goals.
Outcome of the course
Postgraduate foundation training and beyond
At the end of the undergraduate programme, you will receive your MBBS (or equivalent) degree, which is a primary medical qualification (PMQ). Holding a PMQ entitles you to provisional registration with the General Medical Council, subject only to its acceptance that there are no Fitness to Practise concerns that need consideration. Provisional registration is time limited to a maximum of three years and 30 days (1125 days in total). After this time period, your provisional registration will normally expire.
Provisionally registered doctors can only practise in approved Foundation Year 1 posts: the law does not allow provisionally registered doctors to undertake any other type of work. To obtain a Foundation Year 1 post you will need to apply during the final year of your undergraduate programme through the UK Foundation Programme Office selection scheme, which allocates these posts to graduates on a competitive basis. All suitably qualified UK graduates have found a place on the Foundation Year 1 programme, but this cannot be guaranteed, for instance, if there were to be an increased number of competitive applications from non-UK graduates.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year 1 programme is normally achieved within 12 months and is marked by the award of a Certificate of Experience. You will then be eligible to apply for full registration with the General Medical Council. You need full registration with a licence to practise for unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or private practice in the UK.
Although this information is currently correct, students need to be aware that regulations in this area may change from time to time.
There is some discussion about whether to remove provisional registration for newly qualified doctors. If this happens then UK graduates will receive full registration as soon as they have successfully completed an MBBS (or equivalent) degree. It should be noted that it is very likely that UK graduates will still need to apply for a training programme similar to the current Foundation Programme and that places on this programme may not be guaranteed for every UK graduate.
The GMC is currently considering the introduction of a formal assessment that UK medical graduates would need to pass in order to be granted registration with a licence to practice. Although no final decision has been taken as to whether or when such an exam will be introduced applicants should be aware that the GMC envisages that future cohorts of medical students may need to pass parts of a medical licensing assessment before the GMC will grant them registration with a licence to practice.
First and second years
Your first two years are largely taken up with modules on the structure and function of the human body. You will learn how each system is controlled and is able to respond to the demands of everyday life and how they are affected by a disease and medical treatments. Much of the anatomy is learned in small-group sessions, including substantial experience of prosection.
You will learn about the psychology and sociology of health and illness and how the health of whole populations, as well as of individual patients, is assessed. You will also be introduced to some of the key issues in biomedical ethics, for example, genetic engineering.
In each year, you will spend ten days in the community with GPs and patients, linking biological and behavioural theoretical learning to clinical situations with real patients. Plus, you will have the opportunity to select areas of study for yourself so that you can pursue topics that interest you.
You will be based in our partner Teaching Hospital Trusts to further develop your basic clinical skills in taking a good clinical history and examining patients, as well as studying the communication skills needed for effective patient-doctor relations. You'll also learn about common diseases and how to diagnose and manage them, and continue your theoretical work on pathology, pharmacology, public health and epidemiology. Our excellent Community-Based Medicine strand continues and you will increase your understanding of how patients are managed in General Practice.
Fourth and fifth years
You will now move onto clinical attachments in medical, surgical and other specialities such as Cardiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, Bone and Joint Disease, Oncology, Ear, Nose and Throat and Peri-Operative Care. You will also do further attachments in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and General Practice. During the Final year, you will be able to bring all of your learning and skills together through the Acutely Ill Patient attachment, as you prepare to become a medical practitioner.
Elective studies: Two months in the spring of the fourth year are allotted to full-time studies of your own choice, either in a department of the Medical School or at another centre in Britain or, as the majority of students choose to do, abroad. You may choose to consolidate your knowledge in a subject you’ve already studied, gain further experience of clinical practice or perhaps undertake your own clinical research project.
These are a selection of the various locations that our students have visited as part of their electives.
Training in Research
As a doctor, you will be expected to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in medicine but we need clinicians to take a lead role in bringing these about. This course gives you the opportunity to learn research skills that you can use in your career to enhance and develop clinical practice. You can develop these skills in substantial depth during an intercalated programme.
If you attain a good standard in examinations you may wish to take advantage of the excellent breadth of internationally competitive research within the Medical School through an in-depth study of chosen topics for one year. Several different intercalating programmes provide the opportunity for engaging in novel research work in either basic or applied medical research. This can happen after your second, third or fourth year of study. Programmes available involve either laboratory- or community-based research. You will learn to analyse and interpret medical research data and, importantly, undertake your own novel and substantial research project. The skills that you will acquire will allow you to contribute to the development of evidence-based clinical practice. You then return to complete the MBChB programme.
Why study this course
Largest healthcare region in the UK covered by one medical school: With five-and-a-half million people in the West Midlands area, you’ll be studying in the country’s largest health region, next door to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which means you will have plenty of opportunities to gain experience in a variety of medical disciplines and of treating a wide range of patients from different backgrounds and cultures.
Early clinical and patient contact: In each of the first two years of the course you will spend 10 days in the community with GPs and patients, linking biological and behavioural theoretical learning to clinical situations with real patients. This increases in the final three years when you will spend extended periods on clinical placements in our partner hospitals.
Optional intercalation: You will have the opportunity to choose from several optional intercalating programmes during your studies. These provide the opportunity for you to engage in novel research work in either basic or applied medical research, which can happen after your second, third or fourth year of study. Programmes available involve either laboratory- or community-based research.
Preparing for clinical practice: Your training in hospitals and general practices takes place within a highly organised academy structure. Heads of Academies are senior consultants and GPs who are responsible to the Medical School for ensuring that all students receive excellent training in each different speciality.
Outstanding Alumni: Many MBChB Medicine and Surgery graduates have gone on to be leaders in their respective fields. We are proud to say that our distinguished and notable alumni include:
- Charles George (MBChB, 1965) Chairman, The Stroke Association
- Jane Collins (MBChB, 1978; MD 1988) Chief Executive, Marie Curie Cancer Care
- Richard Horton (MBChB, 1986; BSc, 1983; MD, 2008), Editor, The Lancet
- Rowan Hillson (MBChB, 1974) National Clinical Director for Diabetes, Department of Health
- Steve Field (MBChB, 1982) President, Royal College of General Practitioners
- Peter Weissberg (MBChB, 1976), Medical Director, British Heart Foundation
- David Haslam (MBChB, 1972) President of the British Medical Association
Active MedSoc: At the University of Birmingham we believe that student life shouldn't be all work and there is plenty for you to get involved with both within the College and the University outside of your studies. The College has its own Society known as MedSoc. MedSoc is an umbrella organisation for a wide range of activities including sporting, social, musical and charitable – there’s something for everyone.
- Number of A levels required: 3
- Typical offer: A*AA. Candidates should have predicted AAA including Biology and Chemistry (NB. Human Biology is acceptable as an alternative to Biology).
- General Studies: not accepted. Critical Thinking is also not accepted. Other non-standard subjects may not be accepted. Please contact us for advice.
All applicants must:
- offer acceptable academic qualifications (see below) and
- sit the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) and
- attend an interview if invited.
Information for International (including EU) applicants is provided in the international section.
English Language requirements
Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English. Please note that the university’s standard English language requirements are minimum standards, which may be raised through competition. As a minimum, the English language IELTS, for example, must be 7.0 in each component.
European Union applicants
There are a number of factors that determine fee status but EU Nationals may be considered as ‘home’ students for fee-paying purposes (see below). Because UK-based applicants are selected on the basis of results in each of two national qualifications (for example, A-levels and GCSEs), home/EU applicants from outside the UK must offer examination-based qualifications that are equivalent to these. Some examples are below:
Irish Leaving Certificate
Minimum of grade A in six subjects including Biology, Chemistry, English and Mathematics, to include grade A1 in Biology and Chemistry. The same standard applies in the Junior Certificate.
Overall score of 85%, with a minimum of 85% in the sciences, to include Chemistry and Biology as full options. Evidence of meeting this standard must be provided for interim results.
We require that qualifications are not broad-based and are obtained through assessment of performance in formal, national examinations. For guidance, the following qualifications are not acceptable on their own without, for example, A-levels. These include: Austrian Matura; Bulgarian Diploma; French Baccalaureate (including OIB); German Abitur; Greek (including Cypriot) Apolytirion; Italian Esame Di Stato; Lithuanian Brandos Atestats; Netherlands "Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs" (VWO) Diploma; Polish Matura; Portuguese Diploma de Ensino Secundario; Romanian Baccalaureate; Spanish Título de Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) and Título de Bachiller; Swedish Slutbetyg från Gymnasieskolan (School Leaving Certificate).
- Higher level: 766 from Chemistry and Biology and one other approved subject (in any order)
- Subsidiary level: The subjects must include English and Mathematics if not offered at the higher level (Maths Studies is acceptable).
- Minimum of 32 points must be attained
- You must provide results either from the Middle Years' Programme or an acceptable GCSE-equivalent qualification. MYP results will be scored according to the following equivalencies to GCSEs: 7 = A*; 6 = A; 5 = B. A minimum of 5 must have been achieved in Science, English and Mathematics
We have up to 28 places available for students who are assessed as international for fee-paying purposes. For more information on fee status, please visit www.ukcisa.org.uk. Please note that where there is doubt over your fee status (for example, you are a UK national living outside the EU), the university will investigate your fee status before your application for medicine is considered. If your fee status cannot be defined in time you may lose out on the opportunity for an interview.
The school-leaving qualification must be equivalent to A Levels. We will try to be flexible for those international applicants studying in an educational system with no qualification equivalent to GCSE. But, it must be recognised that it is difficult to make an effective judgment of academic potential based on predicted grades alone. School results must be provided as an absolute minimum.