Famous medicine postraguate courses are notoriously competitive in the UK. Applying to medicine is an intensive task and requires preparation. However, the UK is home to some of the best medicine universities in the world.
We’ll go over everything you need to know about studying the best medicine unis in the UK – from the top universities and their entry requirements to the admissions tests. We’ve also included some key statistics and insider tips to strengthen your application.
So read on to find out more about getting into the top UK universities for medical degrees in 2023.
Why Study Medicine in the UK?
There are many great reasons to study medicine in the UK. Let’s look at some of the main benefits:
- World-class reputation: The UK is home to four of the top 10 medical schools in the world according to the Times Higher Education rankings. Studying at one of these elite institutions will give your CV a major boost.
- Shorter courses: Most UK medical degrees take 5-6 years compared to 8+ years in other countries. You’ll be able to start practising sooner.
- Excellent clinical training: The UK strongly emphasises clinical practice, and most degrees include at least 3 years of hands-on hospital placements. This will prepare you to be a competent doctor.
- Multicultural environment: The UK attracts students from over 140 countries. You’ll get exposure to different perspectives and approaches to medicine.
- Career prospects: UK medical graduates are highly valued by healthcare employers all over the world.
The UK provides the ideal environment to study modern medicine. The medical schools are globally renowned, the course structure will have you practising in no time, and you’ll graduate as a well-rounded practitioner ready to change lives.
Top 10 Best Medicine Universities in the UK
Now let’s get into the crux of this post – the top universities for studying medicine in the UK. According to the latest Times Higher Education rankings (2023), these are the top 10 medicine schools in the UK.
1. University of Oxford
Topping the list is the prestigious University of Oxford. It is ranked number one for medicine in the UK and globally according to Times Higher Education. Without a doubt, it’s the best Medicine university in the UK.
Why it’s great for medicine
Oxford University has a long history and an excellent reputation for training medical students. Its six-year medicine course provides a rigorous scientific foundation through lectures, small group seminars, and tutorials in the first three pre-clinical years.
The tutorial system in particular allows for detailed discussions and questions in a small group setting with experts in their fields. This helps students truly grasp concepts they may struggle with in large lectures. The focus on research in the third year also gives students valuable skills in biomedical research.
In the clinical years, Oxford medical students get extensive patient contact and clinical experience. They rotate through various specialities in hospitals to develop their diagnostic and treatment skills.
Oxford partners with top hospitals like the John Radcliffe Hospital to provide exceptional clinical training. The course concludes with two student-selected speciality placements, allowing students to gain deeper experience in their desired field.
Oxford provides world-class pre-clinical training through its lectures and tutorial system, as well as outstanding clinical experience. It has exceptional research opportunities.
For students seeking a traditional and scientifically rigorous medical education as well as strong clinical skills development, Oxford is an excellent choice. Its rich history in medical education and research also provides unique learning environments and connections.
2. University of Cambridge
Cambridge University is ranked second for medicine in the UK and globally, side by side with Oxford of course. It’s considered part of the “golden triangle” of elite UK medical schools. It has one of the best medical schools in the UK.
Why Cambridge University is great for medicine
Cambridge University takes a traditional approach to teaching medicine, with a strong focus on lectures and practicals in the pre-clinical years.
Students praise the anatomy teaching, with cadaveric dissection sessions helping cement clinical knowledge. The range of subjects in the pre-clinical years provides a broad scientific foundation, while small-group supervision fosters deep understanding and lets students get high-quality feedback.
Supervisions allow students to ask questions and clarify concepts in a small group setting of around 2-4 students per supervisor. This personalised teaching method is unique to Oxbridge and is invaluable for consolidating knowledge.
With teaching staff drawn from among the country’s top researchers, the academic pedigree of Cambridge medicine is second to none.
The collegiate system also allows for a personalised experience – those opting for a more central college can immerse themselves in the hubbub of university life, while a more peripheral college offers space to study in peace.
Cambridge’s clinical teaching, delivered across various hospitals and medical practices in years 4-6, is also held in high regard.
Students get early patient contact and the opportunity to put their scientific knowledge into practice. The Cambridge course has a reputation for nurturing some of the brightest medical minds, giving students a robust foundation for their future careers.
- How To Get Into Cambridge University
- How to Apply to Cambridge University in 2023
- Cambridge Acceptance Rate For UK & International Students
- The Best Cambridge Colleges for Medicine
3. Imperial College London
Imperial is ranked 3rd in the UK and brings a clinical, research and scientific approach. With a 9.5% acceptance rate in medicine courses, it’s considered one of the top competitive universities.
Why it’s great for medicine
Studying medicine at Imperial College London offers students a fairly traditional medical education within a small but vibrant university environment.
Located in the heart of London, Imperial’s main South Kensington campus is minutes away from Hyde Park and offers easy access to the city’s many attractions. While the university focuses on science, engineering, medicine, and business, over 350 student societies ensure campus life remains energetic and engaging.
The medical programme itself is based primarily out of Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, a lively area with good nightlife.
The medical programme at Imperial is highly competitive, as most top medical schools tend to be. The student body consists of high academic achievers interested in the scholarly side of medicine.
Many pursue research opportunities during their studies or aspire to future careers in academics. The programme’s rigorousness and intense focus on academics means Imperial attracts students passionate about learning the science behind medicine.
Between the course’s academic intensity and the university’s location in one of the world’s greatest cities, Imperial College London offers an immersive, world-class medical education.
If you are applying to ICL, learn more about your chances of getting into: Imperial College London Acceptance Rate
University College London is ranked 4th for medicine nationally. It excels in research integrations and practical learning. As constantly ranked as one of the best medicine universities in the UK, the application process can be very cruel.
Why UCL is great for medicine
The syllabus at UCL provides students with a strong foundation for their medical education and future careers.
It employs an integrated programme structure with modules covering core clinical science subjects each year. Learning is reinforced through diverse teaching methods like problem-based learning and hands-on laboratory work.
UCL also offers full body dissection, providing invaluable anatomical experience. The compulsory integrated BSc year allows specialisation in areas such as global health, women’s health or sports medicine science. This enhances understanding and improves profiles for later training pathways.
The location of UCL in London brings significant advantages. Situated in central Bloomsbury, students are close to world-class academic institutions including the British Library and Wellcome Trust.
UCL’s proximity to hospitals such as Great Ormond Street and the Macmillan Cancer Centre facilitates clinical exposure and networking opportunities.
Beyond campus, London’s vibrant culture offers students endless extracurricular resources to complement their studies. With over 16 libraries and more than 1,000 study spaces on campus, UCL also provides state-of-the-art facilities to support academic success.
Practical experience and medicine specialist education, alongside top-tier resources and a globally influential setting, combine to create an outstanding medical training environment at UCL.
Its integrated teaching, diverse learning approaches, specialised BSc options and premier location in the heart of London make it one of the leading medical schools in the UK.
UCL’s large intake demonstrates its ability to meet industry needs. Its holistic syllabus, world-class collaborations and enriching campus life produce highly skilled doctors ready for rewarding medical careers.
In general, UCL offers an excellent choice for studying medicine.
Learn more about London: Cost of Living in London for Students
5. King’s College London
King’s is ranked 5th in the country with a varied modular course and London hospital access. With its low acceptance rate, usually around 6%, it’s among the most competitive and the best universities for medicine.
Why King’s it’s great for medicine
King’s College London is considered one of the best universities in the United Kingdom for studying medicine.
The medical programme at King’s takes an integrated approach to teaching, combining lectures on biological sciences with early clinical exposure and skills training.
In the first year, students receive a solid grounding in the basics of cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, and physiology through large lectures and smaller tutorials.
Practical sessions enable students to apply these scientific principles in anatomy dissections, genetics experiments, and clinical skills practice. While there is limited direct patient contact in the first year, King’s College London offers opportunities to learn important skills such as taking vital signs, which will be beneficial as students progress to clinical placements in later years.
King’s has excellent campus facilities located near transportation hubs. Most first-year teaching takes place at the Guy’s campus near London Bridge station, making it convenient for students to attend lectures.
Students also have access to libraries, social spaces, and societies across all five King’s campuses. When not attending lectures, first-year students can enjoy nearby attractions such as the Tate Modern art gallery or the Sky Garden with its views over London.
The university also supports students through pastoral support systems, including personal tutors who can address any issues and ensure that academic progress is on track.
Cadaveric anatomy dissections are a highlight of the first-year programme at King’s. These dissections take place in small groups and provide students with hands-on experience of human anatomy, solidifying their understanding from lectures. Demonstrators are also available to clarify any areas of confusion.
While there are fewer clinical placements in the first year compared to later years, King’s overall provides a strong foundation of biomedical and clinical fundamentals to prepare students well for their medical degree.
Recommended for reading: King’s College London Acceptance Rate
6. University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh University is the best medicine university in Scotland and offers an innovative spiral curriculum with early patient interaction. With the acceptance rate for medicine around 9.8% usually places 290 med students per year.
Why the University of Edinburgh it’s great for medicine
Edinburgh medical school has a long and illustrious history, with famous alumni including Charles Darwin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The curriculum in the pre-clinical years 1 and 2 provides a good blend of problem-based learning, lectures and tutorials to give students a solid grounding in the biomedical sciences.
A highlight is the chance to complete three student research projects under expert supervision, allowing students to gain valuable research skills and produce publishable academic work.
Clinical exposure starts early too, with weekly GP placements in the second year to develop core skills like history taking and physical examination. This patient contact from an early stage is invaluable.
Edinburgh itself is a fantastic student city, with a wealth of culture, history and events happening year-round.
The medical school prides itself on its academic excellence and research credentials. With world-leading research centres and opportunities to get involved throughout your studies, Edinburgh is an excellent choice if you have ambitions for an academic medical career.
With excellent teaching support from the medical teaching office, Edinburgh provides its students with a first-rate medical education.
7. University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is ranked 2nd for medicine in Scotland providing diverse clinical experiences and interprofessional education.
Why it’s great for medicine
As a future medical student, Glasgow seems to provide extensive lectures to build your knowledge base. Lectures form the core of learning, starting with university staff and later NHS staff to incorporate clinical aspects.
Having lecture notes and recordings available will allow you to review content easily. Small group learning through PBL and CBL will let you apply knowledge to cases and get peer feedback. The anatomy labs offer invaluable hands-on practice too.
The 4-phase structure at Glasgow appears well-planned to establish a solid foundation first. Phase 1 covers the biomedical basics you’ll need moving forward. PBL sessions, vocational studies, and clinical visits even in year 1 will expose you to different medical settings early on.
Being on a campus with a medical school means you’ll have easy access to classes and facilities.
The university libraries at Glasgow give you plenty of individual and group study spaces. Having a huge main library along with department-specific ones means abundant resources right where you need them.
As a prospective medical student, Glasgow seems to provide diverse teaching methods, progressive exposure to clinics, and excellent academic facilities to support your learning. The structure aims to build up your knowledge base steadily each year.
8. University of Manchester
University of Manchester offers a diverse range of medical programmes including standard and graduate entry routes. It’s one of the best universities for medical degrees in the UK.
Why Manchester it’s great for medicine
Manchester University uses a problem-based learning (PBL) approach for teaching medicine, which provides an interactive way for students to learn.
During PBL sessions, students discuss patient cases in small groups, identify learning objectives, and research those topics independently.
Lectures supplement the PBL discussions, with around 6 lectures per week relevant to the case studies. This combined PBL and lecture approach guides students while also promoting self-directed learning.
In terms of clinical experience, Manchester medical students have 3 clinical placements per semester in the first year. This provides early patient exposure with placements in both hospital and general practice settings. Getting clinical experience from the start of the course helps students connect their learning to real-world medicine.
The integrated PBL and lecture approach used at Manchester provides an interactive yet comprehensive way to learn medicine. Students are actively engaged through case discussions and build clinical experience early on.
The style of learning promotes both teamwork and independent study skills. For students who want an interactive approach with strong clinical integration, Manchester offers an excellent way to learn medicine.
9. University of Bristol
Bristol excels in early clinical contact through GP and hospital placements. It’s the favourite medicine university for many international students since it’s generous with scholarships. The acceptance rate for medicine at Bristol is around 10%. Learn more in Bristol University Acceptance Rate For UK & International Students 2023
Why the University of Bristol is great for medicine
Bristol University provides an excellent medical education through its integrated teaching methods.
Students attend informative lectures and interactive small-group sessions to build a strong foundation in the first year. The case-based learning allows students to apply knowledge and work closely with peers.
Early clinical exposure is a major benefit, with placements in GP surgeries and hospitals starting in the first term. This develops clinical skills and comfort in medical settings.
The medical course covers foundations, pathologies, treatments, and practical applications across the years. This structured approach equips students with well-rounded medical knowledge.
Dissection labs, tutorials, lab work, and lectures ensure comprehension of anatomy and physiology.
The second year focuses on diseases, while the third year teaches treatments. Fourth and fifth years further develop practical abilities. The curriculum thoroughly prepares students for a medical career.
Bristol’s vibrant city location enriches the student experience. Its renowned music and nightlife provide entertainment options. As a city university, everything is nearby and easy to access. The diversity also allows for valuable learning about different patient populations and healthcare needs.
Overall, Bristol offers an engaging location alongside one of the most comprehensive medical programmes in the UK. The integrated teaching approach, early clinical exposure, and practical focus make it an excellent choice for aspiring doctors.
10. University of Birmingham
Birmingham provides extensive hospital training and simulations at the Birmingham Dental Hospital.
Why it’s great for medicine
Birmingham University provides a traditional yet integrated approach to teaching medicine. Students have two pre-clinical years focused on lectures and tutorials before progressing to clinical placements in their third year.
This gives a solid grounding in medical theory before applying it in practice. A particular highlight is the fortnightly GP placement from year one, providing early patient interaction.
The University of Birmingham also runs small 15-person tutorial groups to reinforce learning and link theory to real clinical examples. This blended approach equips students with a comprehensive medical education.
Birmingham has an excellent medical society called MedSoc that enriches student life. It coordinates societies relating to different medical specialities, sports, and charities.
For example, students can join groups supporting Doctors Without Borders and Cancer Research UK.
There are also multiple sports clubs linked to MedSoc and the wider university. This provides ample opportunities to pursue interests and give back alongside medical studies. The society exemplifies the varied student experience Birmingham offers.
An additional advantage is the on-campus location of Birmingham’s medical school. Being based at the university makes accessing lectures, the library, and support services convenient.
The UCAT exam thoroughly assesses aptitude for medicine, ensuring selected applicants are committed and capable. For students dedicated to becoming doctors, Birmingham provides the ideal nurturing environment.
Its balance of community, location and academic rigour make Birmingham an excellent choice to study medicine in the UK.
How To Get Into The Best Medical Schools In The UK
Now that you know the top destinations for studying medicine in the UK, let’s look at how you can get into these competitive programmes. Here are the key steps to follow to get into the best medicine universities in the UK:
- Take the UCAT or BMAT – Most UK medical schools require sitting the UCAT or BMAT as part of the admissions process. The UCAT tests aptitude while the BMAT assesses scientific knowledge. Learn more in UCAT vs BMAT Test: What is the Difference?
- Get excellent grades – You’ll need near-perfect grades at A-level or equivalent, with at least AAA. This includes chemistry and biology.
- Write an exceptional medical personal statement – The medical school personal statement showcases your achievements, skills, medical exposure and passion for the subject.
- Prepare for the interview – If shortlisted you will be invited for an MMI, panel interview or both. Be prepared to demonstrate strong communication skills.
- Apply wisely – Use all 5 choices when applying via UCAS and include medical schools with varying entry requirements.
Gaining admission to the best UK medical schools calls for diligent preparation. Start early, target top grades, practice admissions tests, obtain medical experience, and put your best foot forward in the application.
Tips for Your Medical School Application
To further boost your chances, here are some crucial tips when applying for medicine in the UK:
- Get work experience – Try to get UK work experience in a hospital or GP clinic. This demonstrates passion and suitability for medicine.
- Master the admission tests – Use practice resources to excel in the UCAT/BMAT. These can make or break an application.
- Craft an excellent personal statement – Stand out with a reflective, insightful statement demonstrating your maturity, empathy, teamwork abilities and motivation. Check out medicine personal statement examples.
- Prepare thoroughly for interviews – Rehearse MMI scenarios and anticipate panel interview questions to impress on the day.
Final Thoughts On Best Medicine Universities In The UK
Studying medicine in the UK is a fantastic path to this noble vocation. The UK’s best medical schools provide great clinical training, research integration, and hands-on practice opportunities.
By targeting top grades, acing your admission tests, obtaining medical experience, and demonstrating passion in your application, you can realise your dream of becoming a doctor at one of the best medicine universities in the UK.
It won’t be easy, but for the right student willing to work hard, a thrilling and rewarding medical career awaits.