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
At the end of the undergraduate course you will receive your MBChB 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. 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 course through the UK Foundation Programme Office selection scheme, which allocates these posts to graduates on a competitive basis. So far, 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.
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 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.
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.
View information about the intercalating programmes.
Each year we receive many applications for every place available and it takes a long time to study these applications carefully. You should not be concerned if you do not hear anything from us until some months after you have submitted your UCAS form.
In deciding who to invite for interview, academic excellence is not the only criterion. It is equally important to demonstrate that you are well-motivated towards a career in medicine and able to show evidence that you will be able to acquire the values of the NHS (including, working together for patients, respect and dignity, commitment to quality of care), through people-focused work experience or volunteering.
It is essential that you provide evidence of an understanding of working in a healthcare environment. The types of experience that we value include voluntary work in a nursing home, care home,hospice or hospital volunteer. We do not rank applications on the amount of experience that has been obtained except that we do expect that the time spent is indicated and that it is more than a two or three half days. Shadowing of doctors is not required and, though it has its benefits, we prefer active involvement.
We recognise that extracurricular involvement in areas outside of healthcare can supplement the development of the broader qualities required of a potential doctor. We especially appreciate non-academic experiences that take place outside of school (such as a job in a customer-focused role). Your activities should be on-going and involve significant interactions with a broad range of people in a responsible capacity.
If invited for interview, candidates may be asked to provide details of their work experience placements.
From those who apply, approximately 1150 candidates are invited to come for interview. This selection is based on the information provided on the UCAS application. Interviews take place between November and March.
Interviews are organised in a multiple mini-interview format. You will participate in six separate, short interviews, lasting 6 mins each. This will allow you to start afresh at each mini-interview. A range of your personal attributes relevant to studying medicine will be assessed by means of different tasks. Interview stations are designed to assess aspects such as: motivation for medicine; communication; self-insight; ethical reasoning; data interpretation; ability to evaluate information and identify relevant aspects.
To find out more about each stage of the interview process, download our MBChB interview information document.
Outcome of Interview
The decision whether an offer is made is based primarily on the interview performance data. We will not re-review academic information in making the decision unless absolutely necessary (e.g. if there are a number of applicants on the same interview score). The scores for each station are used to calculate an average score(simple arithmetic mean), which is used to rank all applicants. We expect to make about 700 offers and these applicants will be identified according to the rank order (we do not define an acceptable overall score). It is likely that we will continue to set a minimum performance standard for each station (which will be well below the threshold for the average score). If this is not met than an offer may not be made even if the overall score is above threshold.
Please note that there is no advantage to attending an interview early. We will analyse the interview scores soon after the first set of interviews in November and December. Those applicants with a mean score in the top 50% (approximately) will receive an offer. Those with mean scores in the bottom 20% (approximately) will be advised that their applications are unsuccessful. The remainder of the interview candidates will be informed of our decision in March following analysis of all interview data when the precise threshold score can be defined.
Preparation for interview and indeed for study on a medicine programme is aided by engaging in frequent discussions with friends and family about medical issues appearing in the news and media. You should also use your time on work experience effectively by gaining insight into the demands placed on staff, the problems they encounter and the strategies that they employ to handle difficult situations as well as the benefits they obtain from caring for people and working in teams. Again,opportunities to engage in discussion of these issues must be taken.
Visiting the Medical School
Candidates who are interviewed are offered a conducted tour of the Medical School and the University campus by current medical students. If you can, it is a good idea to visit the University prior to application on one of the University Open Days held each June and September. Details are given in the University prospectus.
Review of Admissions Decisions
If you wish to question the decision that has been made, please refer to Section 6 of the Code of Practice for Admission of Students to the University of Birmingham.
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 opportunity 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 extensive 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 specialty.
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 for 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.
The following must be taken:
Basic Life Support (0 credits)
Cellular Communication, Endocrinology and Pharmacology (10 credits)
Community Based Medicine I (10 credits)
Digestive System (10 credits)
Doctors, Patients and Society (10 credits)
Introduction to Respiratory Medicine (10 credits)
LC Year 1 Integrated Problems (10 credits)
Learning Medicine (10 credits)
Molecules to Man (10 credits)
Muscles Joints and Movement (10 credits)
Neurones and Synapses (10 credits)
People, Patients and Populations (10 credits)
Regional Anatomy I (10 credits)
Year 1 Student Selected Activity: Academic-led and self-directed activities (0 credits)
The following must be taken:
Brain and Behaviour (10 credits)
Cancer: Causes To Cures (10 credits)
Cardiovascular System (10 credits)
Community Based Medicine 2 (10 credits)
Decision Making (10 credits)
Health Services (10 credits)
Infection, Immunology and Haematology (10 credits)
LC Year 2 Integrated Problems (10 credits)
LI Reproduction, Endocrinology and Development (10 credits)
Regional Anatomy II (10 credits)
Renal System (10 credits)
Year 2 Hospital Preparation Course (10 credits)
Year 2 Student Selected Activity: self-directed learning activities (10 credits)
The following must be taken:
Epidemiological Methods (10 credits)
Public Health and Epidemiology Project SSM2 (10 credits)
Clinical Sciences 1 (20 credits)
Community Based Medicine III (10 credits)
Integrated Medicine and Surgery (80 credits)
Choose one of the following:
Student Project 2: Pattern B (20 credits)
Student Project 2: Pattern A (20 credits)
The following must be taken:
Clinical Core 3 (130 credits)
Conference Poster Presentation (10 credits)
LH Elective Preparation (0 credits)
Learning and Teaching (10 credits)
Year 4 Career Exploration (0 credits)
The following must be taken:
Clinical Skills Passport (0 credits)
Ethical/Legal Issues in Practice (10 credits)
Immediate Life Support (0 credits)
LH Clinical Core 4 (120 credits)
LH Elective & Report (0 credits)
Learning Priorities (0 credits)
Patient Information Leaflet (SSM) (10 credits)
Prescriber's Licence (0 credits)
Year 5 SSA Project (0 credits)
This is the module list for 2012, but the programme continues to evolve and you should check the website regularly for any changes for next year.
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)
Required subjects and grades: 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.
Please note that, currently, Birmingham is not in the UKCAT Consortium and does not use the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or any other admissions test. However, we are considering introducing an admissions test for applications received in 2015 for 2016 entry.
Because of the competition, meeting the academic requirements described below does not guarantee that you will receive the offer of an interview. Good evidence of motivation for the profession as well as additional and significant non-academic activities is also necessary.
All A2 modules of three subjects must be undertaken in Year 13.
Chemistry and Biology (or Human Biology) required
General Studies and Critical Thinking not accepted. Other non standard subjects may not be accepted . Please contact us for advice.
If third subject is Physical Education, Theatre Studies, Dance, Art or Music, a fourth subject not in this list is required at AS.
Mathematics: A student studying a single Mathematics A Level must follow a curriculum that involves the study of three modules (including C3 and C4) in Year 13 and each of these modules must contribute to the final A Level Mathematics result. The following applies to students who also study Further Mathematics:
We will consider a module combination that leads to an A Level in Mathematics and an AS Level in Further Mathematics after two years of study (Years 12 and 13).
Three modules must be studied in Year 13. Only one of these can be from the following list: M1, S1, D1 and FP1. The module results may contribute to either the Mathematics A Level or the Further Mathematics AS Level.
An offer will be based, in part, on achieving A/A* in A Level Mathematics and A in AS Level Further Mathematics.
This does not circumvent the policy not to consider Mathematics and Further Mathematics as separate subjects offered at AS Level (end of Year 12) as described below.
Certificated as well as non-certificated results must be provided (the latter could be included in the reference)
Preference will be given to those applicants who offer AAAA, achieved by the end of the first year of A level study. Mathematics and Further Mathematics will not be considered as separate subjects.
Where this qualification is not available (for example, Cambridge PreU), applicants will not be disadvantaged
Preference will be given to those applicants offering A* grades in Mathematics, English and Science subjects. Integrated Science (double certificate) is acceptable as an alternative to single sciences
Overall GCSE performance will be considered
Use of School Contextual Data
A proportion of those invited for interview will be identified, in part, using the school contextual data provided by UCAS, as described below. Applicants who meet the contextual threshold for either A Level or GCSE will be considered. If the contextual threshold is met for only one qualification, the standard requirements (described above) will apply to the other.
Applicants selected using contextual data who pass the interview will receive an offer of AAA.
Contextual measure: QCA points per A level subject
Threshold (maximum): 230 points (used for 2014 entry)
AS level requirements: AABB (minimum)
Contextual measure: Percentage of students who achieve 5 A*–C grades, including English and Mathematics
Threshold(maximum): 85% (used for 2014 entry)
Grade requirements: A in English, Mathematics and Science/s (minimum)
The thresholds for each aspect of contextual data may change according to the level of competition. Our prioritywill be to keep the contextual threshold for A Level and the minimum grade requirements (GCSE and AS) unchanged.
The use of these data is designed not to overlap with the criteria that apply to consideration of an applicant under the University's widening participation scheme, Access to Birmingham (A2B)
Cambridge Pre-University Diploma
D3, D2, D2 from three subjects, including Biology and Chemistry
If Global Perspectives and Research is not offered, a fourth subject at AS level must be studied in Year 12.
Scottish Certificate of Education
Highers: Five subjects at grade A including, Chemistry, Biology, Maths and English.
Advanced Highers: Three subjects including Chemistry and Biology must be offered (grade requirements: AAB)
Higher level: Chemistry and Biology and one other approved subject
Subsidiary level: The subjects must include English and Mathematics if not offered at the higher level
Minimum of 36 points (excluding core points) must be attained, with at least Grade 6 in each HL subject and a minimum of 5 in the rest.
If relevant, you must provide results from the Middle Years' Programme
Achieved or predicted first or upper second class degree from a UK-based institution (normally). Very good results from school examinations (in appropriate subjects - see above) are required because you are in competition with school-leavers.
Life Science graduates may be eligible for our graduate-entry course. Qualified dentists who have completed MJDF/MFDS and who wish to pursue a career in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery may be admitted to the second year of this course if spaces are available.
Access Courses or Foundation Programmes
We do not consider either of these qualifications.
International (including EU) students
Applicants must have excellent written and spoken English. Please note that the university’s standard English language requirements are minimum standards, which maybe raised through competition. As a minimum, the English language IELTS 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), candidates from outside the UK must offer examination-based qualifications that are equivalent to these.Some examples are below:
Irish Leaving Certificate
Grade A in six subjects including Biology, Chemistry, English and Mathematics. 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.
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: 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; Romanian Baccalaureate; Swedish Slutbetyg från Gymnasieskolan (School Leaving Certificate).
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
Accepted qualifications include:
Australia. Tertiary AdmissionRank (ATAR), Tertiary Entrance Rank (TER), or equivalent: An overall score of 99.6. Relevant subjects must be offered at excellent grades.
Canada. Grade 12 High School Diploma: A minimum of 85% in each of six Grade 12 subjects, including Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and English. The same performance must have been achieved in Year11.
Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination CAPE): Grade 1 in three subjects, including Chemistry and Biology. Top grades in Secondary School Certificate must have been achieved also.
Hong Kong Diploma: The grade requirements are: 5*, 5 in Chemistry and Biology (any order); 5 in Mathematics and English; Minimum of 4 in all other subjects.
India*: Standard XII: Overall score 85%, including Biology and Chemistry with 90% in one of these (minimum requirements). Standard X: 85% in Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics, with preference to applicants with 90% in Biology and Chemistry (minimum requirements). (*ISC, CBSE, Maharashtra Boards)
United States: Combined SAT1 score of 1950. Three AP subjects at grade 5, including Biology, Chemistry and another Group A subject.
Please note that the following qualifications are not accepted: Pakistan - Higher Secondary Certificate.
More information about international entry requirements are provided here. Please be aware that the academic qualifications described within these pages may not be acceptable for medicine entry. You must contact the Admissions Tutor by email to ask about qualifications not listed above.
Applicants should enter details of all their qualifications on the relevant section of the UCAS form. Incomplete applications may not be considered.
Mature Candidates: The School welcomes applications from mature candidates, but will take account of the length of undergraduate and postgraduate training which has to be undertaken. In addition, we expect that no more than four years has elapsed since the most significant and relevant qualification.
Second time A levels: Second-time applicants are considered only in exceptional circumstances. Only those who have achieved less than our standard offer by a small margin the first time round may be considered if there are persuasive mitigating circumstances.
Taking a year off: Approximately 10% of our students have taken a gap year and applying for deferred entry will in no way jeopardise your chance of an offer. If you intend to do this we recommend that the year is used to broaden your experience either by working, travelling, voluntary service or some other activity. We do not necessarily expect it to be in a field directly related to medicine.
Repeat medicine application: We will not consider anyone whose application to Birmingham medical school has been rejected previously following interview. Otherwise, we will consider those applying for medicine for a second time. This fact is often not apparent until interview but, even at this stage, an applicant must provide good evidence that their application is stronger.
Transfer from another degree programme: We do not consider applicants who are studying medicine or any other degree programme. As indicated above, we will consider applicants who are studying on a different degree and are in their final year.
Non-academic offer requirements
All accepted candidates will be required to complete a health declaration form, and some may be contacted by an Occupational Health Physician where appropriate.
The UK Government Health Authorities require that all medical students must be screened to ensure that they are not carriers of the hepatitis B virus. All applicants who accept an offer must:
undertake a screening blood test for Hepatitis B
if negative, they must start a course of immunisation
thereafter provide certified evidence of these
Prospective students are strongly advised to take the blood test in good time.
The UK Government Health Authorities recommend that all medical students should be offered screening for a number of blood-borne viruses (Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus as well as Hepatitis B). You should be advised that any health care worker who is infected with any of these viruses (or who cannot prove that they are not infected) is not able to undertake exposure prone procedures when qualified (which are defined as ‘those invasive procedures where there is a risk that injury to the worker may result in the exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the worker.’). The MBChB Course at Birmingham is a non-Exposure-Prone Procedure course, so students with Hep C and/or HIV will not reflect any risk to patients during the course. Therefore, students who are positive or decline the offer of a blood test will still be permitted to continue on the programme. Although, medical students may engage in exposure-prone procedures on a voluntary basis (for example, during their elective). If this is the case, students are required to be screened.
For further information about these requirements, please see: Medical and Dental Students: Health clearance for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Tuberculosis.
The College of Medical and Dental Sciences will reimburse students with financial hardship for up to £200 of the cost of their vaccinations. If you are eligible for an award under the National Scholarship Programme (i.e. qualify for at least one of the state benefits associated with Free School Meals entitlement, classed as a Care Leaver or with a household income of £16,190 or less), you are advised to obtain receipts for any health checks that you have had to pay for. Once you commence study at the University of Birmingham, you may then apply for reimbursement from the College, up to the cost of £200.
Students will be required to complete a successful Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before admission to the programme.
All students are required to sign the Fitness to Practice Code of Conduct prior to entry, details of which will be forwarded with an offer letter.
Medical students are expected to attend the entire course, which includes some evening and weekend work.
Opportunities for candidates with disabilities
We take a positive view of what candidates with disabilities can achieve as future medical professionals and take seriously our obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that all students with disabilities can successfully complete their studies. All applicants will be assessed up to and including the interview on the basis of the criteria outlined above regardless of any disability. All students, including those with disabilities, have to be able to meet the competency thresholds set by the GMC. If you declare a disability we will invite you to work with us to explore how best we can support your studies.