University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge

Attending medical school at the University of Cambridge gives you the opportunity to study in the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded in 1209. In 2015 the University of Cambridge was ranked 3rd in the world for studying Medicine (in the QS World University Rankings). Although there are almost over 300 medical students in each year (across both the graduate and undergraduate programmes), the university’s collegiate system means that you will have small-group teaching with the classmates who live with you in college. These sessions, or supervisions, are regarded as one of the best teaching models in the world. Lectures and practical classes are facilitated by the School of Clinical Medicine, which is one of the 6 university schools. Applications can be ‘open’ or made to individual colleges (note that graduate applicants have a more limited number of colleges to which they can apply). Fortunately, application statistics show that neither application option changes the likelihood of your admission. In Cambridge, the undergraduate course for Medicine is 6 years long and includes a BA degree, which is in a specialised subject studied and researched in the 3rd year (like an intercalated degree which has been built into the course structure). Teaching is traditional in style, divided up into pre-clinical (years 1-3) and clinical years (4-6). Students have some patient contact in their first three years, but the majority will take place in their clinical years. Anatomy is taught by a mixture of dissection and prosection. There is a 6-week assistantship to prepare students for their Foundation doctor training. If you enjoy the academic side of Medicine (/you want to prolong the eternal student lifestyle!), you can apply to do a PhD in between your pre-clinical and clinical years.

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University of Cambridge

Undergraduate Applicants

  • Minimum Admission Criteria
  • No. of places
  • Degree
  • GCSEs
  • A levels
  • Exam
  • Interview
  • Work experience
  • 6-year
  • 269
  • N/A
  • Min C in Maths and Science
  • A*A*A
  • BMAT
  • Panel/1-to-1*
  • Strongly advised

Graduate Applicants

  • Minimum Admission Criteria
  • No. of places
  • Degree
  • GCSEs
  • A levels
  • Exam
  • Interview
  • Work experience
  • 5/6-year
  • 269
  • 2.1
  • Min C in Maths and Science
  • Variable
  • BMAT
  • Panel/1-to-1*
  • Strongly advised
  • 4-year
  • 23
  • 2.1
  • Min C in Maths and Science
  • Pass in Chemistry and one of Biology/Human Biology, Physics, and Mathematics
  • BMAT
  • Panel/1-to-1*
  • Strongly advised
*all colleges conduct at least two interviews for every medical applicant

The undergraduate medical course offered by Cambridge University is a 6-year programme. This course is offered by all colleges except Homerton and Hughes Hall. Graduates may also apply to this course through one of Lucy Cavendish, St Edmunds, and Wolfson colleges.

This course has a strong focus on pre-clinical studies, with the first three years featuring little-to-no clinical contact. Cambridge feels this ensures their students have a very strong understanding of the underlying physiology, anatomy, and biosciences, before they enter the clinical environment. Topics covered during these years include homeostasis, pharmacology, and epidemiology. Year three features specialist study in an area of the student’s choosing and results in a separate BA degree. This is equivalent to the intercalated degree courses offered by other universities.

Years 4, 5 and 6 are the clinical years, where students take part in placements in the local hospital, Addenbrooke’s, as well as in other hospitals in East Anglia and in GP practices in the surrounding area. These years are designed to build on the pre-clinical learning gained during the first three years, and prepare students for entering into the clinical environment as doctors.

It is also possible to intercalate a PhD into the 6-year course, making it 9-years in total. This allows students to gain extremely high levels of experience with research, as well as enabling them to study a topic of their choosing to a very high level. Students are selected internally for this course, and information on entry requirements will be given to the students as they approach their 5th year, when the PhD will begin.

A levels/GCSEs

Candidates must have achieved at least A*A*A at A-Level, and have studied Chemistry and at least one of Biology/Human Biology, Maths, and Physics. While it is not compulsory for applicants to have three sciences, the admission rate for those with three sciences is 5x higher than those without.

The minimum GCSE requirement is C or above in Maths and Sciences.

IB

Candidates presenting an IB diploma must achieve 40-42 points overall, with at least 7,7,6 at Higher Level. As with A-Levels, candidates must have studied Chemistry and at least one of Biology/Human Biology, Maths, and Physics, with three sciences being preferable to two.

Admissions Exam

Applicants must sit the BMAT exam. For more information on this, see the section on it earlier in the book.

Access to Medicine courses

If you have completed, or are planning to complete, an Access to Medicine course, you should contact the admissions office to find out whether the particular course will be accepted. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Widening Participation

Cambridge considers contextual data from UCAS to review each candidate’s application in light of their individual circumstances. They do not make any specific guarantees as to whether a candidate would be guaranteed an interview on that basis, or whether they would consider an applicant suitable for a lower offer. If a candidate has extenuating circumstances, they should complete the relevant form, which can be accessed here:

http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/decisions/extenuating-circumstances-form

International Students

There are 22 places available for international students applying to the undergraduate Medicine programme at Cambridge. Note that you must be able to demonstrate the English Language requirements to study at Cambridge. This could be through a high grade in English taken as part of a high school leaving exam, or through a more formal qualification such as IELTS with a minimum overall grade of 7.5 and no less than 7.0 in any section. If you are unsure if your qualification meets the requirement, it is a good idea to contact the admissions department early.

Policy on Re-applicants

Re-applicants are unlikely to be successful.

Policy on Deferrals

It is possible to defer entry onto this course.

DEADLINES

The application window for Cambridge for 2018/19 is open from the 1st September 2017 to the 15th October. Applications should be made through UCAS.

DOCUMENTS

  • Completed UCAS application form
  • Cambridge Supplemental Application Questionnaire, which includes:
    • Optional personal statement (maximum 1200 characters) where you are encouraged to give details about your interest in the Cambridge course
    • Question about your future career plans (maximum 300 characters)
    • Question on how you have developed your interest and experience in the field of Medicine
  • UCAS referees are normally sufficient but if your referees would like to make specific comments related to your Cambridge application, they can send these to the relevant college, or to the Cambridge Admissions Office in the case of an open application
  • Non-UK/EU students must also fill in the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application, available from www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/apply/copa.html. Other students, such as Organ Scholars should also fill out this form.

SELECTION PROCESS

The admissions team will consider all parts of the application when making the decision of who to invite for interview. This includes academic abilities, personal statement and BMAT scores. Reference letters are also important. Over 80% of applicants will get invited to interview, and offers will be made based on both the interview and the overall quality of the application. Throughout the application process, Cambridge is looking for students to demonstrate that they are:

  • Are knowledgeable about the scientific basis of medicine, including its most recent developments
  • Are honest, caring, knowledgeable and competent and equipped to maintain good medical practice
  • Show respect for their patients at all times
  • Have excellent communication skills for use in the health care of diverse populations
  • Understand the importance of physical, psychological and social aspects of patient care
  • Possess a sound appreciation of ethical, legal and community issues
  • Are able to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams
  • Possess the capacity for inquiry and are prepared to continue learning, teaching, evaluation and research throughout their careers and to prepare them fully for their roles as doctors.

INTERVIEW

Applicants will generally have two interviews, though some may have 1 and some may have 3. These are normally 1-on-1 interviews with an experienced clinical or academic. There are three key aspects to the assessment of the interview. These are:

  • Scientific and related competencies
  • Personal qualities and communications skills appropriate to a would-be doctor
  • Understanding of the professional and career requirements

Note that Emmanuel College has videos of mock interviews available on their website at http://www.emma.cam.ac.uk/admissions/videos/interviews/?showvideo=46. Interviews can sometimes be scheduled in the applicant’s home country, which may include Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, China and India. If you wish to be considered for an overseas interview, remember that you may then have an earlier application deadline (e.g. for 2016 entry, the deadline for submission to request an overseas interview for China, Malaysia or Singapore is: 20th September 2015). Interviews at the university are often one-on-one, but specific colleges may vary slightly in their interview policies. Short video guides to preparing for the Cambridge interview are available from: http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/interviews.

In 2016, there were 5 applicants per place on this course.

Cambridge is currently ranked 3rd for Medicine by the QS World University Rankings.

There is a 4-year programme available for medical applicants who already hold a degree. This is an intensive course, with a 45-week academic year and integrated clinical experience from the start. Years 1 and 2 run in parallel with the A100 undergraduate medical course, with clinical placements occurring between semesters during the school holidays. Clinical placements begin full-time in the third year. These prepare the student for clinical practice with immersive, hands-on experience. As with the undergraduate course, these placements take place mainly in Addenbrooke’s Hospital and in other clinical areas in the local area.

Graduate applicants may also choose to apply to join the normal 6-year programme open to undergraduates. Further, graduates can apply to be Affiliated Students and undertake a 5-year programme at either Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s or Wolfson colleges. These courses do not result in an intercalated BA, as the undergraduate courses at other colleges do.

Note that graduate applicants can apply to both Oxford and Cambridge at the same time, as opposed to school leavers who may only apply to one of the two.

Degree

Applicants must have achieved at least a 2.1, preferably in a scientific discipline.

A-Levels and GCSE’s

AS or A Level passes (typically AAA grades) in Chemistry and two of: Biology/Human Biology, Physics or Mathematics are essential. At least one pass must be at A Level. Most applicants for Medicine at Cambridge have at least three Science/Mathematics A Levels and some colleges require this and/or ask for particular A Level subjects (see individual college websites for details). In reality, the majority of successful applicants have at least 3 Sciences or Mathematics at A level. For applicants with only 2 Science or Mathematics A levels, the success rate is lower.

A minimum of Grade C in Double Award Science and Mathematics at GCSE is required.

Admissions Exam

Applicants to the 4-year programme are not required to sit the BMAT. All applicants to a 5/6-year programmes, however, must do so.

Access to Medicine courses

If you have completed, or are planning to complete, an Access to Medicine course, you should contact the admissions office to find out whether the particular course will be accepted. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Widening Participation

Cambridge considers contextual data from UCAS to review each candidate’s application in light of their individual circumstances. They do not make any specific guarantees as to whether a candidate would be guaranteed an interview on that basis, or whether they would consider an applicant suitable for a lower offer. If a candidate has extenuating circumstances, they should complete the relevant form, which can be accessed here:

http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/decisions/extenuating-circumstances-form

International Students

International students may not apply for the 4-year programme, but can apply as affiliated students to a 5-year programme to either Lucy Cavendish, St Edmund’s or Wolfson colleges.

Policy on Re-applicants

Reapplicants are unlikely to be successful.

Policy on Deferrals

It is not possible to defer entry onto this course.

DEADLINES

The application window for Cambridge for 2018/19 is open from the 1st September 2017 to the 15th October. Applications should be made through UCAS.

Documents

  • Completed UCAS application form.
  • Cambridge Graduate Course Application Form (available from the Cambridge website).
    • You will need to provide information about any work/voluntary experience that you have undertaken in a healthcare setting, both paid and unpaid. The application also includes two personal statements.
    • The first personal statement is 300 words and asks you to reflect on your experiences in a healthcare setting and explain how this has contributed to your commitment to a career in medicine.
    • The second personal statement is 650 words and asks: why you want to be a doctor; and why at this particular stage in your life. It also asks why you feel you have the qualities of a good medical practitioner (remember the space is there for you to provide specific examples that illustrate these qualities)
  • 2 references (as part of the Cambridge Graduate Application Form) to write about:
    • Your academic ability
    • Your team work and communication skills
    • Any personal characteristics that the referee feels make you suited for a career in the medical profession
    • If the referee knows of any reason as to why you might not be suitable for a career in medicine
  • Non-UK/EU students must also fill in the Cambridge Online Preliminary Application, available from www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/apply/copa.html.
  • If you live abroad and wish to schedule your interview in India, China, Malaysia or Singapore, remember that your submission date will be earlier (check Cambridge website for details).

SELECTION PROCESS

The selection process for the 4-year programme is comparable to the 6-year programme. The admissions team will consider all parts of the application when making the decision of who to invite for interview. This includes academic abilities, personal statement and BMAT scores. Reference letters are also important. Over 80% of applicants will get invited to interview, and offers will be made based on both the interview and the overall quality of the application. Throughout the application process, Cambridge is looking for students to demonstrate that they are:

    • Are knowledgeable about the scientific basis of medicine, including its most recent developments
    • Are honest, caring, knowledgeable and competent and equipped to maintain good medical practice
    • Show respect for their patients at all times
    • Have excellent communication skills for use in the health care of diverse populations
    • Understand the importance of physical, psychological and social aspects of patient care
    • Possess a sound appreciation of ethical, legal and community issues
    • Are able to work effectively in multidisciplinary teams
    • Possess the capacity for inquiry and are prepared to continue learning, teaching, evaluation and research throughout their careers and to prepare them fully for their roles as doctors.

    INTERVIEW

    The interview process for the 4-year programme is comparable to the 6-year programme. Applicants will generally have two interviews, though some may have 1 and some may have 3. These are normally 1-on-1 interviews with an experienced clinical or academic. There are three key aspects to the assessment of the interview. These are:

          • Scientific and related competencies
          • Personal qualities and communications skills appropriate to a would-be doctor
          • Understanding of the professional and career requirements

    Note that Emmanuel College has videos of mock interviews available on their website at http://www.emma.cam.ac.uk/admissions/videos/interviews/?showvideo=46. Interviews can sometimes be scheduled in the applicant’s home country, which may include Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, China and India. If you wish to be considered for an overseas interview, remember that you may then have an earlier application deadline (e.g. for 2016 entry, the deadline for submission to request an overseas interview for China, Malaysia or Singapore is: 20th September 2015). Interviews at the university are often one-on-one, but specific colleges may vary slightly in their interview policies. Short video guides to preparing for the Cambridge interview are available from:http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/interviews.

    There are around 16 applicants per place on this course.

    Cambridge is currently ranked 3rd for Medicine by the QS World University Rankings

    1. 1. What’s good about studying medicine at your university?

      I liked the collegiate system and the small group teaching. Small group supervisions enabled the teaching to be tailored more to your needs and make you feel more comfortable asking questions and in discussions. You also spend time with people doing a variety of other degrees at your college, which is nice. The atmosphere in small colleges in particular is very friendly and you settle in quite quickly. There are hundreds of college based and university based societies, with something for everyone.

    2. 2.What’s not so good?

      Although it provides a rigorous scientific foundation, the course is not for everyone. The pre-clinical years are separated into different subjects, for example Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology in the first year. The lectures are interesting but with weekly supervisions and essays in each subject, it is quite demanding. There is also minimal clinical contact in the first three years.

    3. 3. Do you have any advice for someone thinking of applying here?

      For someone who is more interested in the clinical aspects of medicine and how it relates to the core sciences, I would recommend a course that integrates clinical teaching early on.

    4. 4. Do you have any tips on how to get in?

      Good grades at school are helpful, but you have to show that you are a well-rounded person and pursue other interests. Reading beyond the school curriculum and showing an interest in journals is also helpful and can be a useful source of discussion in the interview.