Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Medicine

Why choose Medicine at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Established in 1726, the Edinburgh Medical School is internationally renowned for both its teaching and research.

  • We achieved excellent results in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, retaining our position as a UK top five medical school and demonstrating our commitment to advancement in medicine. We are 20th in the Times Higher World University Rankings for clinical, pre-clinical and health subjects (2016/17).

  • Our high-quality, modern curriculum integrates science, research, and clinical teaching.

Study abroad

The Medicine programme is highly clinical and patient-centred, which will be extremely helpful in my future career as a clinician. The incorporation of an intercalated science degree also fits very well with my interest in research.

Edward Christopher 4th year MBChB Medicine
Edward Christopher 4th year MBChB Medicine

Edinburgh Medical School has been leading medical education, training and research for the past 300 years. Pioneers such as the creator of anaesthesia, James Young Simpson, and Joseph Lister, discoverer of antiseptic, studied here. In recent years the Medical School has led major medical innovations in stem cell research, cancer, immunity and many other fields.

Undergraduate medicine at Edinburgh offers a modern, innovative curriculum designed to prepare you for contemporary medical practice. Our aim is for you to graduate as a competent, ethical and reflective doctor, with the care of patients your first concern. You will graduate as an excellent communicator and team player, prepared for complex and uncertain situations, equipped for ongoing personal development, and trained for high professional achievement and leadership.

The breadth and depth of medical knowledge is expanding exponentially, with advances in medical science and research rapidly translated into clinical practice. Edinburgh’s future doctors will be equipped with an understanding of the underpinning science, and the clinical skills to treat patients effectively as well as the personal attributes and attitudes required by medical practice. In this way Edinburgh will prepare you to be a scholar, a practitioner and a professional.

We are the only Scottish institution to offer a six-year MBChB programme, which includes a year of full-time, research-based study in Year 3. We have a long history of medical students taking a year of intercalated, research-based study as part of their medical training and our programme embeds this research year in to the training of all of our medical cohort. Most students achieve at least one academic publication and/or presentation which is beneficial to their CV and future career during the research year. You will choose from a wide range of disciplines and topics, including established areas such as neuroscience and new areas such as experimental medicine, and will later revisit and extend the research interests developed.

At the end of the programme you will graduate with both a research-based BSc Bachelor of Medical Sciences honours degree and an MBChB primary medical qualification. You will have a deep understanding of medical research and evidence-based medicine, and will have developed your analytical skills. All these will be useful in your chosen career, allowing you to understand and lead innovation in your area of practice.

You will be especially well equipped for a career in academic medicine, which demands ongoing practical involvement in research, as a physician-scientist. Progression directly from Years 2 to 4 is possible but will only be considered in special circumstances, such as graduate entrants with prior research experience.

The MBChB curriculum content is designed around 12 major outcome themes:

  • biomedical sciences
  • psychological aspects of medicine
  • social sciences and public health
  • evidence-based medicine and research;
  • the consultation
  • presentation, diagnosis and management
  • clinical communication
  • emergency care, clinical and resuscitation skills
  • clinical pharmacology and therapeutics
  • medical informatics
  • medical ethics, legal and professional responsibilities
  • personal professional development.

These will be achieved as you progress through courses and attachments based on body systems (such as the cardiovascular system) and/or clinical disciplines (such as surgery).

Please note that we continue to change and improve our programme in consultation with our student body and we will inform you of any changes made to improve the courses in good time.

Year 1

You take courses that introduce the scientific, sociological and behavioural principles of medicine and place them in the context of patient care. You will meet with patients and their families through the Talking with Families and Health Needs of Older People courses. Working in small groups, you will investigate a healthcare issue of your choice.

Year 2

You will develop your practical, research and clinical skills, including history-taking and examination. You will develop your skills in medical informatics. You will work in small groups, taking part in clinical projects and spending time in general practice.

Year 3

All students will enter an honours programme to obtain a Bachelor of Medical Sciences honours degree. You will study a scientific discipline in depth, gaining research experience, and submit a dissertation.

Year 4

You will study all aspects of clinical medicine and healthcare delivery. Courses continue to cover biological and clinical sciences and you will develop your practical experience through placements in hospitals and general practice.

Year 5

You will move around a number of specialities, working on the wards and as part of a team. In addition to further clinical placements in a range of disciplines, you will complete an individual research project in partnership with a clinical tutor.

Year 6

You will consolidate your learning from previous years, working on an apprenticeship model to prepare for employment in the postgraduate Foundation Programme. There is an emphasis on developing practical skills and knowledge of general and acute medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, anaesthetics and intensive care.

You will have the opportunity to assist a junior doctor and, under supervision, undertake some of the duties of a Foundation Year 1 doctor, as well as the elective period which is usually undertaken overseas.

Are there additional costs?

Our main teaching location is at Little France, linked to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. This is a 20-minute bus ride from central Edinburgh and will incur travel costs. There will also be costs associated with travel to your clinical placements.

An annual student Ridacard from Lothian Buses costs £525. We provide a travel subsidy for students in the clinical years (Years 4, 5, 6) of up to £350. Support is available from Additional Cost of Teaching reimbursement and may also be available from students' funding bodies.

Our facilities

The majority of teaching in Years 1 and 2 takes place in the University's Central Area. In your clinical years, most teaching takes place in hospitals, general practices and in the Chancellor's Building, Little France, which is linked to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.


Years 4, 5 and 6 are based on placements in NHS clinical wards and practices, although exposure to the clinical environment and patient care is a feature throughout the programme.

Study abroad

You will have an opportunity to study abroad in Year 6.

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, problem-based learning, laboratory and project work, clinical placements and computer-assisted learning. The Student-Selected Components (SSCs) offer flexibility and choice throughout the curriculum.

Edinburgh also runs a Personal Tutor system. You will be given a Personal Tutor at the start of your programme who will meet you regularly during your programme to offer help and advice. In Years 4 to 6 you will meet a Clinical Tutor Associate each month, a doctor in training, who offers individual tuition tailored to your educational needs.

You will also be able to access our virtual learning environment which offers a wide range of online course resources.

In addition to University libraries, you'll be able to use hospital libraries on most sites.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment methods include in-course assessment, exams, a portfolio of reports and case studies, and group projects.

Medical school assessments, in particular the Online System for Clinical Assessment (OSCA) examinations, are increasingly computer-based. Keyboard skills are therefore hugely important and we recommend that you try to improve your keyboard skills before you start the medical programme.

We participate in the Scottish Foundation Allocation Scheme, which places graduates in Foundation Doctor posts across Scotland. Many graduates also go on to work with distinguished national and international research groups.

Outcome: what happens when you complete your MBChB