16 Best Universities for Medicine in the UK

25 Sep, 2023 | Blog Articles, Get the Edge, Medicine Articles

Most people agree that Medicine is one of the most respected professions out there, opening doors to a world of opportunities, from research and travelling to business and policy-making.

As you begin your journey into Medicine, one of the biggest questions you’ll face is which medical school you’d like to attend. That’s why we’ve put together this article, detailing 16 of the best universities for Medicine in the UK.

Why Is Choosing the Right University Important for Aspiring Doctors?

By the end of medical school, you’ll be a fully-fledged clinician regardless of the university you attend. However, the structure of a Medicine degree can vary quite a lot, so choosing the right university for your individual needs, interests and preferences will give you the best possible start on your journey! 

The UK has a total of 36 medical schools fully recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC). Each university has a unique approach to teaching Medicine – depending on which you choose, you can expect a greater focus on clinical science, pre-clinical science, research opportunities or clinical skills.

Your choice of medical school can have a significant impact on your knowledge, clinical skills, specialisation and network, so it’s important to research and plan for your short- and long-term goals before making your final decision. 

How Do I Choose a University for Medicine?

So, how do you choose a university for Medicine? Ultimately, your choice should be entirely your own!

However, we know it can be tricky to get started, so here are a few things to consider:

I. Accreditation and recognition

All UK universities offering Medicine degrees are fully accredited and regularly reviewed by the education committee of the GMC. This review process ensures that all medical graduates meet a high standard of knowledge, skill and safety.

II. Curriculum and specialisations

Although UK medical schools are all accredited and fully recognised by the licensing body, they differ in their delivery of the standardised curriculum content. 

Consider the following questions:

  • Which specialisation or field intrigues me the most?
  • Which patient populations am I most interested in helping?
  • How do my strengths, skills and personality align with different specialisations?

Make sure the curriculum you choose aligns with your interests and career goals!

Open Medicine textbook with a small anatomical model of a skull and brain

III. Clinical exposure and training

Many med students initially find it particularly challenging to translate theoretical knowledge into practical skills. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consider the hospitals associated with your university of choice, the demography of the patients they serve, and the clinical areas they specialise in.

IV. Faculty expertise and research opportunities

Similarly, be sure to research the faculty and laboratories of potential universities. 

Building relationships with faculty can pave the way to mentorship, networking and research opportunities further down the line. 

Engaging in research during medical school can provide valuable insights and contributions to the medical community, as well as boosting your applications to foundation and core training later.

What Are the Best Universities for Medicine in the UK?

Without further ado, here’s our list of the 16 best universities for Medicine in the UK:

Best for prestige and academic excellence

1. University of Oxford

Photo of the city of Oxford taken from outside the Radcliffe Camera

The University of Oxford consistently tops the QS Guide and the Times Guide of the Best Universities in the World, and its medical school is no exception. 

Renowned worldwide for its cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art laboratories, clinical training and an interdisciplinary approach define the Oxford University programme. 

At the nearby John Radcliffe Hospital, you’ll gain clinical exposure and direct experience through first-hand training. As part of our residential Medicine summer school, students have the chance to spend an afternoon at the JR Hospital, participating in a mock clinic to practise core skills in patient consultation, information extraction, diagnosis and case presentation!

It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience life as a medical student in Oxford.

Please note that the Oxford Scholastica Academy is not affiliated with the University of Oxford.  

2. University of Cambridge

Bridge leading over a river in Cambridge

The University of Cambridge needs little introduction. Offering one of the oldest continuously-run Medicine courses in the world, their med school dates back to the 1500s! 

Despite its long history, medical innovation and excellence are key concepts at the University of Cambridge. The newly built Biomedical Campus is home to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the Royal Papworth Hospital, the Rosie Hospital and several cutting-edge, Nobel-prize-level laboratories. 

At Cambridge University, you’ll find research-led teaching, with an emphasis on critical thinking and analytical skills. 

Best for clinical exposure and practical skills

3. University of Glasgow

A steeple behind a line of trees and a river in Glasgow

Research-based learning, clinical experience and practical skills are beautifully integrated in the University of Glasgow Medicine curriculum. The university has consistently climbed the rankings in recent years! 

Glasgow’s strong commitment to nurturing healthcare innovators and leaders, as well as the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and contribute to advancements in healthcare, make the University an excellent option for medical study. 

4. University of Bristol

At the University of Bristol, you’ll find modern facilities and lots of opportunities to develop your practical skills through clinical placements throughout your degree. 

A vibrant student community and a supportive learning environment make Bristol University one of the most enjoyable universities to study Medicine. A strong sense of community among your fellow student doctors can certainly ease the challenges of such a demanding degree!

Best for interdisciplinary medical education

5. University College London

The Cruciform Building at UCL

The medical school at UCL is associated with prominent hospitals that are renowned worldwide, such as the University College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Paediatric Hospital. With strong working relationships between the university and these hospitals, UCL Medicine students have access to learning opportunities from leading professionals in the medical field. 

If you’re more inclined towards academia, then you also have the option to integrate your learning at nearby research centres like the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

UCL truly offers an integrated and comprehensive medical curriculum!

6. University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield’s medical school has a strong commitment to excellence in medical learning and research so you’ll find plenty of opportunities for interdisciplinary studies. 

Students at Sheffield University develop their skill set way beyond clinical practice and the standard medical curriculum,  strengthening their CV and boosting their future job applications.

Best for holistic patient-centred care

7. King’s College London

If you’re interested in patient-centred care, then King’s College is an excellent choice! Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital are both globally renowned, and they provide an excellent training environment for curious and brilliant-minded medical students. 

Rather than just one area of focus, the King’s College London NHS Trust has several! The range of Medicine programmes and available modules are extremely varied, catering to a wide range of clinical and research medical specialties.

At King’s you’ll find a vibrant research community, always striving to advance the field of medicine and improve the care of patients.

8. University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is the UK’s largest medical school. Located in the heart of England, the university provides students with extensive clinical experience. 

Medicine students at Manchester University gain clinical experience from the beginning of the programme, participating in community placements throughout first and second year. Students in their third, fourth and fifth years learn primarily through clinical placements in medical and surgical settings.

After all, Medicine is about treating people!

Best for global health and medical research

9. University of Edinburgh

Sun rising over the city of Edinburgh

At the University of Edinburgh, you’ll find a strong focus on global health, with a variety of opportunities available for medical students to engage in international projects! 

The University of Edinburgh has a rich heritage of inspiring medical minds and fostering innovation, and it does so by beautifully blending together foundational knowledge, clinical skills and research.

10. University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is renowned for being a dynamic and forward-thinking institution, and this is strongly reflected in its Medicine degree programme. At the University of Leeds, you’ll find a perfect balance of foundational medical knowledge, practical skills, and exposure to emerging healthcare trends. 

Different medical interests and passions are also catered for in a tailored and personalised way, thanks to the strong mentorship system that ensures students are never alone in their early careers as medical professionals!

Best for innovations in medical education

11. Imperial College London

Imperial College London provides state-of-the-art and super-modern facilities for its medical students, including innovative laboratories and clinical simulation areas. 

Innovation can come in many different forms, one of which is translational medicine, where cutting-edge research directly informs patient care. Translational medicine is practised at world-leading levels at Imperial College, and is certainly worth considering!

12. University of Newcastle

The Medicine course at the University of Newcastle focuses on early patient contact and clinical skills training in a well-established clinical setting. 

Additionally, you’ll benefit from the university’s tight collaboration with regional hospitals, providing you with diverse experiences and exposure to unique clinical cases. The strong network of alumni and industry connections that Newcastle University offers will also come in handy not just as a medical student, but also during your career as a physician. 

13. Queen Mary, University of London

View of London from the London Eye

The first medical school in the UK – and certainly one of the best worldwide! – Barts and The London maintain high standards to this day. Associated with Queen Mary University, and located in the heart of East London, you’ll have the chance to observe a range of clinical cases and pathologies during your degree. 

A particular highlight of the course at Queen Mary is the strong emphasis on global health challenges, allowing you to consider innovative solutions and develop critical thinking skills for real-world application.

14. University of Southampton 

The University of Southampton has become one of the best UK medical schools in recent years, thanks to their commitment to continuous improvement and their passion for medical innovation. 

At Southampton University, you’ll find a beautifully integrated curriculum, including research, simulation-based learning and clinical practice, to give you a head start in the world of working both as an academic and a clinician. 

Best for public health and community engagement

15. University of Birmingham

At the University of Birmingham, you’ll have the chance to approach Medicine in an interdisciplinary manner, gaining experience in medical research while engaging in clinical training in some of the most advanced hospitals in the country. 

Tight links with different communities in the West of England are also in place so that medical students can delve deeper into studying the determinants of health, resource allocation, and other hot topics in public health and medical ethics. 

16. University of Nottingham

Wollaton Hall in Nottingham

The medical course at the University of Nottingham is characterised by a strong emphasis on patient interactions and community engagement, creating an opportune environment for quality improvement projects in public health. 

You’ll also benefit from tight links with the NHS, allowing medical students to gain experience in several healthcare settings. Win-win!

We hope this article will help you make an informed choice for your future medical school. For more information, check out OxBright’s Ultimate Guide to Studying Medicine!

We wish you the best of luck with your application and on your medical school journey!

diego

By Diego Balassini

Diego is a practicing junior doctor, having graduated from Cambridge University, and Barts and The London School of Medicine. His undergraduate thesis focused on cancer biology and therapeutics. He is planning a career in reconstructive and plastic surgery, hoping to draw together innovations from tissue bioengineering, regenerative and stem cell research.

Boost your medical school applications!

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