How Long is Medical School in the UK?

how long is med school
how long is med school

Deciding to pursue a career in medicine involves weighing important factors, and the length of medical school is one of them. Many aspiring doctors in the United Kingdom wonder, ‘How long is medical school in the UK?’

Doctors are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable, but before you can own that kind of expertise in the UK, you must obtain a medical degree from a medical school with acceptable medical degrees. These courses normally last five or four years for a graduate entry program.

In this article, we will walk you through medical education in the UK, throwing more light on the duration of med school, the curriculum structure, and the ultimate fulfilment that a medical career can bring.

If you’re a prospective medical student or simply curious about the medical education system, carefully read through.

How Long is Medical School in the UK?

Typically, medicine degrees in the UK take five years to complete or four years for those in a graduate entry program. The course involves basic medical science training and clinical experience in real hospital wards. 

Once you’ve graduated, you’ll still need further training in a two-year Foundation Programme. This is completed in a formal hospital environment, where you will be issued a provisional license to practice as a junior doctor.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend Med School in the UK?

According to the BBC, a five-year degree costs around £220,000. However, this number is not exact, as many universities offer varying scholarships and bursaries for students.

The cost of training is a huge deciding factor for students looking to study medicine in the UK. In the UK, much of the costs associated with becoming a doctor are down to the tuition fees you will need to pay during your five-year degree course.

The government can cover many of your clinical training costs and some tuition fees, but rent and other associated living costs will often need to be paid for by you (or by using student loans).

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What Kind of Medical Degrees are Available in the UK? | How Long is Med School

In the UK, medical degrees don’t differ too much in what they offer. Medicine is a pretty universal subject, and hospitals need doctors from all different universities to share a similar understanding of content to treat patients effectively. 

With that being said, there are often a variety of different named courses which usually fit one of four types, These are:

  • Standard Entry Medicine: Usually five years long, the Standard Entry Medicine Course leads to a bachelor’s degree in Medicine. It can have different names and abbreviations, with some of the most common including MBBS or MBChB.
  • Graduate Entry Medicine: A Graduate Entry Medicine program is tailored for individuals with bachelor’s degrees who desire to transition into Medicine. Typically, schools require students to possess a 2:1 degree, preferably in a scientific or health-related discipline. This program usually spans four years and offers a pathway to obtaining a medical qualification.
  • Medicine with a Preliminary Year: Also referred to as ‘Medicine with a Foundation Year,’ this course takes the form of a five-year Standard Entry Medicine degree but with an additional introductory year at the start, making it a total of six years of study. This course is meant for students who may have achieved high A-level grades but did not take the required science subjects and, therefore, require the necessary catch-up training.
  • Medicine with a Gateway Year: For students of high ability who have faced challenging circumstances during their education, Medicine with a Gateway Year courses offer a unique entry into Medicine. The courses may differ in their entry criteria, changing the entry requirements for applicants who have the potential to do well but have faced barriers during their education.

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What A-Levels Do I Need to Become a Doctor in the UK?

When applying to study medicine, most UK universities indicate a specific set of A-level subjects as part of their entry requirements. 

For most universities in the UK, A-Level chemistry remains one of the most commonly listed subjects on entry requirements. So, if you’re selecting your A-Levels now, ensure you are prepared to study this subject for the next few years. 

There are also specific A-level subjects that you must take:

  • Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics

It’s often a good idea to select Biology (primarily anatomy and physiology) as your other option, mainly because of the academic foundations it will provide you with at the start of your course. 

Outside of that, many universities like to see logic-based subjects such as Mathematics and Physics on your application, as this indicates a strong ability to problem-solve, handle data, and work logically through ideas.

Remember that each university has entry requirements, so you should check each institution you are applying to to ensure you meet their A-level subject requirements. 

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How Long is Medicine With a Foundation Year?

Foundation course programs in the UK are one-year courses, and students who pass successful exams with at least 75% can get into the 6-year Medicine (BSc/MBBS) degree. Medicine with a foundation year means you take an extra year before you officially start medical school to brush up on some basic science before you start the course.

Medicine with a foundation year is used to assist students who may not otherwise have been able to meet the entry requirements for medical school to become doctors. These courses are generally aimed at widening participation in medicine.

Eligibility criteria often run along the lines of:

  • Coming from a deprived socioeconomic background
  • Being a refugee, care leaver, or carer
  • Living in an area with low higher education uptake

Over the year, students are taught scientific concepts that will help underpin their learning for the rest of their time at medical school. So, for a standard 5-year course with a foundation year, a student would spend 6 years at university.

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How Long is Med School?| Entry Requirements

Here are the entry requirements for the different levels of medical school in the UK.


If you want to study medicine, you must enroll at a med school in the UK, which is often part of a university but has strong links to local hospitals and medical practices. You will need AAA grades to study at the undergraduate level, with either Chemistry or Biology a requirement.

For international students wishing to study Medicine at the undergraduate level, an IELTS score of at least 6.5 across all four categories—reading, writing, speaking, and listening—with an overall score of 7.0 is generally required at most universities.


Once you’ve completed your undergraduate study, you can move on to Foundation training, lasting another two years. This brings together medical school graduates, other postgraduates, and various health care providers. Once completed, you will move into your specialist training path.

Specialty Training: 

Once you have completed the foundation course, the serious work begins! Once you have decided on which area you wish to specialize in, the entry process is highly competitive, so plenty of hard work is needed to ensure you can secure a place in the area you wish to focus on. Training here can last up to seven years; you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion Training (CCT) upon completion.

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What GCSE Qualifications Do You Need to be a Medical Doctor in UK?

Choosing as early in your academic career as possible is crucial to becoming a doctor. This is because when evaluating your application, most of the best institutions in the UK will consider your GCSE results (or the equivalent).

Most Medical schools require students to have a Grade 5-9 (A*-C) in at least the five core subjects: Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. However, some may expect you to score 7s, 8s, and 9s across your GCSE subjects.

If you’re uncertain which universities consider your GCSE grades part of your entry requirements, browse some courses online. The “Entry Requirements” sections of almost all university websites and prospectuses will include the grades and courses you must have, which might give you a target to work towards.

What Do You Need to Become a Doctor in UK? | How Long is Med School?

One of the most commonly asked questions about becoming a doctor in the UK besides the usual ‘how long is med school’ is the one revolving around the qualifications and experience needed to gain a license to practice. In the UK, several elements are involved in becoming a registered doctor who can practice in a UK hospital. These include having completed the following:

  • A five-year degree in Medicine, which has official recognition by the General Medical Council
  • A two-year foundation course of general training in a clinical environment
  • Between two to three years of core medical training (CMT) or Acute Common Care Stem (ACCS) program – which forms the first stage of specialty training
  • Between four to seven years of specialist training, depending on whether you pursue a chosen area of medicine to work in

Although this is the most commonly chosen route for many aspiring Medics, it is not the only way to becoming a qualified doctor in the UK. For instance, suppose you already have a degree in a science subject. In that case, you can usually convert to Medicine on a four-year graduate entry program – although these usually require a minimum of a 2:1 grade in a science or health-related subject.

FAQs on How Long is Med School

How long is med school in the UK?

UK medical school typically lasts five to six years, depending on the program. These years are usually divided into pre-clinical and clinical phases.

What are the entry requirements for med school in the UK?

Entry requirements vary between universities, but they generally include high grades in science subjects (such as Biology and Chemistry) at A-levels or equivalent qualifications, a strong performance in the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), and relevant work experience.

Do I need to take the UCAT or BMAT for medical school?

Many medical schools in the UK require either the UCAT or BMAT as part of the application process. The specific test required varies between universities, so check the requirements for each school you’re interested in.

Are there graduate-entry medicine programs in the UK?

Some UK medical schools offer graduate-entry programs for individuals with a degree in another subject.


From the foundational years of pre-clinical studies to the hands-on training during clinical rotations, every step in med school contributes to becoming a competent and compassionate physician. As the medical terrain continues to evolve, aspiring doctors in the UK can anticipate a transformative experience that will mould them into the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.

So, whether you’re a future medical student eager to commence your journey or an enthusiast curious about the medical education system, remember that the length of medical school is not merely a measure of time. It’s a measure of growth, learning, and the profound impact you can have on countless lives as a skilled healthcare professional.



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