Universities and colleges in the UK are offering courses in the following subject areas:
- Pre-clinical medicine
- Pre-clinical dentistry
- Clinical medicine
- Clinical dentistry
- Anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- Pharmacology, toxicology, and pharmacy
- Complementary medicines, therapies, and wellbeing
- Oral sciences
- Medical technology
Subject combinations and available course options include:
- mainly single courses, with a few joint subject combinations
- full-time and part-time – flexible study options are available in some fields and a few areas offer courses with a placement (sandwich courses)
- qualifications ranging from BSc (Hons) degrees, through to MB degrees (Medicine), BDS degrees (dentistry), HND, HNC, and Foundation Certificates
A new grant has been announced for nursing, midwifery, and some allied health professional students from August 2020 – offering students between £5,000 and £8,000, and which doesn’t need to be paid back.
All new and continuing degree-level students enrolled on a course in September 2020 will receive at least £5,000 a year.
Some students will be eligible for an additional £3,000, creating a total grant of £8,000 per year. Further details of eligibility will be confirmed by the government in early 2020.
Students will still be able to access funding for tuition and maintenance loans from the Student Loans Company.
A levels – To get on to a medical and dentistry degree, you will require three A levels and A grades. Typically chemistry and biology A level are required, with some schools preferring a third related science subject. It is important to check individual requirements with each university.
Pharmacology related degrees generally require A level chemistry and normally one other subject from biology, physics or maths. In other allied medical professionals (i.e. physiotherapy, radiology, speech therapy and nursing) you will generally need at least one science A level. Depending on the field biology may be preferred, again check individual course requirements.
Entry requirements generally range from CCC to AAB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBB.
In addition to the different A level requirements above you will also need at least five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English, and maths.
A few universities offer a foundation year (known as a 'gateway year') for medicine and dentistry. These are for applicants who don’t achieve the grades required or hold the appropriate A level subjects. These courses are generally aimed at those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and or from families that do not have a tradition of entering higher education.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AAAAB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BBB.
This is a highly competitive field, with courses such as medicine and dentistry in particular receiving some of the highest number of applications per place. Applicants meeting the academic and personal statement criteria will be interviewed for most subject areas. Other selection tests may also be used, for example, the majority of medical and dentistry schools will expect you to take either the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT).
Given the level of competition, personal statements form a significant part of the selection process. Admissions tutors are looking for:
- evidence that you are well informed/motivated about your subject and that you have a realistic understanding of your future career interests, which could be demonstrated by:
- relevant work experience and shadowing (this is a requirement or a strong recommendation for many degrees – minimum levels of time may apply )
- additional reading around key issues, topics and the latest research
- membership of relevant societies/clubs
- a range of interests outside of academic study i.e. sport, music, voluntary work
- a well written statement that demonstrates your analytical and critical thinking skills
- an ability to work individually and in teams
- the personal qualities required for careers within the medical and allied professions
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
There are over 60 apprenticeships in the health and science sector available in England, with more in development.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
- Associate ambulance practitioner
- Healthcare assistant practitioner
- Healthcare science associate
- Hearing aid dispenser
- Mammography associate
- Nursing associate (NMC 2018)
- Oral health practitioner
- Rehabilitation worker (visual impairment)
- Technician scientist
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Advanced forensic practitioner (custody or sexual offence)
- Arts therapist (degree)
- Bioinformatics scientist
- Clinical trials specialist (degree)
- Diagnostic radiographer (integrated degree)
- Environmental health practitioner
- Food industry technical professional (degree)
- Healthcare science practitioner (degree)
- Laboratory scientist (degree)
- Occupational therapist (integrated degree)
- Operating department practitioner (integrated degree)
- Paramedic (degree)
- Physiotherapist (integrated degree)
- Podiatrist (degree)
- Prosthetist/orthotist (degree)
- Psychological wellbeing practitioner
- Regulatory affairs specialist (degree)
- Registered nurse - degree (NMC 2010)
- Registered nurse - degree (NMC 2018)
- Research scientist
- Sonographer (degree)
- Speech and language therapist (integrated degree)
- Therapeutic radiographer (integrated degree)
This subject area is highly vocational and therefore links particularly to the following career sectors:
- healthcare – public and private
- clinical research
- pharmaceutics and biotechnology
Other employment areas where a science related degree may be particularly relevant include:
- environment and agriculture
- scientific sales and marketing
- technical media and journalism
Examples of related careers include the following job titles: