Welcome to the 2nd week of the Virtual Medicine Open Day: giving you an insight into each of the UK medical schools and the opportunity to ask current medical students about the realities of studying there!

This post is written by Annabel, a 1st year graduate entry medical student at The University of Nottingham. 

In this post I’m going to be going over everything you could possibly want to know about Nottingham medical school & why I love being a student here! From teaching style to the campus gym I’ve covered it all, so lets get started! 


  1. An Overview of Teaching Methods
  2. Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at Nottingham
  3. The Non-Medical Stuff
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. 3 Top Tips For Applying to Nottingham
  7. Ask your questions!

An Overview of How We Are Taught

At the University of Nottingham, our first two years are spent in university learning what is called ‘Pre-clinical medicine.’ We learn a basic foundation of knowledge divided across 6 different modules based upon body systems: 1: Science foundation; 2: Respiratory; 3: Cardiovascular; 4: Musculoskeletal; 5: Alimentary; 6: Endocrine; 7: Urogenital; 8: Neuroscience.

Even though our first two years are counted as pre-clinical, we do have one GP placement with each module where we practise the clinical skills that we have learnt so far. For me, this is my absolute favourite part of each module; my GP tutor is lovely and organises certain patients to come in especially on my placement day to make sure I get to practise the appropriate clinical skill for that module. Although I will gladly take any practise I can, there is nothing like being able to practise on real patients who genuinely have the signs and symptoms you are looking for. 

Nottingham places an enormous emphasis on PBL. Every week starts on Tuesday, when we are given that week’s PBL case. From that point onwards our entire week is focused around the case which we are presented with. We have a series of lectures covering everything from the physiology of the relevant body system, the condition itself, pharmacology used as treatment. In clinical skills we are taught how to take a history from patient with that condition and how to examine them. This approach was one of the main reasons I chose to come to Nottingham medical school; being able to associate the condition or illness in question with relevant physiology, pharmacology etc is unbelievably helpful when it comes to revision. Each week in medical school is like trying to memorise an encyclopaedia, so anything that makes that process just a tiny bit easier is more than welcome!!

A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic

9.00-10.30Knee, Leg, Ankle & Foot Anatomy Lecture 
11.00-12.00EBM: Guidelines & Levels of EvidenceLecture 
13.30-14.30Principles of Rehabilitation Lecture 
15.00-16.00Shock: An Overview Lecture 
9.00-10.30PBL 4.5: Taking the wrong path 
Session 3 of 3 
This is the final session from the previous weeks PBL case, here we make sure that all all learning objectives have been covered and talk about what we would do to treat the patient.
11.30-12.30PBL 4.6: Going for Gold Session 1 of 3 This marks the start of the week, providing the clinical focus. In this session we are given a scenario, and from there we try to think about what we need to learn in order to be able to understand the condition the patient has.
10.20-13.00Anatomy Workshop: Knee Joint, Leg, Foot & Ankle Joints The anatomy workshop is divided into five tasks, each one with a different focus. On the GEM course we don’t do dissection, but we do look at prosections of the relevant anatomy and plastic models. The undergraduate course does do fully body dissection. 
8.30-13.00Limbs & Back GP Visit We have a placement with our GP tutor every module in first year. I’m the only student at my practise, but a lot of my year attend their placement in pairs. Here we get to practise taking histories and using the clinical skills we have learnt. 
9.00-10.00The Analgesic LadderLecture 
11.00-13.00PBL 4.6: Going for Gold 
Session 2 of 3
This is the second PBL session of the case, where we talk through some of the learning objectives, and role play interviewing and examining the patient. Also if you’re lucky and as sugar dependent as my PBL group, this is usually the session where someone bakes a cake!
13.30-15.00Examination of the Lower Limb Clinical Skills!

The Non-Medical Stuff

As a post-graduate medical student, I study at the Royal Derby Hospital with the other graduates for the first couple of years. Undergraduate medicine is a little different, based on the Nottingham University campus. However when I have been to the medical school at the Nottingham campus I am blown away! Not only is the school enormous, but as well as lecture halls and PBL rooms and all the typical medical school things, there’s a library & cafe just for us! As our timetable is a lot busier than other courses, we can’t leave and go back home between lectures, so this space is very welcome!

Forever a Londoner at heart, it was really important to me to go to a university inside a big city and Nottingham certainly does not disappoint! You can get from the main campus to the centre of Nottingham in less than 15 minutes by bus, and if you need to get to one of the other campuses (such as the Royal Derby hospital where I am based) there is a free Hopper bus which runs all day. Nottingham is full of secret gems, with lots of fun free events such as street food competitions where you can try all the food and vote for the winners (a particular favourite of mine!) or speakeasy style hidden bars.

As far as campus universities goes, Nottingham is absolutely gorgeous! Everywhere you look there is beautiful greenery around you, not to mention everything you need right there on campus. As a self-confessed gym addict the campus sports centre is everything I dream of and more! When I was at university previously I used to get really frustrated as I would buy a membership at uni, but then when I went home for the holidays I would be stuck without a gym membership as I couldn’t pay for another one. Nottingham has solved this issue by teaming up with gyms around the UK to ensure that when you go home out of term time your university sports centre membership will also get you into a gym near you. 

Part of the reason I love this uni though is all the societies that we have, particularly the medical ones are amazing. While almost every university with a medical school has their own medic sports teams, I can’t imagine many medical schools with a surgical society that regularly organise incredible speakers to come. Just last semester I was sat less than a metre away from the legendary Henry Marsh!! Not only this but we also have arranged extracurricular workshops with clinicians in different fields, where they go through what their job is really like, what we should do to make our application competitive and provide us with networking opportunities to learn more and get experience. 

Pros of Studying at Nottingham

• For me, the structure of the course with all of your learning centred around the PBL case of the week is so unbelievably helpful. Being able to associate all of the relevant anatomy with the related pharmacology, physiology and clinical skills makes the whole process of learning so much easier for me.

The SCRUBS medical society is awesome! As I said before, they arrange speakers like Henry Marsh to come in, organise suturing workshops for the younger years, do female surgery speed dating nights so you can network to find out more, and organise revision sessions for the younger years. Before I came to Nottingham, the idea of joining a surgical society would have made me laugh as I couldn’t be less interested in a surgery speciality. However, Scrubs has really opened my eyes to what medicine in general is like after we finish medical school and helps me learn the things (like what to include on a medical CV) that we aren’t taught! Also you get free pizza.. 

• Having a GP placement each module gives me the chance to practise my clinical skills and is a really nice reminder of what lies at the end of all the studying. The fact that Nottingham is not a traditional medical school where you wait until second or third year before you see an actual patient really appeals to me! 

The facilities: The campus, the medical school, the sports centre, the hospitals such as the Royal Derby or QMC which our placements are at are all incredible! You are going to be at medical school for a fairly long time, so being in surroundings which make you feel comfortable is important! 

• This isn’t really something that appeals to me personally, but I know being able to do full body dissection is really important for some applicants. 

Cons of Studying at Nottingham

If I didn’t have a car, getting to placement would definitely be tough work! Although a lot of the placements are accessible by public transport, there are some that definitely are not and would be a total nightmare to organise getting to! It’s not essential to have a car at medical school, but in later years if you want to have a decent work life balance a car can give you that by limiting the amount of time you spend travelling. 

Nottingham give out their offers pretty late by medical school standards, although this may not be much of an issue for undergraduate students, it definitely complicates things for graduate entry students. Our offers were not sent out until April time, with some people on my course not finding out until much later than this point. Given the fact that many of us had jobs to give notice on, some people have children and need to move house this really wasn’t ideal.

3 Top Tips For Applying to Nottingham

1. While shadowing is useful for showing you what life is like as a doctor, Nottingham much prefer experience in a hands-on clinical setting. This can be working in a care home, as a volunteer for St John’s ambulance or working as a HCA, anything which shows you have experience giving hands on help to patients. This is particularly important for any graduate entrants, who need to provide a record that shows a minimum of 50 hours has been spent in a clinical environment; and of that number a maximum of 10 hours can be shadowing. Furthermore, a lot of emphasis is placed on regularity of your work experience, with a one hour weekly commitment over a year showing more dedication than two whole days.

2. For undergraduate applicants, a lot of weight is placed on your UCAT score. During the application selection process, applicants are scored on the basis of the number of A*s at A level, their UCAT band score on each section and their SJT band. Doing well on the UCAT can result in a huge advantage; the difference between scoring 400 on and 800 is 5 points, and the difference between band 1 and 4 on the SJT is 4 points. This is huge when contrasted against GCSEs, where the difference between an A and A* is 1 point. Start practising early and consistently, this is not an exam you can cram! 

3. Read the GMC guidance on ‘Outcomes for Graduates’ and ‘Achieving Good Medical Practise.’ Nottingham follow these outcomes to the letter, they are mentioned frequently during our teaching. Understanding what the GMC expect from medical students and doctors will really help you to answer MMI interview questions with confidence and in a fashion that suits what Nottingham look for in applicants.  

BONUS TIP: I feel this is helpful for applying to any medical school, but in particular this helped me make my decision to come to Nottingham. Whatever stage you are at in your education, stop and think about how you learn best. 
Do you like being in group settings, or would you rather study on your own? 
Do you need examples to help you remember things or does this confuse you? 
Do you struggle if you are not told what you need to learn in particular 
If you like working in groups, having examples help you and prefer to work things out for yourself, then Nottingham will work well for you. I know on face value, working things out for yourself sounds scary but I have found some of the topics that I have researched and learnt myself are the ones I remember best. Equally if this doesn’t sound like you then perhaps a more structured, traditional style course could be for you! 

A huge thank you to Annabel for a great overview of Nottingham! You can follow her on Instagram and check the content on her own blog here:

Your Turn To Ask Any Questions!

Thank you for submitting all your questions! Click below to read the answers!

Posted by:Life of a Medic

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