Medicine @ Southampton | Q&A

These questions have been answered by Vasuki, a newly qualified junior doctor from University of Southampton.

What would you say makes Southampton unique as a city?

Southampton has a real sense of community. It is a great mix of city life and green. It has an affordable student nightlife in the city centre, whilst also having lots of open space. It’s great for people who want a city experience without the expensive life that is London. The docks is a great place to escape to, and gives you easy access to Isle of Wight.

Do you have any tips for the gateway year available? How Is Southampton a diverse medical school?

It is becoming more and more diverse by the year, however it definitely isn’t comparable to the BAME community at medical schools within London. The BM6 cohort is much more diverse, both in ethnic groups as well as socio-economic backgrounds.

Following from the current BLM movement, there are requests being made to the faculty, to include more diverse representation in our teachings.

Do you know how many mature students are on BM5, compared to school leavers?

I’m not too sure to be honest. I’d like to say somewhere between 5 and 15, but they integrate so well into the cohort, that unless I knew them one-to-one, I wouldn’t know.

Do students in BM4 and BM5 have any teaching together prior to clinical years?

No they don’t as BM4’s first two years of teaching is accelerated. BM4 Year 3 is merged with BM5 Year 4 for the clinical years, but prior to that, the teaching is completely separate for both cohorts.

How is the year organised? Does it take a systems-based or case-based approach?

So medicine at Southampton follows a systems-based cyclical approach. So for example in first year, one of the modules called RCR1 covers aspects of Respiratory, Cardiology and Renal and in second year you circle back around to it and expand upon what you learnt and go into more chronic conditions (RCR2). And this is the same way in which most of the other modules are set out.

In your tutorials however you will work through cases relevant to whatever condition or pathological process you may have studied in that week. This gives you a supervisor-lead opportunity to apply the theory you have been taught, to more clinical scenarios.

How big are your study groups?

Tutorials tend to be taught in groups of about 8 to 12. These groups vary for different modules and during the course of the years, which I really enjoyed as it gives you the chance to interact with peers that you may not know particularly well.

The anatomy lab sessions (prosection) are in large groups of 60, but it’s set up as a circuit so each ‘station’ will have about 5 or 6 students working at it, and there are usually 2 or 3 professors that will direct your learning.

Is it true that there is direct admission for Southampton for international students?

I’m not too sure what you mean by direct admission, I’m sorry! There is an international transfer that can be done from either International Medical University (Malaysia) or University of Brunei Darussalam to the University of Southampton, but I unfortunately do not know much else about how that process works.

Would you recommend studying any particular content in the Summer before starting in September?

So I’m unsure if this is still the case, but my year cohort was set a small writing task to do in the summer about professionalism. However, aside from that, I would recommend you just make the most of the long holiday, spend time with family and friends and relax. You won’t get this long of a carefree break once you start uni. The only thing you could perhaps set a bit of time aside for, is to look into a good student bank account. SaveTheStudent have great comparison tables with all the important relevant information put in one place, and it would be smart to have a browse to see which bank offers the best overdraft and deals/offers that you feel like are of use to you.

What sort of UCAT score is required for Southampton? What would you say is good?

Southampton doesn’t publish a cut-off UCAT score as it varies year by year. They rank applicants by their scores and then choose a certain portion of students to interview. According to the UCAT website, the mean score in 2019 was 621, but it’s difficult to make any statements on what the mean score will be for the new 2020/2021 application cycle.

Do you have any time to get involved in any clubs or societies?

Yes there is definitely time. Obviously not as much as students who have less contact hours, however during the first 2 and a half years it is possible to fit in time for societies that you’re interested in. The teaching hospital is a 30min bus journey from campus, so that is something to consider when you want to commit to anything that requires you to be on campus following a day of lectures. Once you start clinical placements, it really varies depending on whether you’ll be commuting to outside of Southampton, but it is possible if you manage your time. During my fourth year I was placed a 40min drive from Southampton, but had committed to being a part of a dance squad, so I was commuting every weekend for rehearsals as well as joining during the week over video call etc.

Would it be possible to work part-time whilst studying? Do many students do this?

It is possible, however it depends on your own ability to balance your time; whether you can be focused in lectures and whether you possess the discipline to set aside time to sit down and stay on top of the content. I know of quite a few students who worked on zero hour contracts (uni ambassador, healthcare assistant at the hospital) and still managed to dedicate the needed time to their studies. Working part-time is also possible, but I would suggest you give yourself some time to settle into uni-life before committing to a job.

How long is the Health Care Support Worker placement in 2nd year? Do many students take on extra shifts after the placement?

When I did the placement, we were expected to do 4 shifts (2 morning, 2 afternoon). It was quite spread out but some students were timetabled to do the shifts very close to January exam season. Quite a few students went on to apply for a HCA role at the hospital (the university provided us with confirmation letters of our placement which fulfilled the criteria for hospital experience), working zero hour contracts when it suited them.

Do a lot of students tend to intercalate at Southampton?

Yeah quite a few students do. I unfortunately do not have any figures, but a fair number of students choose to do an intercalated BSc at a different university, and some stay at Southampton to do a MMedSci.

How many placements do you have during your pre-clinical years?

During first-year we had fortnightly GP sessions in which we were taught history taking skills by system, as well as being provided the opportunity to practice these with sim patients. In second-year, we had weekly alternating GP and hospital sessions, in which we expanded on our history taking skills, learnt to perform examinations, and got to see patients on the ward that had clinical signs.

During your clinical years are you based in a particular area or do you have to keep moving to different hospitals? How do students manage finding accommodation?

There is a high chance that you will be placed at a variety of locations for your placements. This will partly depend on whether you have access to a car. Some locations you’re expected to commute to, but the ones that require accommodation, will be provided by the university.


Thank you to Vasuki for answering these questions! You can find out more about her on Instagram:


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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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