Welcome to the 10th 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 Stephanie Griffiths, a third year medical student at Keele.

The days go slow, but the years fly by. I’m astounded that I’m already preparing to enter my fourth year of medical school. Keele was my first choice of medical school, I love that it is one of the smallest medical school in the country. In this post you’ll find out more about what I did before med school, what it’s like to be a graduate/mature medical student and what the course is like at Keele…


  1. An Overview of Teaching Methods
  2. Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at Keele
  3. The Non-Medical Stuff
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. 3 Top Tips For Applying to Keele
  7. Q&A

An Overview of How We Are Taught

Years 1 and 2 are classed as pre-clinical with a PBL (Problem based learning) approach. During PBL your group is presented with a ‘problem’ or case study which you will then discuss as a group. Towards the end of the session you will generate a number intended learning objectives commonly abbreviated to ‘ILO’s’. You will have 1 week for private study to answer the questions you generated, many of the cases correlate with lectures you should expect to receive that week. You present/discuss the findings as a group with a facilitator or ‘PBL tutor’. As you progress into year 3 you cease doing PBL and instead it is replaced with CBL, CBL focuses on learning in a clinical setting with more complex clinical cases and is generally led by a professional of the specialism you are studying at that point in time. I’ve included an infographic below that might be useful to illustrate the differences between the two types of sessions. 

Your week Monday-Friday generally includes lectures, labs, anatomy & smaller group sessions. Keele as a school is very keen on research, ethics and social sciences. Over the year you have a few placements in various places, and you have student select components where you are assigned work experience in a social care / out of hospital setting to get an appreciation for life with medical conditions in the community. Keele like to vary the format of the way you present your work including group presentations, debates, posters and presenting some of your work to your cohort in a lecture style setting.

What I would have wanted to know.

  1. Getting the notes from your peers in the years above saves you time and effort of making them from scratch yourself
  2. It is always a good idea to do pre-reading before entering the anatomy suite or you will quickly become overwhelmed 
  3. Having a good anatomy and histology knowledge serves you well in the exams

A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic

Year 1 and 2 are very similar in terms of timetable Monday, Tuesday and Friday are lecture, lab, group work and PBL dominant. Wednesdays are half days for sports and this is across the UK university system. The only day that differs is a Thursday the ‘Big day’. In Year 1 Thursday is a very long day most often running from 8.30am-6.30pm (dependent on your timetable). On this day you have lectures, labs and anatomy suite and you enter as groups of four across the year. The times rotate so some weeks you may have sessions back to back and other weeks you may have huge gaps of time between classes. 

The Non-Medical Stuff

I have been to two very different universities. My first degree was done at The University of Manchester which is the biggest university in the country in a very busy bustling city. It has an urban feel, it is very big and there is something for everyone. I love Manchester. 

However, Keele is the total opposite, small quaint and very picturesque. I never lived on campus because I commuted by car from my hometown in St Helens. I would arrive early to campus to go for a morning jog or walk around with a coffee. Keele is home to ‘Keele Hall’ and some lovely nature spots including the bluebell walk that makes an appearance in the spring. You’ll also never fall short of spotting squirrels running across the campus. The campus itself is tucked away from the main city centre of Stoke-on-Trent and sometimes feels like a world away from this ex-industrial city. It is a small community on campus but I actually found that suited me better, I felt like a member of a community rather than just a number. 

Pros of Studying at Keele

Feeling like part of a small community rather than just a number in a larger school. I know everybody on my course, there are approx. 125 of us on the course in total, we also get mixed up quite a lot so it minimises the formation of cliques 

I like that we get to train at UHNM which is a major trauma centre and specialist centre for stroke and other specialties 

I like that we get to know our teachers well and generally get to work in personal smaller groups 

We have our own building on campus and you get to know people in the years above and below you which is nice 

There is a good mix of students at Keele, there are many grads or professionals who have left work to retrain so as a mature graduate student I don’t feel left out

The anatomy suite and anatomists on site, I find, are very good from this Anatomy is one of my favourite subjects.

Cons of Studying at Keele

• There is variation in the way lecture material is provided from lecturer to lecturer 

• Those that lived on campus without access to transport found it a bit restrictive and isolated 

• They do not offer a grad course

In year 4 our cohort is split into half. One half of the year stay at UHNM and the other half must go to Shrewsbury and Telford. Then in the final year the two sides of the year swap. It is sad that you will never be placed with half of the year ever again.

3 Top Tips For Applying to Keele

1. Keele are looking for well rounded students. When we applied to had to submit a complementary piece of writing which touched on our understanding of ethics, social constructs in medicine and delved deeper into what we wanted from med school. From my perspective Keele are looking for a wider cohort of students, they generally have a good mix of undergrads and post-grad students so if you are a mature student or graduate student it may be a good environment for you.

2. Prepare yourself for an MMI style interview and brush up on your maths skills. For our interviews we had MMI’s in the morning followed by a basic maths exam in the afternoon. Neither were too taxing but a bit or preparation about things in the news up to 1 month before and brushing up on basic maths skills from GCSE will be of benefit to you.

3. Visit the campus on an open day or arrange a separate viewing. I think the campus lifestyle either makes or breaks it for many people, if the bustling city life with access to coffee shops, food outlets and nightclubs is an important part of your life the campus life might not be for you.

Thank you Stephanie for writing all about Keele. You can follow her blog and instagram to see more of her journey and medical artwork:

Your Turn To Ask Any Questions!

Thank you for submitting your questions, they’ve now been answered by a current student – click below to read the answers!

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Posted by:Life of a Medic

One thought on “What’s it Really Like To Study Medicine at Keele Medical School?

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