Welcome to the 15th (and final) 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!

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This post is written by Jenna Hafidh a final year medical student at UCL.

The last five years at UCL have been an incredible journey. It has always been an aspiration of mine to study here and it has exceeded my expectations both academically and socially. To study at one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools in the heart of London is an invaluable experience and one I hope you will consider. 

In this post, I will outline the MBBS programme, the things that make the UCL medical school standout as well as what it is like to be a medical student here. 


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

An Overview of How We Are Taught

The MBBS programme at UCL is an integrated programme with one of the largest yearly intakes of 334 students. The preclinical years comprise of a number of modules covering the fundamentals of clinical science, which aim to provide a context and background for clinical medicine. During our first year, each module is based around a physiological system and is integrated with vertical modules that run throughout the course. Clinical and Professional Practice runs vertically and is delivered in all years of the programme covering crucial topics such as ethics and law, mental health and social determinants of health. 

Although UCL follows a more traditional course than other medical schools, the programme employs varied teaching methods including small group problem-based learning, interactive tutorials and laboratory based work. UCL is one of the few medical schools in the UK to offer fully body dissection in both preclinical years, which is regarded as one of the most enjoyable and valuable aspects of the preclinical course. 

The six-year programme includes a compulsory integrated year (the iBSc) that is completed before before advancing to clinical medicine. This allows students to pursue an individual subject of their choice in greater depth and boost their application for foundation and specialty training. UCL has the widest range of BSc options in the UK including, Global Health, Women’s Health, Medical Physics, Sports & Exercise Medical Sciences and Medical Anthropology.

In years 4-6 clinical experience is gained through placements primarily in London’s most prestigious hospitals including University College Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital and the Whittington Hospital as well as a few attachments in several district general hospitals within the UK. These years aim to prepare you for your foundation years as a doctor.

A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic

L = lecture
CAL = Computer Assisted Learning
CPP = Clinical and Professional Practice 
SPL = Self Paced Learning

This shows a typical week as a first year medical student. There are other additional scheduled activities which are not seen on here as this is just a snapshot. These include a few clinical placements throughout the year, group projects, anatomy lab sessions and student selected components (SSCs). SSCs are provided in half day teaching preclinically and their purpose is to provide students with an opportunity to study additional topics. These are classified in four domains: arts/humanities/social sciences, research/library project, clinical or basic sciences or clinical/vocational.

The Non-Medical Stuff

UCL is at the heart of one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world in London’s Bloomsbury district. It is close to a wealth of museums, libraries, theatres and medical institutes including the British Library and Museum, the Wellcome Trust, the BMA, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Macmillan Cancer Centre. 

On campus, there are over 16 libraries and the new Student Centre, which opened in 2019, provides students with over 1,000 study spaces. UCL is perfect if you want to study in a bustling city and have all your amenities around you. It is located just off of Tottenham Court Road which hosts numerous cafés, restaurants and street food stalls.

UCL has over 300 societies and sports clubs run by students so you’re sure to find your community or a new passion. This is also a great opportunity to widen your horizons and get to know other students who are not on the medical course.

Pros of Studying at UCL

 Out of all the medical schools in London, UCL is the most central so it is great if you want to be amongst the hustle and bustle of the city

Over 18,000 students (just under 50%) are from outside the UK, giving you the opportunity to study alongside people from all over the world

• Your clinical years will be spent in some of the most internationally renowned teaching hospitals with first-class specialist services and medical research centres 

 Medical students have the majority of their lectures in the Cruciform building which is located directly opposite the main campus 

• UCL offers financial assistance including, scholarships and bursaries to support you during your time at university 

Cons of Studying at UCL

 Although the buildings are close together, it can feel a bit less “campusy” than other medical schools that are located outside of the city. 

  • Accommodation can be located further out in Camden, although you can request accommodation nearby

• Rent, amenities and groceries are obviously more expensive in central London than they are elsewhere in the UK

3 Top Tips For Applying to UCL

1. Make sure you work on being more than just a medical applicant. UCL look for well-rounded individuals with other interests. This can be an interest in a social science, humanities, languages or music.

2. Explore the Bloomsbury campus beforehand to get a feel of what it will be like to study at UCL

3. Make sure you have a look on the website as there are various financial support options depending on your financial need

Thank you Jenna for providing such an interesting insight into UCL. You can follow her on twitter:

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

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