Learning and qualification for medicine in England and Wales
Produced in partnership with Andrew Ritchie QC of 9 Gough Square
Learning and qualification for medicine in England and Wales

The following PI & Clinical Negligence guidance note Produced in partnership with Andrew Ritchie QC of 9 Gough Square provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Learning and qualification for medicine in England and Wales
  • The medical degree
  • Pre-clinical and clinical courses
  • Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery
  • Foundation training
  • Types of doctors
  • Terminology
  • Specialties
  • The practice of medicine

The medical degree

Studying medicine is a popular career choice and over the years it has become extremely competitive to secure a place at medical school. The degree lasts longer than most degrees and involves a huge deal of practical training. It has been estimated that it costs around £230,000 to put an individual through medical school (see the government website). Nevertheless, there are still between 10 and 20 times more applicants for medicine than places available.

There are 33 medical schools in the UK that are recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC)—26 in England, four in Scotland, two in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.

Pre-clinical and clinical courses

Curriculums vary between medical schools but traditionally the first two years focus on pre-clinical training in an academic environment. A clinical course lasting about three years is then undertaken which involves students working in hospitals under supervision. During the final three years, students also attend lectures on subjects including anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology. However, there has been a shift away from this traditional approach with some medical schools opting for a more integrated model.

Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery

After successfully completing the undergraduate course, which usually lasts five years, medical students graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree. This primary medical