Durham University 6 Year Medicine Course

By | 19th May 2017

Durham University logo

Durham University 6 Year Medicine Course

Durham University 6 Year Medicine Course

Medicine is one of the most prestigious and competitive university courses to enter in the UK. The profession is extremely rewarding and give you a genuine opportunity to improve people’s lives. However, becoming a doctor isn’t an easy option. Applicants must demonstrate high academic standards [especially in chemistry and biology] and commit themselves to years of hard work and study.

An approved degree is essential for work as a doctor. Graduate entry to medical school is possible. A 2:1 in a science based subject is usually required but some schools will consider graduates of other disciplines. There is the opportunity to specialise within medicine and further study may be necessary. For example it takes 9 years minimum to train as a GP and 12 years before being suitably qualified for hospital consultant positions.

The British Medical Association website have produced some useful information on becoming a doctor.

The Work

Example Roles

General Practice Doctor
Hospital Doctor

How to Get a Job

Work experience

Work experience is crucial if you want to demonstrate both your potential and commitment to prospective employers/course leaders. Your chances of being accepted on to a medical school programme, and ultimately attaining a position of employment, are greatly increased if you can demonstrate that you have relevant experience. Competition for entry to medicine is fierce and relevant pre-entry work experience is absolutely critical.

Structured work experience schemes within the health sector are rare; this is partly due to patient confidentiality. However, many NHS Foundation Trusts do run volunteering programmes; they may always not give you specific clinical experience but will provide excellent exposure to different types of patients. Occasionally Trusts do provide work placements; one local example is Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust who offer a medical shadowing work placement. It is possible to research NHS Foundations Trusts using an online directory – Monitor is the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts. A list of links to work experience opportunities is available at The Student Room

If you are not successful in securing a volunteering post or a work experience placement with a Foundation Trust it is important that you explore other opportunities for relevant work experience. Outside of the trusts there are many other public, private (e.g. BUPA) and not-for-profit health care organisations that will provide opportunities for work experience or even short-term employment in the form of care or support work, particularly in residential care homes. Also consider the different client groups you will be dealing with in the context of medicine; this may open up other opportunities for people based experience outside of the health care sector.

Many work experience options within the sector go unadvertised. Often organisations are happy to take on volunteers, allow individuals to work shadow or even just speak to members of staff working within the profession. Guidestar is a useful online directory that will allow you to research healthcare charities . If you are interested in relevant volunteering opportunities contact your local volunteering centre via Volunteering England or research opportunities on the ‘Do-It’ website .

It is important to proactively identify opportunities and submit speculative applications using resources such as Yellow Pages or The National Health Service. Patient UK is a useful resource with which to research both public and private healthcare providers.

Gaining experience through employment in the healthcare sector

Employment in the healthcare sector, whether it be during vacations or after graduation, represents an excellent means of developing experience relevant to a career in medicine. The majority of opportunities within healthcare require specific training, qualifications and experience but there is some scope to undertake incredibly important practical care and support but also clerical roles within hospitals, care homes, health centres and the wider community. Some of the most relevant job sites are highlighted below but also consider recruitment agencies that specialist in health and social care -The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) website contains a directory of recruitment agencies.

Useful job websites:

  • NHS Jobs
  • Randstad Care
  • Medical Jobs
  • Community Care
  • Staff Nurse
  • Nuffield Health
  • Bupa

Relevant Employers

The vast majority of graduates leaving medical school to become general practitioners (GPs) in the UK are employed by trust practices in the National Health Service (NHS) with only a small number working for private practices.

There is a limited number of jobs for GPs in the armed forces . There are opportunities of working overseas. It is also possible to work for the civil service, in settings such as prisons. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) website provides more information on both these options.

Many medical charities, both in the UK and overseas, offer posts for trained GPs, whether early in their careers to gain experience, or later, when they have experience to offer. The RCGP has a basic list of charities that offer jobs to GPs.

Voluntary and charitable organisations employ small numbers of doctors to work in developing countries. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) is one of the best known.

There are opportunities for private work, particularly at consultant grade, which can be combined with working for the NHS. These opportunities may increase as government policy attempts to address the costs of caring for an ageing population and expensive new treatments. It is predicted that an increasing proportion of NHS work will be contracted out to the private sector. As a result of proposed changes to healthcare provision there may also be some merging of the traditional roles of hospital doctors and general practitioners (GPs). For information on the latest developments see The National Health Service (NHS) website.


In order for non-medical graduates to practise medicine it is necessary to complete a second degree. The programmes combine practical clinical experience with academic study. There are notable differences between courses in the way that they are delivered so it is important to research your options carefully. Subject requirements vary between institutions in respect of both A-level and degree qualifications. An excellent place to start researching medical schools and the various study options available is the British Medical Association website .

What are the study options?

Accelerated graduate programme

This is a shortened four year degree option for those who have a first degree. You normally need a 2:1 in a science subject but some medical schools do accept any degree. Application is via UCAS and candidates also have to complete an aptitude test prior to applying. This is usually one of the following: UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) or the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT). Competition is fierce and consequently a strong academic record allied to relevant work experience is very important.

Standard medical degree

The 5 or 6 year standard medical degree can also be considered by graduates. It is possible to apply to both accelerated and standard programmes via the UCAS application system.

Foundation degree

This is an option to consider if you lack the necessary science background to pursue the options highlighted above. The foundation degree, or pre-medical course, consists of one year of basic science before embarking on the medical degree. A list of UK medical institutions offering this degree option can be found on the Medical Schools Council website.

If you are concerned about the extent of your science knowledge it is feasible to consider taking A-levels in Chemistry and Biology or undertaking an ‘Access to Medicine’ course. Courses are usually one year in duration and could support your application to study medicine. It is important to be aware that any college can run a course called Access to Medicine but that not all medical schools accept all courses. It is therefore important that you check that the course you intend to take is acceptable to the universities to which you intend to apply.


Studying medicine is a significant financial commitment, particularly if you are undertaking a standard degree or a foundation programme. Some financial support is available but it is essential that you approach the institutions that you are applying to in order to establish what you can be considered for. Money4MedStudents is a useful online resource with which to begin to research the financial options open to you.

Accelerated degree

If you are a graduate, starting a 4-year accelerated course in the academic year 2015/16, you will have to fund the first £3,465 of your tuition fees in your first year of study. The NHS Bursary scheme will pay (subject to eligibility criteria; visit NHS Student Bursaries) £3,465 towards your tuition fees in subsequent years. Dependent on eligibility, you may also be able to apply for a Student Loan for the shortfall between the bursary and the cost of yearly tuition fees. It is important to contact the institution (s) you are applying to, to check if the course is approved and attracts NHS financial support.

Funding information for students starting their studies in 2016/2017 academic years and beyond is pending release.

Standard degree

For graduate students undertaking a five year medical degree, there are no loans for tuition fees or maintenance grants (regardless of previous funding) for the first four years of study. Students are eligible to apply for maintenance loans from Student Finance England. From year five of study, graduate medical students receive the same support as undergraduate medical students and can apply for NHS Bursaries.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

  • Health Careers NHS
  • Student Finance England
  • Student Finance Wales
  • Student Finance Northern Ireland
  • Student Awards Agency Scotland

Professional Bodies

British Medical Association BMA – is both the trade union and the professional association for doctors and medical students. It’s website holds the British Medical Journal – current issue and archives.

The Medical Students Committee (MSC) is the BMA branch of practice committee that represents medical students in the UK.