University of Oxford Medical School
The practice of Medicine offers a breadth of experiences that it is impossible to find in any other subject. Every day brings different patients with different needs. It’s a great choice for scientists who strive to understand and apply research findings to improve the lives of the patients in their care. It offers a meaningful career that is prestigious, secure and relatively well paid. However, practising Medicine can be arduous, stressful, frustrating and bureaucratic and it’s not suited to everyone. You need to be sure that Medicine is the right choice for you. These pages will help you work that out, but there’s no better way to find out for sure than by gaining insight of medical practice by seeing it in action and talking to those who provide healthcare. Studying Medicine because that is what is expected of you is never a good idea: make sure that your motives for choosing to do so are well reasoned.
The Medicine course at Oxford provides a well-rounded intellectual training with particular emphasis on the basic science research that underpins medicine. We have retained a distinct three-year pre-clinical stage that includes studying towards a BA Honours degree in Medical Sciences, followed by a three-year clinical stage.
The Medical School at Oxford is relatively small, allowing students and staff to get to know one another and benefit from a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
A vast array of speciality training pathways is available after obtaining a medical qualification: ranging from General Practice or emergency medicine through obstetrics or ophthalmology to paediatrics or psychiatry.
Of course, you need not remain confined to the clinic, ward or the operating theatre: the lecture theatre or the laboratory could also beckon. Some of our graduates end up leading the education of the next generation of doctors or directing biomedical research. You don’t need to know right now what you want to do when you qualify: the Medical School organises careers sessions for final-year clinical students and helps students learn about and apply for foundation house officer posts.
BM BCh graduates are entitled to provisional registration with the General Medical Council (GMC) with a licence to practise, subject to demonstrating to the GMC that their fitness to practise is not impaired.
Tzveta is currently training to be an oncologist. She says: ‘Many universities can teach you how to be a foundation doctor. Oxford taught me how to work through problems carefully and logically from first principles, and gave me the theoretical grounding to be able to do so. I had the opportunity to read key papers in my subject, then discuss them with the academics who had published them. Most importantly, Oxford taught me that I was capable of much more than I imagined or believed. Though I have gone from essay crises to night shifts, from finals to Royal College exams, the focused determination it instilled within me remains, driving me through any challenges faced along the way.’
Kanmin graduated from pre-clinical medicine in 2003. He is now a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Lecturer in ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, undergoing 50:50 surgical retina fellowship training and translational research into gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases. Kanmin says: ‘The weekly essays and tutorials with world-leading academics in the colleges were an invaluable experience. In those intimate ‘mind sparring’ exercises, you go beyond the standard curriculum and probe the boundaries of the fundamental science behind modern medicine. In this way, Oxford nurtures not only sound medical practitioners but also future explorers and leaders in medicine… Of course, studying medicine at Oxford involves a lot of hard work. But the opportunities are also there to take part in the most vibrant student society/club life, whatever your hobby or background.’
The pre-clinical stage
Applicants are initially admitted to the pre-clinical stage of the course.
The first five terms of this course are devoted to the First BM. This addresses not only much of the science that underpins Medicine, but also the clinical problems that arise when systems fail. Students are introduced to the major systems of the body and study all aspects of their structure and function in health and also the principles of disease processes. Students are encouraged to develop an enquiring approach and to consider the experimental basis of the science in the course. Matters of clinical relevance are illustrated from the outset with students making regular visits to GP tutors.
The First BM is followed by a four-term BA Honours course (the Final Honour School) in Medical Sciences. Students specialise in an area of biomedical science selected from a range of options. They will become adept at working from primary research literature, and will be encouraged to think both critically and creatively. Students will gain in-depth knowledge of their chosen option, as well as advanced technical skills at the laboratory bench and in scientific data handling and presentation.
The Principles of Clinical Anatomy course, delivered at the end of the third year, is designed to teach students clinically relevant aspects of anatomy that will be of immediate use in their clinical years.
Teaching methods and study support
During the pre-clinical stage of the course, the college tutorial system is a central feature: students see their tutors and are taught weekly in groups often as small as two. This teaching can be tailored to individuals’ needs and interests. Most University lectures, seminars and practical classes take place in the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre in the Science Area. Lecturers are drawn from Oxford’s extensive preclinical and clinical departments, all of which have international reputations for excellence in research, and the courses are organised on an interdisciplinary basis so as to emphasise the interrelatedness of all aspects of the curriculum.
In addition to taking written and computer-based examinations, and submitting practical reports and an extended essay, students undertake a research project as part of their BA course. This will be in a field of interest to the student, and will offer valuable first-hand experience of scientific research. Students have the opportunity to undertake research in a laboratory from a wide range of departments within the Medical Sciences Division.
Please note that the number of international fee status medical students at each medical school in the UK is subject to a government quota: currently this is 14.
A typical weekly timetable
During the First BM, lectures and practicals occupy about half of the time, and the remainder is free for tutorial work, self-directed study and extracurricular activities. During the BA course, formal lecturing is kept to a minimum, and students are mostly free to pursue their research and to prepare for tutorials and seminars. Strong academic support ensures that students manage their time effectively.
|First BM Part 1: Terms 1–3|
|First BM Part 2: Terms 4–5|
|Final Honour School in Medical Sciences: Terms 6–9|
A full list of course options is available at: www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/study/medicine/pre-clinical/structure
The content and format of this course may change in some circumstances. Read further information about potential course changes.
Progress to clinical training
At the start of the third year students can apply to the Oxford Clinical School or one of the London Medical Schools to undertake their clinical training.