A revised curriculum was introduced in 2009 and thus is thoroughly modern, systems-based and fully integrated. Students are encouraged to explore concepts for themselves, to utilise the excellent facilities available to them and to exercise choice in many areas of study.

The length of the programme is 5 years and each year students undertake a step-by-step approach to the development of knowledge, skills and professional attitudes, whilst undertaking a systems-based approach to learning.

In addition, there is an option to undertake a one-year intercalated BSc (Medical Sciences) degree as well as to undertake a Remote & Rural option for Years 4 and 5. Student Selected Components (SSCs) are undertaken in each year, which allow students to follow up areas of personal interest for more detailed study. The SSC in third year provides a unique opportunity to study a wide choice of topics within Medical Humanities for a six week block.

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Case Study

Joshua Shaw
Year of Study:
Intercalated Student (Between Year 3 and 4)

What are the best things about your Medical School?

  1. The city of Aberdeen is perfect. It is small in comparison to many others in the UK and we have gorgeous Scottish mountain countryside and beautiful beaches on our doorstep. Additionally, the layout of Foresterhill (the health campus for Aberdeen and surrounding area) is ideal with the medical school itself being located alongside the main teaching hospitals.
  2. The Remote and Rural option, I think, is a massive positive. As far as I know, Aberdeen is the only UK medical school to offer this kind of thing as part of the curriculum. Students are given the opportunity to be based in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands for their two clinical years (Year 4 and Year 5) and they do their clinical placements in remote/rural environments.
  3. I was really pleased with the medical school’s curriculum. From early in Year 1, we were taught about clinical examination and history taking skills which allowed us to be exposed to patients from the first term. The systems-based approach was also good as it meant that we received diverse teaching- learning about the anatomy, physiology and then the clinical abnormalities of each body system in turn.

What are the hardest things about your course?

As with any medical school, I can imagine, moving from secondary school to studying a course like medicine is a big jump. Learning material and revising for Highers is a lot different from studying for university exams and, since these exams are summative (i.e. degree exams) from early on (Term 1 in Year 1), it can be a difficult transition.

What’s the social side of your Medical School like?

The university and the medical school have lots of societies and sports and almost every student will be part of at least one. Societies can be anything from hobbies to academic/career-related to charities; and I challenge you to think of a sport that there is not a team for at either the medical school or the university!

As mentioned earlier, the city lies between the coast and the mountains (e.g. the Cairngorms) so there are plenty of opportunities to take up, or keep up, sports like mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding and surfing (if you can tolerate the low North Sea temperatures!)

What tips would you give to someone applying to your Medical School?

  1. If you are interested in medicine- whether that be from an early age, after S5 or even once you’ve started university in another subject- research about potential medical schools and see what kind of things they look for in their applicants and think about how you can demonstrate these to the admissions teams. Aberdeen medical school’s website is very good in that it lays these things out and makes it very clear what the selectors are looking for!
  2. It’s not all about your grades- although they are quite important! Don’t be too disheartened though if you don’t get the top top grades- I’ve never had straight As and I got here! It is as important to demonstrate other qualities like being able to communicate with your patients and being professional (amongst many others!).
  3. Do things you enjoy in your spare time, not just what you think the medical schools are looking for- it’s very easy to get bogged down with that. Remember that many extra-curricular activities allow development of many transferable skills which will be useful for when you apply for medicine, or anything else!


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