Lancaster is one of the newest medical schools in the country, admitting only 54 students per year. The medical school has been training medics since 2006, initially in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and independently since 2012.
Lancaster University is consistently ranked in the top ten in national league tables – 6th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019, joint 7th in The Guardian University Guide 2020, and 7th in the Complete University Guide 2020.
As one of the UK’s smaller medical schools, Lancaster’s size allows them to offer a student-focused learning environment within a highly supportive community. In the 2019 National Student Survey, Lancaster came top in the North West of England for students’ overall satisfaction with the medical degree programme.
There are a number of formal and informal mechanisms in place to provide support and guidance to help students cope with the transition to university, and throughout their clinical training.
The degree programme is delivered through problem-based learning, lectures and clinical anatomy teaching. PBL is a form of small group learning that usually takes place in groups of seven or eight students. You will explore realistic patient-based scenarios that resemble the clinical situations you may face in the future as a doctor.
Your group will identify what you need to learn in relation to the scenario, and then you will independently research the topics, drawing on resource lists, seeking information and critically appraising its worth. An experienced tutor facilitates group discussions and feedback meetings to ensure you learn the appropriate breadth and depth of material.
In later years, in some instances you will use real patients as a stimulus for your learning in place of written scenarios, but using the same problem-based learning processes. PBL is an excellent method of developing and applying medical knowledge, preparing you for your first day as a junior doctor and beyond.
In addition to the core curriculum, you’ll have the opportunity to pursue your own areas of interest in more depth through electives in Advanced Medical Practice and coursework assignments. You could also choose to study abroad during this time or take a year out from the course (between years 4 and 5) to study a medicine-related topic at BSc, MSc or MPhil level.
The newly built Faculty of Health and Medicine benefits from state-of-the-art facilities. In the first year of teaching, students are based at the University and cover key concepts in biomedical and social science.
Clinical placements in hospitals and GP surgeries begin in year 2 and continue until the end of the course. A combination of PBL, clinical teaching, lectures and tutorials are used throughout. Lancaster also offers a host of biomedical and bioscience undergraduate degrees.
5-year Problem-Based Learning course with early clinical exposure.
- Website URL:
- +44 (0)1524 594547
- Natalia Kyrtata
- Year of Study:
- 4th Year
What are the best things about your medical school?
- It is a small medical school – 54 students are admitted each year which means that, apart from getting to know each other really well, we have a lot more contact with our staff. Unlike larger medical schools, clinicians and tutors have more time for their students and teaching groups are smaller and, therefore, more conducive.
- Excellent student support –from my experience, Lancaster medical school takes student welfare very seriously. Personal, academic or financial issues are dealt with professionally and with great sensitivity. The medical school offers all medical students a free laptop which is returned at the end of the five years, and an annual travel bursary which covers the cost of travelling to clinical placements. Student feedback is also greatly valued and changes have been made to the course in response to our feedback.
- Early clinical contact – clinical contact starts in Year 2 and a large proportion of teaching takes place during our placements. I have found this particularly helpful when preparing for OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Exams) and it has massively increased my confidence, ability and resilience in dealing with patients and hospital staff. The hospital environment soon becomes second nature and is excellent preparation for the Foundation Year Programme.
What are the hardest things about your course?
- Different term times to non-medics – term times are longer than most courses. This can be a challenge if you are living with non-medics, as not all tenancies are flexible and it can be difficult when living on your own for a few weeks or during exam periods when your housemates will be free. This is usually why most medics live together, but as long as you have understanding flatmates, there should be no problems.
- Self-directed learning – Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is the key component of the course, especially during the first few years. This is very different to most approaches students are used to, since it involves a significant amount of self-directed learning. Past papers are not available, which many students tend to rely on during their A-levels, and although the content of information can be hard, judging the depth of knowledge that is needed is more challenging. Don’t be afraid to ask tutors and lecturers how much you need to know about a topic. Medicine is infinite, so nobody will expect you to know everything.
What’s the social side of your medical school like?
Lancaster is a very convenient and affordable city to live in, which offers more time and spare pennies for socialising. There are numerous excellent bars and pubs on and off campus and great places to eat, even on a tight student budget. There won’t be that constant buzz you find in larger cities, so if you are big on night life, make sure you choose a college which matches your social needs, such as Grizedale college, also known as the “Social College”. The University also organises trips to the countryside, such as the annual cruise around Windermere, or walking trips to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.
Because the medical school is so small, it can feel a bit isolating at times, so make sure you get involved in activities outside of medicine and make some good non-medic friends – you will be very grateful for them, particularly on those days when you just don’t want to talk about anything medical-related!
The Roses Tournament is definitely something to look forward to, whether you are planning to take part yourself or not. Held in Lancaster or York on alternating years, campus is filled with colour and people, creating a vibrant atmosphere throughout the days of the tournament and the preceding weeks.
Finally, there are over 200 societies in Lancaster University, so make sure you make the most of them while you can and don’t miss out on student life.
What tips would you give to someone applying to your medical school?
- Visit the University. Lancaster is a very unique city, so try to envisage yourself living there for five years. You might find it challenging if you come from a large city, but then again you might fall in love with it, like I did.
- The interview process is in the form of Multi-Mini Interviews (MMI). Practice with a question book and ask a friend to be your interviewer. Tell them to keep a stone face throughout and get them to ask you difficult questions which will make you think on the spot. Learn to keep your answers structured and succinct as MMI stations are very short.
- Lancaster value interpersonal communication skills so interact with a wide range of people through your volunteering and work experience. Keeping a diary will help you prepare for your interview.