Medicine with a Foundation Year: what it’s like to apply and study!

Due to covid, my 2 years at sixth form were close to non-existent. Like many others, the pandemic had attacked me academically and mentally. It frustrated me knowing I was capable of achieving those A’s and A*s but with the mass interruption of schooling, I was consistently falling behind.

Why Did I Choose to Apply for Medicine with a Foundation Year?

Towards the end of Year 12 of sixth form, I confided in my head of year about my aspiration to study medicine, along with my doubts about meeting the high grade requirements. She understood my predicament, yet remained incredibly supportive and enthusiastic. She introduced me to Medicine with a Foundation year: the traditional 5 year medicine course with an introductory year consisting of content that was a mix of A-level Biology and first year medicine. The entry requirements were lower than the traditional A100 courses and were typically only applicable to students who came from a widening-access background. 

This course can also be named Medicine with a Gateway Year. Although there are a few differences, the concept is similar where a “Year 0”  is taught.

That night I researched all the universities in England that offered this course along with their grade requirements. Below is an updated list: 

Name of UniversityName of CourseCourse CodeA-Level Grade RequirementLink to Webpage
University of BristolMB ChB Gateway to MedicineA108BBCBristol
Edge Hill UniversityMedicine with Foundation Year MBChbA110BBBEdge Hill
Keele University Health Foundation Year for MedicineA104BBCKeele
King’s College LondonExtended Medical Degree Programme MBBSA101ABBKCL
Lancaster UniversityMedicine with a Gateway YearA104ABBLancaster
University of LeedsGateway Year to Medicine MBChBA101BBCLeeds
University of Leicester Medicine with Foundation Year MBChBA199BBBLeicester
University of ManchesterMBChb Medicine (6 years including foundation year)A104AAA-AAB(for students without the appropriate science A-Levels)Manchester
University of East AngliaMBBS Medicine with a Gateway YearA104BBC or ABCEast Anglia
University of NottinghamMedicine with a Foundation Year BMBSA108BBCNottingham
University of Nottingham- Lincoln Medical SchoolMedicine at Lincoln  with a Foundation Year BMBSA18LBBCNottingham-Lincoln
University of PlymouthBMBS Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with Foundation (Year 0)A102UCAS Tariff- 120(Roughly ABC or BBB) Plymouth
University of SouthamptonMedicine BM6 Widening Participation (BMBS) A102BBBSouthampton

Please note that this list has been made in the current year of 2023 and universities may change their grade requirements at any time. Applicants also need to sit the UCAT exam and all universities shortlist their applicants for interviews using their own methods. Some universities will have a UCAT cut off score whilst others may use the UCAT as part of a point system. 

More information can be found on the Medical School Council website 🔗 here

How Did I Apply?

At the beginning of year 13 I took the UCAT exam and I applied to 4 medical schools, all medicine with foundation years. I was invited to interviews for all of them but only received one offer with the grade requirement of BBB.

In 2021, all A-Level students received teacher assessed grades. I received B in biology, B in chemistry, and D in maths. 

Unfortunately, this meant that I had missed my offer.

Deciding to Take a Gap Year

Nonetheless I persevered and decided that I would need to take a gap year if I wanted to take my maths exam that October and reapply to medicine. As I hadn’t actually taken my A-Level exams, the autumn exams did not count as resits. This was helpful as many medical schools do not accept A-Level resits. 

I took my A-Level Mathematics exam and applied again through UCAS 2 months later. I applied to 3 medical schools and received offers for all 3 universities!

What is the Application Process like at The University of Nottingham?

I applied to The University of Nottingham Medicine with a Foundation year twice. I was rejected in the first year and received an offer the second time I applied!

The University of Nottingham gives offers to applicants on the basis that:

  • You meet the universities contextual admissions criteria
  • Do not meet the standard or contextual grade requirement for the standard a100 course
  • Have not studied at a university

There are also more requirements and so it is important to have a thorough 🔗 read of all sections of the university page to check if you are eligible to apply. 

The University of Nottingham uses GCSE grades and UCAT scores in a  point based system to determine which students will be invited to interviews. There is a maximum of 120 points to be scored. More information is on this webpage.

The Interview Process

All the interviews I attended followed the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format, which consists of several brief stations covering crucial subjects encountered in a doctor’s career.

The university sent me an invite to an interview a month in advance. The University of Nottingham left a lasting impression on me during both years I applied to medicine. Their interview process was remarkably reassuring.

Naturally, I was quite anxious, but the interview organisers had implemented specific procedures to ensure that we, the applicants, were as at ease as possible. They included a pre-interview briefing and practice session before the actual interview day, providing us with a comprehensive walkthrough and ample preparation. Furthermore, they set up support and information rooms immediately after our interviews, where we could engage in conversations with current medical students and fellow applicants.

These measures significantly eased my nerves and enabled me to converse thoughtfully while staying on topic, all the while allowing my genuine personality to shine through. It felt more like engaging in an insightful discussion about medical topics with the interviewers rather than being examined.

My Experience of the Foundation Year

The foundation year consisted of 8 modules; 4 modules worth 10 credits each and 4 modules worth 20 credits. Each module required coursework and an exam that counted towards our final grade. We were taught a range of subjects including major metabolic pathways like glycolysis, body systems and functions as well as professionalism lessons which helped us develop our academic writing, communication and much more. Anatomy lessons were taught using prosections of cadavers.The weekly lab sessions and practicals, which are not included in the A100 course, offered valuable hands-on experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed my foundation year, finding all the modules to be engaging, and what’s more, they overlap with the Year 1 content. Compared to the intensity of Year 1 in medicine, the foundation year (Year 0) offered a more manageable workload. I wisely utilised the additional free time to adjust to my new home, where I’ll be spending the next six years of my life. Given that I took a gap year and missed out on a significant portion of sixth form, it took some adjustment to strike a balance between my studies and extracurricular activities. However, the foundation year has instilled in me a newfound confidence as I embark on the A100 course, and I am eagerly anticipating the journey ahead.

What Makes Medicine with a Foundation Year Different from Other Entry Pathways?

Several universities offer clinical science programs ranging from 1 to 4 years, after which they encourage their students to apply to the Medicine A100 program at neighbouring universities. It’s important to note that these pathways do not immediately guarantee admission to the preferred medical school, as applicants must still successfully complete the UCAT exam and interview. In contrast, Medicine with a Foundation Year offers a unique approach, as students who complete and successfully pass the foundation year seamlessly transition into the first year of the A100 course.

Many aspiring medical students choose the postgraduate route, relying on their undergraduate degree grades for admission. Depending on the specific university’s requirements, applicants may need to complete the UCAT or, in some cases, the more challenging GAMSAT. Most universities will only accept applicants with a 2.1 degree and above.

Furthermore, most undergraduate degrees span three years and postgraduate medicine programs extend for four years. This sums up to a total of a minimum of seven years of education. While this may be a slightly longer and arduous process, the rewards are undeniably sweet and gratifying.

It is important to note that funding from Student Finance England is significantly lower than the funding eligible for undergraduate students. A partial tuition and maintenance fee can be given but the remaining balance must be funded by the student. Universities may offer additional funding in the form of scholarship, bursaries, and grants but this is unique to each university and so it is important to check what is available. You can find more information here.

Advice from a Foundation Year Student

  • Apply Strategically : Each university has its unique criteria and priorities. Some emphasise extracurricular activities, while others place greater importance on academics. It’s crucial to thoroughly research all medical schools and apply to those where you meet the requirements.
  • Rejection is Redirection: Receiving a rejection from your dream medical school or falling short of your grade expectations isn’t the end of the road. Look at it as a redirection. Your journey to medicine might take a slightly longer route, but the destination will still be incredibly rewarding.
  • Reach Out to Universities: Don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions teams for clarification on entry requirements or application processes if you can’t find the necessary information on their website. It’s a proactive step that can provide you with crucial insights.
  • Apply to Summer Schools: attending a university’s summer school for your chosen course can lower your entry requirements and can also guarantee you an interview. Nottingham’s Summer school offers eligibility for enhanced contextual offer (up to 2 grades lower) and the Nottingham Potential Bursary which is worth £1000 year for each year of undergraduate study.

Written by Hafiza Ahad

Hi! My name is Hafiza and I’m a first year medical student at the University of Nottingham. I’m interested in dermatology, cardiology and paediatrics. My current obsession is Studio Ghibli Movies, even though I’m not a big fan of anime. Have any questions on applying to medicine? Drop me a message on my instagram @hafi__a!