Course Guide: Birmingham Undergraduate Entry

This guide is all about the Medicine course at the University of Birmingham, and it was written by two students who are currently studying there, Andeep and Alicia.

Entry requirements

  • Grades required
    • A-Levels: A*AA with predicted AAA, including Biology and Chemistry.
    • IB: 7, 6, 6 with minimum of 32 points having been attained at Higher Level from Chemistry and Biology and one other approved subject (standard level subjects must include English and Mathematics if not offered at the higher level – Maths Studies is acceptable).
    • BTEC: No BTEC qualifications are accepted.
  • Subjects required
    • Biology and Chemistry.
    • General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.
    • Other non-standard subjects may not be accepted.
  • Contextual Offers
    • Alternative offer through 🔗 Pathways to Birmingham programmes (alternative offers can typically be two grades below the standard offer).
    • 🔗 Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school/college (alternative offer will be one grade lower than the standard offer).

What’s it like studying Medicine at the University of Birmingham? 

The course is varied (with no two weeks being the same!), and structured to help you build up your confidence and skills as you progress through the years. It is academically stimulated, and some periods have higher workload, and some with lower workload, to make sure you can keep up.

In the pre-clinical years (earlier), your timetable will be much more full compared to non-medical students but there is still enough time to socialise, get involved in societies and other activities, and get plenty of rest.

In the clinical years (later), you will spend most of your time in hospitals, but how much you spend and what you get out of it is up to you.

You will need to write at least one essay per year so it is a good idea to get as much support as you can get with academic writing so you can get the highest grade possible.

Sometimes intercalation is an option (where you take a year out to study a short 1-year Bachelor’s or Master’s course), but you need to have done well in your early year exams.

There is a Prosection Spotter examination at the end of Year 2 so make sure you keep on top of your Year 2 anatomy – you will also be required to link it to Year 2 module knowledge.

Course Content 

Pre-clinical years: Years 1 and 2

  • Foundations of science and medicine; anatomy and modules about the structure anf function of the human body, through lectures and prosection. Prosection is when you either observe a dissection performed by a professional or examine parts of the human body which have already been dissected by a professional.
  • Modules include Biological Sciences, Medicine in Society, Community Based Medicine, Regional Anatomy, and Professional Academic Skills.
  • Clinical skills: basic examinations, history taking, blood pressure measuring
  • Exam style: a mix of long and short answer questions, multiple choice questions, essays, and Prosectorium Spotter test (where you are expected to recall and spot out certain anatomical features)

Clinical years

Year 3

  • You will receive more teaching in hospitals rather than in lecture halls and classrooms.
  • Lessons will be taught by Clinical Teaching Fellows (junior doctors) with the support of senior clinicians and a range of healthcare professionals so that students can gather a broad insight into the inner workings of healthcare, especially the multi-disciplinary team.
  • You will need to attend some Community Based Medicine placements.
  • Exam formats: multiple choice questions, essays

Years 4 and 5

  • You can choose to look at different specialisms during your studies, and work with a foundation doctor (recently qualified junior doctor) to consider problem solving and the range of things you might encounter.
  • A one month, full-time elective placement – you choose what to study and where to do it (in the UK, abroad, your choice!)
  • You will need to attend some Community Based Medicine placements.
  • Exam formats: multiple choice questions, essays

In the clinical years, you will develop the following clinical skills:

  • More advanced and thorough examinations
  • History taking
  • Venepuncture (blood-taking)
  • IM (intramuscular) injections
  • Administration of oxygen
  • Inserting a cannula

Teaching style and formats

There are a variety of teaching formats:

  • Lectures: daily, from 1 per day to 5/6 per day depending which year you’re in.
  • Small group teaching: depending on modules, could be as frequent as every day!
  • Seminars: usually in Year 2, otherwise less common
  • Anatomy practicals: depends on the year you’re in and the module, but usually weekly.
  • Prosectorium: prosection sessions are regular throughout the semester

Life at Birmingham Medical School

There are lots of societies available for medical students to join:

MedSoc – The University of Birmingham has a large 🔗 MedSoc aimed at students studying courses in the college of Medical and Dental Sciences. Within MedSoc, there are over 70 different societies to ensure that you can get involved with something that fits your schedule and interests! Societies are broadly split into a few categories: Charities, Sports and Academics. You can find out more about these, and examples of the societies on the Birmingham MedSoc website. Birmingham MedSoc strives to be inclusive and is actively working to ensure that there is something for everyone regardless of course, sobriety, background, and more! MedSoc also have a monthly newsletter full of opportunities.

  • Examples of MedSoc charitiy societies include BWAMS (Widening Access to Medicine), Teddy Bear Hospital and Docs Not Cops
  • Examples of MedSoc sport societies include Football, Netball and Rugby
  • Examples of MedSoc academic societies include BAMSOC, AnatomySoc and Dermatology Society
  • Examples of other MedSoc societies include DebateSoc, IMed and MedYoga.

Guild of Students – If you can’t find a society for you within MedSoc, you can join a Guild Of Student Society! The Guild of Students is our Student Union at Birmingham, and their societies are aimed at all students across the University. You can find out more about their Student Groups on their 🔗 website.

Student Representation – The Curriculum and Wellbeing Committee (CAWC) is the student representation system for Medicine. They have numerous elected roles that you can get involved in, from being a year representative through to wellbeing or diversity representative. Year representatives then elect representatives for your small groups – so there are many opportunities to represent your peers. CAWC also support you in raising feedback or concerns, and advocate for change within the Medical School where required.

Opportunities to develop skills:

  • Peer Teaching – CAWC also offer a mentoring scheme where you can be mentored and supported by an older year student, or mentor a younger year. 
  • WorkLink – Worklink is the University of Birmingham’s casual recruitment agency, dedicated to helping students find flexible, part-time work on campus. Medical Students are able to apply for temporary jobs – including to help out on Open Days, become a student ambassador, or work in some of the food outlets.