Course Guide: Southampton Undergraduate Entry

Southampton is the largest city on the south coast of England and the University has been in the top global 100 for Medicine for the last 8 years. They offer 2 different undergraduate Medicine courses, the opportunity to intercalate to do a Masters course, and have international links with Malaysia and Germany. Southampton also offer a BM4 postgraduate course but that will be covered in a separate guide. 

Entry Requirements

Standard undergraduate entry (BM5)

The BM5 course is your standard 5-year medicine course and the entry requirements for this are AAA at A-level, including Biology and one other science.

You must also hold 7 GCSEs at grade 6/B or above, including English language, maths and either biology/chemistry or combined science. As well as these, you must also sit the 🔗 UCAT exam and then pass the interview stage and clear a DBS check. 

Widening Participation Entry (BM6)

The BM6 course is the widening access to medicine course which is 6 years and includes a foundation year at the start. This course is only for UK students who don’t have a previous degree.

The entry requirements for this course are BBB at A-level in Biology and one other science. You must also hold 7 GCSEs at grade 4/C or above, including English language, maths and either biology/chemistry or combined science. To be considered for the BM6 programme, you must meet at least 3 of these criteria:

  • First generation applicant to Higher Education (your parents didn’t go to university)
  • Either your parents, guardian or yourself are in receipt of a means tested benefit
  • You are looked after by the local authority (in care)
  • You receive the 16-19 bursary or a similar grant
  • You are resident in an area with a postcode which falls within the lowest 20% of the IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation), or a member of a travelling family
  • You were in receipt of free school meals at any time during Years 10-13 (normally for a minimum period of at least one school term/2 months).

Then, you must also sit the UCAT exam and pass a DBS check.

What is it like studying medicine at Southampton?

Studying medicine at Southampton is a fun and enjoyable experience. All the staff are super lovely and helpful, and you have the opportunity to make some really good friends. Southampton is a lovely city to live in and it’s very easy to get around, which is made even easier with your free bus pass in first year (only if you stay in the university accommodation)! The workload is very manageable if you’re organised and on top of things, and this leaves you with a bit of free time to join some societies! Southampton is very big on sports so there is a Medicine team for basically every sport you can think of – football, hockey, netball… The list goes on! In terms of the actual studying, the first 2 years are lectures split between campus and the hospital and then years 3-5 are your clinical years on placement. 

Course content

BM5 year 1: The modules you cover in first year are Foundations of Medicine, the Locomotor System and the Cardiopulmonary System. You do a Medicine in Practice module which is with a GP teacher learning how to take a basic history. You also do 2 student selected units in public health and medical humanities. This year is mainly spent in lectures on the main university campus but you also have lectures at the hospital. You also have some small group tutorials and time in the anatomy lab at the hospital. This involves walking around tables and looking at different cadaver specimens that show the organ system you are currently learning about. The end of year assessment consists of one written exam, one multiple choice exam and one anatomy exam conducted in the anatomy lab. 

BM5 Year 2: The modules you cover in second year are the Nervous system, the Gastrointestinal system, the Renal system and then Endocrinology and the lifecycle. You also do a second Medicine in Practice module which builds on your history taking and teaches you some basic system examinations. This is done mainly with a GP teacher but there are also 4 hospital sessions with a junior doctor. Research for Medicine and Health is a statistics module that is spread throughout the year but is also something that is examined. These lectures are mainly at the hospital but also on the main campus. You still have small group tutorials and the anatomy lab. The end of year assessment consists of one written exam, one multiple choice exam and an anatomy exam. 

BM5 year 3: During September to December of third year, everyone completes a research project. You get allocated a supervisor and you conduct some research – it could be anything from laboratory-based project to a systematic review! After you’ve collected your data, you then complete a 6000 word write up and do a small presentation on your findings. This project then means you graduate with a second degree, a Bachelors of Medical Science. Once January comes around, you begin clinical placement. This involves 3 different 7 week rotations through GP, General Medicine and Surgery and Orthopaedics. In each rotation, you are under a consultant who assesses your attendance and competency and signs you off at the end of the 7 weeks. The placements during this year are based in and around Southampton. Each week on placement, you will have one designated afternoon for you to complete your third student selected unit. This is your opportunity to pick something non-medicine based such as Spanish or cooking! There are also clinical skills sessions dotted around during placement for taking blood, inserting cannulas and catheters, and performing injections. The assessment consists of two multiple choice exams (called the Applied Knowledge Test or AKT) and two OSCE practical exams (which test your clinical skills, like taking patient histories).

BM5 year 4: Fourth year is purely all placement, with 8 weeks of Peadiatrics, 8 weeks of Psychiatry, 8 weeks of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 4 weeks of Acute Medicine (A&E) and 4 weeks specialities (ENT, Dermatology, Neurology, Ophthalmology). This is where you get all your clinical skills officially signed off. These placements are spread all along the south coast, from Dorset to Portsmouth, up to Guildford and down to the Isle of Wight. Over the course of placement, you also have a Medical Ethics and Law module. The assessment is just two AKT exams at the end but remember you need to pass every placement module too!

BM5 year 5: Fifth year covers the same placements as third year: 7 weeks each in GP, Medicine, and surgery and orthopaedics. You also have a fourth student selected unit which is a 3 week placement in a specialty of your interest. You then undertake an Assistantship which is a 4 week placement in the last 6 months of fifth year to help your transition over to being a doctor. You also have an elective which is usually 6-8 weeks of gaining experience in a different healthcare setting, in England or abroad. Your final assessments consist of AKT exams and work based assessments. 

Other opportunities

There are a ton of societies you can join. MedSoc is an umbrella society which has a few sub-societies but there are also normal university societies too. These range from swimming (done at the leisure centre on campus), medicine speciality societies or even Quidditch! There are always peer teaching opportunities available through different MedSoc societies too – many of the older years set up societies to help teach the younger years and give tips and tricks. The older years are always happy to answer any questions and help where they can so if you meet any through sports etc, don’t be afraid to ask! MedSoc also do lots of charity events throughout the year, such as MedSoc Monty, which is a dance event, and Take Me Out, which groups can sign up for. There are medicine balls that happen every year which are a great opportunity to get dressed up and have a drink and a meal with your friends! Overall, it’s a great well rounded university with someone for everyone. 

Written by Bethany Neall

Hi, my name is Beth and I’m going into my fourth year at Southampton Medical School. Next year, I am the new InsideUni lead for the Widening Access to Medicine Society so I am excited to continue to provide advice to aspiring medical students! In a degree that’s so full on, it’s important to keep up with your hobbies, so I spend my spare time in the gym and relaxing with my friends. Surrounding yourself with a good group of supportive people is key!