This article explains the requirements, clinical placement opportunities and rankings of the University of Oxford’s Medicine degree — find out what they have to offer and what you need in terms of academic achievements, UCAT results and work experience!
In this article on the University of Oxford,
Overview of the University of Oxford
The University of Oxford takes pride in how its medical course places a strong emphasis on research and the clinical aspect of being a doctor. Their medicine course (and the university in general) is consistently ranked among the top globally — Times Higher Education has ranked Oxford Medical Sciences first for the past 9 years. Hence, entry into the medical programme is highly competitive. Even after applicants have been shortlisted for an interview, there is only one position for around every two and a half applicants.
|Times Higher Ed Rank||QS Rankings||Academic Ranking of World Universities |
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University of Oxford medical courses
|Course Code||Length||Colleges that offer medicine|
|A100||6 Years Full Time||Balliol, Brasenose, Christ Church, Corpus Christi, Exeter, Hertford, Jesus, Keble, Lady Margaret Hall, Lincoln, Magdalen, Merton, New, Oriel, Pembroke, Queen’s, St Anne’s, St Catherine’s, St Edmund Hall, St Hilda’s, St Hugh’s, St John’s, St Peter’s, Somerville, Trinity, University, Wadham, Worcester|
Choosing a college:
When applying to Oxford, candidates can choose to specify a college that they’d prefer to attend or make an open application to all the colleges they are eligible for. It’s important to note that applying directly to a college doesn’t mean you won’t be considered for entry into other colleges. In fact, over a third of successful applicants in 2020 received an offer from a college that they didn’t specifically apply for.
So, strictly speaking, you don’t get to pick which college you attend — you may be ‘reallocated’ to another college that you didn’t apply for and you cannot change this. However, if there is a college that you particularly want to or don’t want to go to, you should definitely specify your college of preference on your application to maximise your chances of going where you want.
All Oxford colleges have the same admissions process and the degree that you receive upon graduating is the same regardless of which college you attended. Making a direct or open application should not impact your chances of being accepted into Oxford’s medical programme, since the colleges prioritise candidates who best suit their selection criteria, regardless of their type of application.
- A*AA in three A-levels (excluding Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills and General Studies)
Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers
- Applicants must have taken the Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers in the same academic year, and received the following minimum results:
- Higher: AAAAA
- Advanced Highers: AA in Chemistry and at least one from Biology, Physics or Mathematics
- 39 (including core points) with 766 at Higher Level (HL)
- Chemistry and at least one of Biology, Physics or Mathematics at Higher Level
- D2D3D3 in Three Principal Subjects taken in the same academic year
- Chemistry and at least one from Biology, Physics, Mathematics or Further Mathematics
- See the requirements for BTEC qualifications, Irish Leaving Certificate, Welsh Baccalaureate, European Baccalaureate and Liceo Scientifico here.
- For all other international qualifications, check to see if they are eligible here.
- If you need further information about the academic requirements, you can email the Pre-Clinical Admissions Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
- UCAT is NOT required for the Oxford medical course.
Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT):
- Oxford will only accept BMAT results from the November sitting.
- There is no specific cut-off but a higher mark will make candidates more competitive and more likely to be short-listed — among shortlisted applicants in 2020, the mean adjusted BMAT score was 68% (only 25% of applicants were interviewed from 2018 to 2020, and only 9% were offered positions)
- Applicants can talk about their work or volunteering experiences in their interviews to support their case, however, there are no compulsory work experience requirements.
- In their interview, applicants just need to show how they have the personal characteristics and academic potential to become an ideal medical doctor, but there are no set rules for how you should do this.
- On Oxford’s website, they note that: “Tutors may ask you about extra-curricular activities which you have mentioned in your personal statement, particularly to help you settle into the interview. However extra-curricular activities will not be assessed unless they help to demonstrate how you meet the selection criteria for your course.”
- Submit your UCAS application by the October deadline
- Register for and sit the BMAT in November
- If you are shortlisted, attend your interviews upon invitation in December
- Offers are released in January the following year
Normally, you’ll receive your interview offer 7-10 days before your interview date. The invitation will also specify where the interviews will be held and how long they should take, so you should have enough time to organise your transport to and from the venue. If you are struggling with the cost of travelling to Oxford, you can contact the college that has invited you for the interview and they will try to help you.
At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer panel will try to make you feel comfortable by introducing themselves with casual conversation and explaining how the interview will be conducted. They might ask you questions about things you’ve written on your personal statement to ease you into the interview.
The University of Oxford provides some sample questions on its website. Here are some of them:
- Put these countries in order by their crude mortality (deaths per thousand of the population): Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa, the UK.
- The viruses that infect us are totally dependent on human cells for their reproduction; is it therefore surprising that viruses cause human diseases?
Here are some key things to note when answering any interview question.
You aren’t expected to know the answers.
It’s highly unlikely that many, if any, students will have the factual knowledge to answer these questions correctly and certainly. As an Oxford medicine tutor explains: ‘For the most part, interviews are about seeing how well you can think something through, not how much you already know. So don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you are unfamiliar with a particular technical term, or if a question you’ve been asked seems unclear or ambiguous.’
It’s a discussion.
You don’t have to monologue your way through the interview; if you’ve hit a brick wall or need more information to provide perceptive observations, ask the interviewer questions that will help you do so. If they offer a prompt, utilise it — it demonstrates that you are open to new ideas and can adapt your thinking to account for different considerations. You want to show that you have the potential to think beyond a set syllabus and that you aren’t coached to recite basic responses.
It’s ok to say the wrong thing.
In an extreme simplification, the interview can be equated to you responding to complex scenarios by thinking aloud. So, you’ll likely make some false statements as you refine your response and probe around for answer. An Oxford medicine tutor assures that this is nothing to be concerned about: ‘You said something that on reflection does not seem so clever after all? No big deal. “Oh – sorry – I take that back…” (big smile) “perhaps this might be a better way to think about it…” Exploring a blind alley or two is part of the normal thought process, and everyone makes occasional mistakes, but only very good candidates spot their own mistakes and recover from them.’
Here, the University of Oxford explains what kind of responses and considerations they are looking for, in particular, to the above sample questions.
Interview Selection Criteria:
- Empathy: ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others
- Motivation: a reasonably well-informed and strong desire to practise medicine
- Communication: ability to make knowledge and ideas clear using language appropriate to the audience
- Honesty and integrity
- Ethical awareness
- Ability to work with others
- Capacity for sustained and intense work
- Alignment of individual values and behaviours with the values of the NHS Constitution.
- Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach
- Intellectual curiosity: keenness to understand the reason for observations; depth; tendency to look for meaning; enthusiasm and curiosity in science
- Communication skills: willingness and ability to express clearly and effectively; ability to listen; compatibility with the tutorial format
Clinical placement information
Years 1 to 3
There will be no clinical placements in the first three years of this course, however, students will have the opportunity to learn from NHS clinicians in Oxford’s Medical Sciences Teaching Centre
Students will undertake clinical placements at a general practice for one week and at a District General Hospital for 6 weeks.
Students will attend clinical rotations to learn about different specialities in depth. This includes an ophthalmology placement at the Oxford Eye Hospital, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and Emergency Medicine at the John Radcliffe Hospital. There will also be a clinical placement block dedicated to community medicine where students will investigate clinical geratology, dermatology, palliative care, primary health care and public health.
Again, students will spend time in various clinical settings to reinforce their learning. This involves being attached to a medical firm for 5 weeks, to two different specialities for 2 weeks and 3 weeks respectively, and to a District General Hospital for 6 weeks (3 weeks will be spent in surgery and another 3 weeks in medicine).
NHS Trust partners and hospitals
- Oxford University Hospitals
- John Radcliffe Hospital
- Churchill Hospital
- Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre
- Horton General Hospital in Banbury
- Royal Berkshire Hospital
- Milton Keynes General Hospital
- Great Western Hospital
- Swindon Buckinghamshire Hospitals
- Wycombe Hospital
- Stoke Mandeville Hospital
- Northampton General Hospital