Updated: Oct 10, 2018

Hello! I’m currently a 4th medical year student, and my course included a foundation year, so essentially the complete duration of my course is 6 years. The first year of my course is counted as “year 0” and from then on, the small 30 odd of us in the foundation year join the large cohort to enter the typical 5 year programme. I’m going to explore the different types of foundation year courses and studying medicine in general.


Just to clarify there are two types of foundation courses, and their structure and content vary in different medical schools, but you will attain the standard MMBS/BMBS/MB etc doctorate degree at the end of the course.  One type is for students who do not hold the required science A-Level(s) or equivalent qualifications and therefore the foundation year, is used to summarise essential basic sciences, so these students can be fully equipped for pre-clinical and clinical medicine.  These courses tend to hold around 20-40 people, with the intent that they will join the larger cohort after their foundation year. Grade requirements often vary, so check with specific medical schools.

The other type of foundation year course aims to widen access to medicine and encourage disadvantaged or non-typical students to study medicine. In the 2015-16 academic period, medical schools across the UK were made up of 48% White British students, however roughly 30% of medical students were BME, and shockingly only 3% of medical students were Afro-Caribbean, as reported by the General Medical Council. As you can see, widening access foundation year courses, aim to select students with potential to become a great doctors, but are held back by low quality of teaching in school, no exposure to higher education in immediate family etc. To apply for these courses there are particular criteria you must fit, and often these courses have adjusted entry requirements, whether it be lower A-Level grades or focusing more on your personal statement and UCAS statement rather that your UKCAT score,  to take into account the background of students. However, you still need to show the competencies of becoming a safe and great doctor. You must pass the foundation year, and some medical schools require that you obtain a certain grade, in order to pass on to the 5 year programme.


So how do you know if should apply for a foundation year course? Well the main themes are:

  • If you haven’t got a science background, whether that be in your GCSE, A-Levels/IB

  • If you didn’t achieve the standard AAA (or above) which is required

  • If you fit particular eligibility criteria such as attending a non selective state school, being the first person in your family to enter higher education, having a low household income, being in care, living in a deprived area etc


  • Bristol

  • Cardiff

  • Dundee

  • Durham

  • East Anglia

  • Keele

  • King’s College London

  • Manchester