Foundation and Access Courses

Last updated: 10/04/2019

Foundation courses

Foundation courses, sometimes referred to as Year 0, are carried out prior to a medical degree and are aimed at different populations of students depending on the university. Some courses are for prospective students with non-science backgrounds whereas some are aimed at students who have completed the appropriate science A levels but have not achieved the grades necessary for entry into medical school. Each course has English language requirements that must be met.

It is essential to do thorough research about this option because every university’s foundation courses are unique. For example, some universities guarantee admission into their 5-year medical programmes upon completion of the course. On the other hand, some courses will require you to reapply for medical school as they are general science-related foundation courses rather than being tailored for exclusive entry into medical school.

Note that you will have to apply to these courses through UCAS, with the exception of the University of Liverpool.

Access courses

Access courses are college-based programmes for individuals who would like to pursue medicine but do not have A levels in biology and chemistry. These courses are meant for mature learners, not students who have recently failed to reach the necessary A-level grades for entry into medical school.

Prior GCSE and other academic qualifications still play a part when applying to access courses, with the applicants having to show that they have the academic calibre and enthusiasm needed to pursue a medical degree. The applicants should demonstrate their awareness of what a career in medicine entails by completing relevant work experience and being able to reflect on their experiences.

It is, again, essential to do thorough research as access courses differ in terms of their entry requirements and other factors, depending on the college. For example, it is important to check if the college has any links with medical schools that offer a guaranteed interview scheme. It is important to check which medical schools recognise the access course offered as a suitable academic qualification to gain a place on their medical degree.

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