9.6 Foundation and Access courses

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 aimed at 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 schools. Each course also has English language requirements which must be met to be eligible for them.

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 to re-apply for medical school as they are general science-related foundation courses rather than being tailored for entry into medical school exclusively.

A list of universities which provide Foundation courses is available here.

It is worth noting 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 aimed at 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 schools.

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 for pursue a medical degree. The applicants should also 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 which may offer a guaranteed interview scheme. It is also important to check which medical schools recognise the access course offered as a suitable academic qualification to gain a place on their medical course.

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