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5 Best Medical Schools For Aspiring Surgeons (UK Universities)

5 Best Medical Schools For Aspiring Surgeons (UK Universities)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

The best medical schools for aspiring surgeons can give you a head start on a career as a surgeon before you’ve even graduated as a doctor.

If you’re already set on becoming a surgeon, before you’ve even enrolled in a medical school, there’s no harm in selecting universities that will lend themselves to your aspirations.

I’d suggest the key factor you should look for in a university if you think surgery is for you, is that they offer full-body dissection. (You can find a full list of medical schools that offer full-body dissection here.)

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Aside from that, different universities dedicate varying amounts of time in their curriculum to anatomy and dissection- so you’ll want a university that doesn’t only include anatomy teaching as a tickbox exercise.

I’ve put together this list of 5 medical schools that meet both the above criteria.

It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and you can of course become a surgeon after attending any university, but they may help get the cogs turning if you’re in the midst of trying to select your 4 UCAS medical school choices.

University Of Cardiff

The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff bay

Founded in 1883, the University of Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group, an elite association of research-intensive universities in the UK.

This status speaks volumes about its commitment to providing high-quality education and conducting cutting-edge research.

Cardiff, the vibrant capital city of Wales, serves as the backdrop for the university. This city seamlessly blends the historical with the modern, providing students with a dynamic and enriching experience.

Cardiff boasts a rich cultural scene, including theatres, museums, and galleries, making it a haven for those seeking a balanced student life. The city’s green spaces, like Bute Park and Cardiff Bay, offer tranquil retreats for students looking to unwind.

The medical school at the University of Cardiff boasts a faculty of experienced surgeons and medical professionals who are dedicated to nurturing the next generation of surgical talent.

With state-of-the-art facilities and access to the latest medical technologies, students have the tools they need to excel in their studies.

Cardiff’s strategic location within a healthcare hub ensures that medical students receive hands-on clinical experience from an early stage. Exposure to a diverse patient population and a wide array of surgical cases equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in their surgical careers.

University Of Dundee

The Dundee skyline

Founded in 1881, the University of Dundee is a renowned institution that consistently ranks among the top universities in the UK. Its medical school is widely respected for its commitment to producing highly skilled healthcare professionals.

With a strong emphasis on research, innovation, and clinical excellence, the University of Dundee has earned its place as a leading choice for medical students, especially those aspiring to become surgeons.

Nestled in the heart of Scotland, the University of Dundee enjoys a picturesque and culturally rich setting.

The city of Dundee is perched along the east coast of Scotland, overlooking the stunning River Tay. This location provides students with a unique blend of urban convenience and natural beauty.

Dundee is surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, including the Angus Glens, Cairngorms National Park, and the Fife Coastal Path.

The city is also home to a vibrant cultural scene, featuring theatres, museums, and art galleries, ensuring that students have access to enriching experiences beyond their studies.

Importantly, Dundee has a strong healthcare infrastructure, with hospitals like Ninewells Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe, situated nearby.

Dundee’s medical students benefit from early clinical exposure, allowing them to gain practical experience in surgical settings from the early years of their education. This hands-on training is crucial for those aspiring to become skilled surgeons.

University Of Cambridge

University of Cambridge grounds

Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is not only one of the oldest educational institutions in the world but also one of the most prestigious.

Renowned for its rigorous academic standards and commitment to groundbreaking research, Cambridge consistently ranks among the top universities globally.

Within this venerable institution lies the School of Clinical Medicine, which has earned its reputation as one of the UK’s foremost medical schools.

Cambridge, situated in the heart of Cambridgeshire in East Anglia, is a city imbued with history and charm. Its historic streets are lined with magnificent Gothic and Renaissance architecture, including the world-famous King’s College Chapel.

The city is home to a thriving scientific community, including the famous Cavendish Laboratory and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. This environment fosters a spirit of scientific inquiry and offers students unparalleled research opportunities.

The School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge boasts an exceptional faculty comprised of leading medical experts and surgeons. This means that students have the privilege of learning from some of the brightest minds in the field.

Cambridge’s alumni network includes Nobel laureates, prominent surgeons, and leaders in the medical field. This network opens doors to mentorship, internships, and career opportunities for aspiring surgeons.

Barts Medical School

London Bridge Hospital

Established in 1123, Barts is one of the oldest medical institutions in Europe, boasting a rich tradition of medical excellence.

Over centuries, it has evolved into a modern, forward-thinking medical school with a commitment to providing students with cutting-edge medical education.

Located in the heart of East London, Barts benefits from its proximity to one of the world’s most diverse and dynamic cities.

Barts students have access to a wealth of clinical training opportunities at some of London’s most prestigious hospitals, including The Royal London Hospital, Newham University Hospital, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital. These facilities offer a wide range of surgical specialties for hands-on experience.

Being in London provides unparalleled networking opportunities, exposure to a vast range of surgical cases, and access to a global healthcare hub, making it an ideal environment for surgical education and career development.

University Of Leicester

A medicine graduate at the University of Leicester throws her mortarboard in the air
A University of Leicester graduate

Founded in 1921, the University of Leicester has steadily risen to prominence in the UK’s higher education landscape.

Leicester is celebrated for its rich cultural tapestry, boasting a vibrant mix of communities and traditions.

Leicester boasts a strong healthcare infrastructure, with hospitals like Leicester Royal Infirmary and Glenfield Hospital in close proximity. These facilities provide students with ample opportunities for clinical training across various surgical specialties.

I personally actually went to the University of Leicester and thought the way they taught anatomy was excellent.

In the first few years of medical school we’d frequently be down in the dissection suite, getting to see first-hand the anatomy we’d just learnt about in a lecture.

While it may not be as prestigious as some of the other universities on this list, I genuinely think it would give you a great foundation for a future surgical career.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned at the top, a portion of medical students graduating from any and every medical school across the UK will go on to become surgeons.

There’s no set list of medical schools you need to have attended, nor do you even need to have undertaken full-body dissection.

However, I’d suggest the 5 medical schools here are some of the best medical schools for aspiring surgeons and could be great to apply to if their selection processes would complement your application.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.