Minimum Age To Study Medicine (UK Medical Schools Compared)

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.

If you’re below the minimum age requirement to study medicine, it could mean that your dreams of becoming a doctor may have to wait a couple more years.

But, just how old do you have to be to go to medical school in the UK?

The minimum age for a student to attend medical school in the UK is generally 17 or 18, depending on the medical school. However, a significant number of universities do not explicitly state an age requirement, although it is highly unlikely that a student under 16 would be accepted.

Even if you are currently below this age limit, there are a few things you can still do to progress your medicine application.

In this article, I’m going to explore a bit more of the nuances behind UK medical schools’ age requirements as well as considering why they’re enforced.

Why Do Medical Schools Have Minimum Age Requirements?

I can imagine it would be incredibly frustrating to be held back from applying to a university just because of your age.

It would certainly lead me to question why medical schools even enforce these minimum ages.

The simple answer is due to legal reasons.

In the UK, anybody under 18 is classed as a child. With many modern medicine courses having a lot of early clinical contact, this can throw up some serious issues.

Clinical contact means interacting with patients, examining them, and working in hospitals or possibly GP practices.

You generally need to be an adult to work in a clinical environment, due to the fact you may be assisting with procedures, working unsupervised for periods of time and interfacing with the public.

In a course that has a lot of early clinical contact, a student’s learning would be seriously impeded if they weren’t able to attend these sessions due to their age.

There is also something to be said for age being an indirect measure of maturity.

As a medical student, you need to have the emotional intelligence and maturity to deal with lots of different challenging situations that can occur in medicine.

Even with the best grades in the country, it’s incredibly unlikely a twelve-year-old would have the interpersonal skills and social maturity to be able to consult with adults in a meaningful way.

Do All UK Medical Schools Have A Minimum Age Requirement?

The common age cut-off that UK universities use is either 17 or 18 years old.

But, not every medical school explicitly states a minimum age for a student to be eligible to attend their program.

Although there’s not always a visible statement on their website, however, I believe that almost any medical school would reject an applicant who is under the age of 16.

Researching medical schools’ minimum age requirements

As discussed above, educating a medical student at this young an age would throw up a lot of practical difficulties.

Although they may be intellectually capable of learning and processing the theory of a medical degree, medicine is a lot more than just written learning from a textbook.

Without being allowed to attend clinics, surgeries or wards due to their age, a medical student would never be able to fully round off their education to become a doctor.

Age Requirements For UK Medical Schools

Below are the age requirements for all the UK medical schools that run undergraduate medicine courses.

For medical schools that only run graduate entry schemes, such as Warwick or Swansea, there are no minimum age requirements but you do need to have another undergraduate degree.

I’ve tried to preserve each university’s terminology in their age restrictions as much as possible- so as to make it clearer exactly what they require.

Medical SchoolAge Requirement
University of AberdeenNo minimum age requirement listed
Anglia RuskinYou must be a minimum of 18 years of age by 1 November, in the year that you commence your course
Aston UniversityAston University permits applicants under the age of 18 to apply to study and enrol onto its programmes
University of BirminghamNo minimum age requirement listed
Brighton and SussexBrighton and Sussex accept applicants who are 17 when they start the course. They are unable to consider applicants who will be 16 or under at the start of the course
University of BristolStudents must be 18 years of age (or above) at the beginning of their year of entry to undertake the clinical experiential learning in Bristol’s teaching general practices and clinical academies
BrunelApplicants must be over the age of 18 by the course start date
University of BuckinghamStudents must have reached the age of 17 by the date of their first registration
University of CambridgeMedical students are required to be 18 years of age by the beginning of November of Year 1 to be eligible to apply for Medicine
Cardiff UniversityStudents must be 18 years of age by 20 September of year 1
University of DundeeNo minimum age requirement listed
Edge Hill UniversityStudents must be aged 18 or above on the first day of the course. The course will typically begin in mid-September although the exact date will vary for each academic year
University of East AngliaApplicants to the course need to be aged 18 or over by the start date of the degree
University of EdinburghThere is no minimum or maximum age for entry
University of ExeterExeter will not admit students under 17 years old, and all students must be 18 years old by the end of January within the first year of the programme
University of GlasgowNo minimum age requirement listed
Hull YorkApplicants must be aged 17 or over on the 1 October in the year you enroll on to the programme
Imperial College LondonStudents must be 18 years of age by the time they would start the course
Keele UniversityStudents must be 18 years old by 1 October
Kent and MedwayAll applicants must be 18 years of age by the date of the first clinical placement in term 1 (usually early November)
King’s College LondonKing’s is only able to accept applicants who will turn 18 years of age before commencing the second year of the Medicine degree
Lancaster UniversityNo minimum age requirement listed
University of LeedsApplicants must be 18 years of age or over by the first day of the programme
University of LeicesterApplicants must be 18 years old by 1 September of their year of entry
LincolnStudents must be 17 or older by 1 September of the year they’ll begin their course to be considered
University of LiverpoolAccepted applicants must be 18 years old by the 1st October in the year of entry to the programme
University of ManchesterManchester accepts students who are 17 years old or above onto the course. However, they do not consider applications from students who would be 16 on the start day of the course
Newcastle UniversityStudents need to turn 18 by the end of their first semester
University of NottinghamStudents must be 17 or older by 1 September of the year they’ll begin their course to be considered
University of OxfordOxford requires all applicants to be at least 18 years of age by 1st November in the year they intend to start the degree course
University of PlymouthPlymouth is unable to enrol any candidate who has not turned 18 prior to the course induction period finishing
Queen Mary UniversityCandidates must be 18 or over by the end of course enrolment (mid-September)
Queen’s University BelfastApplicants must be at least 17 years old
University of SheffieldApplicants must be 18 years old by the first day of the second term
University of SouthamptonStudents must be a minimum of 18 years of age when they start a medical degree programme
University of St AndrewsThe university welcomes applications from people of all ages and applications will be considered on their individual merits
St George’sTo be considered under the age of eighteen applicants are required to complete the Request to Enrol Under the Age of Eighteen form
University of SunderlandSunderland requires all applicants to be 18 years old by 31 December in the year they intend to start the course
University College LondonStudents must be 18 years of age at the time they start the medical degree programme
University of Central LancashireNo minimum age requirement listed

For a lot of the medical schools listed, even when they did specify their age requirements they didn’t go into a huge amount of detail.

If you think you’d be a borderline case or have other factors that could play into your age calculation, I’d always recommend contacting the university you’re planning on applying to.

What Can You Do If You’re Too Young To Study Medicine?

If you’re too young to attend medical school at present, you do still have a few options open to you for kickstarting your medical career.

Although you might not be able to start straight away, in the grand scheme of things you’ll still become a doctor at a far younger age than the average.

Minimum Age To Study Medicine Pixel Infographic

Wait Till You’re Older

Your first option is pretty simple- it’s just taking a year or two out to wait till you’re old enough to get into medical school.

Although you may be disappointed at not being able to start studying immediately, putting a year out into perspective against your entire medical career, there really is no rush to get to medical school at a super young age.

If you were to start a medical degree at 18, you’d graduate at 23 and still have potentially 42 years working as a doctor until retiring at 65.

Apply For A Deferred Place At Medical School

Your second option is to apply for a deferred place at medical school.

This is where a university will give you an offer for a spot on the course, but you won’t actually start till the following year.

Lots of people do this if they want to take a gap year- they can apply for a deferred place so they know they’ve got an offer in the bag, then can take their year out knowing when they come back they’ll start as a medical student.

This could be a great option if you’re only under the age limit by a year or less.

By applying for a deferred place you can hopefully secure a couple of offers to choose from, and even if you’re unsuccessful you can always apply again the following year.

Only Apply To Medical Schools Without An Age Limit

Your final option is only to apply to medical schools that don’t specifically state a minimum age for their students.

This is possibly the best option if you’re keen to get started immediately and are over 16.

As I mentioned before, if you’re under 16 I think it would have to be a unique situation for you to be accepted by a UK university to study medicine.

Although a medical school may not explicitly state a minimum age requirement on their website, if you’re in this situation it will always be best to get in contact with the medical school directly.

The majority of students applying will be 18 or over, so they may have more nuanced rules for younger students wishing to apply that aren’t published publicly.

Final Thoughts

If you are going to be under 18 at the point at which you might start a medical degree, I would recommend you carefully research which universities you’re planning on applying to.

Policies do vary, so you’ll want to only pick medical schools that have rules that would suit you.

It would be a massive shame to be rejected from somewhere just because you didn’t meet their age requirements for medicine.

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.