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Transferring To A Medicine Degree: Your Complete Guide

Transferring To A Medicine Degree: Your Complete Guide

Updated on: December 3, 2023
Photo of author
Written By Dr Ollie

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

You may have heard that it’s possible to transfer to a medicine degree from another course at university.

Could this potentially be a way to avoid medical entrance exams, need lower grades to get into university and sidestep the sky-high competition ratios for getting a medicine offer?

In this article, I’m going to address whether it’s even possible to transfer onto a medicine program, how it could be done if it is and how this might influence your UCAS choices.

Can You Transfer To Medicine From Another Degree?

You may have heard school classmates or university friends talking about students transferring from one course onto a medicine degree.

Considering how competitive medicine is to get into, it might seem strange that a university would even accept transfers?

It is possible to transfer to medicine from another degree. Every year, certain UK universities allow a small handful of students to transfer to their medicine program from a related degree. This is only possible at particular universities and with particular courses, however.

This may come as a bit of a surprise to you if you haven’t heard much about the schemes certain universities run.

People tend to assume that there are only 3 routes into medicine:

  1. As a direct school leaver getting in the first time around
  2. After a gap year and reapplication
  3. As a graduate after completing another degree

However, the 4th method is to transfer to medicine from a related degree- it’s why the 5th choice on my UCAS form was for Biomedical Science.

I was lucky enough to get into medicine on my first attempt, but I could have had the option of studying one year of Biomedical Science and then applying for a transfer.

Which Courses Allow Students To Transfer To Medicine?

It’s not possible to transfer to medicine from any old degree. Generally, the course will have to be a specific science-based undergraduate program that would have significant overlap with a medicine course.

Courses that medical schools generally allow students to transfer to medicine with include:

  • Biomedical Science
  • Medical Science
  • Clinical Sciences
  • Pharmacy
  • Biological Sciences
  • Neuroscience
  • Natural Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Optometry
Transferring To A Medicine Degree Pixel Infographic

An important thing to note, however, is that each individual medical school may only accept students from a small handful of the subjects listed above.

The list is more of a general compilation of courses that students can transfer from- very roughly in order of most often accepted to least often accepted.

Slightly later in the article, I’m going to break down the exact requirements each UK medical school has for their medicine transfer schemes.

Medical Schools That Accept Transfer Students

For universities that allow it, there are generally quite specific rules dictating who is or isn’t eligible for a medicine transfer.

Every medical school has slightly different restrictions, but the general rules are as follows:

  • You must be one of the top performing students on a medically related degree (e.g. Biomedical Science, Clinical Sciences etc.)
  • You can’t have failed any of the individual modules on your course
  • You need to get at least a 2:1 in your first-year exams
  • You must be passionate about studying medicine and have clear motivations for switching course

It’s also best to have made your aspiration of transferring to medicine clear early on. A few medical schools will ask your academic tutor for a reference so they will best be able to support your application if they’ve always known that was your goal.

A Biomedical Science student in a laboratory

Below is a list of medical schools that accept internal transfers to their medicine courses. It’s not an exhaustive list, as some medical schools don’t openly advertise their transfer schemes, but I have made every attempt to ensure the information was correct at the time of writing.

As with all these things, your best bet is to phone up a university directly if you want to find out more information about their internal transfer opportunities.

Anglia Ruskin

Eligible Courses– Medical Science
– Biomedical Science
– Optometry
Requirements– A minimum average mark of 75% across the first year with no less than 65% for any one module
– A current UCAT score
– Applicants must also meet the GCSE requirements for their medicine degree
Places Available~5

Anglia Ruskin runs an internal transfer programme for students on the 3 courses listed above.

The way it works is you start on one of the degrees and simultaneously make an application to medicine at Anglia Ruskin through UCAS.

The admissions team will then review your application to ensure you meet their GCSE requirements (at least 5 GCSEs graded A*-B or 9-6, including maths, English language and two science subjects) and have a valid UCAT score.

If you meet these requirements, you’ll be ranked alongside every other student that applies to Anglia Ruskin via UCAS that year.

Depending on your UCAT score, you may be invited to interview. If you are, and you’re successful, you’ll then be given a conditional offer for medicine.

This conditional offer will be that you achieve at least 65% in each of your first-year modules and that you get an overall average of at least 75%.

Meeting these 2 conditions, you’ll be allowed to enter year 1 of medicine instead of entering year 2 of your current degree.

Bradford University

Eligible Courses– Foundation in Clinical Science and Medicine
– Clinical Sciences 
Requirements– 1st year average of at least 70%, (including 70% in Chemistry in the Foundation year) and no failed assessments
– Students must meet the Sheffield UCAT threshold
– At least 2 widening participation criteria
Places Available~15

Both the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield accept transfer students from Bradford University onto their medicine courses.

This is a specialised scheme designed to widen participation in medicine so can only be utilised by students hitting at least 2 of the widening participation criteria.

Students on either the foundation course or the BSc Clinical Sciences can apply via UCAS to either Leeds or Sheffield Medical School.

Students apply once they have their end-of-year results and will need to have achieved an average of at least 70% across their modules.

Applicants are also required to meet the same minimum UCAT threshold as any other applicant, meeting Sheffield’s minimum cut-off.

Brighton And Sussex Universities

Eligible Courses– Biomedical Science
– Medical Neuroscience
– Biological Sciences
– Pharmacy
Requirements– AAA at A-level with a minimum of a 6 in both maths and English GCSE
– An excellent term 1 class-attendance record
– 70% overall average for term 1 modules
– BMAT required
Places Available~5

Brighton and Sussex Medical School guarantee an interview to students on certain courses at either Brighton or Sussex University.

Importantly, this is a guarantee of being invited to interview for a place at medical school, not a guarantee of an offer.

To be eligible, you have to be studying a life science course at either Brighton or Sussex University.

This includes:

  • Biomedical Science (Brighton & Sussex)
  • Medical Neuroscience (Sussex)
  • Biological Sciences (Brighton)
  • Pharmacy (Brighton)

There’s the option to apply both at the end of year 1 and at the end of year 3.

Students make an application through UCAS and must meet all the requirements listed above; including sitting the BMAT.

Cardiff University

Eligible Courses– Medical Pharmacology
– Biomedical Sciences
– Medical Sciences
Requirements– UCAT required
– Students must graduate with a first or upper-second-class degree
– BBB/ABC at A-level
– 8 GCSEs including grade B/6 in GCSE English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry
Places Available~15

Cardiff Medical School run a graduate entry medicine course but only for students on recognised feeder stream undergraduate programs.

These are:

  • BSc (Hons) Medical Pharmacology (Cardiff University)
  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences (Cardiff University)
  • BMedSci Degree (University of Bangor)
  • BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences (University of South Wales)

The scheme was developed as part of Cardiff’s commitment to widening access to medicine. A small number of selected students from the feeder streams take additional modules during their undergraduate course that then make them eligible to study medicine as a postgraduate.

Cardiff’s graduate entry 4-year course is essentially equivalent to years 2-5 of their undergraduate course. The feeder stream undergraduate degree with the additional modules essentially replaces the first year of medical school.

Students wishing to apply for the program apply via UCAS and need to have a UCAT score from within two years of applying. Cardiff don’t have a UCAT cut-off score but do use it to decide who to interview.

Exeter University

Eligible Courses– Medical Sciences
– Neuroscience
Requirements– Predicted or achieved at least a 2:1 classification
– No professionalism issues
Places Available~5

Any student in their final year of Medical Sciences or Neuroscience at Exeter University can apply via UCAS to their medicine course.

As long as the student is predicted (or has achieved) at least a 2:1 classification in their undergraduate degree, Exeter will automatically shortlist them for an interview.

Interestingly, there is no requirement for students to sit either the UCAT or the GAMSAT.

Interviewers assess each candidate individually and aim to answer the question:

“Has this candidate demonstrated the qualities (i.e. attitude, behaviours, and values) to be offered a place to train as a doctor at Exeter Medical School?”

Exeter’s interview and then offer selection process reflects that used for their direct school leaver applicants.

If successful at interview, and as long as they’ve not had any professionalism issues over the course of their undergraduate degree, a student will then be able to begin studying medicine.

Leicester University

Eligible Courses– Biological Science
– Medical Science
– Clinical Sciences
– Chemistry
– Natural Sciences
– Psychology
Requirements– UCAT required
– High academic achievement
– “Ongoing commitment to medicine”
Places Available~10

The University of Leicester runs an internal transfer scheme that allows students on the above courses to compete for the opportunity to switch to their A100 medicine program.

When I was studying at Leicester, I remember a small handful of students joining our cohort from these medically related degrees.

Leicester state that the following is taken into account when evaluating candidates:

  • Their first year’s academic achievement
  • Their A-levels
  • UCAT score
  • Personal statement
  • Evidence of an ongoing commitment to medicine
  • A student’s references

The highest-scoring candidates are invited to a Multiple Mini Interview and if successful, will be allowed to enter year 1 of the A100 medicine course.

Due to the significant crossover in curriculum, students applying from Leicester’s Clinical Sciences course will actually be allowed to join in the second year of medical school.

Newcastle University

Eligible Courses– Biomedical Sciences
– Biochemistry
– Biomedical Genetics
– Physiological Sciences
– Pharmacology
Requirements– A minimum average mark of 75% across the semester 1 modules
– No less than 65% for any one module
– UCAT required
Places Available~7

Each year, Newcastle Medical School considers applications to their medicine course from students currently enrolled in a biomedical or biomolecular degree program.

Students who wish to transfer need to have achieved excellent marks across the first portion of their degree, requiring a minimum average mark of 75% across their first semester.

Newcastle do require candidates to have a valid UCAT score from within two years of commencing stage 1 of their bioscience degree programme.

Applicants to the transfer scheme are then ranked by their UCAT score and a top portion invited to interview.

Following a panel interview, offers are made to candidates who achieve the highest interview scores.

“Offers will be conditional on the candidate achieving a minimum average Stage 1 mark of 75% across all six Stage 1 modules and no less than 65% for any one module.”

Newcastle do also state that students applying to medicine via this internal transfer route are not permitted to also apply via UCAS. So you’d have to pick one or the other.

Plymouth University

Eligible Courses– Biomedical Science
– Human Biosciences
Requirements– Applicants must achieve AAB at A-level
– A minimum of 70% average across all year 1 degree modules
Places Available~5

The University of Plymouth allows students on either their Biomedical Science or Human Biosciences courses to transfer to medicine after the first year.

Students apply via UCAS and successful applicants are able to join at the start of the next medicine course running.

Plymouth don’t require candidates to have sat the UCAT but do place restrictions on their A-levels and academic achievement across the first year of their course as detailed above.

The transfer scheme runs both for medicine and for dentistry. Plymouth say they interview approximately 20 students each year who’ve applied for a transfer and ultimately end up giving approximately 10 offers out, across both medicine and dentistry.

Queen Mary University Of London

Eligible Courses– Biomedical Sciences
– Neuroscience
– Pharmacology & Innovative Therapeutics
Requirements– UCAT required
– High academic achievement
Places Available~5

Queen Mary University of London give guaranteed interviews to the 19 highest-ranked students from the 3 courses included in their transfer scheme: Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience and Pharmacology and Innovative Therapeutics.

Students are selected at the end of their second year, from a combination of both their academic ranking (50%) and their UCAT score (50%).

Out of the 19 selected students, the top 5 are also considered for Queen Mary’s graduate entry medicine course.

So all 19 are guaranteed an interview for the undergraduate 5-year course, but the top 5 also have the opportunity to join their 4-year accelerated graduate entry program.

Manchester

Eligible Courses– Biomedical Sciences
Requirements– Unique application form
– Academic reference
Places Available~7

Manchester Medical School’s internal transfer program began in 2016 and due to being relatively new, there isn’t a huge amount of information available about it that I could find.

From what I can tell, Biomedical Science students are eligible to transfer after completing their first year of the degree.

In order to apply, students have to fill out a specialist application form- answering specific questions within set character limits, in a similar style to a personal statement.

Following this, shortlisted candidates are invited to an MMI interview. The top-scoring candidates for the interview are then given an offer as long as they can produce a positive academic reference.

During the application process, Manchester don’t consider a student’s A-levels or require an entrance exam such as the UCAT or GAMSAT- so presumably selection is made entirely on a student’s degree performance to date and their interview score.

How Easy Is It To Transfer To Medicine?

The unfortunate truth is that transferring to medicine from another degree is almost always an incredibly competitive process.

With courses like Biomedical Science or Clinical Science, a significant number of the cohort each year will have enrolled because they put it down as their 5th choice alongside 4 medicine applications on UCAS.

A Clinical Sciences student examining medical imaging

If you’re attempting to transfer, it’s likely that a lot of your coursemates will have exactly the same ambitions.

Transferring to medicine from another degree is almost always more difficult than getting into medicine through a traditional route.

But, with all that being said, it is still entirely possible.

After all, as described above certain universities reserve medicine places every year specifically for transfer students.

Final Thoughts

Due to the low number of places available coupled with incredibly high competition ratios, I would strongly recommend against applying to a university or course with the sole intention of transferring.

I can’t help but think that enrolling with the sole aim of transferring to medicine will more than likely end in disappointment.

For any number of reasons a university could decide to turn off its transfer scheme for a year or drastically reduce its capacity- leaving you high and dry on a course that you never really wanted to be on.

However, I do think that if you’re planning on studying a subject anyway at university, there’s no harm in selecting an institution where a transfer would be possible, all else being equal.

If you weren’t successful at getting into medicine the first time around, and are now planning on applying as a graduate after getting a biomedical degree, it could be a fantastic bonus if you were given the opportunity to transfer after only your first year.

I think you just have to be realistic about your chances of getting one of the very few transfer offers available- it’s by no means impossible, but I think it could be foolish to bank on getting one.

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.