A Brief Guide to Intercalated Degrees


Welcome to the TSR guide to intercalated degrees. This aims to show you the pros and cons of intercalating, whether at your home uni or externally, and guide you through the application process. The current list of available intercalated degrees for external students in the UK is listed, as well as contact details for each department and university. This page was updated July 2013. Please check details with the relevant university before applying.

Shall I do an intercalated degree?

There are many pros and cons to taking an intercalated degree, some of which are listed below. Whilst it may only be 1/6th of your time at medical school, it can seem like a very long year if you make the wrong decision, so think carefully before embarking on an intercalated degree.


  • Getting to study something you genuinely love. If you really enjoyed a certain module at uni but wished it had gone into more depth or that you'd got to spend more time on it, this can be a major reason to undertake an intercalated degree in that area. It's a great opportunity to demonstrate commitment to a specialty if you already know what you want to do, or simply explore an interest in greater detail.
  • Gaining new skills. If your medical school doesn't really bother with labs in the pre-clinical years and you're dying to play with pipettes and million-pound microscopes, do a lab-based BSc. Equally, if you never want to see a petri dish again, there are literature based projects and degrees - and that can mean English Literature just as much as PubMed.
  • Getting your name on PubMed. The vast majority of intercalated degrees involve an extended project comprising additional research, the end result of which can often be turned into a publishable paper. This means more FPAS points, and points mean prizes not having to work in dermatology in Scunthorpe.
  • Extra letters on your CV. Having 'iBSc (Hons)' after your name can look pretty sexy, but it's also often cited as a minimum requirement for entry onto academic foundation programs and certain specialty training pathways such as surgery. An additional degree also gives you more points for Foundation Programme applications, though the number of points allocated is subject to change, and this really shouldn't be a deciding factor in choosing whether or not to do an intercalated year.
  • A change is as good as a rest. Pre-clinicals can be exhausting, and the prospect of another 2, 3, or 4 years at medical school can be daunting. A year away from medicine can mean returning to the course mentally refreshed and excited to continue with your medical training.
  • Free time! Some intercalated degrees have significantly less contact hours than you might be used to, so this can be an opportunity to take up all those extra curriculars you never thought you'd have time to do. This can also be an opportunity to work part time to save up for the times in clinical years when you won't have time for employment.
  • New friends. Depending on your subject, you may be in classes with non-medical students, but even if your intercalated degree is with medics, you'll be returning to medical school in the year group below you, giving you an opportunity to get to know plenty of other students. If you choose to intercalate externally, you'll be potentially surrounded by new faces.


  • On finishing your intercalated year, you'll enter the year below. This means watching friends who you started medical school with graduate before you.
  • It's another year at university with all the costs associated with this. Whilst Student Finance will (albeit reluctantly) fund an additional year, it's still a year less of income. This lost working year comes off the end of your career, not the beginning, so overall the cost of your intercalated year can be a year's worth of consultant salary (circa £100,000). If you're in the unlucky band that are worse off on NHS funding than SFE funding, you'll have two years of additional poverty (Years 5 & 6) instead of one (Year 5).
  • It's another year at university. This means not graduating until probably your mid-twenties, by which point your old school friends are minted investment bankers or have three kids and a mortgage (or indeed are investment bankers with three kids and their own home). It can be hard watching people cross lifes milestones whilst you're still being a student, but this is something you're probably used to as a medic anyway.
  • Being thrown in at the deep end. An intercalated degree is designed to mimic, or in some cases actually is, the final year of a degree. This can mean having to catch up with colleagues who have already studied this subject full time for two or three years.

Still not sure if you want to intercalate or not?

Make your own pros and cons list, as your priorities will be different to other peoples. If you find yourself subconsciously thinking up more and more reasons for one side or another, that's your decision made.

These articles are also a useful read if you're contemplating an intercalated degree:

Intercalated degrees on offer

Your own university will probably arrange a day or lecture to tell you about the degrees they offer.

To apply elsewhere as an external student, you need to do a bit of research. It's not even comparable to applying to medical school the first time round, because there is no UCAS for intercalation, which instead means a separate application form for each uni. There'll be different deadlines for each uni as well, but as a rule of thumb these are largely in the middle of the spring term.

Make sure you prepare your application well in advance, as for most unis you'll need a letter from your Dean giving you permission to leave (and confirming that you have a medical school place to return to), a transcript of your exam results to date (which most uni registries will try to make you pay for), and a reference from someone at medical school who knows your academic abilities and motivations well. Some universities ask for a copy of your CV - make sure this is medically relevant, not the same one you'd use to apply for bar work! You might also need to write a personal statement, and the PS Help service on TSR can help you fine-tune this once you've written a draft.

Narrow down where you want to apply to - do you want to be in a particular place? Or is course content the absolute deciding factor for you? The range of courses you can apply to as an external is massive - everything from cancer biology to education to humanities.

Barts and the London

According to their website, the application deadline will fall at some point in February, and interviews shortly after this. External applicants should contact Ms. L. Singer by phone or email (020 3246 0215 or [email protected]).

  • The application form can be found here

  • More information about the program and admission criteria can be found here

Birmingham University

To be considered for the programme you will have to demonstrate that your performance in the first three years of the medical degree is equivalent to a 1 or 2.1 in a standard classified degree and have a good pass (usually 65% or above) in the Clinical Sciences component of the MBChB is desirable.
Contact Yvonne Palmer via email [email protected] or phone (0121 414 8099) for further details.

  • The application form can be found here
  • External applicants also need to fill out an enrolment form, found here

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

BSMS offers degrees in:

  • MSc in Cardiology
  • MSc in Dementia Studies
  • MSc in Medical Education
  • MSc in Medical Research
  • MSc in Public Health
  • MSc in Leadership and Commissioning
  • BSc in Sport and Exercise Science
  • MA in Health Promotion
  • MSc in Applied Sport Physiology
  • MSc in Applied Exercise Physiology
  • BSc in Biochemistry
  • BSc in Neuroscience

To find out more information, please see the degrees listing at https://www.bsms.ac.uk/undergraduate/our-course/intercalated-degrees.aspx

University of Bristol

Bristol students typically intercalate between years 2 and 3 and are required to have no fails in the previous academic year, an average Unit mark of at least 60% and their ranking within their year group is also considered. It would be reasonable to assume that external students will be asked to meet similar academic requirements.

The following degrees are also available through the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

  • Cancer Biology & Immunology
  • Cellular & Molecular Medicine
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Pathology & Microbiology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology & Immunology

For these degrees, contact [email protected]

External students should contact the tutor for the individual course concerned to discuss admission.

University of Dundee

  • Applied Orthopaedic Technology
  • Anatomy
  • Cardiovascular and Diabetes Medicine
  • Clinical Research
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Human Genetics and Experimental Medicine
  • Human Reproduction, Assisted Conception & Embryonic Stem Cells
  • International Health
  • Neuropharmacology and Behaviour
  • Teaching in Medicine

More information can be found here or by contacting Dorothy Cuthbert [email protected]

University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

  • BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Science

Applications for this programme are welcomed from medical students who have already successfully completed their intermediate studies at any medical school in the UK. The programme of study involves physiology, psychology and biomechanics as well as an independent dissertation where you will be guided through the research process in a relevant area of your choosing. You'll integrate with students who are undertaking the full 3-year version of thise degree.

Contact [email protected] 'Website here

Durham University

Durham University offers the following programmes to intercalating Medical and Dental students after their 3rd or 4th year of study:

  • MSc Medical Anthropology
  • MSc Evolutionary Medicine

More information about these courses and funding can be found here

University of East Anglia

UEA offers the following programmes to intercalating Medical students after their 3rd or 4th year of study. Applicants are welcome from other universities.

More information about these courses and funding can be found here If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

University of Edinburgh

Edinburgh offers the courses listed below. Applicants should have completed at least two year of the MBChB, and preference will be given to Edinburgh students.

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental and Cell Biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • International Public Health Policy
  • Literature in Medicine
  • Medical Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Reproductive Biology
  • Sports Science Medicine
  • Zoology

Further Information

  • More information about all of these courses can be found here
  • The application form for external students can be found here

Imperial College London

You need to have completed at least two years of your medical degree to be considered by Imperial. They require a transcript, a permission letter, a reference, and a personal statement. The deadline is in mid-March with replies guaranteed by mid May.

Below is the list of available subjects. In brackets is the number of external applications and offers in the 2012/13 entry cycle.

  • Cardiovascular Sciences (26 applications, 3 offers)
  • Endocrinology (6 applications, 6 offers)
  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology (4 applications, 2 offers)
  • Global Health (17 applications, 5 offers)
  • Haematology (10 applications, 6 offers)
  • Immunity and Infection (5 applications, 5 offers)
  • Management (42 applications, 39 offers)
  • Neuroscience and Mental Health (5 applications, 2 offers)
  • Pharmacology (2 places available - this course was previously not available to externals)
  • Reproductive and Developmental Sciences (18 applications, 5 offers)
  • Respiratory Science (3 applications, 1 offer)
  • Surgery and Anaesthesia (32 applications, 21 offers)

Application to Imperial is via their own online EMBARK system and their iBSc handbook is available here.

Keele University

External students wishing to intercalate at Keele need to contact the individual department reponsible for their chosen course, not Keele Medical School. Applications are processed by the Postgraduate Office, via this link. Note that the majority of these courses are Masters level, with Medical Humanities available at BSc level, and several MPhil's also being available.

MPhils in General Practice, Nephrology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Rheumatology and Stroke may be available, with availability varying year on year. External students wishing to pursue an MPhil must contact Dr Hider to express an interest at an early stage.

Extra information can be gained here

University of Kent

Kent offers a BSc (Hons) to external students:

  • Management in Primary Care BSc (Hons)

Contact [email protected]

Bursaries Available

Available to students who have completed at least two years of their medical degree. Bursaries available for those starting the programme in October 2015, including some bursary funds which may be offered to help cover the cost of campus accommodation.

Further Information

  • More information can be found here

Kings College London

King's accept a large number of external students, though officially the numbers available are dependent on how many internal students wish to take that course. Applications are due by early March. You will require a transcript, including your ranking within your year, a reference and a permission letter. Some, but not all, courses will require a personal statement. Applicants are made by post.

The following programs are available:

  • Anatomy, Developmental and Human Biology
  • Clinical Pharmacology and Translational Medicine
  • Endocrinology: Clinical and Molecular
  • Gerontology
  • Global Health
  • Health Care Management
  • Human Genetics
  • Human Nutrition
  • Imaging Sciences
  • Infectious Diseases and Immunobiology
  • Medical Ethics and Law
  • Neuroscience
  • Oral and Craniofacial Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Philosophy
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Regenerative Medicine & Innovation Technology
  • Women's Health

More information about all of these degree courses can be found here

  • The external application form can be found here

For queries, contact [email protected]

University of Leeds

Leeds will consider external applicants if there are sufficient places available on the course once internal candidates have had their places allocated. You must have completed at least two years of your medical degree, and some courses require three years. Applications are due mid-February, with offers made in late March.

The application form for external students to undergraduate programmes is here. It must be submitted by post.

The application form for external students to postgraduate programmes is here. As well as a postal application, emails must be sent to the postgrad contact for that course as well as the main [email protected] address.

Queries to [email protected]

Courses offered at Leeds are as follows:

From 2013, Leeds will also offer intercalated Master's programmes. You need to have completed at least three years of your medical degree to be considered, and be in the top half of your cohort.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

LSTM offers 1 undergraduate and 3 postgraduate courses to intercalating medical students. You must have completed 4 years of medical school before commencing the MSc.

University of Manchester

It is unclear whether Manchester accept external students.

They offer the following range of intercalated BSc degrees for students who have completed at least 2 years of medicine:

  • Anatomical Science
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Global Health
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology and Physiology
  • Physiology
  • Psychology

The following range of intercalated postgraduate degrees is offered to students who have completed at least three years of medicine:

  • MSc Biomechanics
  • MRes Cardiovascular Health and Disease
  • MSc Cognitive Brain Imaging
  • MRes Genetic Medicine
  • MSc Health Care Ethics and Law
  • MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response
  • MSc Medical Imaging
  • MPH Masters of Public Health
  • MRes Maternal and Fetal Health
  • MSc Medical Humanities
  • MRes Medical Sciences
  • MRes Oncology
  • MPH Emergency Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health
  • MRes Primary Care
  • MRes Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine
  • MRes Translational Medicine

Further information

More information about these degree courses can be found here

University of Newcastle

Newcastle offers the following undergraduate degrees to external students:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Genetics
  • Biomedical Sciences with Medical Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiological Sciences

Contact [email protected]

Students who intercalate after their 4th year may intercalate a Masters or MPhil.

Further Information

  • More information can be found here

University of Plymouth

Available only to students who have completed four years of their medical degree.

More information on this course can be found here.

Queens University Belfast

QUB offer a range of undergraduate degrees:

  • Medical Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

As well as several Masters programmes, for which you must have completed three years of your medical degree.

General queries can be directed to [email protected]

More information can be found here.

University of St Andrews

  • Masters of Research in Medicine

This course is 12 months long and requires you to send a CV, an application form, 2 references, and a 300 word personal statement.

Details can be found here.


Hopefully this guide has helped you decide whether or not an intercalated degree is for you and opened your eyes to the opportunities available outside of your own institution. If you still have queries, feel free to raise them in the Current Medics & Doctors Forum. Many of the current students on TSR have undertaken intercalated degrees and can be relied on for helpful and informative advice.