The Best Medical Schools in the UK

Students attending medical schools in the United Kingdom gain access to a wealth of innovative technology, ground-breaking research facilities, and highly acclaimed faculty. 

Typically beginning with pre-clinical phases, medical students spend the beginning of their studies learning all about the human body and its functions. 

From there, they train in hospitals, primary care centers, and specialized facilities to prepare for their careers as well-rounded doctors.

One of the strongest assets of the UK’s best medical programs is its commitment to research. Students collaborate with faculty members to test new treatment methods, identify rare genetic disorders, and combat public health crises. 

Competitive application cycles lead to intimate environments where students are challenged to work together to solve applied problems.

Another benefit of attending medical schools in the United Kingdom is their location. Studying in cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow, and London comes with a host of opportunities. Many of these cities offer a thriving social and cultural scene. 

We have compiled a list of the ten best medical schools in the UK. These schools are ranked according to where each one places in the US News List of Top Medical Schools in the UK at the time of this writing. 

It is wise to consider schools based on the top programs they offer – keep reading to learn more about the phenomenal UK medical schools that have made significant contributions to the global health community. 

10. University of Birmingham Medical School (Birmingham, UK)

University of Birmingham Medical School
bs#45, Birmingham Medical School Building, CC BY-SA 4.0

Birmingham is the largest healthcare region in the United Kingdom – students at the University of Birmingham Medical School gain firsthand experience in addressing major health issues within a diverse community. 

After spending years 1 and 2 becoming proficient in human anatomy and physiology, medical students travel among 15 hospitals to take the lead on a range of diagnoses, treatments, and follow-up care. 

In the last two years of the degree program, students participate in clinical assignments focused on areas like pediatrics, oncology, and psychiatry.

In addition to experiential work placements, Birmingham students participate in groundbreaking research studies with faculty experts. 

The Rheumatology Research Group, for example, has worked to improve outcomes and early treatment methods for 400,000+ UK citizens living with rheumatoid arthritis. 

9. University of Manchester School of Medical Sciences (Manchester, UK)

The medical school at the University of Manchester is one of the largest schools in the United Kingdom, enrolling more than 2,200 students annually. 

It was also the first medical school to adopt the problem-based learning (PBL) approach to medical education. The PBL technique involves presenting a small group of medical students with a problem and supporting them as they discuss potential approaches.

The University of Manchester is regarded as the most prominent clinical cancer service in the United Kingdom. Within the school’s Division of Cancer Sciences, students play a lead role in conducting early-phase clinical trials for new cancer treatments.

In addition to the Division of Cancer Sciences, the School of Medical Sciences houses five other divisions devoted to diabetes, cardiovascular health, and dentistry, to name a few. 

Across all divisions, the school constantly contributes to the medical field through its innovative technology. For example, Manchester installed the world’s first EMI CT scanner and developed a revolutionary hip replacement surgery.

8. University of Glasgow School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing (Glasgow, UK)

In Scotland, the University of Glasgow School of Medicine reigns supreme. In particular, the program is known for its clinical research programs in subjects like community oral health, forensic science, and anesthesia. 

Anesthesia is the university hospital’s most comprehensive program, and they maintain close, interdisciplinary partnerships with other departments in the school.

Students interested in community oral health monitor real-life examples of oral health inequalities and play a direct role in implementing more effective interventions – at both the local and global levels.

Forensic pathology is another exciting concentration where students participate in service-based placements. 

Founded in 1839, the Forensic Medicine and Science unit is the largest to combine pathology and toxicology. 

Students collaborate with pathologists who perform thousands of post-mortem analyses on humans dying from unexpected, sudden causes.

7. University of Edinburgh Medical School (Edinburgh, UK)

Edinburgh School of Medicine
Kim Traynor, Edinburgh Medical School building, Teviot Place, CC BY-SA 3.0

More than four centuries old, the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School consistently ranks in the top 50 global rankings. 

The 2022 Guardian University Guide recently ranked the medical school #1 in the United Kingdom, while the Times Higher Education ranked the school #3.

Medical students typically take six years to obtain the MBChB degree and begin research-based study as early as their third year. 

While most medical degrees in the UK only take five years, Edinburgh’s sixth year grants students an opportunity to conduct more research and therefore publish more academic literature, which often proves advantageous when they start to apply for jobs.

Charles Darwin and James Barry are two of the most notable alumni of the medical school. Darwin attended the university after spending a summer as an apprentice doctor long before he published Origin of the Species. 

James Barry – the first doctor to successfully perform a Cesarean section (in 1826) – was posthumously revealed to be a woman. She studied at Edinburgh for two years and graduated at the age of 17.

6. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (London, UK)

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Anne Koerber, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine building, CC BY-SA 4.0

Best known for its research in global health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s 4,000+ students conduct research in more than 100 countries. 

The school is currently ranked #1 in the world for open-access research publications, the percentage of research published by female authors, and the critical impact on the economy/society.

Students gain valuable expertise through participation in innovative research endeavors, such as developing a smartphone with the capacity to diagnose vision problems and using drones to examine how environmental factors affect the spread of infectious diseases like malaria.

The school was recently named the chief operator of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team. This organization deploys specialist teams to tackle disease outbreaks worldwide (and within a 48-hour window!) Students on this team have, for example, played a role in responding to the Ebola Crisis in West Africa.

5. King’s College London GKT School of Medical Education (London, UK)

Students attending the King’s College London GKT School of Medical Education gain professional experience in three of London’s busiest teaching hospitals and more than 350 local general practices. 

Unsurprisingly, the school receives more applications from aspiring medical students than any other medical school in the United Kingdom. It is considered one of the most difficult UK schools to gain admission to, with an acceptance rate of less than 3%.

The school has enrolled several vital figures in the medical community, including Thomas Hodgkin, who discovered Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Alumnus Sir James Black won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 for developing propranolol (a remedy for high blood pressure) and cimetidine (used to treat acid reflux disease and ulcers).

One of the school’s most important alums – epidemiologist Richard Doll – was responsible for solidifying the connection between smoking tobacco and cancer.

4. University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine (Cambridge, UK)

Cambridge is one of the best and oldest schools in the world. A leader in the medical community, Cambridge students and faculty members were the first to measure blood pressure directly and unlock the mystery of DNA, among other achievements.

The School of Clinical Medicine has been ranked #3 in the world – fewer than 280 new students enroll each year in a six-year course of study, while 40 are accepted to an accelerated graduate program.

Like many UK medical schools, Cambridge is highly regarded for its research contributions. The 2022 Complete University Guide ranked the school in the top 5 for research quality. 

After logging many hours with patients in clinical settings and collaborating with expert professors in research studies, Cambridge students are highly likely to gain employment within months of graduating. 

3. University College London Medical School (London, UK)

Some of the world’s most important doctors and researchers started at University College London Medical School, including attachment theory developer John Bowlby and Leslie Collier, a virologist who helped design the first heat-stable vaccine for smallpox. Collier’s development was essential in eradicating smallpox.

Currently ranked #7 in the world by the 2022 QS World University Rankings, the Medical School is one of the largest in the United Kingdom, admitting over 300 new students annually. 

The Medical School has long been a champion for female medical students. In 1874, the London School of Medicine for Women emerged as the first UK medical school devoted to training female doctors. 

The UCL Medical School also has a reputation for its commitment to sustainability. Recently, the school was listed #2 on the 2022 Planetary Health Report Card

This achievement comes from the work of medical students devoted to introducing climate change and planetary health into the medical school curriculum.

2. Imperial College School of Medicine (London, UK) 

Imperial boasts one of the largest medical faculties in all of Europe and is ranked #3 in the world by the Times Higher Education. 

Medical students select from one of 17 specializations, including Global Health, Remote Medicine, and Neuroscience & Mental Health. 

The Remote Medicine track, for example, highlights a 14-week research project where students participate in the evidence-based management of clinical emergencies in remote settings. 

The school is also applauded for its intercalated programs, such as the Reproductive and Developmental Sciences track. Here, students learn to identify and treat developmental disorders in infants in utero and human infants.

Five Nobel Laureates got their start at the Imperial College School of Medicine, including Sir Alexander Fleming (discoverer of penicillin). 

The school was also home to August Waller, the electrocardiogram (ECG) inventor, and Carl Djerassi, a chemist who created the first oral contraceptive pill.

1. Oxford University Medical School (Oxford, UK)

Oxford University’s Medicine School has maintained the top spot on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list of the best schools in clinical, pre-clinical, and health sciences for nine years. 

The medical school also boasts the highest overall student satisfaction rate within that same time frame.

Medical students benefit profoundly from college tutorials, a vital component of the school’s teaching philosophy. During tutorials, students meet in small groups to discuss readings, research, and cases from the previous week. They receive valuable feedback from diverse faculty members and student peers.

Selective in its admission, Oxford’s Medical School admits 150 new students annually to its 6-year BMBCh course. Alternatively, students can enroll in a 4-year accelerated course – only 30 students are accepted each year.

In years 1-3, students participate in a pre-clinical stage that involves tutorials of 2-4 students, seminars of 10-50 students, and lectures of 200+ students. 

In the clinical stage (years 4-6), students receive their teaching in the form of clinical placements within hospitals and primary care settings.