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Choosing what to study

Alternatives to Medicine and Surgery courses at university

A related degree may not be what you have in mind but it can open doors and potentially suit you better than a standard Medicine degree.

Medical education stethoscope on a stack of medical text books

What else can you do?

Finding a place on a Medicine degree can be tricky, due to the limited places available on each course and the high number of applicants. This is particularly challenging during 2022 and 2023, as many UK medical schools over-recruited in 2020 and 2021 due to the increase in grades after exams were cancelled. This has led to a relative reduction in places for the next few years.

In 2022 there are only around 9,000 places available across the UK, with over 32,000 UCAS applicants each year – most of whom are predicted or on track to achieve the grades required.

For those wanting to study a Medicine degree but are unable to secure a place, there are many other degrees in a related subject worth considering.

Some of these options may lead to an opportunity for a graduate entry Medicine degree but are also worthwhile careers and study options in themselves, supporting the masses of crucial roles in a global health system or within the NHS in the UK.

If you've applied to Medicine and received a rejection, or have changed your mind, you can use UCAS Extra or Clearing to explore these other excellent options.

Medicine itself is very unlikely to have late places in Clearing but you're welcome to check via UCAS or look at alternatives such as January entry or accredited Medicine degrees overseas.

Our advice is always to have a plan B and C for entry to Medical School. Demand always exceeds supply and applications increased by over 15% in 2021 and again by 5% in 2022.

Courses you can study as an alternative to Medicine and Surgery

  • Biomedical Science
  • Chemistry, Biology or Natural Sciences 
  • Optometry, Ophthalmics & Orthoptics
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy & Physiotherapy
  • Psychology

Other related degrees (may not be as useful when applying for graduate entry)

  • Audiology
  • Dentistry
  • Dietetics
  • Healthcare Science
  • Midwifery
  • Music Therapy
  • Nursing (four fields of nursing: adult, child, learning disability, mental health) and other specialisms that may need more training (for example: community, accident and emergency, neonatal, neurology)
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Oncology
  • Paramedic Science
  • Podiatry
  • Psychological Therapies
  • Radiotherapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Specific scientific areas may also be appropriate

The vast majority of these are available as undergraduate courses. Some, including Healthcare Science, are available as degree apprenticeships too.

More options

  • Medicine with a foundation year
  • Another profession/degree that could allow for the practical experience needed (for example a cardiographer, dental support worker, support worker)

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