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Medicine at Cambridge

The Cambridge undergraduate course is renowned for its rigorous exposition of foundational knowledge in preclinical sciences. At Cambridge, you study the medical sciences first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student.

The first three years (pre-clinical studies) involve lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and supervisions, with typically 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week. The emphasis during the clinical studies (Years 4, 5 and 6) in Cambridge is on learning in clinical settings: at the bedside, in outpatient clinics and in GP surgeries, which is supported by seminars, tutorials and discussion groups.

Assessment, both formative and summative, plays a significant role throughout. Your ongoing progress is reviewed weekly and termly by your College supervisors. Formal assessment, which determines your ability to proceed with the course, includes written and practical examinations, coursework submission and clinical assessments.

Successful completion of the first three years leads to a BA degree and on successful completion of the clinical studies in Cambridge you are awarded two degrees, the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BChir).

You can look at the course outline on the University website.

Medicine at Sidney

At Sidney, we pride ourselves on providing close, personal support for students to guide them through the rigorous academic study required at Cambridge. Our aim is to support the academic training and personal growth of students with the potential to become excellent clinicians and scientists.

Supervision at Sidney is provided by academics who are dedicated to teaching. We aim to tailor our teaching programme to the needs of the students and always welcome their feedback and suggestions in doing so. Our staff are proud to have won several University teaching awards over the last few years.

Although the role of the College becomes less prominent in the clinical years, a clinical Director of Studies, Dr Mark Gurnell, is available to provide College-based support to students. Students continue to participate in Sidney's biomedical activities and in its Medical and Veterinary Society. A few top students are chosen to contribute to College supervisions of undergraduates. Sidney medics have generally done very well in their clinical studies, ranking highly in their overall evaluations and being awarded prizes for their performance. They go on to pursue successful careers in biomedicine, mostly based in the NHS.

Away from the classrooms and lecture theatres, the Sidney Sussex Medical and Veterinary Society provides a supportive social environment and opportunities for networking and academic enrichment.

Hear from a student... 

     The Sidney Sussex Medic and Vet family are a small, supportive group and we do all we can to help each other academically, and arrange fun events throughout the year to get us all together and have a good time.  

You will study a range of topics in the first year. There are three main topics and three smaller topics. I will briefly describe the three main topics so that you have some ideas of what to expect in year one...

  • HOM (Homeostasis) – this is physiology. You study many systems that operate in the body such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This is mainly taught through lectures and supervisions. There are also many practicals for you to look forward to, including breathing potentially lethal gas mixtures and electrocuting yourself (don’t worry, you don’t have to be the test subject if you don’t want to). Finally, there are histology classes. These involve looking at cells under the microscope and understanding how the cellular structure relates to function
  • FAB (Functional Architecture of the Body) – this is anatomy. You’re probably aware that at Cambridge, you learn anatomy through full-body dissections. This is an incredible opportunity because you don’t have to rely on drawings and diagrams in a textbook as you can actually see structures in a body! Furthermore, you get a real appreciation for how everyone varies and realistically, textbook descriptions of the body are not perfect. The thought of dissection may seem really daunting at first, but there are lots of demonstrators around to help you out and you do get used to it pretty quickly. You will work in groups of about 8 with medics from other colleges so you can form friendships outside of Sidney Sussex. You’ll have a FABulous time in dissection (see what I did there?! Okay, I won’t quit medicine in pursuit of comedy any time soon…). You will also have lectures alongside dissection that look at embryology and applied anatomy.
  • MIMS (Molecules in Medical Science) – this is biochemistry. You will mainly be taught through lectures and supervisions. In the first term, you look at the structure of macromolecules and how these structures enable fundamental cellular processes such as metabolism and cell signalling. After the first term, the focus of this course shifts to genetics. You will also get to throw on your lab coat and be a scientist once a term to do a practical, which is a good opportunity to develop your lab skills.  

There are also three smaller topics: PfP (Preparing for Patients), SCHI (Social Context of Health and Illness) and ISBM (Introduction to the Scientific Basis of Medicine). There is much less contact time for these courses.

My f Medicine supervision ellow medics really helped make my first year special; supporting each other, sharing resources and medic meals out made the year so much easier. There is a strong community feel at Sidney because we are such a small college so you will settle in very quickly. 


Dylan Birk, Sidney Medicine undergraduate


Director of Studies (DoS) 

Dr Paul Flynn (Fellow) - Supervisor for Mechanisms of Drug Action (Pharmacology and Toxicology) in Year 2 (Part 1B)

Dr Mark Gurnell (Clinical) (Fellow)

Dr Anthony Jackson (Fellow) - Supervisor for Molecules in Medical Science (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) in Year 1 (Part 1A)

Dr Sid Lawrence (College Teaching Associate) - Supervisor for Functional Architecture of the Body (Anatomy) in Year 1 (Part 1A), and Head and Neck anatomy in Year 2 (Part 1B)


Professor Timothy Cox

Dr Frances Hall - supervisor for Biology of Disease (Pathology) in Year 2 (Part 1B)

Dr Colin Roberts - Supervisor for Homeostasis (Physiology) in Year 1 (Part 1A)

All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.

Typical Intake


Standard Entry Requirements

A*A*A at A Level

41-42 points in the IB, with 776 at Higher Level

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

All Colleges require A Level/IB Higher Level Chemistry, and one of Biology/Human Biology, Physics and Mathematics. At Sidney, applicants not taking A Level or IB Higher Level Biology may be asked to undertake additional reading prior to commencing their studies. Most applicants to Cambridge are taking three sciences / mathematics subjects at A Level, and the most common combination is Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.

Work experience

We seek to admit students with an outstanding record in relevant biomedical science subjects, who will be able to take a scientifically sound, critical approach to the practice of medicine, and who may have the potential to become successful clinician-scientists. At the same time, we seek applicants who exhibit the human qualities of excellent clinicians, such as compassion, empathy, integrity and drive. Accordingly, the admissions process evaluates the applicants’ academic background and scientific aptitude, as well as evidence of exposure to relevant medical environments through volunteering or shadowing experiences.

Admissions Process

Written work

We will not ask you to submit any written work as part of your application.

Admissions Assessments

Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT). Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website..


Two interviews; both will have a focus on Medicine and involve working through some practical problems.

Find out more

Department of Medicine

School of Clinical Medicine

Faculty of Biology

University website Medicine course page

Preparing for the BMAT


Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (