Coronavirus information and guidance

Pathway to Medicine January 2021 entry

The Pathway to Medicine (January intake) is a two-phase programme that provides a route onto the Medicine degree at the University of St Andrews. 

During Phase 1, students combine science modules with English language skills, a clinical observation project and UCAT preparation. In Phase 2, students focus on the study of Medicine and the communication skills and knowledge of ethics required for clinical practice. Phase 2 follows the structure of the International Foundation programme for Medicine.

The programme aims to develop scientific knowledge to prepare students for their study of Medicine, as well as provide students with the linguistic foundation appropriate for the demands of medical study.

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Course type

International Foundation Pathway

This is the University's own Pathway to Medicine programme which prepares international students for undergraduate study in the UK, and at the University of St Andrews in particular.

Course duration

18 months, full time

Course dates

Phase 1
Start date: 14 January 2021
Last departure date for clinical observation project: 10 July 2021
End date: 13 August 2021

Pathway to Medicine (January intake) students will leave St Andrews before the course ends to complete a clinical observation project in their home country. Pathway students are required to leave their University accommodation by Saturday 10 July 2021 and are not required to return to St Andrews until the start of Phase 2 in September 2021.

If you started this programme in January 2020, you can find information about 2020 entry on the January 2020 Pathway to Medicine page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

This course is for:

International students who are academically able, but whose high school qualification is not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at St Andrews. Foundation students typically use English as an additional language. 

Applicants will normally meet the following criteria:

  • be designated 'overseas' for fees purposes by the University (not 'Home/EU' or 'Rest of the UK')
  • have a national high school qualification or mixed-curricula qualifications not recognised for application to an undergraduate degree at the University of St Andrews. If you have three A Levels, the HKDSE, a full IB Diploma or any qualification type that is recognised for degree entry, you will not be eligible for an International Foundation programme, irrespective of the grades you have achieved.
  • be due to leave school soon or have left school within the past three years
  • have not previously studied on a foundation programme in the UK
  • have not previously studied at university.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

In order to be a successful medical student, you need to have studied sciences in high school and have strong grades in English, Chemistry, Biology and Physics or Mathematics.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
Typical Medicine IFP and Pathway to Medicine academic requirements - 2020-2021 entry (PDF) are listed alphabetically by country. If your qualification is not shown here, please email for details about the grades needed from your high school system.

You can demonstrate that you have met the academic requirements with a high school transcript from your final year at school. Any high school qualification you use as evidence of your academic ability should be from the last year you attended high school and be dated within the previous three years.

You should apply before your final results are available, as the University can make you a conditional offer based on your past exam performance and predicted grades.

English language requirement
An IELTS (Academic) test report form with a minimum of 6.0 overall and no component score below 5.0.

If you require a visa, your IELTS test must be for UKVI purposes. See an overview of the English language requirements for foundation applicants.

You do not need to have your result when you apply, as this can be a condition of any offer made by the University.

Application requirements
The University requires you to provide the following documents as part of your application:

  • your most recent high school transcript
  • a personal statement outlining why you wish to study Pathway to Medicine at St Andrews and reflecting on your life and learning experiences to explain why you feel you would be successful on this programme
  • an academic reference from your high school on their letterhead or from a school email
  • your IELTS (Academic) test report form.

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is 30 November 2020. You only need to provide your most recent high school transcript and personal statement when you first apply so that the University can consider your application. Your academic reference and your English language evidence can be provided later.

How to apply

Course information

The January Pathway to Medicine is an 18-month, two-phase programme combining science and medicine to provide international students with a route onto the Medicine degree at the University of St Andrews.

You will enjoy a friendly and supportive learning environment where you will study in small groups to accelerate your learning and adaptation to the new culture. You will have access to a personal tutor to support you in your studies, help you to manage your time effectively and become an independent and reflective learner.

The course aims to ensure that students develop the analytical approach to learning and communication skills which are required to study Medicine in a British university. The structure of the programme provides students with dedicated support in the first year when it is most needed, but progressively enables students to work more independently and collaboratively as they will do on their Medical degree programme.

In the second year, the programme will also introduce you to courses in medical ethics and clinical communication skills, as well as medical-related sciences. To learn more, see the International Foundation programme for Medicine

As a Pathway to Medicine student, you will:

  • enhance your school science for degree-level study
  • learn about practical science
  • get to know the School of Medicine before you become a degree student
  • develop your English for academic purposes by writing extended, critically assessed and academically referenced essays and lab reports.

Distinctive features of this programme include:

  • UCAT preparation
  • preparation for multiple mini interviews (MMIs)
  • IELTS training
  • a clinical observation project (if possible).


The modules listed here are the typical modules students must take in order to complete their foundation programme. The choice of academic subjects depends on timetabling, and some subject combinations may not be available for 2021 entry.

Semester 1 of Phase 1 (January to May 2021)

All students will study the same four compulsory modules:

  • Communicating in Academic Contexts 1: students will learn how to communicate effectively in a number of spoken academic contexts.

  • Research and Writing for Pathway to Medicine/Science 1: aims to explore a range of academic functions, features of academic style and organisation, and academic grammar and vocabulary in order to improve your overall academic literacy. You will learn how to evaluate the reliability of texts and develop your own academic voice.

  • Foundation Inorganic and Physical Chemistry: includes lectures on the structure, stereochemistry and nomenclature of simple organic compounds, fundamental organic reaction mechanisms, organic functional groups and their reactions, introductory bioorganic chemistry, and organic spectroscopy.

  • Foundation Physiology 1: introduces the students to how the human body functions in systems. Students look at how these systems are built from the molecular and cellular perspective along with tissues and organs. This allows students to appreciate how the body systems are maintained and controlled in normal and adverse conditions.

Semester 2 of Phase 1 (June to August 2021)

All students will study the same four compulsory modules:  

  • Communicating in Academic Contexts 2: develops your presentation skills, which will be essential for your academic careers and beyond.

  • Research and Writing for Pathway to Medicine: introduces students to the similarities and differences between reflective writing and other forms of academic writing. This will be useful for the reflective clinical report.

  • Foundation Organic Chemistry (Summer): students develop their existing knowledge and understanding of patterns in the periodic table, structure and bonding in elements and compounds, reaction kinetics, equilibria and acid base chemistry, redox reactions and electrochemical cells, and chemical calculations using the mole concept.

  • Foundation Physiology 2: expands on knowledge acquired in Semester 1 of Phase 1 of the Physiology module.

Clinical observation project

If it is possible, students complete a clinical observation project, usually in their home country. The key purpose of the project is to enhance your understanding of the skills, qualities, practices and systems of care settings. This will prepare you for Phase 2 of the Pathway to Medicine where there will be a much greater focus on what is required to study and practice medicine. If, during the Covid-19 crisis, this is not possible, an alternative assessment will be given.

The project would take place in a care facility which you will organise in a location most convenient for you. You will complete a reflective task as part of the project. The project must be submitted online before the end of Phase 1.

By the end of Phase 1 students will:

  • demonstrate an overall appreciation of the body of knowledge of sciences required to study Medicine
  • demonstrate an understanding of differences between explanations based on evidence, research and other sources, and the importance of this difference in the study of sciences and medicine
  • present and evaluate arguments, information and ideas that are routine to science and medicine and more general contexts
  • select and use standard ICT applications to process, obtain and combine information for presentation of assessed and non-assessed work
  • understand a wider range of demanding, long texts related to science, medicine, and society, and recognise implicit meaning
  • use language flexibly and effectively for social and academic purposes.

Semester 1 of Phase 2 (September to December 2021)

All students will study the same three compulsory modules:

  • Foundations for Medicine 1: focuses on academic research and writing skills along with seminar and project skills. Students also have sessions on effective communication and attend workshops with simulated and real patients in the School of Medicine.

  • Introductory Inorganic and Physical Chemistry: covers the origin of the elements, atoms and the Periodic Table, shapes and properties of molecules, chemistry of the elements, properties of solutions, thermochemistry, thermodynamics and kinetics.

  • Biology 1: introduces students to molecular and cellular biology. It covers cell diversity and the origins of life, cellular structures and fundamental processes.

Semester 2 of Phase 2 (January to May 2022)

All students will study the same three compulsory modules:

  • Foundations for Medicine 2: builds on the skills studied in Semester 1 to enhance confidence and competence in communication. In Semester 2, students will also have a series of lectures introducing them to important themes in Medicine; these are delivered by staff from the School of Medicine.

  • Human Biology: covers all the key physiological systems within the topic areas, with an overarching focus on how disease affects these systems.

  • Organic and Biological Chemistry 1: includes lectures on the structure, stereochemistry and nomenclature of simple organic compounds, fundamental organic reaction mechanisms, organic functional groups and their reactions, introductory bioorganic chemistry, and organic spectroscopy.

Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

To prepare for the MMIs held by the School of Medicine in Semester 2, there will be workshops on the various interview stations so that students can develop their interview skills and MMI performance. Students also study medical ethics in order to transition into first-year medicine with an understanding of how medical ethics link to clinical practice and medical professionalism.

By the end of Phase 2 students will:

  • demonstrate an overall appreciation of the body of philosophies related to the study of medicine
  • demonstrate knowledge that is embedded in the main theories, concepts and principles of the philosophies related to the study of medicine and apply that knowledge in practical contexts
  • undertake critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis of ideas, concepts, information and issues that are within the common understandings of health and medicine
  • demonstrate awareness of own and others’ roles, responsibilities and contributions when carrying out and evaluating tasks related to the study of medicine
  • convey complex information to a range of audiences such as fellow students, medical professionals, and patients
  • exercise autonomy and initiative in some activities in their learning
  • manage, under guidance, ethical and professional issues in accordance with current professional codes related to the medical profession.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2021 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


Teaching format

Classes take place Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm (UK time). You will spend approximately 16 hours per week on focused learning activities. During this time, you will experience a mixture of recorded lectures, live online or face to face seminars or tutorials.

Class sizes are likely to be between 14 and 16 students.

As well as your timetabled classes, you will be expected to complete approximately 20 to 25 hours of independent study each week. As a fully matriculated student, you have access to the University’s libraries and study areas, but you will also work with the University's online learning tools (Moodle and Microsoft Teams).

Students are expected to do the following to prepare for classes and consolidate their learning:

  • read and take notes from online textbooks, articles, and other online sources as required
  • undertake additional research and self-study through the University library and online
  • complete a range of homework tasks, individually and in groups
  • engage with feedback on both formative and summative assessments.

In Phase 2 of the Pathway to Medicine, which is known as the International Foundation programme for Medicine, students are introduced to simulated and real patients throughout the programme and are given opportunities to explore how to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds with a variety of health conditions.

Students are also encouraged to volunteer with a local charity during the programme.

The University’s student services team can help students who have additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.


The programme includes a variety of types of assessment to give you the experience of different ways of being tested including:

  • academic essays
  • coursework tests
  • end-of-module examinations
  • leading and participating in seminars
  • podcasts
  • presentations
  • quizzes
  • reflective writing
  • reports
  • research projects
  • videos. 

Students will be given feedback on their coursework to help them prepare for their assessments.

Meet us in your country

Staff of the University of St Andrews are always pleased to meet prospective students in person. We visit many schools, colleges and higher education fairs to talk about the University and provide support and information for those thinking about applying.

Meet us in your country

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a talk and tour to explore the town and find out about the courses and opportunities we offer.

Talk and tour


Combined fee

The Pathway to Medicine programme offers an all-inclusive fee package which covers all the major costs of the programme so that there are no hidden extra costs. 

2021-entry fees: £57,000 (£26,700 for Phase 1 and £30,300 for Phase 2)

The all-inclusive fee package includes:

  • tuition
  • accommodation, including a bedding pack
  • a catered meal plan with 14 meals per week
  • access to all University facilities
  • a transfer from Edinburgh or Glasgow airport, or Leuchars train station, when you first arrive
  • the use of course books, handouts and other course materials
  • laboratory coats and dissection kits, if required
  • 24-hour emergency phone number
  • programme-led and seasonal social events.


Kinnessburn Scholarship

For students moving from a foundation programme to a degree at St Andrews.

Students who successfully complete the International Foundation programme with a distinction grade and move onto a degree at St Andrews are eligible to apply for the prestigious Kinnessburn Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to one student annually in June and provides a partial fee waiver for each year of study on an undergraduate programme at St Andrews.

IFP January Scholarship

If you are coming to study an International Foundation or International Pathway to Medicine programme in January 2021, and you receive your offer on or before Friday 6 November 2020, you can be eligible to apply for this scholarship. Up to five successful applicants will receive £2,000 towards the cost of their foundation tuition fees. Deadline for applications is Sunday 15 November 2020. Find out more about the IFP January Scholarship.


The fee package includes catered accommodation which the University arranges this on your behalf so you do not need to apply for accommodation.

All students are allocated a room in David Russell Apartments (DRA). In each apartment, there are five study bedrooms, each with its own private shower and toilet, a shared living space and fully equipped kitchen.

Bedding pack

A bedding pack will be delivered to David Russell Apartments for each Pathway student. The bedding pack is for a standard double bed (UK size) and contains:

  • one duvet (10.5 tog)
  • one duvet cover
  • one flat sheet
  • two pillows
  • two pillowcases.


Students are on a catered meal plan that gives them 14 meals per week during the semester.

Breakfast and an evening meal are served every weekday; breakfast and lunch are served on Saturdays and Sundays.

See a sample menu for the 14-meal plan.

Your future

Phase 1 to Phase 2

In order to progress from Phase 1 of the January Pathway to Medicine to Phase 2, students must achieve:

  • an overall GPA of 11.0 for Phase 1 of the January Pathway to Medicine
  • a GPA of 11.0 for the Science modules.

Results are graded on the University's 20-point scale.

Students must take the UCAT in the summer between the two phases; therefore, students should book their UCAT test to be taken in July 2021.

Phase 1 reference
The director of Phase 1 of the Pathway to Medicine will write a reference about your academic and linguistic proficiency and suitability for the Medical degree. This reference will be passed on to the director of the International Foundation programme for Medicine who may use it when preparing the reference required at the end of Phase 2 when you are considered for the BSc Medicine degree.

You will be interviewed by the director of the International Foundation programme for Medicine. This will help you to understand what the next phase entails, and it will help the director get to know you and what you hope to achieve. This may be used in the reference which the director will prepare at the end of Phase 2 when you are considered for the BSc Medicine degree.

Faculty of Science route
Students who complete Phase 1 with a GPA of 11.0 have the option to progress to an undergraduate degree in the Faculty of Science at the University of St Andrews.

Phase 2 to BSc Medicine

In order to move onto the BSc in Medicine at St Andrews, students must achieve:

  • an overall grade of 11.0 or above for the International Foundation programme for Medicine
  • a grade of 12.0 or above for each Faculty of Science module:
    • Biology 1
    • Introductory Inorganic and Physical Chemistry
    • Organic and Biological Chemistry 1
  • an overall grade of 12.0 or above for Foundations for Medicine 1 and 2
  • an overall grade of 12.0 or above for Human Biology.

School of Medicine requirements
Pathway and Foundation for Medicine Students must also meet the following entry requirements of the School of Medicine:

  • a competitive score in the UCAT, which must be taken in the calendar year before students enter the BSc Medicine. The required score will be notified by the School of Medicine during Phase 1 of the Pathway to Medicine.
  • successful MMIs.
  • Applicants who use English as an additional language and who cannot provide their English language ability through their school-leaving qualifications must achieve 7 in all four components of the International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) exam, to be taken at one sitting. This is irrespective of any other English qualification achieved. The final four consecutive years of secondary or high school education in an English-medium school may in some cases be considered as evidence of English language ability. This will be considered on a case by case basis. IELTS scores have a recommended two-year validity period, and this time limit will be applied.

Phase 2 reference
The director of the International Foundation programme for Medicine is required to comment on your fitness to practise Medicine at the end of Phase 2, when you are considered for the BSc Medicine degree. Under the School of Medicine’s policy, any concerns about your health or previous conduct or both may be considered at the time of application or prior to entry to the medical course. For more information, please refer to the entry requirements for BSc Medicine.

Join a webinar

The International Education Institute offers webinars to prospective foundation students who would like more information about St Andrews, university life and the application process at the University.


International Foundation programmes

International Education Institute
University of St Andrews
Kennedy Gardens
St Andrews 
KY16 9DJ

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2255

International Education Institute website

Page amendments  

The compulsory and optional modules listing, as well as the teaching format section, was updated on Monday 10 August 2020. 


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).