Pathway to Medicine January 2020 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: 16 January 2020
Last departure date for clinical observation project: 20 July 2020
End date: 14 August 2020

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 18 July 2020 and are not required to return to St Andrews until the start of Phase 2 on Monday 7 September 2020.

Phase 2
Start date: 7 September 2020
End date: 28 May 2021

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 good grades from high school (especially in the sciences) and be able to demonstrate your interest and experience in observing healthcare workers.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements
You should have good school leaving qualifications from your home country with an A grade average, or more than 85%, or a GPA of at least 3.4 (depending on country).

Typical Medicine IFP and Pathway to Medicine academic requirements - 2020 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 dated within the previous two 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 our 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 2019. You must 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

This 18-month programme has been designed in collaboration with the School of Medicine. It combines classes in science and medicine to provide international students with a route onto the Medicine degree at the University of St Andrews.

On the Pathway to Medicine programme, you have the opportunity to take a positive step towards your goal of studying Medicine in the UK, understand the expectations and requirements of studying in the UK, and benefit from experienced and expert tuition.

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.

As a Pathway to Medicine student, you will:

  • enhance your school science for degree-level study
  • take first-year level credit-bearing modules in the sciences
  • learn to work safely in a laboratory environment
  • 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:

  • a student-led conference
  • UCAT preparation
  • IELTS training
  • a clinical observation project.


The Pathway to Medicine has 12 compulsory modules: six modules in Phase 1 and six modules in Phase 2.

For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2020 entry.

Phase 1 takes place from January to August 2020.

Semester 1 of Phase 1 (January to May 2020)
All students will study three modules:

  • Spoken communication in academic contexts 1: learn how to communicate effectively in a number of spoken academic contexts.
  • Academic writing: aims to explore a range of academic functions, features of academic style and organisation, and academic grammar and vocabulary in order to improve students' overall academic literacy.
  • Science modules: students focus on two science subjects.
    • 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.
    • Physiology: 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 2020)
All students will study three modules:

  • Spoken communication in academic contexts 2: students will develop their presentation skills, which will be essential for their academic careers and beyond.
  • Writing for 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.
  • Science modules: students focus on two science subjects.
    • Introduction to Physical and Inorganic Chemistry: 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.
    • Physiology: expands on knowledge acquired in Semester 1 of Phase 1 of the Physiology module.

Clinical observation project
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. 

The project takes 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 on Monday 10 August 2020, 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.

Phase 2 takes place from September 2020 to May 2021. 

Semester 1 of Phase 2 (September to December 2020)
In Semester 1 of Phase 2, students take modules in Chemistry and Biology. You will be shown how to prepare for lectures, write up lecture notes, and prepare for seminars and tutorials. All students have dedicated tutorial support in understanding the course content from specialist tutors. In addition, there are practical laboratory sessions.

Students must take the following 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 2021)
Students must take the following compulsory modules in Semester 2 of Phase 2:

  • 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.
  • Psychology 2: introduces students to the theoretical foundations, historical perspectives and modern developments of psychology; provides an introduction to the variety of subjects which make up contemporary psychology; provides a thorough grounding in the empirical basis of psychology.

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.


Teaching format

Classes take place from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. You will spend approximately 18 to 20 hours per week in class.

You will encounter a mixture of teaching methods:

  • small group discussions and tutorials
  • independent study activities
  • project work
  • problem-solving workshops
  • presentations and seminars
  • technology enhanced learning
  • practice exercises
  • group work
  • reflective practice
  • guided instruction and coaching
  • demonstrations, simulation and role plays
  • laboratory-based teaching.


The programme includes a variety of types of assessment to give you experience of different ways of being examined, such as:

  • presentations
  • podcasts
  • videos
  • essays
  • conducting a seminar
  • reports and written examinations
  • reflective writing
  • quizzes.

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. 

2020-entry fees: £53,300 (£24,950 for Phase 1 and £28,350 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
  • 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.


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

All Pathway 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, and 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.


Pathway programme 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

Progression from 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 2020.

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.

Moving from Phase 2 to the degree in 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
    • Psychology 2
  • 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
Students must also meet the following entry requirements of the School of Medicine:

  • a competitive score in the UCAT. The UCAT test can vary each year, see more details on the University's UCAT web page
  • successful MMIs
  • IELTS (Academic) with an overall score of 7.0 and at least 7.0 in each component. 

Phase 2 reference
The director of the International Foundation programme for Medicine will prepare the reference required at the end of Phase 2 when you are considered for the BSc Medicine degree. The reference received from the director of Phase 1 of the Pathway to Medicine, and the outcome of the interview in Phase 1, may be used when preparing your Phase 2 reference.


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