Best Medical Schools UK

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What are the Best Medical Schools in the UK?

Understandably, the decision about which medical school to attend is a big one; if you’re beginning to think about your application and where to choose to study, you may want to start by comparing the best medical schools in the UK and consider which will be the right fit for you. Your choice of university will not only affect the teaching you’ll receive and the learning opportunities available, it’ll also dictate where you’ll live while you study and your experience as a whole.

League table rankings alone will not tell you everything you need to know about whether a medical school is right for you; however, it’s a useful way to narrow down your choices and identify potential universities that you may want to visit and learn more about.

The most important thing to bear in mind when comparing medical schools using league tables, is not which are ranked the highest, but which are the most suitable for you. Consider what’s important to you: is it the entry requirements, the student support available, student satisfaction with the course or is it something else? All of this information is available within medical school rankings, so look closely at areas which are meaningful to you, rather than just focusing on the overall ranking of the university.


Medicine League Tables

The other thing to be aware of when looking at medical school rankings, is that different league tables share different opinions about which are the best medical schools in the UK. This is simply down to the different criteria used within different league tables to score medical schools, so again it’s worth considering the individual scoring for each university against criteria that is useful for your decision making, and not just looking at the overall ranking.

The different criteria used can affect the ranking dramatically in some cases, as you’ll see from the example below, of the top ten medical schools from two of the most popular leagues tables, The Guardian’s University Guide 2020: League Table for Medicine and The Complete University Guide’s Medicine League Table 2020.

While the majority of medical schools listed in the top ten remain the same, just with their position altered slightly, there are some considerable differences between these league tables, with some medical schools ranking within the top ten on one league table and not on the other. Most notably, The Guardian ranks Aberdeen second place, whereas The Complete University Guide does not place it in its top ten (they ranked it 11).


Top 10 Medical Schools UK

Oxford University

The Guardian’s University Guide 2020: League Table for Medicine and The Complete University Guide’s Medicine League Table 2020 have the following as their top ten medical schools:

Ranking The Guardian The Complete University Guide
1 Oxford Oxford
2 Aberdeen Cambridge
3 Keele Glasgow
4 Swansea Swansea
5 Cambridge Edinburgh
6 Dundee Dundee
7 Glasgow Imperial College London
8 Plymouth Queen Mary, University of London
9 Imperial College London Keele
10 Brighton Sussex Medical School Exeter

Highlighted are the universities which differ between the two league tables.


Medicine Rankings

Both The Complete University Guide and The Guardian rank medical schools using an Overall Score / Guardian Score, which combines each university's scores across a range of criteria. The main difference between The Guardian’s and The Complete University Guide’s ranking is the criteria used to create their overall scores. Whilst both include entry criteria, student satisfaction and career opportunities following graduation, The Complete University Guide also focuses on research quality, while The Guardian includes the percentage of students that progress from first to second year and the value added to the learning.

Below is a full breakdown of The Guardian’s criteria used to score medical schools and an explanation of what each area refers to:

Guardian Score/100 An overall rating based on all of the criteria presented.
Satisfied with Course* A rating for the overall quality of the course.
Satisfied with Teaching* A rating for the quality of teaching on the course.
Satisfied with Feedback* A rating for the quality of feedback and assessment.
Student to Staff Ratio The number of students per member of teaching staff.
Spend per Student/10 A rating out of ten for the money spent per student, excluding academic staff costs.
Average Entry Traffic The typical UCAS scores of young students (under 21) on to the course.
Value Added Score/10 A comparison of students' degree scores with their entry qualifications, to show how effectively they’re taught.
Career after 6 Months The percentage of graduates who are in graduate-level jobs or further study at professional or HE level, within six months.
Continuation The percentage of first year students who continue into their second year of study.

* The scores for Satisfied with Course, Satisfied with Teaching and Satisfied with Feedback are all taken from the latest National Student Survey (NSS), which is completed by final year students to provide an understanding student experience at different institutions.


Medicine university rankings / Medical school rankings UK

Below is the full list from The Guardian’s University Guide 2020: League Table for Medicine.

This is also followed by a breakdown of the best medical schools based on individual criteria (for example student satisfaction) to help you make the right choice, based on what matters most to you.

2020 Ranking University Guardian Score /100 Satisfied with Course % Satisfied with Teaching % Satisfied with Feedback % Student to Staff Ratio Spend per Student /10 Average Entry Traffic Value Added Score /10 Career after 6 months % Continuation %
1 Oxford 100 91.9 94.9 78 9.8 10 221 4 95 96
2 Aberdeen 96.9 98 93 75.3 7.6 3 232 4 99 98.7
3 Keele 95.4 99 96.7 82.8 6.7 5 188 8 100 98.7
4 Swansea 95.3 92.4 94 72.3 6.7 5 N/A 9 100 98.6
5 Cambridge 95.3 70.7 85.7 56.1 6.7 10 232 4 98 98.2
6 Dundee 91 91 93 62 8.2 4 239 7 100 98
7 Glasgow 88.5 90.1 94.7 69.6 8.4 3 230 6 100 99
8 Plymouth 86.9 95.6 96 72.6 6.8 5 189 5 99 100
9 Imperial College 86 88 89.6 70.8 7.2 8 201 4 100 97.1
10 Brighton Sussex Medical School 85.5 98 95.3 84.7 8.4 8 174 8 100 99.6
11 Edinburgh 85.4 71.3 84.4 48.9 6.4 8 231 4 99 98.6
12 UEA 84 98 93.3 70.8 5.7 3 188 6 99 99.3
13 Newcastle 81.8 94.1 96 75.5 7.9 6 193 5 100 97.7
14 Exeter 77 93.1 93.3 72.2 8.9 4 209 4 99 100
15 Queen Mary 76.2 93.1 94.3 77.4 9.8 5 202 7 100 96.8
16 UCL 76.1 84.2 87.7 51.7 5.8 5 201 4 99 97.7
17 Leeds 73.5 96 94.4 74.3 9 4 192 8 100 98.2
18 Cardiff 69.8 83.8 89.3 61.3 9.3 9 203 4 200 99.6
19 Bristol 66.9 89 93.3 69.8 9.2 5 196 5 100 99.8
20 Birmingham 66.1 84.2 90.3 63.5 8 4 191 7 100 96.4
21 St Andrews 66 94 94.4 64 10.9 3 207 7 99 80
22 Lancaster 63.6 88 88.3 79.7 9.1 4 176 8 100 97.9
23 Nottingham 60.4 80 89.3 52.8 7.3 3 189 7 100 96.9
24 Sheffield 59.4 94 94.3 78.2 10.7 3 183 6 100 99.3
25 Queen's, Belfast 59.1 93 92.7 80.8 10.4 4 192 1 99 98.7
26 St George's UoL 58.5 81.2 84 58.5 8.7 5 189 7 100 99.1
27 Leicester 53.4 87.9 92.3 59 9.9 5 180 6 100 98.4
28 Southampton 53.3 76.2 86 47.7 7.6 4 186 6 100 96.8
29 Manchester 49.9 75 82.1 59.6 8.3 6 184 1 100 99.1
30 Liverpool 48.2 56.4 72.2 52.1 7.6 6 183 7 100 98.4
31 Hull York Medical School 48.1 78 87.9 70.6 10.1 3 181 5 100 96.4
32 King's College London 42.2 64 82.8 44.5 9 4 185 6 99 95.8
33 Warwick 36.1 58 73.9 50.1 9.7 5 N/A 10 100 93.8

The following universities also teach medicine but are not ranked within The Guardian’s league table:

  • Anglia Ruskin
  • Aston
  • Buckingham
  • Central Lancashire

Best universities for Medicine / Top Medicine Universities

As previously mentioned, it’s not as simple as looking at the top ranked university to discover which will be the best option for you; things such as the entry criteria and the location will also affect your options, as well as the importance of different criteria used within the rankings.

From the breakdown of the criteria you’ll notice that certain areas - for example the percentage of first year students who continue their study into second year and the percentage of graduates who are in graduate-level jobs or further study at professional or HE level, within six months - have consistent high scores across all of the universities. The only exception to this would be St Andrews, which has an 80% continuation rate, compared to a range of 93.8 - 100% for all other medical schools. However, areas such as the student satisfaction and value added have a much wider range, and therefore there are clear distinctions between universities.

The Best for Student Satisfaction

Using the latest National Student Survey (NSS) results, The Guardian’s league table breaks student satisfaction down into the following areas:

  1. Satisfied with Course
  2. Satisfied with Teaching
  3. Satisfied with Feedback

Below are details of the medical schools which students scored highest for the overall course, the teaching and the feedback provided.

The Highest Scoring Medical Schools for the criteria: Satisfied with Course

Medical School Rating / Percentage How does it compare in other areas of student satisfaction?
Keele 99% Within the top 3 for all areas of student satisfaction
Aberdeen 98% Scored lower for teaching (15th place / 93%) and feedback (9th place / 75.3%)
Brighton Sussex Medical School 98% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
UEA 98% Scored lower for teaching (joint 10th place / 93.3%) and feedback (14th place / 70.8%)

The Highest Scoring Medical Schools for the criteria: Satisfied with Teaching

Medical School Rating / Percentage How does it compare in other areas of student satisfaction?
Keele 96.7% Within the top 3 for all areas of student satisfaction
Newcastle 96% Scored well for satisfaction with the course (7th place / 94.1%) and feedback (8th place / 75.5%)
Plymouth 96% Scored well for satisfaction with the course (6th place / 95.6%) but slightly lower for feedback (11th place / 72.6%)
Brighton Sussex Medical School 95.3% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction

The Highest Scoring Medical Schools for the criteria: Satisfied with Feedback

Medical School Rating / Percentage How does it compare in other areas of student satisfaction?
Brighton Sussex Medical School 84.7% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
Keele 82.8% Within the top 3 for all areas of student satisfaction
Queen's, Belfast 80.8% Scored lower for satisfaction with the course (12th place / 93%) and teaching (17th place / 92.7%)
Lancaster 79.7% Scored lower for satisfaction with the course (18th place / 88%) and teaching (23rd place / 88.3%)

The Best for Value Added

The Guardian’s league table ranks value added based on a comparison of students’ entry qualifications with their degree score to measure effectiveness of teaching. The following medical schools were rated highly for the value added through effective teaching:

  1. Warwick - rating 10/10
  2. Swansea - rating 9/10
  3. Keele - rating 8/10
  4. Brighton Sussex Medical School - rating 8/10
  5. Leeds - rating 8/10
  6. Lancaster - rating 8/10

While league rankings are not everything, they can provide you with some useful information, alongside the entry requirements, the location and course specific information, to help you to make a decision on what the best medical school for you will be.

You can also find lots more advice on medicine entry requirements, applying for medical school and admissions tests on our website, to support you with the whole application process.


The following websites were used to gather information about the best medical schools in the UK, which you may also find useful for further information about league table rankings:


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