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.
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 2021: League Table for Medicine and The Complete University Guide’s Medicine League Table 2021.
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 Complete University Guide ranks Glasgow second place, whereas The Guardian does not place it in its top ten (they ranked it 12).
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:
* 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.
Below is the full list from The Guardian’s University Guide 2021: 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.
The following universities also teach medicine but are not ranked within The Guardian’s league table:
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 fifteen months – have consistent high scores across all of the universities. However, areas such as the student satisfaction and value added have a much wider range, and therefore there are clear distinctions between universities.
Using the latest National Student Survey (NSS) results, The Guardian’s league table breaks student satisfaction down into the following areas:
Below are details of the medical schools which students scored highest for the overall course, the teaching and the feedback provided.
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:
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. Most of the medical schools in this list require you to complete the UCAT. We've written a UCAT complete guide and UCAT practice test to help you prepare for this admissions exam.