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Best Medical Schools UK

WRITTEN BY
Medistudents Team
May 11, 2021

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 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).

Top 10 Medical Schools UK

The Guardian’s University Guide 2021: League Table for Medicine and The Complete University Guide’s Medicine League Table 2021 have the following as their top ten medical schools:

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

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 15 Months The percentage of graduates who are in graduate-level jobs or further study at professional or HE level, within fifteen 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 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.

2021 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 15 months % Continuation %
1 Dundee 100 92.5 93.9 67.3 7.2 6 245 5 100 98.4
2 Aberdeen 99.3 95.7 96.2 72 7 3 240 2 100 98.4
2 Edinburgh 99.3 89 92.5 62.2 5.9 9 221 3 100 98.1
4 Oxford 97.8 n/a n/a n/a 9.8 10 215 3 99 95.9
5 Brighton Sussex Medical School 96.9 96.4 97.5 87 9.1 9 178 9 n/a 98.4
6 Cambridge 91.5 83 88.4 66.8 6.9 10 217 2 98 99
7 Swansea 90.1 74.8 89.4 76.6 7.2 9 n/a 10 100 98.6
8 Keele 89.6 91.1 94.1 78.5 6.9 4 170 8 100 98.3
9 St Andrews 86.3 97.5 96.6 79.2 10.3 4 208 4 n/a 100
10 Leeds 85.3 95.9 96 79.7 7.9 4 181 9 98 98.4
11 Queen Mary 83 91.1 92 74.8 9.4 4 214 6 99 97.3
12 Glasgow 82.4 89.4 92.5 64.1 8.4 3 236 4 100 98.6
13 Newcastle 78.5 90.9 94.6 74.7 8.1 5 184 4 100 98.2
14 Bristol 75.4 93.4 95.4 75.2 9.5 4 188 4 100 98.9
15 Imperial College 74.9 86.4 86.8 61.8 6.9 8 195 2 99 95.4
16 Queen's, Belfast 74.7 92.6 94.4 80 9.9 4 183 8 98 99.3
17 Cardiff 70.3 87.7 91.5 66.1 8.8 7 196 3 99 99
18 UCL 70 83 85.9 51.8 5.9 5 195 6 99 97.7
19 Plymouth 68.8 89.5 93.3 58.4 7.1 5 171 2 100 100
20 Birmingham 68.4 91.2 93.1 68.4 8.7 4 186 4 100 96.9
21 Sheffield 67.2 90.2 92.2 77.5 10.3 3 179 7 100 99.3
22 Central Lancashire 66 78.6 86.9 71.4 8.4 5 n/a n/a n/a n/a
23 UEA 65.9 95.3 91.9 61.5 7 3 171 4 100 99.3
24 Exeter 65.7 89.8 92.9 64.2 9 3 192 6 100 98.6
25 Lancaster 65.3 83.9 88.7 70.5 8.5 4 168 8 100 98
26 Warwick 62.9 74 84.8 63.6 8 4 n/a 10 99 95
27 Southampton 62.4 81.9 90.2 60.4 7.6 4 179 6 100 96.7
28 Liverpool 62.1 78.5 85.5 65.2 7.8 7 177 3 100 98.8
29 Nottingham 59.5 n/a n/a n/a 8.5 3 182 7 100 97
30 Leicester 58.3 88.4 93.1 61 10.3 5 175 4 100 99.6
31 King's College London 58.2 81.4 88.2 62.3 9.3 5 181 7 99 98.2
32 Manchester 57.8 72.1 82.9 68.4 8.8 6 182 5 99 97.5
33 Hull York Medical School 55 81.7 91.3 65.6 9.2 3 167 8 100 96.9
34 St George's 42.5 83.3 88.4 60.1 12.6 4 183 7 100 99.8
35 Buckingham 36.7 83 88.1 64.1 12.1 n/a 148 3 n/a 97.6

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

  • Anglia Ruskin
  • Aston
  • Kent
  • Sunderland

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 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.

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?
St Andrews 97.5% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
Brighton Sussex Medical School 96.4% Within the top 2 for all areas of student satisfaction
Leeds 95.9% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
Aberdeen 95.7% Within the top 3 for satisfaction with teaching but scored lower for feedback (11th place / 72%)

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?
Brighton Sussex Medical School 97.5% Within the top 2 for all areas of student satisfaction
St Andrews 96.6% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
Aberdeen 96.2% Within the top 4 for satisfaction with course but slightly lower for feedback (11th place / 72%)
Leeds 96% 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 87% Within the top 2 for all areas of student satisfaction
Queen's, Belfast 80% 7th place for satisfaction with course and teaching (92.6% and 94.4%)
Leeds 79.7% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction
St Andrews 79.2% Within the top 4 for all areas of student satisfaction

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. Swansea – rating 10/10
  2. Warwick – rating 10/10
  3. Brighton Sussex Medical School – rating 9/10
  4. Leeds – rating 9/10
  5. Queen's, Belfast – rating 8/10
  6. Keele – rating 8/10
  7. Lancaster – rating 8/10
  8. Hull York Medical School – 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. 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. You can also sign up for a 2 day free trial for our AI-powered adaptive UCAT question bank.

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