Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Queen’s enjoys a strong tradition in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Lord Florey, the Nobel Laureate who introduced penicillin as an antibiotic, was a Provost of Queen’s, and Sir Edward Abraham, who discovered the cephalosporin class of antibiotics, was a student here, and later became an honorary fellow of the College. The College Medical Society arranges guest speaker events and dinners, providing a lively forum for the discussion of medical and biomedical matters.
Professor Peter Robbins (former Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics) is also a Fellow of the College, and we are in the process of appointing further Professorial Fellows in Immunology and Human Genetics.
Queen’s welcomes applications for the six-year undergraduate Medicine course, for which we have a fixed quota of six places per year, and for the course in Biomedical Sciences, for which we offer up to two additional places. We do not currently accept applications for the accelerated (graduate entry) Medicine course.
The admissions process includes a rigorous, centralised shortlisting procedure, based in part on the biomedical admissions test (BMAT); shortlisted candidates are distributed between colleges in proportion to the number of places available and are each interviewed at two colleges. One of these will be the college of first choice (if a college was specified by the applicant) and the other will be assigned essentially at random. Offers are made after careful consideration of all aspects of the application except college preference. As a consequence, it is quite common for an applicant to be offered a place at a college that was not their first choice.
The three pre-clinical years of the Medicine course include the first two parts of the Bachelor of Medicine degree, which are examined at the end of the third term and the beginning of the sixth, respectively. Medical students then complete a BA degree in Medical Sciences, from the sixth term until mid-way through the ninth (the ‘Final Honours School’). The objective of the BA course is for the student to develop a critical understanding of research work in specialist areas of the student’s own choosing. After the BA exams, a three-week course in Principles of Clinical Anatomy provides a useful bridge to the three clinical years.
Pre-clinical students wishing to remain in Oxford for the three years of clinical training are generally able to do so, provided they have completed the pre-clinical course, though they may change college at this stage if they so wish. Alternatively, students may leave Oxford at the end of their third year to undertake clinical training at one of the London schools.
The Biomedical Sciences course provides a broad foundation in the first year, with courses covering cells, molecules, genes, brain, body, behaviour, mathematics and statistics. In the second year, students choose from a wide variety of options, covering aspects of psychology, neuroscience, physiology, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, cellular pathology and immunology. Students choose to graduate from the course with a BA degree either in Cell and Systems Biology or in Neuroscience. Students choosing Cell and Systems Biology will study themes from two of five specialised options (currently: Neuroscience; Molecular Medicine; Cardiovascular, Renal and Respiratory Biology; Infection and Immunity; Cellular Physiology and Pharmacology), whereas students electing for Neuroscience will select one or two from around twenty Psychology advanced courses to study alongside the specialised Neuroscience option.
At Queen’s, undergraduates have two or three tutorials per week during the courses for the first BM (medical students) and Part I exam (Biomedical Sciences students). The tutorial teaching provided by the College covers a wide range of disciplines. During the Final Honour School courses, undergraduates often have tutorials outside the College with specialist tutors who are in many cases leaders in their respective fields of biomedical research. Lectures and practical classes are organised at the University level through the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre on South Parks Road.
During the clinical course students receive both tutorial and bedside teaching from the Clinical Tutors and Lecturers and from other clinicians with relevant expertise. This teaching runs in parallel with the extensive teaching programme provided by the clinical school.
Shortlisted candidates are interviewed at two colleges within a 24-hour period in early December; for most candidates this will involve two interviews at Queen’s and two at another college. While the precise format varies, each will normally involve two or more interviewers and will address a published set of criteria, as detailed here for Medicine and here for Biomedical Sciences. We consider tutorial teaching to be an essential part of the learning experience at Oxford, so during the interview we often aim to recreate the feel of one of these small-group teaching sessions. Ability to engage in a discussion of medical or scientific issues, to appreciate different points of view and to process new information effectively will be more highly regarded than simple factual knowledge at this stage of the selection process. Attendance at interview in Oxford is compulsory for all shortlisted applicants for medicine, and is strongly encouraged for Biomedical Sciences applicants.