Study Medicine at Somerville and be part of a thriving academic community committed to excellence in research and clinical care.
Somerville admits students to all three medical courses in the University: the pre-clinical course, the clinical course and the accelerated graduate-entry course in medicine. We also welcome applications from graduate students wishing to study for higher degrees within the research departments of the Medical Sciences Division.
Somerville admits six medical students to the pre-clinical medicine course each year. These students take the three-year pre-clinical course, reading for a BA in Medical Sciences, before proceeding to their clinical studies, for which the majority of students choose to remain at Somerville. We admit 2-3 students each year to the four-year graduate entry course: there is more integration of pre-clinical and clinical studies than in the undergraduate course, but the first year is mainly pre-clinical followed by three mainly clinical years.
The majority of successful applicants to the undergraduate course are school leavers, but we also consider applications from graduates who have (or expect to have) good first degrees, and are not eligible for admission to the graduate-entry medical course. Somerville strongly wishes to encourage applicants from the widest range of social, ethnic and geographic backgrounds: candidates are selected solely on the basis of academic excellence and future academic potential.
The Oxford pre-clinical course places strong emphasis on basic science and acquiring an evidence-based approach to all aspects of academic study. It deliberately does not treat medicine as simply a vocational training course. As such the Oxford course is best suited to those wishing to explore the scientific basis of medicine, how basic biomedical scientific research is carried out, and how it is applied to clinical medical problems.
Somerville has a long tradition of outstanding achievement in the medical sciences, exemplified by a Nobel Prize award in chemistry 1964 to Dorothy Hodgkin for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances. This award was particularly for determining the structure of vitamin B12, although she also studied the structures of insulin and penicillin. The College also has a history of excellence in clinical medicine: we have had two medical College Principals, Dame Janet Vaughan (1945-1967) and Dame Fiona Caldicott (1996-2010), the first female President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Particular advantages which Somerville can offer its medical students are:
- A very strong emphasis on academic excellence and scientific education – in recent years Somerville students have come top in year in all three courses and are frequently awarded University-wide prizes.
- Opportunity to explore the scientific basis of medicine and research skills – many of our students get involved in research projects beyond the core requirements of the pre-clinical and clinical course, some of which have resulted in publications.
- Strong provision of tutorials to clinical students to hone clinical skills and knowledge across the medical curriculum. These are usually hospital bedside tutorials (based around clinical examination of inpatients) and we are fortunate to have tutors from a wide range of clinical specialities providing these tutorials: currently cardiology, haematology, endocrinology, radiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, rheumatology, neurology and general practice. There is also opportunity for final year clinical students to get involved in teaching the earlier years.
- An active medical society, the Janet Vaughan Society, which provides the opportunity to be part of a thriving medical community where students on all three medical courses, tutors, clinicians and visiting guest speakers meet on a regular basis. Students also have the opportunity to present and discuss their recent work (such as research projects, interesting cases, clinical placements abroad) at these meetings. The society provides strong links between the pre-clinical and clinical courses, and contributes to a supportive and friendly environment.
- An outstanding library; one of the many valuable legacies of this former women’s college.
- Dedicated learning facilities for all medical students in the Banister Room in College.
- Graduate scholarships awarded on merit to Somerville graduate-entry and clinical medical students.
- Support for our clinical students’ elective periods and course-related travel with grants currently of the order of approximately £1,000 per student. In addition, equipment grants are available for each student. Click here for further details of current awards.