What makes the Cambridge Medicine course so special?

Cambridge is a popular choice for a wide variety of students, providing an intellectually satisfying preparation for clinical studies.

The first three years of the course are intended as the pre-clinical study in scientific disciplines for students reading Medicine. There is no integration with clinical studies, although relevant clinical demonstrations are arranged to complement the anatomy course and there are ‘Preparing for Patients’ schemes in operation to provide a bridging course between pre-clinical and clinical studies. Cambridge has long prided itself on the breadth and depth of the scientific training that it can offer to its Medical students. All students now complete all of their pre-clinical exemptions by the end of their second year.

In your third year, you may choose from a variety of subjects to study. The option of a single scientific subject within Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos is a popular choice for many students, as it allows for a year of specialised study, involving a research project or dissertation. It provides a useful foretaste of what medical research might be like, as well as introducing students to exciting scientific work at the forefront of our knowledge in a particular discipline. For those preferring a broader approach, Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences has a wide range of courses, with many attractive and varied options available. A written dissertation forms an integral part, replacing the practical laboratory-based research project and enabling students to research a particular topic of interest in depth. There is also the option to take other subjects for a year, such as Anthropology, Management Studies or Philosophy.

All Cambridge medical students follow the clinical course at Addenbrooke’s Hospital; this is three years in length, in line with other medical schools.

Why choose Newnham for Medicine?

Newnham is a great place to study medicine. Most teaching within the college is in small groups (supervisions), which allow plenty of opportunity for each student to contribute to the discussion and ask questions.

Newnham is fortunate to have generous alumnae (past students) who have set up book and travel funds especially to help medical students. All first-year medical students are entitled to apply for a June Brett Book Grant, and there are generous travel funds set up to enable students in their 2nd/3rd year (June Brett Awards) or their 4th year (Boyd-Martin Awards) to travel to either expand their knowledge or to participate in particular projects.

‘Newnham has an excellent reputation for medicine within the university and as a result its students have access to some of the best supervisors and facilities.’ 1st year medical student

‘Newnham provides an excellent environment in which to enjoy and develop a relationship with the subject. This ranges from highly supportive supervisors to the modern and well-stocked and spacious library.’ 1st year medical student

How many students take Medicine at Newnham?

Although our medical quota varies from year to year we offer on average about nine places, and have four to five applicants for each place. Competition for places in Medicine is very strong; however we very much welcome applications. Our typical offers are A*A*A at A-level (or equivalent), usually in science subjects (or mathematics).

Can you tell me more about the Medicine Fellows?
  • Professor Jenny Morton (Professorial Fellow in Neurobiology) is Director of Pre-clinical Medical studies at Newnham College and Professor of Experimental Neurobiology in the University. She is very active in research into neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Huntington’s disease, and leads a team of researchers in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. She teaches mechanisms of drug actions (MODA) in the second year.
  • Dr Jane MacDougall (Fellow) is Director of Clinical Medical studies at Newnham College. She is a Consultant in Reproductive Medicine at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge and as well as being a busy clinician is involved in postgraduate medical education as Head of School for the Postgraduate School of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and as lead for faculty development. She teaches reproductive medicine.
  • Dr Helen Firth (Bye-Fellow) is a Consultant in Clinical Genetics at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge where her main role is the diagnosis and management of patients and families affected by genetic disorders. She teaches genetics.
  • Professor Fiona Gilbert (Professorial Fellow in Radiology) is Professor of Radiology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and Head of the Department of Radiology.
How will I be taught at Newnham?

College-based teaching at Newnham is provided by both research scientists and medically qualified doctors, including some of the Medicine Fellows. This ensures sound coverage of the essential basic sciences with added clinical interest and relevance. We also have links with doctors in local general practices, who are always pleased to have visits from pre-clinical students. We are fortunate to have a number of Special Supervisors who teach in small group tutorials. These are doctors or academics who have a close connection with Newnham College. They include:

Special Supervisors:

  • Dr Robert Whitaker FRCS (a retired surgeon, co-author of Instant Anatomy and recipient of The Farquharson Award from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh for national recognition of contributions to teaching in surgery and anatomy) who teaches functional architecture of the body (anatomy)
  • Dr Hannah Clarke is a Special Supervisor in Neurobiology and lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
  • Dr Jenny Pitts is a Special Supervisor in Pathology
  • Dr Katrina Andrews, who studied medicine at Newnham, and who is currently a Clinical Research Fellow in Genetics, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital
What jobs do Newnham Medicine students go on to do?

Newnham medical students go on to a wide range of jobs when they qualify. After postgraduate training, most will go on to become hospital consultants or general practitioners. With the scientific grounding of the Cambridge course, some may choose to study for a PhD and become a clinician scientist (clinical researcher). The PhD can be combined with the clinical course (see the School of Clinical Medicine website for details of clinical study at Cambridge).

Are there any A-Level subjects that are particularly useful?

We require A-level Chemistry, and at least one (preferably two) of Biology, Mathematics and Physics.

Can I take a gap year?

We are open-minded about applicants having a gap year. We are equally happy to accept applications from students applying pre-A level and wishing to come straight from school and those who have chosen to have a gap year and are applying post-A level (or equivalent).

Applicants wishing to apply pre-A level (or equivalent) for deferred entry will also be considered, but because of the quota system, borderline applicants would be less likely to be successful, as we would usually only defer a place for a particularly strong applicant, or if there are extenuating circumstances.

How should I prepare for interview at Newnham?

All applicants for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine are required to take the Biomedical Admission Test (BMAT) pre-interview at an authorised centre local to them (for a lot of applicants, this will be their school/college).

You should read widely and be able to demonstrate a real interest and enthusiasm for studying medicine. It is especially important that you have read the websites and understand what the course entails.

You will usually have three interviews, each lasting 20-30 minutes. During your interview we will ask you questions about what you have done so far, including any work-placements or work-shadowing and we will also ask you to tackle some problem-solving questions. We will talk you through these activities e.g. interpreting a graph, so that we can get a chance to assess how you approach and think about problems and how you respond to guidance and advice. You will have an opportunity to ask questions. You may find it helpful to visit the section on interviews on the main Cambridge University website.

Where can I find out more?

More information is available on the admissions section (Medicine) of the University website.

The Medicine Subject Overview on the ‘My HE+’ website also provides information and resources for exploring your subject.

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