Events & Milestones

Regardless of which course you choose, your time with us will be filled with a series of exciting events and milestones. Listed below is just a small sample of the many social and academic events that take place at the School. 

Clinical Commencement

Our Clinical Commencement (White Coat) Ceremony is unique in Ireland to UCD School of Medicine. The ceremony, to which families and faculty are invited, takes place in January of each year at O’Reilly Hall, Belfield.

As part of the ceremony, undergraduate and graduate entry medical students are ‘robed’ with white coats, marking the formal transition from pre-clinical to clinical education.

The ceremony marks an important milestone in the development of medical students at UCD, and serves not just as an important symbol of transition and progression, but also as a reminder that students’ primary obligation is to patients and society.

Professor Bill Powderly, Dean of Medicine at UCD and Head of School, was instrumental in bringing the concept to the University. He points to the importance of integrating events and milestones that remind students’ of their duty to serve patients.

“The white coat is a very symbolic representation of the medical profession. Historically it portrayed the authority of the physician and is generally regarded as a sign of professionalism. It also symbolises the responsibilities that define the practice of medicine, and particularly the responsibility of doctors to put the interests of their patients first. This responsibility is an obligation that commences as a medical student and continues throughout one’s medical career,” said Professor Powderly.

International Travel

The opportunity to take international electives is an important and highly-prized aspect to life at the School. Overseas electives expose students to alternative healthcare models, while also deepening students’ understanding and experience of scientific concepts and clinical practice.

The opportunity to take global research and clinical electives arises at various points during our programme curricula. Students of medicine compete for the chance to work and study over the summer months at one of our academic or clinical partners. The summer elective initiative, sponsored by the School, the Medical Graduates Association, Atlantic Bridge and the UCD Foundation, demonstrates the global reach of UCD and allows our students to experience professional life in Australia, Malaysia, Canada and the United States.

Medicine students can avail of a further opportunity to travel in the final stage of their clinical education, during the stage five medical elective. Students use this elective, their last block of education before the final professional completion module, to focus on a speciality about which they are particularly interested. A large cohort chooses to spend this time abroad at an approved institution, and we actively assist students who wish to travel by providing access to our extensive global network of academic and clinical contacts.

Radiography students are exposed to international travel and exchanges via the Erasmus Programme, which features in stage four of the BSc Radiography. Students can choose to spend a three-month period in one of our partner institutions in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK. Radiography students can also avail of competitive summer elective opportunities, including four research electives at Emory University, Connecticut, USA.

Summer Research

Each year, approximately 50 undergraduate students from our five degree programmes undertake an eight-week supervised laboratory, clinical or patient-centred research project, designed to develop key scientific skills. The scheme is entirely voluntary, and brings to life our ambition to produce life-long leaners and medical scientists.

We are committed to shaping not just world-class doctors and healthcare practitioners, but also innovators and medical scientists who are equipped to explore and expand the boundaries of how we understand disease and treat patients. The SSRA initiative, now in its fifth year, is a demonstration of the School’s commitment towards the ongoing development of an internationally recognised reputation in the area of research and innovation.

Each September, participants showcase their research at a high-profile adjudication event, at which a team of more than 30 senior academics, consultants, clinicians and researchers interrogate the quality of students’ research projects. This process provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their findings to an expert audience and helps to develop critical communication skills; an increasingly important element to the delivery of a quality, patient-focused healthcare.

Six students are chosen as finalists and go forward to present their research at the final SSRA awards night, which takes place in early October at UCD.

The finalists are judged by a panel of clinicians, researchers and professional communications, who award gold, silver and bronze medals in recognition of research excellence. A special commendation award is presented for excellence in research communication.


Conferring marks the point at which students of our programmes are considered qualified and ready to make the transition into the healthcare practice.

At conferring, we honour and recognise academic excellence through the provision of awards for exceptional academic and clinical performance. It is at this stage also that staff, students and members of the healthcare community in Ireland assemble as a group for the annual gala dinner, a formal celebration of achievement and progression.

Med Ball

The annual UCD Med Ball, organised and run by Med Soc, is one of the highlights of the student social calendar.

The event is always black-tie, sold out and buzzing with future members of the medical fraternity. For more information on this and other student-run social events, visit the Med Soc website.

Penang Medical College Farewell

Each year, the School organises an informal social gathering of students and staff, to mark the point at which pre-clinical Malaysian students return to Penang Medical College to undertake the remainder of their medical education.

The School prides itself on the integrated, multi-national nature of its student body, and the PMC farewell reception represents an opportunity for stage 4 Malaysian students to commemorate their time at UCD. The reception is coordinated by the Malaysian Society, involves speeches and recollections from returning students, and culminates with the bestowing of a number of teaching awards on UCD faculty members.

Speaking at the 2012 PMC farewell, Professor Bill Powderly, Dean of Medicine at UCD described our connection with Malaysia as “hugely beneficial in the development of a true international culture at the University.”

“Our connection with Malaysia is important to us. Their presence is a wonderful academic, social and cultural addition to the School of Medicine and to UCD."

Freshers' Week

Fresher’s week takes place during the second week of the first term. It’s an opportunity to get to know the university better, socialise with friends, and explore the range of clubs and societies that UCD has to offer.

Each club and society will have a stand at the fresher’s pavilion (beside the new student centre), where there is also music and social events throughout the week. Fresher’s week is organised and run by UCD Student Union.

Breakfast with the Dean

Starting out at University can be an overwhelming experience. At the School of Medicine, staff and students in the later stages of our programmes do everything that we can to help integrate and orientate incoming students.

One of our most recent initiatives is Breakfast with the Dean.

The Dean of Medicine hosts a number of breakfast receptions during the start of term to welcome all incoming Medicine and Graduate Entry Medicine students.

Small groups of students are invited along to each breakfast, at which the Dean and his academic staff meet, greet and chat with each student. This initiative is designed to communicate to our students that our academic leaders are accessible, approachable and concerned about the opinions and welfare of every student.