Frequently Asked Questions

What is the qualification?

MB, BCh, BAO (Hons) (NFQ Level 8)

What is the duration of the programme?

Length of Course: 4 Years

What are the entry requirements?

Minimum grade of second-class honours, grade 1 (2.1) in first Honours Bachelor’s degree (NFQ Level 8). The degree can be in any discipline.

All applicants will be required to submit a current GAMSAT score (EU applicants). Places are awarded via the CAO on the basis of GAMSAT scores. Although only graduates are eligible to apply for this programme, the graduate Medicine degree is equivalent in standard to the undergraduate Medicine degree.

Students who have previously been unsuccessful in any Medicine programme (i.e. have not met academic or other requirements within the programme) or have any issues which would affect their registration with the Irish Medical Council will only be considered for admission on a case-by-case appeal basis in exceptional circumstances, to be considered by the Medicine Programme Board.

Further information on application process here

GAMSAT Score Range 2020 – 58

A GAMSAT score is valid for 2 years.

What is the number of places in GEM?

77 EU places and 20-60 non-EU places

Why is this course for me?

UCD Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) provides an innovative, science-driven and patient-centred curriculum, delivered by world-class educators in state-of-the-art facilities.

The main hospitals associated with our programme are St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. In addition, there are more than 20 other training hospitals and more than 100 primary care practices that facilitate your learning.

This intensive, focused course is designed for students with an undergraduate degree who wish to pursue a career in medicine.

What are the Career & Graduate Study Opportunities?

Graduates of the School have achieved worldwide recognition in clinical practice, research and healthcare leadership. Upon graduation, you must complete one year as an intern to gain full registration with the Irish Medical Council. You may then pursue training towards a career in a wide variety of specialties, in diverse settings, including hospitals and primary care facilities, or laboratory-based diagnosis and research.

Are there Opportunities for Research?
Each year, approximately 100 Medicine students undertake an 8-week supervised laboratory, clinical or medical education projects in Ireland or at one of our partner institutions in the Student Summer Research programme. The programme brings to life our commitment to foster in our students a passion for enquiry, discovery and investigative research.

What will I study?

First & Second Year
In the first trimester, you will take a series of modules that introduce the application of medical science to the study of biological systems and disease. You will also learn the clinical skills needed for the rest of the programme. The remainder of the first two years integrates the medical science disciplines, while gradually expanding your professional capabilities in a clinical environment.

Third & Fourth Year
In the final two years, hospital and community placements with structured clinical education complete your degree. During your clinical training, you will participate in a series of specialist rotations, including medicine, surgery, psychiatry, obstetrics and paediatrics. Finally, you will undertake our acclaimed Professional Completion module to integrate your knowledge and prepare you for life as an intern.

Learning methods include lectures, small group sessions, practical and enquiry-based learning in the classroom and at the bedside.

You may be interested in the following blog posts:  Study Graduate Entry Medicine (a student perspective) & Tips for the GAMSAT.

Are there opportunities for international study/training during the programme?

Our international network offers students exciting opportunities to gain experience overseas. Scholarships are available to support elective periods in clinical and academic centres all over the world.

Why go into Medicine?

If you enjoy working with people and caring for people and you are interested in constantly learning for the entirety of your career, Medicine is for you. We say that it involves your head (learning), hand (practical) and heart (caring).

What does 'early patient contact' mean?

Patient participation and care is at the heart of our academic and educational philosophy. We deliver integrated curricula, providing opportunities to learn biomedical principles and concepts in the context of patients and healthcare. Our students meet and interact with patients at the earliest possible stage and throughout their time at UCD.

We believe passionately in training doctors and healthcare professionals who have a strong understanding and appreciation of the patient experience. As a Medicine programme student, you will shadow family practices, train at Ireland’s most extensive network of teaching hospitals and learn from our patient educators.

Are there opportunities to travel abroad and study abroad?

When you join us, you join a big network that extends worldwide. All core modules are required to be taken in Belfield. Optional modules in the clinical stage can be taken abroad for 6 weeks in last term or  6 – 8 weeks in the summer. There is a list of places on the Medicine International Pages for overseas clinical and research electives. There are over 70 funded opportunities. 

UCD is the largest university in Ireland and so has the largest alumni network. A lot of these opportunities are through our alumni in prestigious world institutions such as Harvard, Emory, UCLA, Descartes in Paris. The experience is great for your CV with regard to career progression in Medicine. Students have the ability to create their own elective opportunities too.

Each year, our students compete for highly prized international clinical and research elective opportunities at our international partner institutions. Through our global reach, we have established connections with some of the world’s most prestigious institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto and University of British Columbia. These funded electives allow students to explore in further depth topics of relevance to their degree programme. The experience and knowledge gained from these electives help with applying for residencies upon graduation. Students also benefit from the experience of working, living and studying within a different healthcare system and some take the opportunity to take voluntary learning and electives in the developing world.

Is the UCD Medicine degree recognised worldwide?

Yes and our graduates are very highly thought of worldwide but the recognition of a medicine degree are subject to the requirements and regulations of each individual country. If you’d like to work in the US, for example you need to take the US Medical Licences exams and we help prepare students for this.

Our School is an internationally recognised and accredited provider of healthcare education with long-established partnerships and affiliations with academic and clinical institutions across Europe, in the United States, Canada, China, the Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore. Our educational programmes are innovative, student centred and subject to continual best practice review. They are accredited or recognised by regulatory bodies including the Irish Medical Council, Irish Institute of Radiography & Radiation Therapy (IIRRT), CORU (regulating Health & Social Care Professionals), Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), Malaysian Medical Council, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME).

See here for more information

How does UCD School of Medicine set itself apart from other Medical Schools?

The three P's: People, places and programmes.

As a UCD medical student, you will experience a modern, internationally recognised curriculum that introduces patient contact and clinical skills at an early stage. Our modular programmes combine lectures and seminars from leading academics and practitioners, patient-led learning and clinically based real-world education at Ireland’s leading network of acute and specialist teaching hospitals.

The programme is at the cutting edge of Medicine research and practice. Final year students are currently learning about COVID-19 in special module which has members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) committee and people who have published in the New England Journal of Medicine on COVID teaching on the modules.

Is research important in the School?

The majority of our large and expert faculty are active researchers contributing to the discovery of new knowledge and to the continual development of our curriculum. Many are clinicians who practise in the community, in acute hospitals or in specialist care centres. Our faculty hold senior leadership positions within the University, at our teaching hospitals and across the Irish health service.

Our School has a wide and dynamic research portfolio extending from in silico bioinformatics, molecular laboratory investigations of disease to clinical research evaluating new therapeutic strategies. Our teaching is research-informed and research-led and in addition, we offer opportunities for students to undertake independent or structured research under the supervision of our expert research faculty as part of or in addition to normal programme coursework. These opportunities include:

  • Undergraduate student research programme
  • International research electives
  • Intercalated research masters in medical science

We value science as the foundation of healthcare and so scientific knowledge is at the core of all our programmes. Many of our staff are involved in multi-national research projects and clinical trials, contributing to UCD’s global footprint in healthcare science research.

What are the opportunities for Research?
The Student Summer Research programme is an 8-week research opportunity that brings to life our commitment to foster a passion for enquiry, discovery and investigative research for more than 100 students each year.

Are there opportunities for a research career in Medicine upon graduation?

Medicine gives you a professional qualification that allows you to be a doctor but there are lots of other career choices, for example trainee in hospital based specialty or GP speciality, or laboratory based profession, pathologies, immunologist, academic medicine/research in labs, legal medicine and public health.

Students can take part in research as part of the Student Summer Research Awards (SSRA) in some of the world’s and Ireland's top facilities as well as in clinical sites and the Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research. More information on the SSRA here.

We can support you as you move into your postgraduate degree too in our hospital sites and our research centres in the School.

Where does the clinical training take place?

The School has developed an extensive and expanding clinical training network in partnership with Ireland’s best acute, specialist and general hospitals including two of the country’s largest and busiest acute hospitals: St Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. Our students are supported by the country’s largest clinical faculty comprising over 350 hospital consultants, 450 family practitioners and 75 radiographers.

What’s the workload like?

UCD has a workload model for its students which was designed with the Students' Union. It is designed in a way where you can only take so many credits in one semester, meaning teachers can’t ask you to do more than you're able to do. In terms of credits,  35/40 is the maximum you should be doing and so we have the Student Workload Rule so you can’t do more than you can cope with. 5 credits in Medicine are about 100/120 hours of study.

The benefit of a modular course is that you’re completing your assessments as you complete your modules. It’s not taught in a way where everything depends on one final exam. The pressure is distributed throughout the course unlike the Leaving Certificate/final high school exams. To give you an idea, the final year students (Jan 2021) have already bagged 80% of their degree credit.

The dropout rate is less than 1% which speaks volumes. Once you enter the programme, there is no reason why you wouldn’t go all the way. It is very manageable.

What is the workload as a doctor?

It is significant but it depends on the specialisation you choose. You have to be prepared to work hard but we manage.

Where do graduates practice after graduation?

Many of our graduates practice here in Ireland and in the UK. We are very proud of the fact that our alumni also go on to work in leading clinical and research institutions across the globe. Every year our graduates secure places in highly competitive residency/internship programmes in Europe, North America, Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East, South East Asia and other regions.

To become a surgeon, do you have to study Medicine?

Yes – Medicine degree first then six years of training.

How has teaching changed during the pandemic?

Some classes are delivered online but we have kept clinical site learning where possible.

Can students be in the same hospital the whole time?

No but you can have a main hospital. It’s important that you experience different aspects of Medicine. You have to go to different hospitals to learn about different specialities.

Are students interviewed?

Not for CAO route. International/non-EU applicants are interviewed.

Is there a social aspect to studying medicine and being a doctor?

Medicine is based and grounded in science but the skills and attitudes that you need are broader than that. Having a humanities background, for example helps. Physicians in hospitals work as a team and in a stressful, high pressure setting, communication, teamwork and other 'soft skills' are invaluable.

Do many students drop out?

It is very unusual. If students do struggle, we have help available – both academic and pastoral. We have a wonderful student support system (see here for information on UCD support). Bespoke academic plans have been devised in the past to help students out with specific issues. It is exceptional rare that people drop out. Follow the link to see how the School supports students

Should you have some voluntary or shadowing experience?

It is a good idea to get voluntary experience but it is not an expectation or requirement. This could help you decide on a personal level whether it’s a career that would suit you.

Do you have an intercalated PhD degree?

We have an opportunity for an intercalated BSc. Our students do go on to do PhDs.

Can you take modules outside of the Medicine programme?

There are core and elective modules as part of the medicine programme. One module in each semester can be elective. With UCD Horizons, you can take French or other modules from other degrees and make up your credits for Medicine which is extraordinary for Medical degrees.

For certain electives, there are structured electives suites, if you do enough structured electives (15 credits, you can have it mentioned on your transcript at sub-minor level. More info on our admissions website.

How do mature students apply?

See here for more information

What are the fees?

They can change from year-to-year. For details, check the fees website.

How much is practical, compared to theory?

A lot of the ‘theory years’ are also quite practical – anatomy, problem based tutorials require a lot of skills-based learning. Once you begin the transition phase, you are learning in a working environment during the clinical stages of the programme. On the sites, we have teachers whose roles are to take you on board rounds, clinics, radiology seminars and team meetings and you’ll also be taught at the bedsides. There are benefits of simulations but it is very important to teach students with patients.

Is there much maths content in the course?

There is quite a bit of statistics.

What is public health medicine?

It is the study of pattern of disease in the community and how to control spread of diseases in the community. The chair of NPHET for example is a UCD Public Health graduate WHO high profile staff are also UCD graduates.

How long does it take to specialise?

After your degree, you do your intern year which entitles you to be an independent practitioner, fully registered by the Irish Medical Council. Then you undertake specialist training (4 years to be a GP) and another 7 years to be a consultant specialist. It is approximately 10 years, in total. During that time you are working and getting paid so don't think of it as being a perpetual student. 

Your medicine training is lifelong. Once you obtain your medical degree, it’s considered as accounting for a third of your medical education. Medicine never stays still, there’s always new techniques and discoveries.

I like the thought of medicine but not the clinical side?

You have to work with people so perhaps the study will be difficult for you. Ther are other career opportunities that would be better such as Science, BHLS.

What is Ad Astra?

UCD offers Ad Astra scholarships to students who are outstanding in a number of areas. There are two streams; academic and performance. An unusually high number of medicine students are also in the choral scholars. Go to the Ad Astra website for more information

The scholarship is renewed each year and depends on the GPA/academic score.

Is there an option to go to places like Africa for a summer?

The UCDVO allows you to do this and there is funding for some projects.

Does the School have links with other universities?

We have formal links with institutions around the world. See here for details

How do students support themselves financially through the programme?

It depends on the student. Some fund themselves with government loans. Some work on the weekends and summer periods in the first two years but years 3 and 4 are very busy and demand full application.

Any tips for preparing for GAMSAT for non-Science graduates and what materials should they use to prepare?

The resources that are out there tend to cater for those who don’t have a science background. They are often composed by those who set the exams.

Non-science background students should study with those who have science training so you can learn from each other. There are lots of online resources too.

Can applicants also apply to the GEM if they have a higher degree?

It depends, if the applicant has achieved a 2.1 in their primary degree, then GEM is an option. If they have an exit primary degree less than 2.1 honours, then they cannot apply for GEM even if they have a masters or even PhD.

How important are results in modules during studying the degree when applying for competitive  specialist training later on or is clinical experience more important?

The results in your modules in the last two clinical years will determine your degree GPA and therefore your class rank and depending on what system you are entering, this will enhance your prospects of obtaining a residency placement, whether it is in USA, UK or Ireland. All these residencies work on a competitive ranking basis.

There are many factors with regard to getting into competitive speciality – and is subject to annual change. One of the advantages of studying at UCD, is that we offer a research module that affords students the opportunity to experience diverse clinical fields before final year through our global network of contacts.

During the clinical training in the later years of the programme, could you provide an indication of how much time is spent in hospitals in Dublin as opposed to outside Dublin?

The last two years are effectively fully clinical and you train while working on clinical sites which are organized around the clinical disciplines of medicine, surgery, primary care, psychiatry, pediatrics and obstetrics. We are fortunate to have the largest tertiary acute hospitals in Dublin (St Vincents and Mater )– this is where we provide most of our training in medical and surgery for about 12 weeks each. Students will also be posted to our affiliate network of hospitals which provide acute and specialist services on a regional basis such as Mullingar, Wexford and sites for specialist areas like the Cappagh for orthopedics, eye and ear, CHI Crumlin and National Maternity Hospital. About a quarter of your time will be outside the Dublin hospitals. And for your specialisations you will be mostly outside St Vincents and Mater hospitals.

Students will spend most of general practice clinical placements in the greater Dublin area.  In the penultimate year of the medical degree, we place students in a General Practice outside of Dublin as we see it as an important national exposure that has been enjoyed by students in the past.

 What would a career in translational science look like?

Usually, you start in Medicine, then you can complete a PhD or an MD (as an intercalated or post graduate degree) which builds up a track record of research publications. If successful, this brings a reputational enhancement and assists in the competitive area of research funding.

Are options in year two offered depending on GPA?

No, these are filled on “a first come, first served” basis. The number of students on certain options fluctuates each year but we can track demand and increase capacity of popular modules. We are always seeking to increase the range of options.

Is the amount of time off in the summer the same as with other UCD programmes?

Stage 1 GEM follows the normal pattern – two trimesters of work and a free summer. In stage 2, the first trimester is the same, then you have the clinical modules in the second half of year 2 which extend into mid-June. In GEM 3, students start earlier. Year 3 runs into end of June. Year 4 is September – April.

Any tips on GEM/HPAT?

Don’t cram. Space out your study.

Why choose UCD over other Medical schools?

From a student point of view, the clinical sites – Mater and St Vincents are superb places to learn – the things you experience, the teaching you have, the patients you get to meet are fantastic. The way the teaching works and how committed everyone is to teaching is great. UCD is much more of a cohesive group when it comes to medical students. UCD students are a cohesive, collegial group and happy to engage in lots of sharing. The culture around medicine at UCD is a great place to learn.

Can you defer entry until next year?

Yes – if you are applying via the CAO – there is a quota of places that can be deferred each year. International applicants cannot defer their place for a year.

How to experience the role and environment before enrolling?

It is difficult to view medicine close up because the doctor-patient relationship is one based on confidentiality before enrolment but the major hospitals do run observerships in a hospital/healthcare environment. These have, of course been suspended during the pandemic. You could try volunteering to experience the caring aspect of Medicine in acute hospitals.

Is it possible to apply without completing an undergraduate course?

No, you need to have a UG degree with at least 2.1 honours.

How to internship places work?

The HSE have the ultimate responsibility for internships.

When is the first patient contact?

In trimester 1 of Year 1 there is a module ‘Patient-centered Practice’ to ensure early patient contact to learn clinical skills and meet with patients to discuss issues of health and illness.

Are there any scholarships available from UCD or other funding authorities?

No there are not.

Is there a support route for students who want to be clinical researchers when they leave the programme?

In Ireland, you can apply for an academic internship and the ICAT programme in the UK – UCD is well-represented here.

Almost all consultants in the tertiary hospitals are active researchers and are willing to take students on for summer research projects.

What is the time spent in class/workload? Does it allow students time to work?

In the first few years, some students have a part-time job. It is important to have something that gives you a break from medicine or studying and a job is possible as long as it doesn’t interfere with your studies.

No one comes into GEM knowing everything. Learn from your classmates, they are a rich and diverse resource. All you can do is take it one day at a time. Chip away at it and get through it.

How are students supported in GEM?

The school of medicine programme office frequently checks on students and is the central contact point for support. We have a dedicated student support office in the School.

Here are links to supports:

The more programmes and societies you get involved in, the more people you meet.

How does the Summer Research Programme work?

Principal Investigators will put forward projects of 6 – 8 weeks duration– they are advertised on Brightspace and students can contact the PI and apply. There are also SSRA opportunities abroad – at UBC for example. Students can sometimes complete research which leads to publications.  

Is there an opportunity for an intercalated programme?

Yes, there is an intercalated MSc opportunity and a competitive track for School funded

What are the GAMSAT results required?

They vary annually– it’s a supply versus demand calculation - GAMSAT is 58/59 usually.

Is there an interview for applicants?

Not for CAO applicants however, international students are interviewed.

What is the proportion of continuous assessment compared to end of year exams?

There is more of a focus of continuous assessment – especially during the pandemic. This varies from module-to-module.

Would a student from a biomedical science/physiology degree be able to have their UG credits counted?

This is not possible. If you have studied a module before, then you must gain credit from an option the School provides. This is to avoid double counting of credits in different programmes.   

Do many graduates stay in Ireland?

There are opportunities in Ireland as well as international travel. In General practice there are specialist training programmes in various systems such as in the Irish Healthcare System – they can do their research in a large Centre of excellence.

How likely is it that a graduate who wished to specialise in a certain area might not get it – can you try again of you miss that opportunity?

All of the specialist training  programmes are competitive – the relevant professional bodies will select their entrants to their specialist programme on their criteria which change from time to time –  GPA,  clinical experience, relevant electives, research in the area – all of these things are considered and help with your competitiveness. Yes, if you miss out on a training programme one year, you can try again next year.

Is there much overlap with UEM and GEM? Are the students separated?

On some occasions, both cohorts come together for certain modules but in general, the content is similar as it must align with a core curriculum reviewed by the medical council.

In the clinical years, they are mixed together for the final two years.

What are the benefits of the university teaching hospitals compared to other universities?

We are fortunate to have very modern facilities which are exemplified by the recently refurbished SVU and Mater.

What is the average age of a GEM student and how old is too old?

You are not considered a mature applicant for GEM if you are over 23. You can apply for the UEM as a mature entrant over 23 but not for GEM.

The average age is coming down to 21-22 but there is no limit. Keep in mind the running total of years of study 4 (programme) + 1 (intern) + 4 (specialist training).

What’s the average class size for tutorials?

This depends on the module. For example, Pathology is 8 – 10; Anatomy (dissection) is 50 – 60, physiology is 10 – 15, in clinical skills and general practice – group sizes vary from 4 – 20

What advice would staff give themselves if starting out in a career in medicine?

“I would tell myself to go for it. It is a privilege to do this and we are grateful to study medicine and work as doctors. It is a very enjoyable and rewarding career. Ultimately, it’s one which most people when they’re concluding their career are happy that they had the opportunity”.

Are there opportunities to volunteer and how soon after graduation?

You can get involved in volunteering as early as possible. It may be determined by your financial situation after you graduate. If you have loans, it will be hard. Usually, Médecins Sans Frontiers for example are looking for those who are experienced or have a specialty training.

There is also an UCD volunteers oversees organization (UCDVO) which means you can work in a developing country. There are fundraising opportunities to help fund these trips.  

Do applicants with more shadowing clinical experience have more of an advantage with getting an offer?

No, not if you are a CAO applicant. If you are an international student, then it could help when you face an interview.

Are there many differences with regard to recognition amongst the Irish medical schools internationally when looking for research opportunities?

UCD is the largest university in Ireland and so the alumni office is also the largest which means we have a lot of opportunities with research from alumni. There are over 250,000 active alumni.

There are over 60 scholarship funded international elective opportunities grown from the alumni network.

What kind of work-life balance exists post-intern year?

This is an important issue and medical schools are looking at how to embed this into the curriculum. In recent years there have been a number of legislative changes with regard to the maximum number of hours working in any profession and it has affected the medical and healthcare system. Doctors welcome this.

Is there any support available from the school with regard to USMLE?

There are supports available from the international team. Studying for GEM will help with the USMLE via NIMSA – you can get a peer mentor. School helps with MBNE exams too. There are modular assessment strategies that refer to the USMLE.

You can only apply for a Canadian residency if you are Canadian. The USA doesn’t have restrictions.

Tell me about the pathway to clinical practice?

You will have interactions with patients during the early years of the programme to find out how patients describe their health. In your clinical skills modules you will be looking out for signs and symptoms of disease, then in the final years of your clinical years, you will be exposed to various specialties. After you qualify, in the Internship year you will be under the guidance and supervision of a professional team of nurses, consultants, SHOs and registrars.  Then it is typical to train for another four years as a senior house officer. When you have settled on a particular field then specialist training programmes are undertaken.