Frequently Asked Questions

Your Questions Answered

In this section, we have compiled answers to frequently asked questions from current and prospective students. If you have a question or query that is not covered here, please do feel free to contact us.

What factors distinguish medicine at UCD from other medical programmes?

  • We require only one lab-based science for entry to our programme. Year one is designed specifically to bring each student to an expert standard in all of the core sciences in addition to the introduction of new concepts such as applied genetics and radiography. In a 2011/12 stage one student survey, 85% of students felt that participation in a six year programme is of clear benefit, while 100% of students were satisfied with their choice of UCD.
  • Our six year programme allows students to integrate fully into college life at Ireland’s most student friendly university. While the workload is still challenging, it does provide students with the space to take a breath between two very intense periods (leaving certificate and stages two through five). We actively encourage our students to get involved in sport, societies and extra-curricular activities. We believe that a rounded college experience will produce a more communicative and fully-formed doctor.
  • Our six year programme allows students to take advantage of the UCD horizons modular programme. For instance, if a particular student has an interest in general practice, then it is possible and useful to consider an elective in business management from the Business School. Similarly, students can also choose from an array of language options or may leverage the elective towards developing a particular specialty in research or a specific aspect of medical science.
  • Students benefit from our extensive clinical network. Specifically, our students will train at one or both of Ireland’s largest acute hospitals: St Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. Similarly, students will rotate through the busiest specialist hospitals including National Maternity Holles Street and Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Students also benefit at an early stage from our primary care network, through which students shadow GPs and learn key skills in the area of communication, history taking and follow-up.
  • Students benefit from a range of international elective opportunities at the School. As part of their programme, students compete for international research and clinical opportunities which they undertake throughout the summer months, mostly in stage four. These opportunities range from University of Queensland Australia, Penang College Malaysia, Harvard Medical School and the University of California. In the final stage, students may take international electives in accordance with their chosen research or clinical interest. This experience exposes students to other models of healthcare, develops professional experience and builds contacts and networks.
  • Students at UCD experience an integrated curriculum that introduces patient contact at an early stage. For instance, students will participate in the Patient Educator Programme, whereby a student will play the role of GP and a real patient will assess their efforts in terms of history-taking, communication skills, empathy etc.

What is HPAT?

The admissions test selected by the Irish Medical Schools is called HPAT-Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test-Ireland). The test measures candidates' logical reasoning and problem-solving skills, as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people. Further information is available from the ‘Undergraduate Entry to Medicine for EU Applicants 2012 brochure’. All EU students applying to study Undergraduate Entry to Medicine (UEM) in Ireland are required to sit the HPAT examination.

What is GAMSAT & what is MCAT?

GAMSAT is available to any student who has already completed a Bachelor degree, or who will be enrolled in their penultimate (second-last) or final year of study for a Bachelor degree, at the time of sitting the test. UCD awards EU places on their Graduate Entry to Medicine (GEM) programme strictly on the results of this examination. GAMSAT is 75% science; 25% other skills

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a standardised, multiple-choice examination designed to assess problem solving, critical thinking, writing skills, and knowledge of science concepts & principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Scores are reported in physical sciences, verbal reasoning, writing sample, and biological sciences. UCD requires MCAT scores for all Non-EU applicants to the GEM programme.

What is the ratio of EU to Non-EU students in Medicine?

  • In the UEM programme, Stage One has a ratio of approx 6:1, EU: Non-EU.
  • Stage One of the GEM programme is weighted approx 4:1, EU: Non-EU.

How will I learn?

As we deliver innovative undergraduate and graduate programmes, the School also seeks continually to improve our educational offerings based on feedback and educational best practice. 

We devote considerable attention to examining what is taught, how that knowledge is delivered and how the student learning is best assessed. We continually question our graduates' preparedness to deliver society’s expectations of professional clinical staff. 

One of the strengths of both the UEM and GEM programmes is our Patient and Advocate Centred Education (PACE) approach to learning including teaching in small groups where our students learn the necessary skills under the tuition of highly qualified clinical tutors. We aim to enhance your experience by attention to student welfare and by adopting innovative teaching strategies and assessment methods.

Please visit our Educational Ethos page for a full list of curriculum development and educational projects.

What style of teaching will be used?

We employ a blended approach, using all modalities to deliver modules that have clear learning outcomes. We do not be relying on problem based learning for the delivery of the course.

How many credits are applied to each module?

A standard undergraduate module is 5 credits, although there are some 10 credit modules in the early stages of the GEM programme. Later in your clinical curriculum the majority of modules will have a value of 10 or more credits. One credit represents 20-25 hours of student time. Therefore, a standard 5-credit module represents 100-125 hours of student time.

What is an elective?

An elective is a module which is not a core modules of your programme. Most undergraduate students undertake elective during their studies. Electives can be chosen across a range of subject areas in the University.

What level of science is required for entry to the GEM programme?

Students from a non science background are welcome to apply to the graduate entry medicine programme. Academic support is provided for those students who need additonal assistance. Students can avail of extra science options in years one and two, should they wish to avail of extra educational support.

Molecules in Medicine is an optional module designed for Graduate Entry to Medicine students who have little or no knowledge of basic chemistry, organic chemistry, the application of chemistry to biological systems or the translation of chemical principles to clinical care.

Can I apply to undergraduate medicine if I don't have chemisty?

Yes. The six-year UEM curriculum has been designed to accommodate students without Leaving Certificate Chemistry. You will still enjoy and thrive in Stage One of Medicine. We provide a range of academic supports for students who may require assistance with particular aspects of the programme.

What kind of academic support is provided?

  • The Maths Support Centre offers free support to students from any UCD programme, particularly in Maths, but also in Physics or a maths-related subject.
  • Module and stage coordinators are available to support and advise students on all aspects of our programmes.
  • Students also benefit from our peer mentoring initiative, which provides support to incoming students.
  • For more, visit the student support section.

Where will I study?

The UCD Health Sciences Centre, which opened in September 2005, is a state-of-the-art facility for medical education and research and brings the research and teaching activities of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and radiographers together within a single, multi-disciplinary environment. Click here for more about our learning environment. 

In which hospitals will I undertake clinical training?

The major general teaching hospitals are the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (MMUH) and St Vincent's University Hospital (SVUH), based in Dublin. However, our education programme stretches across more than 21 hospital sites and more than 100 general practices. Click here to explore our clinical campus.


How is the GEM programme structured?

In the GEM programme, clinical studies and professionalism are integrated into the biomedical modules in the first 1.5 years. In the last 2.5 years, especially years 3 and 4, the course is rooted in clinical practice. Within this four year programme we have designed specific modules that reduce repetition and integrate normal and abnormal biology within semesters. This approach maximises efficiency and emphasises immersive learning. The programme has a total 270 ECTS course – 30 credits shorter than a traditional 5 year programme.

There is more group learning than in a conventional programme, but we do not have a wholly problem-based curriculum. Instead, there will be lectures, seminars, clinical skills and anatomy dissection etc. from the outset. There are also case-based tutorials and early interaction with patients.

What is the clinical/scientific mix in the GEM programme?

The course has a complex structure, and multiple instructional methods. While science is a core feature of the first two years, clinical studies and practice is integrated within the programme from the very first semester. For example, in the first semester, students meet patients in the community, learn life support skills, practice clinical skills in a clinical skills laboratory with hospital consultants, and interact with patients through our on-campus Patient and Advocate Centred Education initiative.

In the second semester, students undertake problem-based learning sessions with general practice registrars and, in addition to clinical skills sessions, undertake sessions in general practice. This carries through into the third semester.

In semester four (after December of the second year) students are required to go on hospital visits associated with paediatrics, obstetrics and psychiatry. Students also spend a week in an ENT (ear, nose and throat) based clinical location, and a further week in an ophthalmology based clinical location.

Students take history from patients in our National Rehabilitation Hospital or similar facility, and spend 4 weeks completely immersed in an acute general hospital, split between medicine and surgery. Students then join the final two years of the newly modularised UEM Programme.

Do undergraduate and graduate students share lectures?

In the first two years, 30% of the course is shared.

What are the term dates for the Medicine programme?

UCD operates modular programmes and the academic year consists of two semesters. Each semester consists of 12 weeks teaching followed by end of semester examinations. The term dates for medical students in years 1, 2 and 3 of the course are the same as other university students (approx. early September to end of May incl. exam period). The final 2.5 years of the programme are rooted in clinical practice and the dates vary.

Are there any specific charges attached to the Medicine Programmes?

Yes, all Medicine students are required to demonstrate evidence of immunity to certain infectious diseases (Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis) and will also be screened for evidence of immunity to Measles, Mumps and Rubella. This compulsory Healthcare Screening carries a cost of €225, which is payable at the time of registration. Please refer to: for further information. The Garda Vetting programme (outlined below) also carries a charge of €5 per student, which is payable at registration.

Will I have the opportunity to study abroad?

Our extensive international links offer a variety of opportunities to broaden students' academic and social experience. Scholarship awards on the basis of an essay competition are available to support elective periods in centres of clinical and research excellence in the USA, Europe and Malaysia. UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science currently has links with several USA medical schools (e.g. University of Pennsylvania, University of Kansas, University of California, Emory University and Washington University, (St Louis) as well as Penang Medical College in Malaysia) where students can take elective programmes and gain valuable experience overseas.

In the clinical years of the degree there will be a mandatory credit bearing elective placement, which students can be undertaken an international centre of excellence.

Can I undertake independent research during my programme?

As a medical student, you will have access to credit-bearing summer research opportunities in laboratory science, clinical science and alongside our partners in a wide variety of charity organisations. In addition, there is a competitive opportunity to take a year out of the programme to pursue an intercalated Master of Science (MSc).

What happens after graduation

Upon graduation, you must complete one year as an intern or Pre-Registration House Officer to gain full registration with the Irish Medical Council. You may then pursue training towards a career in a wide variety of specialities in a diversity of settings, including hospitals, primary care facilities or laboratory-based diagnosis and research.

How are Internship places determined?

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has assumed responsibility for the allocation of intern posts throughout the 6 intern networks. Applicants must apply through a two stage application process – the first stage requires submission of personal and medical education details and the second the submission of intern post choices. Eligible applicants will be matched to the available posts based on (i) EU Community Preference (applicants who require a work permit will be ranked after those who do not require a permit to work in Ireland and (ii) the centile ranking of each applicant as calculated by the Medical School based on the position in the final graduating class. Applicants can apply to posts in any network and are not confined to posts within the network affiliated to their own Medical School. Please refer to this handbook for further information.