photo of University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

This profile of Cardiff highlights this medical school's entry requirements, typical offers, student numbers, competition ratios, teaching and learning methods, course structure, demographics and history.

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Summary overview: 

Cardiff University has the only medical school in Wales, drawing on a patient population of 3 million individuals. The course is highly patient-oriented, with clinical placements from first year onwards. As the course progresses, emphasis on clinical skills increases, giving students clinical responsibility in primary and secondary care throughout Wales. A key element of teaching at Cardiff is its non-modular spiral curriculum (C21), in which students revisit core themes in more detail in each year of the course. Case-based learning (CBL) is a key component of teaching at Cardiff.

Key information dashboard

For convenience, here is an at-a-glance summary of key information related to Cardiff medical school.

Links in this dashboard can help you check which other UK medical schools are similar to Cardiff with regard to points listed here.

Be sure to check our notes in sections below for more details about each of these points.

Cardiff medical school establishment date:

Years of course:

Total medical students:

Average year cohort:

Wales (Cymru)

Subject prerequisites:

Biology (strictly required)
Chemistry (strictly required)

Interview format:

Admissions test:

A Level typical offer:

Advanced Higher typical offer:

IB typical offer:
36 points

General teaching method:
CBL, Integrated

Anatomy teaching:

Intercalation mode:
Optional intercalation

Entry requirements

Work experience expectations:

The university recognises that opportunities for work experience will vary according to individual circumstances. Applicants are encouraged to show an appreciation of the length of the training programme and the career structure.

Admissions test: UCAT

UCAT is the admissions test required of most applicants; No minimum threshold for UCAT.
GAMSAT is required for graduates.

Personal statement usage:

Evidence is sought for insight into a career in medicine, experience and reflection of personal responsibility, experience and reflection in a caring environment, a balanced approach to life, self-directed learning and a sense of social awareness, in addition to positive referee's comments.

Interview type: MMI

Candidates are assessed on: ability to think on their feet, critical appraisal of information, communication skills, insight and commitment to Medicine.

Coursework subjects expected: Biology (strictly required), Chemistry (strictly required)

For more details about subjects expected by this medical school, see the notes below regarding typical offers.

Typical offers

A Level typical offer: AAA

A Levels must include Chemistry and Biology.
Welsh Baccalaureate accepted in place of third A Level.
Critical Thinking, General Studies and Further Maths are not accepted.

GCSE requirements:

Eight GCSEs at grade B/6 including Biology, Chemistry, and Maths, or equivalent qualifications.
Grade 6 (B) is required in Maths and English Language. If Welsh Language is offered, it must also be supplemented with English Language at a minimum of a grade 6 (B).

Advanced Higher typical offer: AA
Advanced Highers must include Chemistry and Biology.
Scottish Higher typical offer: AAAAA
Scottish Highers subjects must include Chemistry and Biology.
National 5 requirements: National 5 subjects not specified
International Baccalaureate typical offer: 36 points

IB applicants must achieve 7,6,6 at Higher level. This must include grade 6 in Higher level Biology or Chemistry AND grade 6 in one other Higher level science from Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, or Statistics.
Must also include grade 7 in SL Biology or Chemistry if not taken at Higher level.
All offers exclude Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay.

Notes about Widening Access:

Academic and non-academic attainment of a candidate will be reviewed against educational performance data and socio-economic background to provide an overview of an applicant’s potential.
The medical school will consider this information when deciding whether to call a candidate for interview.
As explained in discussion of 'Contextual admissions' on the website, Cardiff "use contextual information as part of our commitment to widening participation, taking into account the context in which an applicant has achieved or will achieve their qualifications, to provide greater understanding of their potential to study an undergraduate degree programme with us."

Total students and cohort sizes at UK medical schools

For uniform comparison of medical student admissions each year across all UK medical schools, we rely on annual reports from the Office for Students (OfS) entitled 'Medical and dental intakes'.

Total medical students: 1585 Total years of course: 5 Years data reports available: 5 Average cohort per year: 317.0 Percentage of Home students in latest cohort: 100.0% Percentage of International students in latest cohort: 9.1%
Recent cohort admissions data: 
Admission year Total students admitted this year Home places International places
330 students in this cohort 300 Home students 30 International students
315 students in this cohort 285 Home students 30 International students
320 students in this cohort 295 Home students 25 International students
325 students in this cohort 300 Home students 25 International students
295 students in this cohort 275 Home students 20 International students
305 students in this cohort 280 Home students 25 International students

Competition data

Competition ratio data reported here is from the 2019-20 admissions cycle, as confirmed by MedSchoolGenie Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from this period.

Please note: Due to ongoing impact of Covid-19 since March 2020, UK medical schools have not yet released competition ratio data for the 2020-21 admissions cycle. Applicants should keep in mind that coronavirus-related lockdowns and other restrictions affected the entire UK education sector, so competition ratios were most likely distorted during 2020-21. MedSchoolGenie will update here when further competition data becomes available.

Ratio of Home applicants per interview: 
Ratio of Home applicant interviews per place: 
Ratio of Home applicants per place: 
Ratio of International applicants per interview: 
Ratio of International applicant interviews per place: 
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Applicant percentages of success

From reported competition ratios, it's possible to calculate percentages of success at various stages of the application process.

Numbers of applicants competing in latest admissions cycle

Based on reported numbers of applicants securing places, we can use competition ratios to estimate how many applicants have been competing at each stage of the most recent admissions cycle.

Please note: Estimates of competition factors from 2020 onwards may be less reliable than in previous years because UK medical schools have not yet reported competition ratios for the 2020-21 admissions cycle. MedSchoolGenie will update here when more recent data on competition ratios becomes available.

Total number of all applicants in latest admissions cycle: 3489
Number of Home applicants in latest admissions cycle: 
Number of Home applicant interviews in latest admissions cycle: 
Number of Home applicants securing places: 
Number of International applicants in latest admissions cycle: 
Number of International applicant interviews in latest admissions cycle: 
Number of International applicants securing places in latest admissions cycle: 

Teaching and learning

Predominant teaching style: CBL, Integrated

Integrated, in a spiral curriculum.
Case-based learning (CBL), revisiting core themes every year in more detail.
As explained in its overview of teaching methods, "We use a blend of teaching methods with small group teaching and case based learning. Learning is supported and reinforced by a coordinated programme of lectures, seminars, practicals, lab and clinical skills sessions, and relevant clinical experience.... Case based learning is a structured and supported method of learning. This method of learning in the clinical context makes it easier to recall knowledge. You will learn practical clinical skills such as communication, examination and practical procedural skills in clinical skill centres. Communication skills are taught by using actors who are trained to behave as patients."

Anatomy teaching method: Dissection Intercalation mode: Optional intercalation

As explained in discussion of intercalation on this medical school's website: "In an intercalated year, you complete a BSc in a medically related subject. You can do this after year three or year four of your MBBCh studies. Approximately 100 students intercalate each year, most studying BSc courses in Cardiff University or at Bangor University, with whom we have close links.... Top students can intercalate at other UK institutions for courses not offered here. "

Overview of course structure

Phase one (years one and two):
Phase one takes place in the first two years of the course, featuring core science and introduction to clinical practice. The theme of ‘Chronological Life Course' informs CBL in years one and two. Students have opportunities to undertake student selected components (SSCs) in every year of the course.
Phase two (years three and four):
Phase two occurs in years three and four, introducing an increasing amount of spent learning on clinical placements. Students return to Cardiff throughout phase two for complementary teaching on scientific principles. Emphasis is placed on, diagnostic methods and the management & treatment of common diseases.
Phase three (year five):
Phase three takes place in the year five, consolidating learning in preparation for FY1. Students take on an increasingly active role in clinical teams in their junior and senior assistantships.

Reported demographics

This chart highlights gender and disability data reported by Cardiff to the General Medical Council (GMC), which has compiled this information into spreadsheets as part of its medical school annual return (MSAR) data sets.

Please note this data is retrospective, and that future numbers can vary from preceding years.

Demographic data collection: 

For comparison, we also include below all demographic data reported by this medical school to General Medical Council.

Reporting year Female students Male students Students with declared disability Students without declared disability
2017-18 65.9% female students 34.1% male students 8.3% students with disability 91.7% students without disability
2016-17 66.4% female students 33.6% male students 8.5% students with disability 91.5% students without disability

Medical school history

Originally founded in 1893, and previously known as the Welsh National School of Medicine and the University of Wales College of Medicine, this medical school was re-amalgamated into Cardiff University in 2004.

To see how this compares chronologically, you can check our sortable overview of establishment dates at UK medical schools.

Medical school location

Cardiff University School of Medicine
UHW Main Building
Heath Park
CF14 4XN
United Kingdom
Geographic region: