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Birmingham, West Midlands, England

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Birmingham University

Overview

Birmingham University is set in a multicultural, ethnically diverse and ever-expanding city. It makes for a very exciting place to study, with a wealth of opportunities and everything you could ever need right on your doorstep! Despite this being one of the bigger universities to study at, you will instantly feel part of a vibrant community of students and find your niche.

University Life

Birmingham university is a campus university, which is very useful as everywhere you would needed to go is in very close proximity to my accommodation and adds to the student community feel. A unique point about Birmingham Medical School is that it is situated very close to the main campus, which means you do not feel isolated from the rest of the university. There are plenty of study spaces in both the medical school and the main campus, with the stunning new main library being a favourite amongst most people. Here is a link here to the campus map, to illustrate the full extent of Birmingham university’s fantastic academic and sporting facilities and how close together everything is: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/university/edgbaston-campus-map.pdf.
The medical school is less than a 2 minute walk from two of the most prestigious hospitals in the country; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s Hospital. Both of these hospitals are at the forefront of medical research and the best thing is, in the clinical years, there is the opportunity to undertake clinical placements there! Through these placements, you will meet healthcare professionals who are leading the way in their field of medicine, which leads to fantastic networking opportunities. Both these hospitals also regularly feature on BBC programmes, with BWH the home to ‘Life and Birth’ and QEHB featuring on ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’.
In terms of transport links in Birmingham, it is an extremely well connected city. The University Train Station is sandwiched between main campus and the medical school, which is incredibly handy if you commute to the university or for popping into the centre of town. It is also only a 5 minute walk from the Pritchatts Park Village accommodation campus and around 15 minute walk from the Vale Village, another one of the university’s accommodation campuses. From University Station, it takes only 20 minutes to get to Birmingham Grand Central; a vibrant hub in the heart of the city that has a link bridge to the Bullring shopping centre.
The Vale has around 8 different accommodation types (Mason, Chamberlain, Aiken, Tennis Courts, Tennis Courts Green Community, Maple Bank, Shackleton and Elgar Court) which are all centred around a beautiful lake (a favourite exercise spot for both students and the public). On the Vale it feels very tranquil, which is a nice contrast to the bustling city. You will meet fellow medical students here but also people on lots of other courses, which gives you the all-round experience of university life.
The medical school is less than a 2 minute walk from two of the most prestigious hospitals in the country; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s Hospital. Both of these hospitals are at the forefront of medical research and the best thing is, in the clinical years, there is the opportunity to undertake clinical placements there! Through these placements, you will meet healthcare professionals who are leading the way in their field of medicine, which leads to fantastic networking opportunities. Both these hospitals also regularly feature on BBC programmes, with BWH the home to ‘Life and Birth’ and QEHB featuring on ‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’.
In terms of transport links in Birmingham, it is an extremely well connected city. The University Train Station is sandwiched between main campus and the medical school, which is incredibly handy if you commute to the university or for popping into the centre of town. It is also only a 5 minute walk from the Pritchatts Park Village accommodation campus and around 15 minute walk from the Vale Village, another one of the university’s accommodation campuses. From University Station, it takes only 20 minutes to get to Birmingham Grand Central; a vibrant hub in the heart of the city that has a link bridge to the Bullring shopping centre.
The Vale has around 8 different accommodation types (Mason, Chamberlain, Aiken, Tennis Courts, Tennis Courts Green Community, Maple Bank, Shackleton and Elgar Court) which are all centred around a beautiful lake (a favourite exercise spot for both students and the public). On the Vale it feels very tranquil, which is a nice contrast to the bustling city. You will meet fellow medical students here but also people on lots of other courses, which gives you the all-round experience of university life.

Social Life

The social scene, like Birmingham itself, is big and vibrant. It caters for everyone- so whether you like to go to nightclubs and bars or prefer a quiet night in, there will always be something for you. Harborne is the home to some lovely cafes to meet friends for a catch up and the centre of town also has some fab independent coffee shops. In terms of clubbing, most nightclubs can be found on Broad street, which is popular with freshers and older students a-like. The Guild of Students on campus also turns into a nightclub each Wednesday and Saturday, which always creates a hive of activity. After first year, lots of students opt to live in Selly Oak, so everyone lives in close proximity to each other. This really adds to the university life, as it maintains the student community feel.
With over 70 societies, sports clubs and charities, Birmingham Medical Society (MedSoc) is one of the largest in the country and the single largest society at the University of Birmingham! It is a really inclusive community and is open to students studying a range of different courses under the College of Medical and Dental Sciences, such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy, biomedical sciences and physicians associates. Check out the Birmingham MedSoc website here: https://uobmedsoc.com/.

Interview

Birmingham’s interview format is Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). The interview will consist of seven different stations, with a mixture of calculation stations and face-to-face interviews. These face-to-face interviews can be on a range of topics, such as ethical scenarios and discussions about current affairs in the scientific community. These stations are designed to test a range of skills sets and qualities that are important for a doctor to have, such as empathy, ethical reasoning, communication skills, self-reflection and motivation for medicine. Top tips for the interviews would be to keep up to date with the scientific news on websites such as BBC Health and in journals such as the British Medical Journal (BMJ). It would be reasonable to recommend reading up on ethical principles and to practise applying these to various scenarios. For this, the book ‘A Very Short Introduction to Medical Ethics’ by Tony Hope and the General Medical Council (GMC) website is very useful. Another top tip for the interviews would be to make sure you know the style of teaching inside out and if there are any specific elements about the course or modules that you like, make sure to show your enthusiasm for them!
The interviews at Birmingham usually take place at Birmingham Medical School between December and February. However, because of the pandemic, they may have to make some changes to the interview process, so regularly check the website for details: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/medical-school/applying-to-medicine/medicine-interviews.aspx. In terms of interview topics, it is a very good idea for applicants to Birmingham to read this document: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-mds/courses/undergraduate/Medicine-and-Surgery-MBChB/info-interview-5-year-2019-20.pdf. This pdf is really useful as it contains a comprehensive overview of the layout of the interview a few of the topics that you could be asked about.

Tips

Advice for anyone wanting to apply to Birmingham medical school would be to make sure to check the entry requirements and pinpoint what exactly Birmingham are looking for in their medical students. For example, Birmingham weighted GCSE grades very highly (with 8/9A*s or more achieving the maximum score) in 2017. In terms of UCAT score, this was not weighted as highly as GCSEs in 2016-2017, it would be advisable that applicants check the website for the up-to-date scoring system for this. Birmingham has a handy offer calculator, which you can use to determine whether you would be likely to receive an offer of interview and an offer to study at Birmingham. This can be found here if you click ‘download and use the Offer Calculator Tool’: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/medical-school/applying-to-medicine/offer-calculator-5-year-programme.aspx.
This page about selection for interview is also very useful, as it talks about how Birmingham university score UCAS applications, so you can use it to see if you are likely to be given an offer for interview: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/medical-school/applying-to-medicine/selection-for-interview.aspx.
If however you do not have the full requirements, it is advisable that applicants check whether they would qualify for application through Birmingham’s widening participation scheme. There are a number of opportunities for students on this scheme, such as Routes to Professions and Pathways to Birmingham. These routes give special consideration to applicants who fit a set of eligibility criteria and it also offers scholarships and bursaries. It is a really fantastic way of making sure that Birmingham Medical School is open to as many applicants as possible, so if you feel you would benefit from these schemes then check out this link to see if you are eligible: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/teachers/year-12/pathways-to-birmingham/index.aspx

Ruby Hill @ruby.c.hill

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