Important note for 'post-COVID' applicants. St Catharine's usually recommends that Medicine applicants gain work experience in either a care or a medical setting. However, we realise that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak means that many will not be able to do this - and so applying without such experience will not disadvantage you. Please do not postpone your application due to lack of work experience. However, we encourage you to conduct some online research on the NHS and wider healthcare system - its structure, the challenges facing it (even when it is not coping with a virus outbreak), and staff perceptions of their working lives. Please note that you do NOT have to pay for any resources, online or otherwise, before you apply to us.
Cambridge offers one of the pre-eminent medical courses in the world with a pre-clinical component that is unashamedly focused on biomedical sciences. This aims first and foremost to allow our students to benefit from the scientific excellence for which Cambridge is internationally renowned. At St Catharine’s college, we encourage our students to broaden their scientific horizons by facilitating summer research projects for those interested, and by encouraging them to consider applying for the University’s famous MB/PhD programme.
The pre-clinical subjects are studied in years 1 and 2 (Parts 1A and 1B in Cambridge parlance), leaving year 3 (Part 2) for the student to concentrate on one subject about which they are especially passionate. It is not uncommon for students to conduct original research during their Part 2 and to publish this in international journals.
St Catharine’s College has been committed strongly to the study of medicine for centuries. A former student and Fellow of the college, Dr John Addenbrooke (1680 – 1719), founded Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, which today continues to bear his name and forms the core of one of the largest biomedical campuses in Europe. The current medical Fellowship of the college (see Teaching Staff) includes an impressive array of scientists and clinicians who provide weekly tuition to our medical undergraduates in groups typically of 2-4 students. These supervisions, which enable us to focus on individual student needs, are in addition to the lectures and practicals attended by all medical students in the University.
St Catharine’s is a medium-sized college, advantageously located in the centre of Cambridge, a few minutes from the lecture theatres and laboratories of the main teaching departments. We admit eleven students each year to study medicine, which we believe is an optimum number to achieve a critical mass of students, balanced by the need for personal contact with supervisors and directors of studies. In choosing St Catharine’s, you will join a vibrant community of over 60 clinical and pre-clinical medical students spanning the six years of training.
Overall progress in Part 1A is continually monitored by the first year director of studies, Professor Michael Nicholson, and is formally assessed at the beginning of the Lent term by mock exams held by St Catharine’s. In this way, we aim to ensure that students are made aware of their own strengths and can focus on any areas requiring development. In Part 1B, Professor Anthony Davenport takes on the role of director of studies. During their time in clinical medicine, Professor Stefan Marciniak will then ensure that St Catharine’s students remain fully supported by the college and become the very best doctors they can be.
The medical and veterinary students at St Catharine's have their own vibrant medical society - Catz MedSoc - that organises additional social and educational events for students.
Important note for 'post-COVID' applicants. St Catharine's usually recommends that Medicine applicants gain work experience in either a care or a medical setting. However, we realise that the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak means that many will not have been able to do this - and so applying without such experience will not disadvantage you. Please do not postpone your application due to lack of work experience. However, we encourage you to conduct some online research on the NHS and wider healthcare system - its structure, the challenges facing it (even when it is not coping with a virus outbreak), and staff perceptions of their working lives. Please note that you do NOT have to pay for any resources, online or otherwise, before you apply to us.
It is essential that you are studying the appropriate subjects. To apply to St Catharine's you should be taking Chemistry and any two of Maths, Physics and Biology - so three science/maths subjects in total. Further Maths can also support your application, but Psychology is not 'counted' as a science/maths subject.
You should also have enrolled to sit the UCAT examination - for more information visit the university website. Please note that at every stage of the admissions process we look at all the information available to us - we do not have a 'staged' process in which one piece of information is considered at one point and discounted thereafter. Also, we look at UCAT scores in the context of each year's applicant field. Because of these reasons, there is no absolute 'threshold' UCAT score (or GCSE grades, or UMS scores for that matter) which determines whether you will be interviewed or receive an offer. This also means that if you receive your UCAT result before you apply, we cannot predict whether you will be called for interview or not. See also the 'What score do I need to get in my Admissions Assessment?' section of this page.
We select for interview those applicants who we believe stand a good chance of being admitted for Medicine at Cambridge - either at this college, or at others via the intercollegiate pool. Because the absolute scores in the UCAT vary from year to year, we do not have an absolute 'cutoff' mark, but instead rank our applicants on the basis of their scores. We then adjust this list if necessary to account for applicants' GCSE scores and contextual information. We do not have a minimum requirement for GCSEs, but it is good if you have quite a few 7/8/9 grades, with all 7/8/9s and some 8/9s in the science/maths subjects (we are happy to accept GCSE double science). Please be aware that Cambridge receives large numbers of strong applications for Medicine each year, so we unfortunately Colleges have to de-select Medicine applicants each year.
We interview as many of those applying for Medicine at St Catharine’s as we can - usually approximately half of them - in this competitive subject. At interview you will have the opportunity to convince us of your compassion, imagination and enthusiasm that are so important for a successful and fulfilling life in medicine. You will be engaged in challenging and stimulating scientific discussion in two interviews with members of the medical Fellowship, so be prepared to be pushed to your intellectual limits. It is equally important that you have made efforts to explore your own conviction to care for patients, perhaps by volunteering at your local retirement home, GP surgery or hospital. We know that not everyone will be able to spend time in a medical setting, but you should be able to show evidence of caring for others in the community - we value both types of experience equally.
At the decision-making stage, we use all the information available to us - not just your interview performance.
Like most colleges, our typical offer is A*A*A at A Level, one of which must be Chemistry; or 40-42 and 7,7,6 at IB. Students not made an offer at Catz may be entered into the University’s intercollegiate pool system for possible selection by other colleges if they are otherwise strong candidates. All students should be made aware if they have been made an offer by the end of January following their interviews in December.
Please note that the College does not accept affiliated student applications (i.e from those who already have a degree) in Medicine - we recommend that you get in touch with one of the colleges which specialise in admitting and supporting such students.
Also, please note the College does not accept applications for Medicine via the university's organ scholarship scheme.
Applicants from outside the UK should be aware that the University as a whole has a small quota of medical places for 'non-Home' fee-status students - see this link for details - and for this reason admissions is extremely competitive. Please note that these quota places are not assigned to colleges in advance, but instead each college bids for non-EU Medicine places after they have assessed and interviewed their applicants. Because of this, the number of non-EU students taken by each college varies year by year (but it is zero, one or two at most colleges in most years), and there is no advantage or disadvantage in applying to any particular college.
Regarding your age, Medicine applicants must be 18 by the November 1 of their first year of intended study - this is a University rule which applies to all colleges.
I'm Ros, a second year medic at St Catharine's, and hopefully I can give you a taste of what Medicine at Catz is like. It's intense (at times exhausting!) but without a doubt completely worth it. I never would have believed I was capable of achieving so much before my first year and a large part of that is down to the support that the college provides during your time here. Supervisions, which are organised by the college, were a daunting prospect to me at first. I soon came to realise however that they can be incredibly useful in helping you to understand the trickier aspects of the MVST course and provide some extra detail to put the content you learn in lectures into context. Catz is also lucky enough to have a medical resources room with skeletons (for anatomy), posters, flashcards and textbooks; it's a great place for a small group to go and help each other out with learning muscles etc.
At Catz, there's a lot of team spirit amongst the medics- any words of wisdom are passed down to the lower years, and everyone is incredibly supportive of each other. We have a strong MedSoc which organises interesting talks and social events such as pizza parties, pub crawls and dinners. There are roughly 11 medics in each year who you are with in lectures, practicals, dissection sessions and supervisions, so you become very familiar with each other, very quickly!! However, I think one of the nicest things about the college system is that the size of your year group at the college means you get to know everyone really well, and make friends with people doing all subjects. There isn't a significant difference in workload between medics and other subjects like there might be at other universities, which means that medics aren't isolated from everyone else by how much we have going on. Catz is a great college to do Medicine at location-wise, very central so you can do the five-minute dash to lectures and drag yourself out of bed at the last minute, or nip back to college easily for an essential cup of tea. Most of all, it's a famously friendly college to go to, I loved my first year here and can safely say the decision to go here was one of my best!
My name is Emily and I am a final year (sixth year) medical student. The way the medical course works in Cambridge is that for the first three years (preclinical) you have lectures and practicals in the different departments such as anatomy, physiology and pathology with the third year being the year you choose a subject to study for your BA degree.
The final three years are your clinical years where you are based in a hospital, and really start to learn about being a doctor. During your clinical years lectures take place at the School of Clinical Medicine on the Addenbrooke's campus, but you will also have the opportunity to undertake placements in hospitals and GP practices around East Anglia - anywhere from King's Lynn to Ipswich to Stevenage. The first three years are very much based within the college with teaching provided in supervisions within Catz, and lectures with medics from all colleges taking place in the relevant department.
Catz was a great place for preclinical medicine because it is a very friendly college and, as it isn¹t too big, you soon get to know everyone. If, like me, you enjoy sport (as well as hard work!) Catz is the place for you. There are many different sports societies and whether you have been playing for years or you just want to give something a go for the first time then Catz has the right club to join. If sport isn't your idea of fun then Catz also has many other societies such as musical societies and drama. As a clinical student I now have fewer activities within college because my supervisions now take place at the hospital, although they are usually still with the students from your college.
Addenbrooke's clinical school has a brilliant medical library so the college library is no longer my first port of call, although you can still study there should you want to. When you are on a regional placement and staying in hospital accommodation the district hospitals have their own libraries where you can study. Catz MedSoc hosts events and talks which clinical students can go to, or even give talks at such events as the medical electives evening where the final year students present where they went for their electives.
I have very much enjoyed my years studying Medicine. I really like the Cambridge medical course and Catz is a great place with a very friendly atmosphere so I would very much recommend coming to study here.