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University of Birmingham Medical School

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University of Birmingham Medical School

University of Birmingham Medical School
College of Medical & Dental Sciences
Established 1825 - Teaching by Sands Cox begins in Birmingham
1767 - Medical teaching began at the Birmingham Workhouse Infirmary[1]

Medical school

Prof David Adams (Head of College) and (Dean of Medicine), Dr Emma Robinson (Director of Operations)
Location Birmingham, United Kingdom
Affiliations University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham Medical School is one of Britain's largest and oldest medical schools with over: 400 Medics, 70 Pharmacists, 90 Biomedical Science students and 100 Nurses graduating each year.[2] It is based at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England. Since 2008, and following a departmental restructure, the school became an entity within The College of Medical and Dental Sciences.


The roots of the Birmingham Medical School were in the medical education seminars of Mr. John Tomlinson, first surgeon to the Birmingham Workhouse Infirmary and later to the General Hospital. These classes were the first held in the winter of 1767–68. The first clinical teaching was undertaken by medical and surgical apprentices at the General Hospital, opened in 1779.[1] Birmingham Medical School was founded in 1825 by William Sands Cox, who began by teaching medical students in his father's house in Birmingham. A new building was used from 1829 (on the site of what is now Snow Hill Station). Students at this time took the licentiate/membership examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.

In 1836, Earl Howe and a number of prominent local men submitted a memorandum to King William IV and on June 22, a reply communicated His Majesty’s acquiescence to become a Patron of the School to be styled the Royal School of Medicine and Surgery in Birmingham. There was serious need for a new teaching hospital and in 1839 Sands Cox launched an appeal. Sufficient money was raised within a year and the hospital built in 1840–41 was opened in 1841 by Sands Cox.

Queen Victoria who had granted her patronage to the Clinical Hospital in Birmingham also allowed the new teaching hospital to be styled "The Queen’s Hospital." In 1843, the medical school became Queen's College, and students became eligible to be considered for medical degrees awarded by the University of London.[3]

A rival medical school, Syndenham College opened in Birmingham in 1851. This merged with Queen's College in 1868 to form a new combined institution, and later merged with another institution, Mason Science College. In 1897, the Mason University College Act was passed which made Mason Science College (incorporating Queen's College) into a university college, and this, in turn, became Birmingham University in 1900, and MB ChB degrees were able to be awarded by the new university.

Janet Parker, the last person to die of smallpox in the world in 1978, contracted the disease while working as medical photographer in the anatomy department.


The Medical School is now housed within a building on the University of Birmingham campus in a building constructed in 1938. The Medical School was extended to a design by Scott Wilson and constructed by Architects Design Partnership. The scheme cost £8 million and consisted of a 450-seat lecture theatre and student catering facilities.[4]

In 2013 the university invested £4.5 million in the creation of a new School of Pharmacy. The school is currently located in the Robert Aitken Institute of Clinical Research to the side of the main medical school building. The Pharmacy building contains: a state of the art pharmaceutics lab, separate tablet making lab, a level 3 microbiology lab and clean room, aseptics lab, e-Lab / electronic prescribing lab complete with drugs safe, clinical examination rooms a JCR and advanced library. The pharmacy school is linked via a controlled access corridor to Birmingham Old Hospital.

In October 2008, the medical school opened a new prosectorium to its students which cost in the region of £500,000 to build.

University of Birmingham students of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and physiotherapy have access to special clinical works within the Barnes Library and computer cluster within the medical school building. With the restructure of the university all these schools now come under the umbrella of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.

Courses and admission

The medical school remains extremely competitive with entry requirements set very high. For the 5 year medicine course potential students are expected to have a minimum of 7 A* grades at GCSE as well as straight A predictions for A level examinations. Although these are minimum requirements, the medical school often increases its GCSE expectations. The typical offer was also increased to AAA for 2010 entry. Requirements for 2013 entry then became A*AA at A Level and A*s in English, Maths and Science GCSEs instead. Candidates are also expected to perform well at interview.

Dentistry at Birmingham often receives many applications for each place available. With few spaces on the course, it is extremely competitive and candidates are expected to perform excellently at interview.

Pharmacy admissions accepted the first intake of students in August 2013, in the first year alone 1007 applicants applied for 70 available places. Requirements for current entry remain at AAA at A Level and A's in Maths and Science GCSEs. All candidates are interviewed before offers are made and are expected to perform well.

The Medical School runs a variety of undergraduate medical degree (MBChB) courses. There is both the five-year programme along with a four-year graduate entry course (GEC). In addition there are a small number of places on a 3-year programme allocated to dental graduates aiming for careers in Oral Medicine or Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

The School also offers a bachelor's degree in Medical Science (BMedSc) leading to further study at postgraduate level. Medical and Pharmacy students may also intercalate to the final year of the BMedSc course to attain an additional degree within their 3rd year.

The College of Health Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe was modelled after the Birmingham Medical School. The two hence share and enjoy a special relationship.

Medical Society (Birmingham MedSoc)

Students of Birmingham Medical School, more specifically The College of Medical and Dental Sciences, are entitled to be part of Birmingham Medical Society; one of the largest MedSocs in the United Kingdom, and the largest society at the University of Birmingham. Birmingham MedSoc is co-ordinated by an elected committee which changes each academic year, around the month of January. MedSoc contains a huge number of subsidiary sports, societies and charities, which all run themselves largely independently. In terms of sports, the largest clubs are the University of Birmingham Medical School Hockey Club (UBMSHC) and the University of Birmingham Medical School Rugby Football Club (UBMSRFC), but there are many sports clubs to choose from, including football, squash, tennis, swimming and skiing. Societies include the annual comedy show the Comedy Revue, Birmingham Medical Leadership Society and Wilderness Medicine, which organises outdoors trips, most recently the 'Three peaks challenge'. MedSoc also supports a number of charities, for example Marrow and Medecins sans Frontières. Membership costs £8 per year as of 2015, so a Medical Science student (3 years) would pay £24, whereas a Medicine student (5 years) would pay £40.[5]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Birmingham MedSoc Website, URL:
  • History of the Medical School (as appeared annually in the Faculty Handbook)
  • (Special Number of the Birmingham Medical Review, December 1925)
  • R. A. Cohen, "The Birmingham Dental Hospital", Birmingham Medical Review, 1957–58, 20: 331-337; and the lecture notes of the late Dr. B. T. Davis, sometime Assistant Dean, Senior Tutor and Historian of the Medical School
  • Weiss MM, et al. (2004). Rethinking smallpox. Clinical Infectious Disease, 39(11): 1673–1688.

External links

  • University of Birmingham Medical School website
  • University of Birmingham Medical School Medical Society

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