An intercalated degree is a year-long period of study which comes in the middle of your main medical degree, and is separate to it. It's your chance to study specific topics in depth for a year, and to carry out a research project.
Reasons to intercalate
Students apply to intercalate for a number of reasons:
- To study in depth a topic that interests you. An intercalated degree gives you the chance to delve much deeper into the subject than the regular medical curriculum allows.
- To learn about scientific research. By carrying out a research project you are provided with rigorous training in research methods and the opportunity to work with experts at leading research institutions in potentially novel areas of research.
- To enhance your CV. With an increase in medical school admission numbers and an increasingly competitive postgraduate market, it's crucial that you make the most of opportunities at undergraduate level -- especially if you're considering a career in a competitive area such as surgery, academic medicine or research. By intercalating, you'll be differentiated from graduates who haven't intercalated when it comes to applying for top jobs.
- To enjoy a change of scene. When you intercalate, you take a break from your regular medical studies and get experience of another academic environment, perhaps another city -- something our previous intercalating students have found great fun.
At some medical schools, all students graduate with an intercalated degree. So, even if intercalating doesn't give you a definite advantage, you might be disadvantaged if you don't.
Compatibility of intercalated degrees
Most intercalated BSc degrees are compatible with your main medical course. It's rare for an advertised intercalated degree not to be a BSc, and for it not to have a research project and dissertation attached to it. But if you're looking at a postgraduate-level qualification such as an MSc at another institution, please make sure that your chosen course lasts for just one year and that there are no clashes with when you're expected to return to your medical course.
Taking a degree after you graduate
It's possible in principle to take a degree after you graduate, instead of intercalating during your medical course. But it won't be easy. You'll be studying in your own time at the same time as working, so you'll be very busy!
Bear in mind that Master's courses are only available at certain institutions, and part-time MSc courses are even rarer. Also, tuition fees for Master's courses are much higher than at undergraduate level.