Imperial College School of Medicine

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Imperial College School of Medicine
Type Medical school
Established 1821 (Charing Cross Hospital Medical School)
1834 (Westminster Hospital Medical School)
1854 (St Mary's Hospital Medical School)
1984 (Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School)
1997 (Imperial College School of Medicine)
Dean Professor Jonathan Weber
Undergraduates 2,200
Postgraduates 240
Location London, England
Colours Dark Blue, Red, Pale Blue, Gold
Affiliations Imperial College London
Mascot Phoenix

Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) is the medical school of Imperial College London in England, and one of the United Hospitals. In 2017 it was ranked 4th in the world for medicine by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings

The School was formed by the merger of several historic medical schools, and has core campuses at South Kensington, St Mary's Hospital, London, Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The School is ranked fifth in the world and third in the UK in the 2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[1] It is ranked 8th in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2014[2] and 3rd in the UK by the 2017 Complete University Guide.[3] It was ranked 11th in the QS rankings and was ranked 2nd in the UK for research in the latest RAE in 2008, behind the University of Edinburgh Medical School.


Imperial College London first gained a medical school by merger with St Mary's Medical School in 1988. The current School of Medicine was formed in 1997 by the merger of St Mary's Medical School with Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School (formerly Charing Cross Hospital Medical School and Westminster Hospital Medical School), the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the National Heart and Lung Institute.


Imperial College School of Medicine is the undergraduate teaching arm of Imperial's Faculty of Medicine[4], which is organised into five departments: the Institute of Clinical Sciences, the School of Public Health (SPH), the Department of Medicine, the Department of Surgery & Cancer, and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI).[5] The Faculty of Medicine also has close ties to the cross-faculty Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial.[6] Professor Jonathan Weber, an HIV expert and clinician by training, was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in May 2018.[7]

Unlike several other medical schools in the UK which are part of a Life Sciences Department or similar, ICSM belongs to its own Faculty of Medicine. Furthermore, the school runs a number of courses besides the standard MBBS degree programme. These include the Imperial College MPH Programme. Teaching hospitals of the School are part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which was formed in 2007 and is the UK's first academic health science centre. All undergraduate students within the Faculty of Medicine (including Biomedical Science and Pharmacology BScs) are supported by the Imperial College School of Medicine Students' Union. The Faculty of Medicine also offers postgraduate MSc, MRes and PhD programmes, but these fall under the Graduate School of Life Sciences and Medicine, not the School of Medicine.

Campuses and associated hospitals

The School's teaching campuses include:

Students in the 1st and 2nd years as well as those on the BSc courses attend lectures and labs mainly at the main campuses. Parts of the 4th year, as well as other clinical modules are also held at the postgraduate hospitals, where much of the School's research is based:

Clinical attachments and teaching in years 2 (three weeks), 3 (30 weeks), 5 and 6 (all year) are held at these hospitals. These hospitals also have small research divisions which are part of the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine.

Undergraduate courses

The school accepts approximately 280 school leavers as medical undergraduates each year (including 21 from outside the EU) for a six-year course leading to the award of an MBBS and BSc. Fifty graduates (including ten from outside the EU) are accepted for the five-year course that leads to the MBBS.

Entry is highly competitive with applicants requiring AAA at A-level, with chemistry and/or biology required at A-level. A 2:1 degree and/or PhD in a biological subject is required for graduate entry. Furthermore, the BMAT is required for entry to the six-year course and the UKCAT for the four-year course, as well as an interview. For 2008 entry, there were approximately 3,000 applicants for the six-year and 500 for the four-year course. However, medical students from other institutions may also join various portions of the course.

The school runs four undergraduate courses.[8]

Six-year MBBS/BSc

Teaching in the first two years is focused on the scientific basis of medicine with study focussing on a systems-based format, moving towards integrated disease and including clinical aspects later on. It also includes communication skills, medical ethics and law. Teaching comprises lectures, clinical demonstrations, tutorials, dissection, computer workshops, laboratory practical and clinical skills classes, independent study, and some problem-based learning.

Clinical experience in first year is provided by a patient contact course and in the second year with a three-week attachment in general medicine or surgery at one of the attached teaching hospitals.

Third year consists of three ten-week attachments in general medicine and surgery. Teaching consists of in-hospital clinical teaching, problem based learning within firms and a lecture programme delivered at one of the central teaching sites and via the faculty intranet. This year also consists of a 3-week background to clinical specialties course.

Fourth year involves study for the BSc, comprising 3 5-week modules then a 10-week supervised research project or specialist course, leading to a BSc (Hons) in Medical Sciences with one of the following: Cardiovascular sciences; Endocrinology; Gastroenterology and hepatology; Haematology; Immunity and infection; Management; Neuroscience and mental health; Reproductive and developmental sciences; Respiratory science; Surgery and anaesthesia. The following specialist courses are available instead of undertaking a research project: Medical humanities, History of medicine, Epidemiology and international health. BSc courses that have available places after the allocation of Imperial students are open to medical students from other universities who wish to intercalate.

Fifth year covers the specialties of obstetrics and gynaecology, radiology, paediatrics, psychiatry, oncology, general practice, critical care, infectious diseases, dermatology, rheumatology and orthopaedics through clinical attachments. It includes a 4-week course in clinical pathology at the start of the year and a one-week teaching skills course.

Final year consists of seven three-week clinical attachments in accident and emergency medicine; general practice; cardiology and radiology; ear, nose and throat, ophthalmology and renal medicine; two professional work experience attachments (one in medicine and one in surgery); one specialty choice module; an eight-week elective period which may be spent in the UK or overseas, and a practical medicine course, which provides specific preparation for the foundation year after graduation.[9]

Oxbridge entry

Historically, all Oxbridge students completed their clinical training at one of the London medical schools. Although those universities now have their own clinical schools, Imperial accepts students who have completed the first three pre-clinical years at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. Oxbridge students join the third year of the undergraduate course. This begins with a 10-week attachment to bring their clinical experience into line with that of other Imperial students, then joining the rest of the undergraduate year for two further 10 week attachment. After this, they progress to the fifth and sixth years of the standard course.[10]

Five-year graduate-entry MBBS

Despite only accepting graduates, this is still considered an undergraduate course. The first year is an accelerated programme, which is designed to bring students to the same level as someone who has completed Years 1 and 2 of the 6-year course. The second, third and fourth years of the graduate-entry course correspond to the third, fifth and final years of the six-year course respectively.[11]

Medical Biosciences

The School offers a 3-year BSc biomedical science degree which first commenced in 2006. The course was re-designed to reflect new teaching methods such as ‘flipped classroom’ and a laboratory heavy curriculum. Renamed Medical Biosciences, the course accepted its first cohort in 2017.

Entry requirements for the course: AAA at A-level / 38 with 6 6 7 HL for the International Baccalaureate. The course does not require BMAT for admissions.

In the first and second years, students will study fundamental human biology and the molecular basis of human disease. Modules on cellular and molecular biology and pharmacology underpin, for example, infectious diseases and immunology, cancer and neurobiology. Students will learn to ‘think like a scientist’ with a research-intensive, laboratory-focused curriculum, whilst workshops on critical health issues and modules in science communication and ethics will broaden their outlook and employability skills.

In the third year students will choose specialist modules, each of which examines a global health problem, and a final year project. Students will have the option to complete a 20 week intensive research project; a placement; or undertake a dissertation on a biomedical science topic. Placement possibilities may include industry, hospitals, publishing houses, museums, charities and government agencies.

Students also have the option of studying for a 4th year with Imperial College Business School, graduating in BSc Medical Biosciences with Management.

Student life

ICSM Students' Union

In contrast to other British universities where medical students may merely be part of a "Medsoc", the School of Medicine has its own complete union. Imperial College School of Medicine Students' Union is a subsidiary part of Imperial College Union, and medical and BSc students are members of both. As such, they may join any of the 300 ICU clubs and societies and take up positions of responsibility in them. However, over 40 of these clubs and societies are under the direct jurisdiction of ICSMSU. Further, the medical students' union also owns the Reynolds building at the Charing Cross Hospital campus, as medical students live or spend more time around that area than the South Kensington campus. The Reynolds Bar represents the heart and soul of ICSM, and regularly plays host to themed parties or "Bops". It also fulfils the role of a normal student bar, where medical students can congregate and socialise whilst enjoying the occasional pint at a lower price than the average London pub.

Shrove Tuesday Final Year Dinner

The Shrove Tuesday Dinner started in 1940 during the Blitz at the old Westminster Hospital Medical School. Students and house staff decided to have dinner to alleviate the oppressive mood. A senior member of staff was invited to address the assembled doctors and whilst he was talking a caricature was sketched on the tablecloth by one of his audience. It was cut out, passed round, signed and mounted and started the unbroken tradition that has evolved into the Shrove Tuesday Final Year Dinner that has continued even after the amalgamation of Westminster Hospital Medical School into Charing Cross Hospital Medical School and then Imperial College School of Medicine.

The event is held in March every year and it is a chance to look back on the last six years before finalists put their heads down for finals revision. The dinner is specifically for the year but other doctors and friends are allowed to attend the after-dinner festivities. So the dinner is quite unique as it is very intimate with just final years and has very quirky traditions such as the caricature (all of which are displayed in the basement of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital), and more recently, the music video, in which the professors send up a popular song.

Alumni associations

The ICSM Alumni Association was founded in 2004 with the graduation of the first cohort of ICSM doctors.[12] Still in its infancy, it is jointly run with help from ICSMSU and members of the alumni. The association aims to provide funding for the clubs and societies of the medical school, as well as offer support to students.

Two other alumni associations also exist for graduates of the original medical schools - the St Mary's Association and the Charing Cross and Westminster Alumni.

Notable staff and alumni

The list below, including five Nobel Laureates in Physiology and Medicine, shows the notable past or current staff and alumni from Imperial College School of Medicine or from the various institutions which are now part of it.


  1. ^ "Top 50 clinical, pre-clinical & health universities". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Guardian University Guide". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Complete University Guide". Complete University Guide. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Undergraduate". Imperial College London. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  5. ^ "Departments". Imperial College London. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  6. ^ "Institute of Global Health Innovation | Imperial College London". Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  7. ^ "Professor Jonathan Weber appointed Dean of Imperial's Faculty of Medicine | Imperial News | Imperial College London". Imperial News. Retrieved 2018-08-13. 
  8. ^ "Undergraduate courses". Imperial College. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Course structure". Imperial College. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Medicine courses". Imperial College. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Medicine gradentry". Imperial College. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "ICSM Alumni". 

External links

  • Official website
  • ICSM Students' Union
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • ICSM Alumni Association

Coordinates: 51°29′55″N 0°10′33″W / 51.4987°N 0.1757°W / 51.4987; -0.1757

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