Should I do an iBSc?

Tamsin Dyer

Tamsin Dyer

Senior Writer at Medic Mind

What is an iBSc?

An intercalated Bachelor of Science degree, or iBSc as it is commonly referred to, is a year long course which enables medical and dental students to interrupt their studies to gain an extra qualification. It is not just a great opportunity to gain extra points for your foundation training application which you will be making in your final year of medical school, but gives you the chance to have a break from medicine and explore an area of interest to yourself in a lot more detail. Many universities now also offer iMSc or iMRes intercalation options, which are great for medical students who already have an undergraduate degree, or for those who choose to intercalate in the later years of their medical degree. 

Why take an iBSc?

Having the option to complete a BSc degree in a year is quite a unique opportunity, and gives you a chance to look further into a medical topic you are particularly interested in. Alternatively, some universities even let you pick a humanities subject or modern language, giving you even more options to pick something you really enjoy.

When choosing if an iBSc is right for you it is important to think about what you want to get out of the course. It may simply be to extend your time as a student before embarking on working life, or to increase your foundation application points, whatever your reason it is still important not to go into an iBSc blind. It is still a lot of hard work, with most requiring you to complete a dissertation, which anyone who has done one will tell you how harrowing it is, yet still a fantastic experience. The key is to pick a subject you are passionate about, as much as taking an iBSc is viewed as a way of gaining extra points, you do need to obtain a high enough grade from your iBSc to make it worth it.  

Some medical schools offer an integrated iBSc medicine course, where the iBSc is part of the standard curriculum, or have made completing an iBSc compulsory, in which case it is important to take full advantage of the opportunity of completing your iBSc in a subject area that you are interested in. 

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What if I don’t do an iBSc? 

At some medical schools you’re not obliged to take an iBSc, so if you don’t are you really missing out? As with anything there are always advantages and disadvantages, and an iBSc is no exception to this. Below we talk about what would be different if you don’t do an iBSc:

  • Finish your medical degree a year earlier than those that do – it may sound trivial, but a year can get you ahead in your career. However, in the grand scheme of things, a year isn’t a great deal of time. So don’t not take one just for this decision.
  • Financial reasons – if you are self-funding your medical degree then an extra year can place you under increased financial burden. However, don’t let this put you off, if there is a will, there is a way, and there are many funding options available, go speak to your university about what options are available to you. 
  • Points for foundation training applications – an iBSc does get you extra points in your foundation training applications. However, currently the points aren’t super high for these extras. Do check out the latest information in the applicants’ handbook for more information about this, linked here. Currently you can only achieve up to 5 points for additional degree qualifications, with an iBSc gaining you a maximum of an additional 3 points. 

There are increasing numbers of graduate students on undergraduate medical programmes in the UK, and this group of students will be less interested in completing another BSc qualification. Having said this, that does not rule out the option of taking one. 

Do I have to stay at my medical school for my iBSc?

No, most medical schools offer their iBSc options to not just their own medical and dental students, but to those from other universities too. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to experience studying in a different city and university. Different medical schools and affiliated universities offer different intercalating options, which means you may find something more suited to your specific interests elsewhere. Do remember that some universities have specific requirements for external students applying for their intercalating options, so be sure to check these out before applying.

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