Shall I opt for Lambeth’s or MANCAT’s Access to Medicine course?

All of a sudden I am tied up in my quest for reputable Access to Medicine course. My heart says The Manchester College (MANCAT) but my head favours Lambeth. I have tried to assess the pros and cons of each programme and cannot truly see which one to pick. I understand the acceptability of access courses varies between medical schools and it is essential to check this prior to embarking on an access course.

Both access courses are accepted by significant number of medical schools including St. Andrews (Bute), Manchester (Stopford), Southampton (SOTON), Brighton and Sussex (BSMS), Leicester, Kings (KCL) and the like. In addition, Lambeth is accepted by St. Georges (SGUL) for the 5 year programme as long as the mature applicant has 416 points from his/her top 8 GCSEs as a school leaver, which is a bit daunting. SGULs six-year programme in addition asks three years work experience. MANCAT has also the advantage of being considered by a lot more – including Liverpool (and its sister programme at Lancaster), Keele, Bradford (both for the foundation and clinical science programme, the latter enabling progress into 2nd year medicine at Leeds) and Newcastle. Both courses would also pave the way for medicine with foundation year at most medical schools, which I am not fond off as doing an access course and heading into a foundation year is a total waste of time for mature applicants – would I have to spend the extra year as spare I prefer to intercalate in a related field than doing a similar course twice – say doing an intercalated degree in Anatomy if one wishes to progress into surgery.

Regarding the course curriculum, the course at Lambeth is more tailored to medicine in my opinion than the more plain MANCAT layout.

Subject areas covered in Lambeth are:

  • Medical Sciences (Physics)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry and Biological Chemistry
  • Study Skills including Mathematics
  • Health issues
MANCAT’s curriculum is made up of four modules where all units are assessed and graded. Assessment is continuous and ranges from formal written examinations to seminars, practical reports and project work:
  • Core
  • Health sciences: biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics/maths

Even if MANCAT’s curriculum is designed in co-operation with Manchester Medical School, I have come to understand it is a bit daunting to be able to get an offer from it. Students from MANCAT’s course has received offers from Manchester, Leicester, Cardiff, BSMS, Southampton, Lancaster and interviews from Keele , Liverpool and the like. On the other hand, I have heard that KCL has not accepted applicants from Lambeth’s Access to Medicine course for 2011 entry, and so do St Georges, which effectively rules out the chance to get into the London medical schools as the remaining – Queen Mary Medical School (QMUL), Imperial College (only related with Thames Valley Uni’s) and University College London (UCL), which only considers City and Islington’s College and College of West Anglia (COWA),  do not consider access qualifications from either MANCAT or Lambeth. From the two Access to Medicine and Biomedical Science classes in offer at Lambeth, four from each received offers from BSMS, Cardiff, Bute Medical School and to study other medical related programmes at London Uni’s, including Kings. Hence, in terms of progressing applicants into medical school MANCAT has a better track record and many who have been rejected from MANCAT access course will be accepted at Lambeth, proving how selective the former is. I am curious to dig more from their alumni to assess which of the two courses is more rigorous in depth and closeness to the traditional A levels. The Maths part in Lambeth’s case seems a bit inept but is compensated by the fact that courses on ‘Health issues’ are incorporated in it.

In terms of the assessment criteria both schools have become selective. MANCAT needs a minimum of GCSE ‘B’ in Math and English to enrol you in their programme or a commitment to retake it (provided work experience and other academic credentials permitting) alongside the access course which they do not favour. The computerised entrance exam (Bksb) in my view is a lot weaker when compared to that of Lambeth’s paper-based assessment and cannot in no way differentiate, say, an applicant to medicine and engineering – it is that far inept and generic. The latter’s assessment, in particular the written part, is more tailored to the knowledge base a person wishing to pursue a career in medicine is expected to be aware of. Lambeth’s staff is also well equipped with highly respected medical professionals (including a consultant) who retired and switched to the academic profession – an invaluable benefit to aspiring students in understanding the nature of the career path chosen through witnessing the fact from people who have passed through it, seen it all and achieved a lot, whereas in MANCAT lecture is only taught by people with science background. Not only is there a difference in the calibre of lecturers but the Clapham centre for Lambeth’s Access to Medicine has state-of-the-art teaching facilities that motivate applicants. Regarding MANCAT, the Northenden campus is more interesting than the more or less dull Nicholls – though we always say it is only the reputations that matter at the end.

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2 Responses to Shall I opt for Lambeth’s or MANCAT’s Access to Medicine course?

  1. Micahiq says:

    Hi, Mike Hurst. I ended up choosing MANCAT, a decision I didn’t regret later on. I am a Manchester resident to start with and this would only reinforce the decision to stay in North West as the living cost in London is too expensive for a to-be student. I had Lambeth offer and even stayed the summer in London. But the travel distance and costs could only deter me from staying there. The other thing to mention is their track record as two people have secured a medical school place there for the 2011 entry, one at St Andrews, Scotland, and the other in the South. This comes nowhere near compared to five in MANCAT, two each at the Russell Unis – Manchester and Liverpool – and one in Durham. The admission people at the college just tell you figures for the medical professions in general, unless you pushed for every bit of it. Lambeth has a relatively easy entry requirement but their entrance exam is excellent. In contrast, MANCAT requires 5 GCSE grade Bs and above, though sometimes extenuating personal circumstances override this, but the entrance exam is generic. I understand you might be much more academic than what my comment entails: it is just to brief you with the minimum entry requirements. I guess you have passed all this if you are in the position of choosing.

    For 2012 entry, among 30 students enrolled at MANCAT: one went to a grad-entry at Newcastle (having an additional offer for the 5-yr at Manchester and interviewed at Kings), two went to Lancaster (one having interview at Liverpool), another one to Manchester and a part-time Access to Medicine student grabbed the final place at Durham. There were 2 interviews for Manchester, 1 for Newcastle, 2 for Liverpool, 1 for Southampton, 1 for Nottingham grad-entry, 1 for St Georges grad-entry, 1 for Kings grad-entry, 2 for BSMS, 2 for Lancaster, 1 for Durham and one for Cardiff 6-year. I have heard from a friend on Lambeth’s course that only one person (with years of physiotherapy experience) landed a medical school place, which you have to confirm by yourself. You may need to visit my earlier post,, to see the trend in MANCAT in the past years.

    When it comes to comfortable college environment, Lambeth rocks compared to the old and demotivating Nicholls Campus of MANCAT. But the good thing is MANCAT offers the same course at its other campus, Northenden, but it may be a bit far from the city centre. In terms of teaching excellence, I could only speak about MANCAT as I have a first-hand experience to it. I know Lambeth has a medical doctor and researcher running the programme but may be better to get the true picture from those who passed through it. Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, an excellent Chemistry lecturer and the course director, is quite appealing to me as I enjoy Chemistry modules. The young lad, Wesley Magee, is also a very good lecturer in terms of organisation and presentation, for Human Biology but I am afraid he has started a certain PhD and may not be the instructor that would be assigned to you guys. The Indian guy that teaches Math is a pleasant, humorous guy but for those who find the subject difficult, he may sound a little bit quick. The problem lies with the Physics component as the course definitely needs proper organisation and clear goals, but as most are happy to getting distinctions, very few bother about it. There is also some IT stuff, on pass/fail basis.

    It was a successful year in terms of how the course went but became unsuccessful in my application. I am in the process of reapplying while working, as exams like UKCAT, GAMSAT or BMAT are crucial to be short-listed for interview. You can have a look at my application experience at I apologise for writing the long link address as wordpress does not have a hyperlink insertion option for follow up comments.
    So the way I sum it up would be go for it if the above stats and opinions appeal to you, and if possible seek a second opinion, may be on New Media Medicine. You can also drop off and have an informal chat with the course director, if that is within an easy reach. It all boils down to your personal circumstances starting from where you live to what your credentials are to where you want to apply.

    Good luck with your application. Drop me some lines if there is something not clear.


  2. Mike Hurst says:

    Hey, I’m faced with the same decision to make. Please could you let me know which one you chose and how it went? Thank you


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