Should I Intercalate?

Are you considering intercalating during you medical degree? Have a look below to help you weigh up whether or not this is worth it.


Why am I writing this blog?


The choice of whether to intercalate is a decision many medical students face during their medicine course. Despite some medical schools including an intercalation as part of their course, for most medical students, intercalation remains a difficult decision to consider.

Here are some important points to consider when deciding to intercalate, whether this be in 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th year:




1. Intercalation offers an opportunity to spend a year researching a topic you are interested in. Whether this be surgery and anatomy or gastroenterology, the array of iBSc options available, can give you the chance to develop your interest in a specific area.

2. A year to chill! Jokes aside, usually intercalated degrees have fewer contact hours than medicine and a large proportion of the year is taken up by self-directed learning. For this reason, an intercalation gives you more time to pursue other extra-curricular activities.

3. Research is a part of learning and being a doctor, whether that be through audits or conducting systematic reviews. Intercalation gives you the chance to develop transferable skills in research, as well as network with other academics.

4. Intercalated degrees aren’t restricted to your university (unless of course the intercalated degree is part of your course). And so, many students choose to intercalate in a different city, giving them a chance to meet new people and experience a new scenery.

5. AFP – if you are applying for an AFP an extra degree can count for up to 4 points, depending on whether you get a first or not. This is an invaluable number of points which is vital to help you secure an interview. If you do not do one, this means you will need to make up the points by getting more publications and presentations.




1. Spending an additional year at university brings its own costs with regard to accommodation and other living costs. And so, this is an important factor to consider.

2. Medicine is already a 5 year course, longer for some with previous degrees. It is important to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of an extra year of education, especially when after intercalating you end up in the year below.


Changes to FPAS?


Following a statement released at the end of 2020, for students entering the foundation programme in 2023 and onwards, additional educational achievements won’t contribute towards foundation application scores. Before this change, an incentive to pursue an intercalated degree was the additional points; however, this has now been scrapped. Therefore, it is more important than ever to choose an intercalated degree you are interested in and not be deterred by the scrapping of points.

       Weighing up the pros and cons of choosing to intercalate can be tricky. Ultimately, the decision is a very personal one. Talk to fellow students, previous intercalators or even doctors on the ward to help you reach a conclusion.


Radhika Acharya

University of Birmingham

About The Author

Radhika is a medical student at Birmingham medical school, who likes writing and learning new skills.

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