The programs are organized into two broad phases: preclinical and clinical years. There is some variation in courses among the schools, but all the essential preclinical and clinical subjects are covered. Instruction in preclinical years is through individual combinations of lectures, problem-based learning, evidence-based medicine and small-group seminars, tutorials, practicals, laboratories and computer-aided learning. Early patient contact is integrated into the curriculum with more emphasis on problem-based learning which is very popular with students.
In the clinical years, students move to the university’s teaching hospitals to learn on a case-by-case basis at the patient’s bedside. Ireland has a worldwide reputation for the quality of its “bedside” teaching, an art that has been developed literally over centuries.
Length of the Program
The medical programs in Ireland range from four to six years in length.
University College Cork, University College Dublin, The University of Limerick and The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland offer four-year medical degree courses. A bachelor’s degree and the MCAT are required for admission.
Trinity College Dublin, The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Cork, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, and The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain offer five-year medical degree programs.
Six-year medical degree programs are offered by The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Dublin, NUI Galway and The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain. These courses are designed for students entering directly from high school and for high school graduates who have also taken college/university level courses (i.e. in their first or second year of university).
Please see the Entry Requirements page.
Length of the School Year
For the preclinical years, the school year in Ireland is from September to May. It is divided into two semesters: the first from fall to winter break, the second from January to spring. For the clinical years, the school year extends several weeks longer. There are breaks in winter, in the spring and the summer, as well as on the individual Irish national holidays.
Student progress is continuously assessed throughout the year, culminating in final exams at the end of each school year. Continuous assessment may involve any combination of seminars, multiple-choice questionnaires (MCQs), essays, clinical skills, oral exams and projects. The final exams are any combination of essay papers, oral exams, multiple-choice questionnaires and practical exams. Marks for the in-course assessment and end-of-year assessment are then combined to represent a final grade for the course. All examinations utilize the pass/fail format. Distinctions of Honors and First-Class Honors are awarded to students whose performance is considered notable.
During the summer months, students may carry out research in several academic departments. Grants are available from the schools, the Irish research council, non-profit organizations and private corporations. Students of high standing may also apply for entry into an Intercalated Honours Degree course in selected preclinical subjects.
In Ireland, successful candidates are awarded a suite of degrees upon their graduation from medical school. Some programs award a total of three degrees: Medicine (MB), Surgery (BCh), and Obstetrics (BAO), while others award a total of two degrees: Medicine (BM), and Surgery (BS). The Irish suite of degrees is the equivalent of the M.D. which is awarded in the USA and Canada.