Updated: Jun 17, 2020
By Tayyib Masood
Deciding where to study isn’t an easy choice, you never know what to expect until you actually get there. Then you realise it’s either great or it’s just not what you expected. Let’s see if I can make that less difficult for you.
My name is Tayyib Masood and I’m currently in my third year at Newcastle. 2017 was the first time I visited Newcastle. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, even my interview was me getting there and leaving straight after. So, I didn’t explore the city or the medical school itself. I was quite surprised to have gotten an offer from Newcastle, compared to my other applications. That was the only offer I got, but the day I got it, is one I can never forget; just knowing that all my hard work paid.
So far it’s definitely been a great experience and with each new year it just gets more interesting. Newcastle has so much to offer and there’s always something you can do. So let’s talk about why you should go to Newcastle and what to expect.
My interview for Newcastle was the week after the one in Manchester, Newcastle’s went better than expected; it definitely wasn’t as intense and difficult as Manchester’s. Newcastle uses an MMI style for its interviews and you can check the topics/categories they will be assessing you on, on the Medical school’s admissions page (under the selection process).
PARTNERS is Newcastle’s Widening Access Program and without this, I wouldn’t have even gotten to the interview stage. I later realised that the program not only gets you a lower entry requirement, but the UCAT score requirement was also lowered (they don’t tell you this, but since I got 650 on my UCAT, it made sense).
So, what do you have to do? Well, PARTNERS consist of a 7-day Summer school where you stay in University accommodation and get a taste of Medicine for a few days with ~50 people. You’ll be attending lectures and practical sessions just like if you were studying medicine and right at the end, you need to pass the assignment and exam. I know it seems daunting, but it’s actually quite ok. If you haven’t applied for medical school yet and are eligible for this, then this is a great opportunity.
When it comes to accommodation at Newcastle, it is definitely one of the cheapest cities to be studying in. During my first year, like a lot of people I stayed in University accommodation paying ~£85 per week (everything included) which was great. I did have to take the bus in every morning, but it only took 7 mins and a bus pass for a year wasn’t too expensive (I heard now the bus is free).
There are only so many times you can handle your drunk house mate shouting early in the morning after a night out while your sleeping. Or when someone decides to set the fire alarm off at 1am in the morning only to discover they burnt pasta. I was more than relieved to be leaving student halls, but it’s an experience none the less.
There are a lot of good areas in Newcastle. Jesmond is a popular area where a lot of students live. Sandyford and Spital Tongues are quite close to the city centre and medical school. But if you’re like me and need to find a cash and carry to get that halal meat or want some good takeaways then you’ll want to live in Fenham or Arthur’s Hill.
CBL and Exams:
Newcastle uses a case-based learning (CBL) approach to teaching, but how does this differ to another Medical School’s CB? Newcastle’s version of CBL presents you with a case about a patient and this describes their journey from pre-hospital to the point where they are recovering and getting on with life. You’re then taught the relevant anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology etc, for that case. For me this was great, as understanding it all was much easier than learning all of Physiology for example.
Newcastle seems to love assessments. In the first 2 years you’ll have exams in both Semester 1 and Semester 2, alongside assignments. There’s 3 types of exams: a practical exam (you’ve probably heard the term OSCE), one multiple choice and a short-written paper.
Knowing that there’s so many exams is definitely overwhelming but looking back at it all if there were less exams then I would be struggling more now in both my clinical skills and knowledge. Newcastle definitely makes you feel more prepared for the clinical years.
Malaysia Exchange Program:
Back in 2011 Newcastle University established a campus in Malaysia, in the city of Johor Bahru. Here, they offer the same MBBS programme which is equivalent to the one they offer at Newcastle University in the UK.
In 2018 Newcastle launched the Malaysia exchange program, where a few medical students got the opportunity to study in the Malaysia campus during Semester 1 of Year 2 and vice versa for the Malaysia students to study in the UK. I was one of the first to take part in this and I’ve got to say it was an EPIC experience! The content taught and the learning outcomes assessed are the same, but the difference was how they went about delivering the teaching. The timetable I remember was more packed in Malaysia than it was in the UK, but that’s because the UK has more of an emphasis on self-directed learning and the content in Malaysia was spread over more sessions.
Apart from University, there was the opportunity to travel within Malaysia (l went to Melaka and Kuala Lumpur), but also outside of Malaysia. Obviously, the only way to do this was make sure you’ve done work on the weekdays so then you can travel on the weekends. Or you could just leave the revision to the 3-week Christmas break before the Jan exams, it works for some people.
Newcastle has 4 base units which are Tyne, Northumbria, Wear and Tees. From Year 2 onwards, you will pick a base unit for the following year and that’s the area you’ll be in for the year. In Year 3, you will be at the hospital for 4 days of the week and 1 day at your assigned GP, so the teaching is done in the hospital and at the GP.
So if you get a place you don’t like one year, at least you know that the next year you’ll get a chance to pick a different place. The teaching is different to pre-clinical years and takes some time to adjust to, but when you’re on the wards practising your current and new skills you feel like you’re one step closer to becoming a Doctor.
I could talk a lot more about Newcastle, but I’ve already said a lot here. Overall, Newcastle has been great. The Universities architecture never gets old and being able to get to one side of the campus to the other in around 10 mins is convenient. I hope that’s cleared up some questions about Newcastle’s course and why you would want to study here. Wherever you go you’ll have a great experience so best of luck.