Open Access Research article

Why medical students choose not to carry out an intercalated BSc: a questionnaire study

Jamie A Nicholson1, Jennifer Cleland2, John Lemon3 and Helen F Galley1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Applied Medicine, School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, UK

2 Division of Medical & Dental Education, School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZD, UK

3 Directorate of Information Technology, Edward Wright Building, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3QY, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2010, 10:25  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-25

Published: 23 March 2010



At some medical schools, students can opt to undertake a 1 year intercalated degree, usually a BSc, in addition to their medical course. Over the last few years the numbers of students who have opted to undertake an intercalated degree have been steadily decreasing despite the advantages in securing foundation posts. The aim of this study was to find out why medical students opted not to take an intercalated degree.


All 4th and 5th year medical students (n = 343) who had elected not to take an intercalated degree were personally handed a questionnaire.


293 completed questionnaires were returned (response rate 85%). The most common reason students opted not to intercalate was because they did not want to have another year of study (69.6%) or incur more debt (51.9%). Only 45 (15.3%) students said they had enough information to inform their decision: reported take up of information provision was poor.


Our findings indicate that the benefits of intercalating need to be better defined and presented to students in a way that they can make a more informed decision.