UCL Medical School


Planning your elective

The aim of the clinical elective placement is to deepen knowledge of subjects relevant to the MB BS curriculum, that are of particular interest to a student, in different clinical and cultural environments. 

Placements must be under the general supervision of a qualified clinician and students must be able to take a history and perform a physical examination, participate in the clinical team meetings and patients’ case discussions/conferences and have opportunities to observe specialist procedures over a minimum 6 week period. Satisfactory completion of the elective, and submission of all related sign-offs, is a requirement for the award of the MB BS degrees.

The objectives of the elective placement are: 

  • to develop organisational skills, and as an independent learner formulate a well thought out self-directed period of study.
  • to witness the conduct of medical practice, and enhance professional skills, preferably in an environment not already encountered during previous MB BS studies.
  • to increase clinical experience in an area of particular interest to the student.
  • to broaden cultural experience in the UK or further afield

The specific programme of study and clinical experience to be obtained are developed by each student in discussion with their host institution.  The placement counts towards  MB BS clinical requirements and so must principally be patient-facing and hands on, although some observational and non-clinical elements may be included where they are clearly linked with your clinical placement plans. We strongly encourage you to consider your elective for the experience it will give you as a clinician rather than as an exercise in building your CV.

It gives students the opportunity to witness the conduct of medical practice in different environments and enables students to see a wide variety of clinical conditions in variable surroundings]. Electives are taken in 2 blocks after Finals following an allocation process in the first term of Year 5.

The elective approval process is designed to ensure that students fulfil the Medical School’s regulatory requirements for the elective period and that they take appropriate health and safety measures for their chosen destination.  

Students must complete the approval process by the stated deadlines to enable Medical School sign off by the Electives Lead.  Concerns over Professional Behaviour(s) forms are issued for failure to comply. Satisfactory completion of an approved elective and the submission of all related coursework and sign-off is a requirement for the award of the MBBS degrees.  Students should be aware that approval may be withdrawn in instances where the FCO issues a travel advisory against non-essential travel, in which case alternative arrangements will need to be put in place.

  • Step 1: Student Statement of Compliance with MBBS Elective Requirements via Moodle questionnaire – October/November of Year 5
  • Step 2: Student Submission of Elective Proposal - via Moodle questionnaire – By April of Year 5
  • Step 3: Medical School Approval of Destination – required documents submitted via Moodle – By the deadlines stated for each elective block given below
  • Step 4: Medical School Sign-Off – via Moodle questionnaire and risk assessment – By the deadlines stated for each elective block given below

Elective Approval Requirements

The requirements for elective approval depend on the country and institution in which you are organising your elective.   Destinations which have been approved by the Medical School are divided into 2 groups depending on the level of clinical risk.  

Group A Low Clinical Risk

Group B Medium/High Clinical Risk

Please refer to the country list and the flowchart.  If your destination does not appear in this list please email full details of the placement including a link to the institution’s website to medsch.elective-approval@ucl.ac.uk for review by the Electives Lead, Dr Declan Chard:

Elective Funding and Bursaries

Information about internal and external bursaries are accessed through the MBBS Year 6 Course Information Moodle site under the Elective Approval Tab.

MBBS Regulatory Requirements:

Conditions for the award of the MBBS degrees
Configuration and content of electives
Definition of a clinical placement
Language requirement
Travelling Time
Completion of course requirements for MBBS degree to be awarded
Finals results and Elective Block 1 departures
Failure to comply with the Elective requirements or approval process
If you fail finals in March and will be resitting in June

Elective Planning, Preparation and Staying Safe:

Planning your elective
DBS requirements
Travel Health and Occupational Health Requirements
Documents routinely required by host institutions
Deadlines for Elective Approval
Risk Assessment / Health and Safety
Insurance and Emergency Contacts
Student Feedback