UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Electives for medical students

The Elective Programme is accepting applications from October 2024 onwards for all firms except Neurosurgery where there is no space available until November 2024.

Programme code: USCIONSING01

Further information is available on request - please email the Education Team

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Please click here for the most up to date information on how UCL is responding to the situation and how it may affect you. Please note: It is possible that another national lockdown could occur. In such instances the Elective programme would close in line with UK government and UCL/UCLH guidelines. 


For students coming from the EU please click here for practical advice on how UCL is planning and responding to Brexit and how you may be affected.

What is an Elective?

An elective is a period spent away from your medical school in which you carry out a placement in an hospital, attached to a speciality of your choice. Many students say it is one of their most memorable experiences. The elective is an opportunity to find out more about yourself and what you want to do in the future. It can allow you to explore a particular area of medicine or something different, such as research or teaching.

Electives at QSION

The IoN is very pleased to be able to offer an undergraduate Elective programme to final year medical students from the UK and abroad. These take place at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (a teaching hospital of University College London Hospital).

As places are very limited, we can have no more than 12 students enrolled at any one time. The length of an elective can be between 4-16 weeks. As these placements are not strictly structured, it is advisable to be as pro-active as possible. It is up to the individual student to choose the activities they wish to attend, within their assigned clinical group/formal teaching programme, which would most benefit them during their placement. You will also have the opportunity to attend the teaching of the Institute of Neurology – guest and other lectures, outpatient teaching, ward rounds and clinical demonstrations. Due to the limited number of places available we strongly suggest that you apply at least 18-24 months in advance to secure a place.

Please note: Students are not permitted to treat or undertake any invasive procedures on patients whatsoever, even if supervised. This includes taking blood, administering treatment, venipuncture, cannulation and suturing.

Teaching periods

There is no formal teaching for two weeks over Christmas/New Year and Easter holidays to supplement work on the wards. Elective students may attend the lectures arranged for postgraduate Diploma and MSc students, but these are only available during the Autumn and Spring terms. We do not accept elective placements during the period of July and August as consultants and other clinical staff normally take holidays during this time, and as such clinical activities are limited. Placements are also not offered in the final week of December and first week of January.


The QSIoN is a postgraduate centre - lectures are arranged specifically for postgraduate students and are ONLY held in the Autumn & Spring terms from October to March.

Fees / Funding / Payment

The fee for joining the programme is £220 per week. This will apply from September to June. We will not be accepting placements during July and August. You will receive a link to an online booking system for payment of course fees which must be paid two weeks before commencement of studies.

Please note that the fee for the elective does not include accommodation.

You may want to make use of the QSIoN lockers to store personal items; in such cases a £10 refundable deposit is required for a locker key. 

Although the QSIoN does not offer funding or grants for our electives it may be possible to obtain funding from other sources. You may wish to visit the following link for details of funding sources  The Society of British Neurological Surgeons.


English language proficiency

Proof of a UCL approved English language test certificate is also required from students of countries which UCL considers as ‘non-majority English speaking’. The requirement to join the Elective programme is the UCL ‘Standard’ level and a test must be taken no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrollment. Further details about this can be found by visiting the UCL English requirements webpage.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)/Police checks

As you will have access to the Hospital and therefore be in contact with patients, some vulnerable, we now require you to provide this information. The DBS is a UK government scheme and will apply to those residents who are nationals and reside in the UK. You may find it useful to read the guide on how the DBS can be completed.

UK nationals: We expect you to have completed an enhanced DBS at your home institution.  A basic DBS is not acceptable. Only an enhanced DBS will suffice. You can use the DBS  update service to obtain an update on your original DBS.

Non-UK nationals: You must produce evidence of a police check from your home country, and must be accompanied by an official English translation (if applicable). This must be dated within six months of your elective start date. Details of what is acceptable by the UK Home Office can be found here.

Failure to provide this may lead to your place been rescinded.

Immigration and Visas 

For the latest information on Visa requirements for this programme please see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/immigration-and-visas/medical-electives

Students with a Tier 4/Student visa who are currently studying a medical degree in the UK at another institution are not permitted to enrol on elective programmes at UCL.   If you require immigration advice in relation to this immigration route, please contact the Student Immigration Advice Team

Visitor Visa for Study

For information and guidance about how to apply for a Visitor Visa for Study  and the documents you will need to prepare please see our guidance document.  This visa but does have some limitations, these are as follows:

  • You cannot switch into another visa category once you are in the UK. That means you must leave the UK on or before the visa expiry
  • You are not allowed to work in the UK
  • You are not covered under the NHS (National Health Service), this means you will need to make sure you have adequate medical insurance to cover your stay in the UK
  • You cannot bring dependants with you

If you require immigration advice in relation to this immigration route, please contact the Student Immigration Advice Team


As you will working within the hospital and have access to patients we need to ensure that you have obtained been vaccinated/immunised against certain diseases.Guidance on the vaccinations you need to have obtained by the start of your elective can be found in the document below. The IoN will not be responsible for providing any of these immunisations.


No student will be performing Exposure Prone Procedures (EPP).

The Department of Health identifies EPPs as “those where there is a risk that injury to the worker may result in exposure of the patient's open tissues to the blood of the worker. These procedures include those where the worker's gloved hands may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient's open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.” 

In the event that you suffer a sharps injury you are advised to report this event to the senior member of the nursing staff on duty who will ensure that the appropriate procedure is instigated. You should attend the Accident and Emergency Department of University College London Hospital where the sharps procedure will be followed. Subsequently you should complete an accident form and inform your course leader.

Feedback of your placement

The IoN relies on student feedback as an essential element of its quality assurance procedures and feedback is collected from students on all placements. Most feedback is collected via an on-line system and students are strongly encouraged to complete on-line questionnaires as the feedback is reviewed on a regular basis and action taken in response to it.


If at any time an applicant wishes to withdraw an application or cancel an offer of attachment, this should be done IMMEDIATELY, in writing to the Education Team.

List of specialities

Please provide a full list of firms you would like ot be assigned to, in order of preference,  when completing your application. There is no guarantee that you will be assigned your first  choice(s) but we will do our best to accommodate your request. You will be attached to one firm per month of your stay.

  1. Epilepsy
  2. General Neurology/Multiple sclerosis (Demyelination)
  3. Rehab - Acute Brain Injury Unit (ABIU) 
  4. Stroke
  5. Headache/Pain
  6. Movement Disorders
  7. Cognitive/Neuropsychiatry 
  8. Medical Intensive Therapy Unit (MITU)
  9. Autonomics/Ophthalmology
  10. Neurosurgery (Four week placement) - £660 
  11. Neuromuscular

Although you will be assigned to a firm during your placement, this will only make up one part of the many activities you will be able to undertake while at UCL. You will have the opportunity to network and speak to other clinicians and elective students in different firms and it may be possible for you to take part in ward rounds and patient clerking within these firms (at the discretion of the lead clinician). You will typically spend around 10 hours per week with your firm.


We are unable to provide University accommodation to elective students and therefore you are advised to make enquiries and provisional arrangements as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

The Education Team can provide details on suitable accommodation but responsibility for reserving lodgings lies with the student. Please note that the fee for the elective does not include accommodation.

You may wish to look at this list of nearby accommodation for details of what may be locally available or use the list of accommodation we have compiled for our students. Please email the   Education Team to request it. Visit this handy website for advice on private accommodation in London!

We strongly recommend that you refer to the UCLU site for helpful advice before entering into a binding agreement.

Student Selected Components

Student Selected Components (SSCs) are not currently offered to external students, but students at UK Medical Schools who are interested in undertaking a 4 week SSC at UCL may apply under the visiting elective scheme. Offers made will be subject to the same terms, conditions and fee rates, and students should ensure that any placement offered satisfies the SSC requirements of their own medical school.

Self organised electives

Postgraduate students or those who are newly qualified may wish to arrange their own elective placements directly with the UCLH Trust outside of the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology elective programme. For this you can make use of UCL IRIS to make contact with potential supervisors


Road to enrolment


Conditional Offer


You must ensure that all documentation stated in your confirmation placement email and/or offer letter is received by the QSION Education Team at least one month prior to the start of your placement. Failure to provide all documentation by then may lead to your place been rescinded.

Occupational Health

Medical history

Before undertaking your elective you will be asked to complete an online questionnaire about your serological medical history. You will be able to upload any supporting documentation if required.


All enrolment is now online. You will be sent details about how to complete the pre-enrolment task  by  UCL Registry within a month of your start date.  Registry may then ask you to send more details if necessary.  Once enrolled you will recieve an email with details of how to make an appointment to collect your UCL identity card.   

Email Account

Once enrolled you will be given a user name and you will be  able to access your UCL email account.  All communication from UCL will be sent to this email account from now on.  Details on how to access it can be found here.


This username will give you access to Moodle. You should familiarise yourself with Moodle before visiting UCL.  



You will be sent details of how to make payment via the UCL Online Store within a month of your start date. Payment should only be made via the link supplied to you by the Education Team. Full payment should be made at least two weeks before your start date.

You should NOT make a payment to the UCL Medical School or general UCL finance account as these are not involved with the QSION elective programme.

First Day

On your first day you will be given a time to meet at 7 Queen Square where you will be welcomed by the Education Team .  We will answer any questions you may have as well as take you on a short tour of Queeen Square.  You will also be able to obtain a locker key (for a £5 refundable deposit) 

After your tour you  will be free to visit your firm, book outpatient clinics and get your bearings! 


Student reviews

Student Reviews

Elective Study: The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London

2022/23 Student

"My 4 week elective at QSIoN was a really interesting and enjoyable experience. Although I was mainly attached to the Stroke Team during my time here, I was able to attend clinic from multiple different subspecialties including neuro-oncology, epilepsy and movement disorders. We also had the opportunity to attend both SHO teaching and classes organised for the UCL medical students. 

The staff and the team at hospital were all super helpful and I was able to see and learn from a range of different presentations. 

I would definitely recommend it if you're interested in neurology and particularly if you would like to see the wide breadth of subspecialties within the field!"

Former Students

My elective at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery was a wonderful experience that I feel have made me a better clinician. This centre is at the forefront of Neurology, with some of the most renowned academic minds in the world. It is also in the centre of London. As an Australian medical student, I was keen to see what the UK medical system had to offer in one of my favourite specialities.

I arrived on the Saturday and enjoyed meeting up with old friends and a cruise on the Thames before my elective commenced the following Monday. When I arrived at Queen Square, I could sense the history of the hospital (established in 1860) and was enchanted by the glorious old buildings set around a central park. I proceeded to the Institute of Neurology across the road from the hospital, which is the administrative hub of the program. I was then allocated to a speciality Neurology term; options include Movement Disorders, Epilepsy, Neuro-opthalmology and more. Unless you specify which team you would like to be allocated to, you will be randomly assigned. Do not be discouraged if you aren’t happy with your allocation, as there are a variety of clinics focusing on different neurological disciplines and diseases that you are able to attend despite your term allocation. Because of the great demand amongst students, you need to book into each clinic early as most clinics fill up quickly.

A highlight of my experience was Gowers Grand Rounds. This is where a patient is brought to the main lecture theatre, a summary of their clinical history is passed around, and they are examined in front of the auditorium audience members consisting of consultants, registrars, and students. The registrars are then put to work (in front of everyone!) to come up with differential diagnoses. Although this is based of the formal teaching expected at UK hospitals, I have never been part of such an interactive teaching exercise like this and found it to be extremely beneficial for my learning. Other elective students have agreed that this too was a highlight of their clinical elective.

Upon my return to my home hospital, I have realised that not only is my neurological clinical examination slicker and more succinct than ever before, but that my way of thinking when assessing patients with complex symptoms and signs is more methodical and focused. I also enjoyed seeing so many rare and wonderful Neurological conditions that I had never seen at my home hospital – and at times felt like I was living in an Oliver Sacks book!

To apply for an elective here, you must apply through the Institute of Neurology, which is part of University College London. Make sure you email the administrator a long time in advance (1-2 years) as spaces fill up fast. 

Now to the practical side of things. During my elective I stayed in a nearby short let apartment. The location of the hospital is in central London so accommodation nearby is costly, but provides a great base to explore the city. I travelled there over December so it was chilly but festive. Nearby the hospital is Lambs Conduit Street, with boutique design stores and cafes that you can check out on your lunch break. There was plenty of time during the weekends to explore London. Make sure you visit the multitude of museums (the Soane Museum is my favourite), markets (Colombia Road, Notting Hill), entertainment (the West End) and nightlife spots that London has to offer.

I highly recommend this wonderful elective. At times the learning points were challenging, especially as the level expected from medical students is quite advanced, but I can safely say that because of this experience my knowledge on Neurological conditions has improved in leaps and bounds. I highly enjoyed this elective and recommend it to any student interested in the Neurology speciality.

"My time at the UCL Institute of Neurology was a well-rounding experience. I was attached to the Demyelination Firm during my time of study. The variety of clinics I was able to attend within the firm was significant. The approach within the Firm to disease modification, symptom management, patient education, and use of multidisciplinary teams was nuanced compared to my home country, providing opportunities to reflect and learn. These learning experiences were set against a preexisting backdrop of broader lectures, conferences, and grand rounds that was unparalleled in my experience. I am grateful for my time of study at UCL and hope to continue to learn in the future, even from a distance, from Institute's excellent clinicians." Nicholas Brennecke

"As an elective student at the Institute of Neurology, I had a fascinating learning experience. The teaching sessions were very inspired and engaging. Witnessing the work that the clinicians and scientists perform, their depth of knowledge and the care they provide was a privilege I cannot forget. I really enjoyed becoming more acquainted with the neurological diagnostic process. There were a range of classes available including bed side sessions, grand round discussions, lectures, clinics and small group teaching. I found all the sessions to be incredibly valuable learning opportunities." Shreyas Iyer

"The time I have spent in the Institute of Neurology, albeit very short, was very pleasant and absolutely amazing. The fascinating hospital complex enabled me  to get in touch with several neurological conditions, mostly in the Neuromuscular area. Professor Mary Reilly and her team were very receptive, and I had the opportunity to attend many activities with her and other consultants. The Outpatients Clinics were, in my opinion, the most interesting ones, because I was able to learn from very complex patients cases. The Ward rounds were very academic, as well. Furthermore, the elective has also offered lectures and bedside teaching. The lectures were helpful to give us a knowledge of what we could experience on a daily basis. The bedside teaching was useful to review and learn techniques of the neurological examination and provide discussion about the most frequent neurological conditions. Overall, it was a great and unique experience. I had the chance to learn things I have never seen in my hometown university and get in touch with the organisation of a health system in a foreign country, which was very pleasant." Thiago Eleuterio Goncalves

"I am a Pakistani medical student and I can’t thank God enough for granting me the opportunity to do electives at the UCL Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square London. To be honest, I never heard of UCL i.e. University College London regarding electives from any friends, seniors or facilitators. I have always been interested in Neurology and one day decided to search for electives in Neurology. That was the day I got to know about UCL and from that day onwards I started my journey to UCL. Even though getting there was not that easy but I am really grateful to the Education Unit for having genuine concern and for helping me at every step. Finally, after reaching at the Institute of Neurology, I was given access to all the educational facilities and learning tools that were provided to the regular UCL students. Though, due to some reasons I was not able to attend a month long rotation but I still believe that each day that I spent there was a great learning experience.

Firstly, I had the opportunity to attend clinics related to Headache, Epilepsy, Movement Disorders and Neurosurgery. While attending the clinics, after the consent of the patient, I was permitted to take the history and do relevant clinical examinations. Not just this, the doctors at the end made sure that I understood the case and were humble enough to answer all my queries. I saw cases related to diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Ramsay Hunt Syndrome for the first time and it surely helped have a better understanding of the subject. Secondly, the sessions and meetings were also worth attending, especially the Gower’s grand rounds. I do admit, that at times I felt completely lost and felt like it’s too complicated but still it always had at least something new for everyone i.e. from medical students to consultants. I really enjoyed brainstorming during these sessions. Last but certainly not the least was the library. It had all a medical student would ever want, from a wide range of amazing books to latest research papers and journals. I was fortunate enough to spend most of my time in the library when I did not have clinics or sessions to attend and made good use of my time.

In a nutshell, my experience at this prestigious institute was truly wonderful and I would recommend other students from all over the world to at least once do electives here. From where I belong, everyone thinks of nothing but USMLE and thrive to have US clinical experience but my dear fellows, trust me this, if not more than is certainly not less than that. For me, it was a great honor to be a part of this program. May God abundantly bless these amazing people." Hannah Paul   

"My time at the UCL Institute of Neurology was a great experience. I had the chance to to learn from complex patients cases and get in touch with the organisation of a health system in a foreign country. There was a large range of learning opportunities including lectures, bed side teaching, grand round discussions and outpatient clinics. I can highly recommend the outpatients clinics to get in touch with many different neurological conditions and the bedside teaching to learn and practice techniques of the neurological examination. Overall, I highly enjoyed my time as an elective student at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery." Xenia Uffelmann

    • Dress – It is NOT necessary to wear white coats on wards as they are deemed to be an infection risk. Please ensure sleeves are rolled up when interacting with patients. Other than wedding rings all other jewellery and watches should be removed. Disposable aprons are available on the wards if needed. All students should wear appropriate clothing when in contact with patients and hospital staff. Casual dress is acceptable, but no jeans, t-shirts or shirt skirts are permitted. 
    • Waiting List - We do not operate a waiting list for this programme. Students are urged to contact us at least 18-24 months in advance of when they would like to join to avoid disappointment.
    • Personal Property – The IoN cannot accept responsibility for the loss of students’ personal property. Lockers are available but valuable items should not be left in them. Locker keys can be obtained from the Education Team, via a refundable £5 deposit. The deposit is returned when the key has been returned.
    • Our postgraduate students have compiled a useful list of common phrases when conducting a neurological examination
    • ID cards and name badges  - UCL ID cards must be visible at all times when students are on-site for clinical attachments as proof of identity. Information about obtaining and/or replacing UCL ID cards can be found on the UCL website.
    • Patient Confidentiality - All information about patients is strictly confidential, including clinical notes, x-rays and the results of laboratory investigations. Students will come into contact with patients and with documents and materials related to patients, such as clinical notes, X-rays, and the results of laboratory investigations during their course. It must be appreciated that such information is as highly confidential as the medical details of patients who are being looked after by the doctors. In particular, since much teaching these days is computerised and available on various computer networks, it is most important that such material is not made available to a wider audience. Patients should not be discussed in public areas - the lifts, visitors’ canteen and areas where patients’ relatives may gather. The case history notes should not carry patient names but can carry sex, age and hospital number.
    • In case of injury - Wash the wound with copious water and encourage bleeding. If the eye is involved wash with copious saline or water and report to immediate superior or senior member of staff present (e.g. nursing sister on a ward). The senior staff member should check from the notes whether the patient has had a recent test for hepatitis B, HCV or HIV. Arrange for informed medical advice and for the collection of 5ml clotted blood samples from both the patient and the student and send to a Virology laboratory. Ensure that a staff accident/incident form is completed. If the patient is known, or thought to be, HIV positive, the student must take immediate action to get advice on the need for HIV PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).
    • Emergency – In the event of a serious accident or medical emergency on campus, at any time of day or night, you should use the UCL emergency telephone number (2222) in any UCL building. For accidents away from UCL premises, if you are not registered with the NHS Practice in the UCL Health Centre, please seek assistance from the Accident and Emergency Department of any general hospital.
    • Change Of Address - Students should update any change of address details through Portico at www.ucl.ac.uk/portico using your UCL ID and password. (N.B. if you have forgotten your password or need any further information)
    Submit your application

    Microsoft Form Widget Placeholderhttps://forms.office.com/e/a4qUfcb2it