Intercalating a Master’s degree

Chloe Knox is a medical student from Brighton & Sussex Medical School who is intercalating at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, studying the MSc Reproductive and Sexual Health Research. Here, Chloe shares her advice about intercalating.

What is intercalating?

Intercalating means taking a year out of your undergraduate studies to pursue an additional degree in an area of interest, before completing your original degree. It is an opportunity offered by a number of medical, dentistry and veterinary courses and usually takes place after your second, third or fourth year of study.

What are the benefits of intercalating?

Intercalating is a great opportunity which allows you to spend a year focusing on a more specific area of interest. It allows you to conduct your own research and develop a number of skills, such as the ability to critically appraise data and academic journal articles, formulate relevant research questions, design appropriate scientific studies and understand more about how the results of research translate into the development of effective health programmes. These skills fulfil criteria outlined by the GMC in their publication, “Tomorrow’s Doctors”, within the role “the doctor as a scholar and scientist.”

Intercalating may also enhance your CV; not simply through the additional qualification you will gain, but also through taking on positions of responsibility in a new institution or the chance to publish your research.

Other benefits include meeting new people and potentially experiencing a new institution and location, who share similar interests to you.

Is intercalating for me?

While there are a lot of advantages of intercalating, there are a number of things to consider before you make your decision:

1. Firstly, you need to have a genuine interest in your proposed subject area. You will be devoting an entire year to the study of this field, and therefore it is important that you are enthusiastic about it. Intercalating is hard work, and it is made harder if you are not motivated by interest. A good source of information about the courses available and the institutions offering them is: www.intercalate.co.uk, which allows you to filter by course or by geographic area.

2. Another important decision is whether to study a BSc or an MSc during your intercalated year. This is a matter of personal choice, which, I believe, should be determined by your interest in the specifics of the course itself. However, there are some additional considerations which may influence your decision. For example, most MSc courses run through the summer, so it is important to clarify the term dates of the course directly with the institution to check whether they are compatible with the dates of your original institution. The other important factor is funding, as Master’s courses are ineligible for funding from Student Finance England. However, there are a number of scholarships and bursaries available, e.g. details of those available to students studying at the School are available on the funding pages[Do check eligibility criteria very carefully and when unsure, clarify with the institution directly how intercalating relates to their criteria].

3. One final consideration with intercalating is the process of applying for the courses. Usually each institution has its own application procedure and deadline which you need to follow and it can take quite a lot of time to complete the necessary paperwork and obtain references etc. This is a considerable commitment to take up alongside your medical studies, but definitely possible if you are committed and able to manage your time effectively.

Why intercalate at the School?

I chose to study the MSc Reproductive & Sexual Health Research because I am interested in pursuing a future career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I particularly liked the research element of this course and thought that module choices such as “Research Design and Analysis” and “Principles of Social Research” would develop my ability to evaluate and execute research.

The range of modules has also given me a far broader view of the area, as has the company of my colleagues on the course. I am glad to be studying alongside individuals with diverse professional backgrounds who provide international and multidisciplinary perspectives to discussions. It is also a privilege to be taught by a number of leading academics who are currently engaged in cutting-edge research.

Studying in London has also enabled me to experience life in a new city, and being part of the University of London provides a wealth of opportunities to socialise and take part in sports, societies and events.

I have been extremely satisfied by my decision to study at the School, and truly believe that my future medical practice will benefit greatly from my decision to study here.

Further information

If you have any questions about intercalating at the School, please contact me via the Student Ambassador page.

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