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Course Overview

The Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) to Medical Studies is a full-time course lasting one academic year taught at Edinburgh College’s Sighthill campus. This course is designed to prepare you for further study of medicine or dentistry at a university degree level.  

You will learn a combination of academic units such as Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics taught at a Higher, HNC and HND level. These units will give you the core skills needed to apply for a place at The University of Edinburgh or The University of Aberdeen on their undergraduate Medicine (MBChB) degree, also to The University of Edinburgh for the BVM&S Veternary Medicine or a place on the undergraduate Dentistry BDS at University of Dundee. 

Our Science department offers you the opportunity to study in purpose-built laboratories. These will support the development of your general and specialist practical skills, whilst enhancing your theoretical understanding of science. 

SWAP courses are designed if you have few or no formal qualifications and have been out of full-time education for at least three years (five years if you studied Highers or a Higher National course or similar level). 

SWAP courses provide you with an alternative route into higher education. They are designed to give you intensive academic preparation as well as the opportunity to develop the skills and confidence you need for entry into higher education through recognised progression routes at colleges or universities in Scotland. For more information on SWAP courses please go to www.scottishwideraccess.org and click on the SWAP East Portal. 

What You Will Learn

  • Biology (Level 6)
  • Chemistry (Level 5 and 6)
  • Mathematics (Level 6)
  • Communications and Literature (Level 6)
  • Cell Biology (Level 7)
  • DNA and Genetics (Level 7)
  • Biochemistry (Level 7)
  • Human Body: Structure and Function (Level 8)
  • Preparation for Higher Education (HE)

All SWAP students are required to participate in and complete Preparation for Higher Education (HE). Preparation for HE will assist you in researching and visiting universities. You will be expected to work as a team and on your own to complete this module.

Entry Requirements


  • Candidates must have been out of education for three years (five years if you have Highers or equivalent) and must not already have a degree
  • Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics at a minimum level of National 5 (or equivalent) 
  • Applicants applying from a level 5 access course will be required to have a profile grading of AAA in Biology, Chemistry and Maths
  • Candidates are expected to have recent experience of working or volunteering in a health care environment or of shadowing a healthcare professional 
  • It is expected that candidates will currently be working towards completion of the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) (https://www.ucat.ac.uk/ucat/) 
  • Students who already have a university degree are not eligible for a SWAP programme. Any applicant who has been to university but did not complete may be eligible, if there are special circumstances. Please email SWAP for advice BEFORE submitting an application at swapeast@ed.ac.uk.


English Proficiency Requirements
  • IELTS 6.0
How the course is assessed
  • You will be assessed on each unit 
  • All units within the course must be achieved in order to gain the full award 
Information on Test/Auditions/Interview Requirements
  • To be offered a place on this course candidates must also successfully complete a college interview and Mathematics test 
Progression And Articulation Routes

SWAP East programmes are designed to provide entrance qualifications for adults to apply for university degree courses. Each year universities update their progression courses.  

Successful completion of this programme with the required SWAP profile grades will give you a potential route into the following undergraduate degrees: MBChB in Medicine at the universities of Aberdeen or Edinburgh; BDS in Dentistry at the University of Dundee; BVM&S in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition, a wide variety of access to science progression routes are available. 

The following link provides you with a range of degree programmes available: 


Career Opportunities

Careers in the field of: 

  • MedicineCar 
  • Pharmacy 
  • Biological and biomedical sciences 
Number Of Days Per Week
  • 4 days per week 
Course Cost And Funding Options
Student Stories

The Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) is a partnership between colleges and universities to support access to higher education for adults. At Edinburgh College, there are many courses available to help those with few or no qualifications begin their path to university. 

We caught up with ex-Edinburgh College student Camilla Scarlett to see what she thought of her studies at Edinburgh College and how it helped her progress to university: 

‘I really enjoyed studying at Edinburgh College. It was exciting using a microscope for the first time and analysing bacterial colonies that I had created. The equipment required for titrations was very precise and specialised.  

I enjoyed the overall experience of learning and being at college. Meeting great people, discovering new things and the sense of achievement after such a heavy workload. I’ve started studying an honours degree in Biological Science at The University of Edinburgh.’ 

Read more of our student stories here.

Start Date and Time

Full Time

This course will start week commencing...
  • Monday 30/08/2021
End Date

Full Time

This course will end on...
  • Friday 17/06/2022
Course Delivery
GRANTON x x x x x
MIDLOTHIAN x x x x x
MILTON RD x x x x x
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OUTREACH x x x x x

Courses may be subject to alteration or cancellation

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Edinburgh College welcomes students from all over the world and we are dedicated to ensuring your time at the College is both educational and enjoyable.​
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To apply please download an SCP application form and contact your guidance teacher who will support you through your application.

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