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Engineering

SWAP Access to Medical Studies

Campus Sighthill Campus

Qualification SCQF Level 6

Study mode Full time

Duration 41 weeks

Start date Aug 2024

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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 Veterinary Medicine or a place on the undergraduate Dentistry BDS at the 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 a 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 6-8)
  • Chemistry (Levels 6 and 7)
  • 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.

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 
  • You will be tested on your theoretical and practical skills 

Number of days per week

  • 4 days per week 

Entry requirements

Students should be ordinarily resident in Scotland. Please contact the SWAP East Office at swapeast@ed.ac.uk if you are not sure about your eligibility.

  • 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. The course is NOT intended for school leavers.
  • 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 achieve 70% or above in each - Biology, Chemistry and Maths (AAA). This should be achieved at first attempt. All assessments must be completed during the SWAP course, regardless of previous achievement for Profile Grading purposes. 
  • Candidates are expected to have recent experience working or volunteering in a healthcare environment or 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.

Information on Tests / Auditions / Interview Requirements

  • Entry is by informal interview and a short, Mathematics entry exam. All candidates are interviewed to ensure that the appropriate course is chosen and that the applicant can cope with the amount of work involved.
  • Applications should include a strong personal statement that clearly indicates the candidate has researched progression routes and has a clear idea of the degree and career they wish to pursue. Applications may be returned to candidates who do not meet these criteria. 
  • Progression information can be found at: https://swapsurvey.org/progression/east.
  • Applications to repeat a course will only be considered if there are places available – this will be reviewed in August. This includes students who have previously been given an opportunity to complete the course or apply again.

English Proficiency Requirements

IELTS 6.5

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 is available. 

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

https://swapsurvey.org/progression/east  

Career options

  • MedicineCar 
  • Pharmacy 
  • Biological and biomedical sciences 

Study Options

Campus Study mode Start date Duration
Sighthill Campus Full time 26/08/24 41 Weeks

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