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Being a student on King's College London Extended Medical Degree Programme (EMDP)

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

I am a 3rd year medical student who entered Medicine through King's College London's Extended Medical Degree Programme (EMDP). The EMDP MBBS course is specifically designed for students who:

  • Have attended only non-selective state education, as determined by the UK government’s Department for Education (DfE), since the age of 11. You must be currently studying A-levels at a non-selective state school.

  • Live in a widening participation area (defined as ACORN 4 or 5 postcodes). You are able to see if this condition applies to you by checking your postcode using the CACI website. Alternatively, you must either be participating in the Realising Opportunities, MedView, or the K+ programme. I have a separate blog post on widening participation programmes here.

  • You cannot have started or completed a degree before submitting your application.

  • You must have sat the UCAT prior to submitting your application.

  • Special consideration will also be given to applicants in care

These are the details found on the official King's EMDP webpage so please have a look for further eligibility criteria and information.

The EMDP course was developed by King's College London in 2001 with the main aim to improve access to Medicine for 'disadvantaged' students. It was the first full degree course designed to widen participation among these groups, first starting with local comprehensive schools in the Borough of Southwark but has expanded ever since. The Damilola Taylor Trust, started by Richard Taylor (Damilola Taylor's father), helped provide financial support to students on the programme in the first few years by awarding Damilola Taylor prizes, providing cash for special Hardship funds and a Travel grant to help students cope with the cost of going through Medical School. Damilola Taylor was a 10-year-old boy who was tragically killed on his way home from Peckham Library and had dreams of being a doctor. There is a room named after him at King's where EMDP students can use computers, study, and socialise. The main purpose of the programme is to provide extra support and encouragement to Inner London State school students from deprived socio-economic backgrounds to consider a career in Medicine. Students are selected for the programme with more emphasis on their potential to learn and their motivation to study Medicine rather than their A-level performance.

Since 2018, the programme now includes students from across the UK. You can find the most up-to-date information about the EMDP on the official webpage. The reason the course exists is to offer a more graduated introduction to medical study than the standard MBBS degree and provides greater academic and pastoral support. The only difference between the standard programme (which is now 6 years due to compulsory intercalation) and the EMDP (which is now 7 years long) is that the first year is split across 2 years to allow you to have a smoother transition from Sixth Form to university. Other than that, you get EXACTLY the same medical degree as any other student!

When I first started the EMDP, we had an introductory week where we all got to know each other. There were approximately 50 of us in my cohort so it is quite a small group compared to the 400 people in the standard course. The EMDP cohort is now growing and the average size is approx. 75 students.

Some of my initial doubts about the EMDP was that I was going to face hostility from students on the standard programme - i.e. 'us' vs. 'them', feeling like I don't belong or that I'm stupid. But I am happy to say it was nothing like this! In my first year, I made friends both within the EMDP cohort and on the standard programme and I found that I settled into university really well. However, when it came to the second year, the standard programme moved on and I was still technically in the first year (luckily, my EMDP friends also were too). Despite still having a close-knit friendship group, this is when I started to become embarrassed about being an 'EMDP' student. I didn't know what to say when people asked me what year I was in and even now, I still get confused about what I should say! However, this is something I came to terms with and learned to get over.

So what is it like to do Year 1 over two years?

I think every EMDP student can agree that it does get a bit empty after a while. At first, you study with the students on the standard programme for any compulsory timetabled sessions then halfway through the year, you are not required to attend anymore. There may be scattered EMDP-specific teaching such as essay writing skills, journal clubs (to improve your research skills), and some numeracy workshops. This happens for both years. Recently, they have incorporated case-based learning into the course so this will give you a taste of clinical medicine earlier on. Make sure you use your free time to:

  • Study! Get the best end-of-year results you can since you have the time to study for them

  • Get involved with extra-curricular societies, conferences, and events. Go to everything! Don't waste your free time sitting around. Get out there. Make new friends. It can also help you map out your future career and prospects.

  • Travel! I travelled to Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, and Athens during the 2 years whenever I had long gaps. Flights are usually cheap because it's non-peak times and the weather is lovely!

Why did you apply to the King's EMDP?

After being unsuccessful with my application to medical school the first time around and having to take a gap year, I (understandably) really wanted to make sure that I successfully gained a place at medical school. I met all of the criteria and a course like the EMDP may be right for you if you also didn't get into medical school the first time around, you didn’t take sciences at A-Level, you didn’t get the best grades at A-Level, and/or if you meet the specific eligibility criteria.

I felt that undertaking the King's EMDP prepared me a lot better for my clinical years and allowed me to score my highest in my Year 1 examinations (I scored in the top 15% in all my first-year exams)! I also got to live out my first year TWICE and it gave me so much more time to become the best version of myself, especially when getting involved in extra-curricular activities. I was given more time to figure out what exam techniques and revision methods worked best for me, which has allowed me to continue to excel in my studies. EMDP students also receive extra pastoral and financial support. You are eligible for certain bursaries to support you throughout your studies and you also get given textbooks and study materials such as Netter's Anatomy Flashcards allowing you to save money on such resources. Furthermore, you also get invited to fancy celebratory dinners and special award ceremonies for EMDP high-achievers, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Barbers. After the completion of your first 2 years, you are awarded a free Littmann stethoscope (see this blog post picture for when we got awarded ours). This is the beauty of the programme and the students it exists to serve!

Can you apply to both the EMDP and the standard programme?

Yes, you can! This is something I did not realise when applying to Medicine. Since I really wanted to study at King's, I probably would have applied to the 5-year programme too. However, be aware that each application will be considered separately, meaning 2 separate interviews and offers.

What universities do foundation programmes for Medicine?

Foundation courses are slightly different at different schools. There are two main types of foundation course:

Medicine with a foundation year: This is a course that is one extra year on top of the standard course and normally begins with a 1-year foundation course of science-based teaching, after which you can join the standard 5-year medical programme.

Extended programmes (e.g. EMDP): This is also an extra year course but instead, teaching is spread out. You are usually taught the basics + some supplementary content alongside the standard medical material.

Medicine with an extra 'foundation' or 'extended' year:

And so many more. The Medic Portal even has a list of foundation medical courses here