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University of Otago Undergraduate Medicine

Published on
May 11, 2024
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Otago Uni Medicine Course Structure

University of Otago is one of only two universities in New Zealand to have a medical school. Otago Uni offers a 6-year MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree with numerous pathways for entry. Admission into Medicine at Otago is usually through the Health Sciences First Year course. School leavers will have to enrol in the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) at Otago and apply for admission into any of Otago’s five health professional programmes (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, or Medical Laboratory Science) during their HSFY.

If successful, students will complete a further five years of Medicine to complete their degree.

University of Otago Medicine Course Structure

The University of Otago medical degree is a 6 year degree through the HSFY pathway:

  • First Year: First Year Health Sciencesis undertaken in Dunedin.
  • Second & Third Year: Early Learning in Medicine which involves two pre-clinical years undertaken in Dunedin. 
  • Fourth Year Onwards: Classes are delivered across Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington for clinically-based Advanced Learning in Medicine. Clinical activities in all three locations include all the major specialities (General Medicine, Oncology, Paediatrics, Psychological Medicine, Surgery, Pathology, Public Health, General Practice and others). 
  • Sixth Year: In addition to clinical learning, students undertake a 12-week medical elective.

What is Health Sciences First Year?

Health Sciences First Year is a course only available at Otago University in which students aiming to apply for medical school are required to complete it in its entirety in the first year of university study. HSFY covers a wide range of fields across science and biological science and 

consists of seven compulsory papers and an optional approved eighth paper in Semester Two. 

Applicants from New Zealand must meet the University Entrance (UE) standard and other applicants should visit the Otago official website for entry criteria to HSFY.

Otago Uni Medicine Requirements

To be eligible for HSFY Pathway to undergraduate medicine at the University of Otago you must:

  • Be enrolled in HSFY at Otago and pass all 7 prescribed papers with a minimum grade of 70% at first attempt.
  • Achieve a UCAT ANZ threshold score in all sections (score to be determined annually by the Medical Admissions Committee.
  • Pass the HSFY English Diagnostic Test or ENGL126. 
  • There is no interview and the final selection is based on academic score. 

To be eligible for the Graduate Pathway to undergraduate medicine at the University of Otago you must:

  • Have a prior undergraduate degree.*
  • Achieve a UCAT ANZ threshold score in all sections (score to be determined annually by the Medical Admissions Committee.
  • There is no interview and the final selection is based on weighted academic score.**

*Note: Depending on your Bachelors degree, you may enter straight into the second year of the MBChB programme, or you may have to undertake missing first year courses prior to entering the second year.

**Note: The weighting of academic scores varies slightly from other universities so ensure you double check the guidelines for admission into medicine.

There are 20 places available for international students in 2022.

Alternate Pathway Requirements

The Alternative category for application for admission to second-year Medicine at Otago is available for allied health professionals, other graduates, or mental health professionals. 

To be eligible under the Alternative Category for medicine at the University of Otago you must:

  • Be a domestic student
  • Hold a degree from a New Zealand university;  
  • or have completed a degree at an overseas university at a standard of at least NZQF (New Zealand Qualifications Framework) Level 7;
  • or hold a master's or doctoral degree; 
  • or demonstrate health-related professional experience in a relevant field to a standard acceptable to the Medical Admissions Committee
  • Achieve a UCAT ANZ threshold score in all sections (score to be determined annually by the Medical Admissions Committee.

Graduate applicants seeking admission through the Alternative Category will need to attend a medical interview if applications are successful. These applicants are chosen based on academic achievements, CV, and statement of interest.

Applicants under the Alternative Category may be offered a place straight into second-year Medicine despite not having completed the Otago Health Sciences First Year papers (or an approved equivalent). These candidates may be required to undertake a prescribed course of study and attain certain grades set by the Medical Admissions Committee in order to be eligible for admission into the second-year of Medicine.

International applicants are not considered under the Alternative category.

Otago Uni Medicine Application 

The application process to enter Otago Medical School is as follows:

  1. Students must apply to sit the UCAT exam and achieve a threshold score or have prior valid UCAT results.
  2. HSFY category and Graduate category applicants should apply to the 'Health Sciences Undergraduate Professional Programmes' and then select 'Medicine' from the list.

Both new and returning students must complete their application through eVision, which combines both your prior admissions and enrolment into the University of Otago, and your current programme application. Applicants must also have all personal and financial affairs in order at the start of the application process so that if their application is successful, they are able to commence their study at the start of the first semester.

University of Otago Medicine Fees

Medical schools in New Zealand offer domestic and international places. Permanent residents and citizens of Australia are considered as domestic students in New Zealand and can therefore access domestic student subsidies. Domestic places are akin to Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) in Australia in that the government subsidises the tuition fees, and students can expect to pay around $15,000 per year for years 2-6. 

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) fees through HSFY pathway:

Year of Study 2022 Annual Fees ($)
Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) 36,272
Years 2-3 (per year) 81,119
Years 4-6 (per year) 92,707

International students can expect to pay around $80,000-$90,000 per year for years 2-6 and approximately $35,000 for the first year.

Otago Uni Medicine Key Dates

NOTE: The following dates are subject to change for 2022 medical intake at Otago Medical School.

Description of Event Admission Dates
Applications for admission to Medicine via HSFY and Graduate open 1st August 2022
Applications for admission to Medicine via HSFY and Graduate close 15th September 2022
Outcome of Application for HSFY and Graduate category sent to applicants 18th December 2022

We hope this guide on Otago Medical School was helpful and wish you luck with your medical application process!

Here’s a list of FREE RESOURCES available on Fraser's website to get you started on preferencing medical schools for postgraduate courses. If you are looking to sit the UCAT for your applications check out our resources for UCAT study or enrol in our UCAT Strategy Weekend program that will allow you to undertake a practice test and obtain a personalised report from a senior UCAT mentor.