How long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’How long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?’’ We will present each of the steps to follow to become a neurologist in the UK and the requirements that you must meet.

How long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?

To become a neurologist in the UK takes approximately 5 to 16 years.

The number of years varies according to the level of study, namely:

  1. Degree in medicine: 5 years.
  2. Foundation Programme: 2 years.
  3. Core training: 2 – 3 years.
  4. Specialty training: between 3 – 6 years.

Neurology is a specialty in the field of medicine that has a long evolution, for a long time it has been closely linked with Psychiatry, which awakened biomedical science as we know it today at the end of the 19th century.

Although modern clinical neurology was based on Jean-Martin Charcot’s French school in Paris, it quickly spread throughout Europe, the US, and various parts of the world.

Neurology is the medical specialty that studies the structure, function and development of the central nervous and neuromuscular systems in normal and pathological states and in turn is related to other branches such as psychiatry, psychology and neuropsychology.

However, the neurologist as such diagnoses and treats disorders of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles and pain, especially headache. In the same way, the neurologist deals with the complications in the nervous system of many other diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, some trauma, tumors, etc.

Thus, the neurologist faces a variety and complexity of treated diseases that are considered especially attractive and intellectually stimulating, because the brain is a very complex organ.

How can I become a neurologist in the UK?

 You can enroll in the specialty of medicine in the UK in three ways:

  1. Study medicine after finishing high school

It lasts between five and six years. It receives various names, such as MBBS or MBChB.

  1. Study medicine in the UK after a Bachelor’s degree

This course is available to those who have completed a bachelor’s degree. It is also important to note that many universities require a medical-oriented bachelor’s degree.

The duration of the studies is four years in most cases. However, in other cases it can be as long as five years.

  1. Study medicine with a preliminary year

This program proposes a preliminary year of study and subsequently the five years of study of medicine.

STEP 1: Degree in medicine

The admission process to the medical career in England, Wales and Scotland is one of the most competitive in the country, given the few universities that offer this degree, in relation to other university careers, in addition to the shortage of places.

Due to this restriction, the universities have established a series of additional requirements to the traditional ones, in order to have a more complete profile on each of the candidates, and in this way to be able to select with greater precision those students they consider most suitable for your medical school.

Admission period

First of all, you should take into account the admission deadline for Medicine is much earlier than the vast majority of degrees in the UK. The lack of knowledge of this information by potential candidates could make them want to start the admission process after the deadline, which would not allow them to have the possibility of being considered.

Unlike most university degrees in the UK, the admission deadline for the medical degree is October 15, to start the course in September of the following year. For example, if we want to start a medical degree in September 2021, the application deadline for admission is October 15, 2020.

Academic requirements

Once within the admission deadline, let’s consider the requirements. The first thing that is expected of each candidate is that they have an excellent academic profile. If we value the average score between 10 points, the minimum to consider would be an 8.5 (although experience tells us that with less than a 9 it is difficult for them to extend an interview invitation).

In addition, it is very important to have taken the subjects of biology and chemistry, which would be the most relevant for this career, and to obtain a minimum of 9 points in each of them.

If you have not studied any between biology and chemistry, but you have obtained an average grade of at least 8.5 out of 10 points, there are alternative access routes – at the end of the article we will explain this. So far all standard: good academic profile.

Additional exams

In the UK there are two groups of universities, for access to medicine: those that apply for the UKCAT exam for admission, and those that apply for the BMAT exam.

The UKCAT exam assesses the candidate’s mental ability, aptitude and professional behavior (it is in fact a psychotechnical exam), while the BMAT tests scientific and mathematical knowledge, as well as problem solving and critical thinking.

All candidates who apply for admission to the medical career take the same exam, and in this way it is easy for universities to compare results. Therefore, the difficulty is not in passing the exam, but in obtaining a better score than the others.

Depending on whether you take an exam, or both, this could greatly influence the strategy of selecting the universities to which you intend to apply – you have to be very careful with this aspect, in order to maximize the chances of passing to the interview phase. Therefore it is advisable to prepare for these exams well in advance.


Another factor to take into account is the age of the candidate at the time of starting the medical career. Each university has a program of subjects, and some of them incorporate dealing with patients from the first year.

Due to this, there could be restrictions on the part of some universities regarding the admission of persons under 18 years of age at the time of starting the degree.

Some universities incorporate this contact with patients from the second semester (term), and others from the second year, which would allow admission to candidates under 18 years of age.

In case the candidate is under 18 years of age at the time of starting the course, it is very important to make sure, before making the selection of universities, that there are no age restrictions by the medical school. This information is usually published, with greater or lesser accessibility, on the official website specific to the medicine program of each university.

In case you have not studied biology or chemistry

If the candidate’s academic profile is excellent, it is possible to apply for admission to a medical career, despite not having studied biology or chemistry. For these cases (and many different ones), universities have an extended medicine program, which would extend the standard duration by one year (6 years, instead of 5).

In this first year (also called year zero, or foundation year) the minimum knowledge necessary to progress to the following year will be established, which would correspond to the first year of the standard medical degree.

STEP 2: Foundation Programme

The Foundation Program is a standardized training program of two years of supervised clinical practice to access higher specialty training in England from the Degree. The first year is called Foundation Year 1 or F1 and the second is called Foundation Year 2 or F2. This period is carried out on a paid basis in the form of an internal residence in a university hospital.

Foundation Year 1 (F1)

It’s based on the knowledge and skills acquired during the degree. Its objectives are set by the General Medical Council. Residents must do at least three months in medicine and three months in surgery in the form of rotations.

Some rotations offer three to six months in medicine and six months in surgery, but most usually offer four months. During this year, students must learn to evaluate patients and demonstrate their competence.

Foundation Year 2 (F2)

Prepares the student to work in all areas of medicine at a general level. The places in this course are 3 rotations of 4 months each, focusing on areas such as teamwork, the use of available data, the distribution of work time, communication skills, and above all evaluation and patient control.

The training programs will be carried out in what is called Foundation Schools (teaching hospitals) that will work under the supervision of the Postgraduate Deans

STEP 3: Specialist Training

Specialist Training consists of a training period of 3 years in the case of Family and Community Medicine and 5 to 7 years in the case of the rest of the specialties that follow the training period of the Foundation Program.

The academic content and program is designed by the real schools of each specialty and supervised by the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB). This specialized training is also called Run Through.

During your specialty training the student must pass the RCP Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Neurology.

The entry process once you’ve decided which area you want to specialize in is extremely competitive, so it takes a lot of hard work to make sure you can save a spot in the area you want to focus on. Training here can last any amount of time up to seven years, and after completion you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion Training (CCT).

So, how long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?

Given that neurology is a vital field of medicine for many people, since it helps to improve the quality of life of patients with disabilities or chronic diseases, these general but key points for the performance of this profession should be highlighted:

  • Ability and interest in solving complex problems.
  • Common sense.
  • Ability to give a topographic and differential diagnosis.
  • Willingness to work long hours.
  • Mathematical and analytical intellectual orientation.

So, do you consider that you meet the requirements? As you will see, studying neurology in the UK is a long way, however, if your dreams are to study medicine or do your specialization in the UK, go for it.

FAQS: How long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?

How do I become a neurologist UK?

To become a neurologist in the UK you will need to complete a degree in medicine, then a foundation program of specialization, all recognized by the General Medical Council.

How long does it take to become a consultant neurologist?

As you can review in our article, to become a consultant neurologist, you will need approximately between 9 and 12 years.

How long is neurosurgery training in the UK?

Neurosurgery training in the UK lasts approximately 8 years.

Are neurologist in high demand?

Yes, in fact, it is estimated that by 2025 in the United States the number of professionals will increase to 18,060, and the demand by 21,440. There is a big difference, in addition, the waiting time for an appointment with a neurologist is increasing.

How much do neuroscientists earn UK?

Research assistants in neuroscience can earn between £25,000 and £35,000. 

Starting salaries for postdoctoral researchers are between £32,000 and £45,000.

Experienced and senior neuroscientists earn salaries of £50,000 to £60,000 or more
In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’How long does it take to become a neurologist in the UK?’’ We presented each of the steps to follow to become a neurologist in the UK and the requirements that you must meet.

If you have any comment or question please let us know!


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‌Medicine | University of Oxford. (2020). Retrieved October 19, 2020, from website: