A lot of people are asking me each time what an intercalating degree is every time I bring it up. I’ve done a fair bit of research on what it is, where to do one, and why people do it.
What is an intercalated degree?
An intercalated degree is available mainly to medical and veterinary medicine students (and dentistry students) who wish to study something more in depth after 2nd or 3rd year. You would take a year out to study a topic related to your degree and gain a BSci or a masters degree (if you have spent 3 years studying medicine/ veterinary/ dentistry already). You can do anything from ethics to learning the ins and outs of drug discovery. At the end of the year you would get a degree and return to your veterinary or medical degrees the year you left. A cool thing about this degree, is that it is unique to UK univerisities!
Why study an intercalated degree?
For me the number one reason was for me to study something other than veterinary! As much as I love it, the intercalated degree will give me the opportunity to become a bit of a know-it-all in a subject I am interested in and show off to my mates back at vet school.
I also am genuinely thinking of a career in the subject that I am going to study and it’ll look great on my CV to a future employer in that field, If I choose to go down that road. Also, lots of intercalated BSc’s offer a research module which will help you with the future research projects back at vet school. A bonus is that I’ll finish vet school, I’ll have 2 degrees to my name.
Living at home while studying is great, but the intercalation will give me the opportunity to spend a year living in a different city, live alone and see what it is like to study at a different uni. On top of that, I’ll get to meet a whole bunch of new people and broaden my horizons with different views. I also just need to get out of the “Surrey Bubble”.
Where can I study an intercalated degree?
Many universities that have a medical or veterinary program will offer some sort of intercalated degrees. Some of the intercalated degrees will be stand alone degrees, in other words, the degree will have people who are only studying the intercalated degree and the course will be tailored to cater that sort fo style. Other degrees will have you join the final year of a degree. There are positives to both and it just depends on what you think you would prefer.
How do I begin applying for an intercalated degree?
Normally, you would have to ask permission from your University Programs director to let you do an intercalated degree and let you join the course after the year to finish your degree - you wouldn’t want to come back and suddenly you can’t finish your initial degree! For my uni, I had to send in a personal statement (about 500 words) to explain why I would suit this chosen subject and what I could use it for in the future and how it would make me a better vet. At different schools it may be different but just remember to look on their website and get their permission.
Do your research on what degree you are truly interested in. Once you’ve done this and found a uni you would like to spend year at, it’s a case of applying on an online portal of that particular university. Each uni will have different style of admissions but they generally follow the UCAS system of a personal system or questions to establish whether you can actually do this degree, and filling in all the mundane information like your name and school and uni grades. You’ll need to give transcripts from your current uni and some intercalated programs require to provide a ranking in your vet or medical degree.
Generally, the intercalated programs required that you pass your exams the year you are applying first time and sometimes they say you have to be on track for a 2nd class degree. It just depends on the uni’s standards.
The intercalated degree is not for everyone and you have to consider that it is an extra year of your life spent studying. You also will be leaving your friends that you made in the 2 or 3 years you have been in class with. It’s a matter of weighing out the things that you would and would’t be ok with should you choose to intercalate.
A bit about my intercalating degree that I am starting this next week (!)
I am going to be starting my Pharmacology degree at King’s College this coming Monday. I am going to be doing two research projects (am I crazy?); one is a part time lab, fully mad scientist kind of in the lab and the other is having my nose in the books to do a library project. I’ll also be taking 4 other modules: cell and molecular pharmacology, cardio, inflammation and psychiatric pharmacology modules.
I think the reason I am super excited about this year is to fully embrace the student life and be immersed in a subject I’m really passionate about. I hope that the year is as good as I am anticipating!