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Study Medicine at Otago

Medicine is the general term used to describe what doctors do to assist you to care for your health and well-being.

Medical doctors prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure illness, injury, and disease, and provide health care whenever required.

Doctors choose to work in one role or a combination of many roles including clinical medicine (patient care in general practice, surgery, psychiatry, paediatrics, and many more), medical research, teaching, and administration (in hospitals, medical schools, and government ministries).

There is no denying the hours worked by doctors are long and the need for continuing study is demanding. But the role of a doctor is rewarding and there is potential for great personal satisfaction.

What is Medicine?

Medicine is a scientific, research- and evidence-based profession, which covers many areas of specialisation, including general practice, public health and hospital-based specialities, such as surgery, psychiatry, cardiology, and many more.

If you are considering a career in Medicine, you should be prepared for lifelong learning to maintain your practising standards. Society expects a high level of technical competence. Patients expect to be treated with patience, kindness and humanity. Ethical behaviour and rapport with people are necessary so patients can trust you with problems of their body and mind.

What will I study?

After selection from Health Sciences First Year (HSFY), or the Graduate or Alternative categories, you commence the second year of the six-year medical degree – called the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB).

2nd–3rd years

Second- and third-year Medicine offers an integrated course based on various body system modules and core clinical cases. The clinical cases run throughout the programme and act as a framework for learning, as well as bringing relevance to the underlying clinical and basic science.

Learning clinical skills and a focus on health in the community start at the beginning of the second year, and feature prominently through a variety of modalities including experimental practise (laboratories, clinical skills, talking with people), lectures, small group discussions and independent learning.

4th–6th years

After the third year, you will complete studies at one of Otago’s campuses in Christchurch, Dunedin, or Wellington.

Fourth- and fifth-year medicine offer increased interaction with people and are centred around clinical work in hospital wards and outpatient clinics in teaching hospitals, in smaller rural practices, and general practices. You will also complete components of public health and community medicine.

Sixth-year medicine is an apprenticeship-style year, also known as the Trainee Intern (TI) year. You assume greater responsibility in hospital wards and general practices. This final year includes a three-month elective involving a project or clinical work, usually in another hospital or overseas.

Research opportunities

There are research opportunities within the medical programme, including the option of taking one year off after the third or fifth year to complete a Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours (BMedSc(Hons)) degree. Some medical graduates choose to undertake further research and may enrol in a higher degree such as a combined MB ChB / PhD. Otago Medical School offers scholarships to many of the students who undertake the BMedSc(Hons) or combined MB ChB / PhD degree.


Before you can practise as a doctor in New Zealand, you must register with the Medical Council of New Zealand and complete a one-year internship in a hospital.

There are limited if any, New Zealand hospital places available for international students and an internship placement in a New Zealand hospital is not guaranteed for international students.

Admission to the Medicine programme

Admission to Medicine is competitive, and there are only about 300 places available for New Zealand and international students. There are different categories of admission to Medicine, but the majority of places are offered to students who have completed the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme at the University of Otago.

Selection into Medicine from HSFY is very competitive. High grades are required and no compulsory paper grade can be less than a B.

Applications are also considered in the Graduate category and Alternative category (for allied health professionals and those who graduated more than three years ago).

Applicants may also apply via the subcategories for Te Kauae Parāoa, including Māori, Pacific, rural, socioeconomic equity, and refugee background, which are outlined in the Guidelines for Admission.

Medicine: Guidelines for Admission

Background required for Health Sciences First Year

If you are new to university study and planning to study Medicine, your first year of study will be the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) programme. There are no subject requirements for entry into HSFY, but we strongly recommend you take Chemistry, Physics and Calculus to NCEA Level 3 (or equivalent), and an English-rich subject.

Health Sciences First Year must be your first year of university study. Undertaking any other tertiary study before enrolling in HSFY could jeopardise your enrolment in the HSFY programme, so you are strongly advised to contact AskOtago if you are considering this.

Contact AskOtago

International applications

Persons who do not hold New Zealand citizenship or permanent residence should address their enquiries to the University’s International Office.

How to apply

Application information for admission into the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) programme is available on the Division of Health Sciences website:

Medicine: Guidelines for Admission


Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualifiation pages:

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB)

Year Papers Points
1st year

Health Sciences First Year Course

Note: Students enrolled in the Health Sciences First Year course will be required to achieve a satisfactory mark in a standard diagnostic English test or another approved measure of achievement.

2nd year

MICN 201  Medicine Second Year

3rd year

MICN 301  Medicine Third Year

4th year

MICN 401  Medicine Fourth Year

5th year MICN 501  Medicine Fifth Year 120
6th year

Three of

MICN 641  Medicine Sixth Year 1st Quarter

MICN 642  Medicine Sixth Year 2nd Quarter

MICN 643  Medicine Sixth Year 3rd Quarter

MICN 644  Medicine Sixth Year 4th Quarter


MICN 648  Elective Quarter









Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
MICN201 2023 Medicine Second Year 120 points Full Year
MICN301 2023 Medicine Third Year 120 points Full Year
MICN401 2023 Medicine Fourth Year 120 points Full Year
MICN501 2023 Medicine Fifth Year 120 points Full Year
MICN621 2023 Medicine Sixth Year 1st Quarter 30 points Not offered in 2023
MICN622 2023 Medicine Sixth Year 2nd Quarter 30 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period
MICN623 2023 Medicine Sixth Year 3rd Quarter 30 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period
MICN624 2023 Medicine Sixth Year 4th Quarter 30 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period, 3rd Non standard period

Key information for future students

Contact us

Health Sciences Admissions
Tel +64 3 479 7428
Fax +64 3 479 5058