Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Study Medicine at Otago


Medicine at the University of Otago Medical School is a six-year degree programme (Health Sciences First Year plus five years).

You will graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) degree.

Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) can be taken only once and, for school-leavers, it should be taken in your first year of university study.

200-level and beyond

After admission to Medical School, you will complete the Early Learning in Medicine (ELM) programme (second and third years) in Dunedin, learning about the foundation biomedical and social sciences and the normal and abnormal function of body systems.

You will be introduced to practical aspects of clinical medicine, including learning of clinical skills.

Individual development, social influences on health and illness, hauora Māori, and the role of the doctor are also covered.

These 200- and 300-level years include body systems modules including:

  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Metabolism and nutrition
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Renal
  • Nervous system
  • Endocrine
  • Reproduction development and ageing
  • Regional and clinical anatomy

Alongside these modules you will study modules about:

  • Blood
  • Genetics
  • Infection and immunity
  • Cancer
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychological medicine
  • Professional development
  • Bioethics
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Hauora Māori and public health
  • Palliative medicine and end of life care

Modules across all these areas include:

  • Clinical case-based learning
  • Clinical skills
  • Early professional experience

In both years, your progress is assessed within each of the above learning modules, as well as by formal written, clinical and practical examinations at the end of each year.

The Advanced Learning in Medicine (ALM) programme (fourth, fifth, and sixth years) is completed at one of the University of Otago Medical School campuses in Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington. There are also placements in regional and rural areas.

The focus of these years is on learning and training in hospital wards, in general practices and other community settings.

As far as possible, you will be placed according to your campus of choice, but occasionally it is necessary to direct students in order to balance numbers. This also applies to periods (up to a year) in regional and rural areas. You will need to be prepared to relocate over your period of study in the programme. All campuses are part of the University of Otago Medical School and, accordingly, the courses are similar and share common exit assessments at the end of fifth year.

The fourth year is divided between clinical work in the community and on wards and lectures, tutorials and clinical presentations in which common human illnesses are systematically studied.

In the fifth year, most of the time is spent on wards or in the community interviewing and examining patients and in clinical problem-solving. There are also projects in population health.

The sixth year is called the trainee intern (TI) year, because it is an apprenticeship-type of course in preparation for the intern (house surgeon) years that follow. You will be attached to clinical units, where you will carry out duties as a member of a hospital or a community-based health-care team. You will be assessed by supervising clinicians throughout the year, and usually wouldn’t be required to sit any formal end-of-year examinations.

Successful students graduate with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bacheor of Surgery (MB ChB) degree in December.

Rural Medical Immersion Programme

As well as the rural experience that all students have, 20 students are selected to undertake their entire fifth year in the rural immersion programme. If selected, you will be based in a rural district such as Southland, Clutha, Westland, Marlborough, Tararua, or Wairarapa. If you apply for admission to Medicine through the Rural Origins sub-category, you may be required to participate in this rural immersion programme.


The Otago Medical School strongly encourages research interests for students studying Medicine.

If you have a special interest in research and a sound academic record, you may interrupt the Medicine course for one year at the end of your third year, to follow a research topic and graduate with a BMedSc(Hons) degree, undertake papers towards a BSc, BBiomedSc or BA, then resume your studies for the MB ChB. BMedSc(Hons) students may also be eligible to commence this programme after fifth year.

In some cases, BMedSc(Hons) candidates may be permitted to upgrade to PhD studies and complete both the MB ChB and PhD degrees as an integrated programme.

After graduation

MB ChB graduates must complete the pre-registration requirements of the intern year(s) working in an approved hospital before the Medical Council of New Zealand grants full registration. There are limited, if any, places available for international students who will normally complete registration requirements in their home country.

^ Top of page

Career opportunities

Graduates work in many kinds of clinical specialties, public health or in research, in teaching, and in administration.

If you enter clinical practice (as most medical graduates do), society has expectations of you. One is that you are, and remain, technically competent in your field of practice; another is that you treat patients with patience, kindness and humanity; and further, that your ethical behaviour and rapport with your patients is such as to enable them to put their trust in you with the problems of their minds and their bodies.

^ Top of page


There are three categories of admission:

  • The Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) category
  • The Graduate category
  • The Alternative category

Admission to Medicine is competitive, and places are currently limited to 282 domestic students – of which 55 places are reserved for students wishing to apply under the New Zealand Rural Origins sub-category.

Students who meet the criteria are eligible to apply under the Māori and Indigenous Pacific sub-categories.

There are a limited number of additional places for international students, primarily by contract with overseas governments. Private international students please enquire to the International Office.

Most medical students (approximately 70%) gain admission to second-year medicine through the HSFY category of admission.

Applications through the HSFY and Graduate categories of admission must be submitted by 15 September in the year preceding that to which admission is sought, and by 1 May of the preceding year for the Alternative category.

You are advised to read the appropriate admission regulations, which are available in the University Calendar.

The Division of Health Sciences requires all applicants applying for any of its health professional programmes to declare any criminal or disciplinary charges they have faced, or are facing, and any health status issues which could affect their participation in clinical aspects of the programme or their overall fitness to practise.

Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 is aimed at providing better protection for vulnerable children. One of the ways it aims to do this, is by introducing “safety checking”. Applicants who enter the programme will receive further information regarding the timing of these checks.

Health Sciences First Year category of admission

HSFY provides you with the necessary preparatory learning to broaden your educational background.

Admission to the HSFY programme is open entry. If seeking admission to Medicine from the HSFY programme, you are required to pass all papers in HSFY with a mark of 70% (B) or better and have a current UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) result.

Graduate category of admission

If you have completed your first degree at a New Zealand university within the past three years and have a current UCAT, you may apply for entry under this category.

Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.

Alternative category of admission

Allied health professionals, those with health professional experience, and mature graduates (New Zealand degrees completed more than three years ago, or degrees from overseas universities) may apply under this category.

Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.

Sub categories


If you have a rural New Zealand upbringing and/or education, you may apply under the Rural Origins subcategory through HSFY, Graduate Entry or Alternative categories.

Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.

Māori and Pacific applicants

If you wish to apply under these sub-categories, you are required to provide an endorsed whakapapa or island of heritage/origin form, along with a supporting statement.

Socioeconomic and Refugee applicants

Socioeconomic and Refugee sub-categories are included for entry in 2020.

Contact the Health Sciences Admissions Office for information.

^ Top of page

Contact details

Health Sciences Admissions Office
Division of Health Sciences
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
Tel +64 3 479 7428
Fax +64 3 479 5058

^ Top of page


^ Top of page


See the full list of Medicine (MICN) papers.

^ Top of page

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

MICN 621  Medicine Sixth Year 1st Quarter

MICN 622  Medicine Sixth Year 2nd Quarter

MICN 623  Medicine Sixth Year 3rd Quarter

MICN 624  Medicine Sixth Year 4th Quarter

Note: MICN 621-624 shall normally be taken in sequence in one year of study, but in approved cases the order may be varied or the total period of study extended.





^ Top of page