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The beginning of your journey as a doctor in training starts now and we are looking forward to meeting and working with you in September.

The Flying Start web page is a place where you will find a lot of useful information about things to do before you get here, and what you will need to do when you arrive.

Welcome from BSc (Hons) Course Director
Welcome to the University of St Andrews School of Medicine, we think it’s the best in the land!

You have studied hard, shown your ability to succeed and now you are finally here – CONGRATULATIONS

You may not realise it, but we are quite probably looking forward to you arriving as much as you are, it is always a pleasure to meet new students and to help and encourage you all along the path to being a Doctor. That path is often difficult, and you may have to learn about yourself as much as about medicine, however we are absolutely confident that each and every one of you are capable of achieving excellence.

As you have (hopefully) seen on our website, the curriculum for this course is all mapped out for you and there are only a few significant choices for you to make. What is not mapped out, and what is just as important, is how to get the most from the rest of your University life. St Andrews (AKA ‘The Bubble’) is a truly special place to go to University, one of the oldest in the UK, small enough to enable you to meet each other easily (and spot staff in Morrison’s shopping furtively), and large enough to provide the facilities and recreational opportunities of larger institutions. I want to encourage you to take full advantage of the time you are here, not only to succeed in your studies, but also to enjoy the environment of St Andrews and all the good times ‘The Bubble’ has to offer.

I look forward to meeting you all and watching you thrive in our wonderful town!

John Z

Bsc (Hons) Medicine Course Director

Welcome from School President
Congratulations on your offer, and welcome to The University of St Andrews!

I’m Kay McGillivray, and I’ll be your Medical School President for 2018-2019. That means that I’m here to represent you within the Medical School and The University.

My role mainly focuses on academic matters, as we have a huge range of different societies to take care of other priorities like sport, socials, etc. Not only does this stunning, quaint town have plenty of society events to keep you occupied, but it offers perfect beaches, places for hiking, a cinema and a ridiculous number of places to eat and drink!

You will undoubtedly be nervous about starting here – we all were – but there is plenty of support available for all students. Whether that’s the mentoring scheme with other medical students or your personal tutor; you can approach or email them at any point.

Your greatest guide for the 3 years will be the Medical School’s network, Galen. This will give you information about your personal timetables, staff notifications, exam results, and much more.

My top 3 tips for Freshers: 1. Don’t buy the textbooks just yet – the Medical School have plenty available online and as a hard copy. 2. You may wish to do a bit of pre-reading before starting, but don’t work too hard – enjoy the time you have to relax, as Medicine is a demanding course from the first week onwards. 3. Get involved in as much as possible throughout Orientation Week – it’s a great way to meet new people and see what St Andrews is all about!

If you have any questions or feedback about your time in St Andrews, please email me at:

I look forward to seeing you all in September!

Welcome from the Bute Medical Society President
Congratulations- you’ve done it!

All of your hard work has paid off, and you must all be filled with pride, excitement, and a lot of relief. You’ve not only been accepted to medical school, but you’ve been accepted to St Andrews– a university with a long and rich history, situated in a picturesque seaside town known for its welcoming and nurturing community- not to mention the fact that the Guardian ranked us as the leading university in Scotland, and 3rd overall in the UK. There’s definitely something for everyone here between the multiple beaches and golf courses, so if you’re not already hyped you should be: over the next 3 years you’ll have some of the most unforgettable and incredible experiences of your life.

But before all that begins you have the joy of figuring out how to use Flying Start- and part of that is reading this welcome letter. Yikes.

So in all of your best interests, I’ll try and make this as interesting, informative, and brief as possible!

Who the heck am I? My name is Liam Peniston, and by the time you’ll be joining us in St Andrews I’ll be in my 3rd (and final) year of studying medicine. I’m currently the president of the Bute Medical Society, and last year served on the committee as the Secretary. My job is to make sure that all of you guys are happy- working with the other passionate, friendly, and approachable members of committee of 22.

What’s the Bute Medical Society? The BMS is one of the largest and oldest societies at St Andrews, currently comprising nearly 500 students. The majority of our members are medics, although membership is open to all matriculated students. This last year we were awarded the runner-up for ‘Best Society of the Year’ by the University Societies Committee. In the past we’ve also been recognised as hosting the ‘Best Event’: Bute Ball.

Why should I join? Most medics choose to join the BMS because we’re responsible for putting on a wide range of events, the spectrum of which -we hope- will interest of just about everyone. Such events include:

  • Hecklings: a welcoming social-gathering open to all first year medics comprising activities, games, and centring around a night out on the town.
  • Wine & Cheese/Coffee & Cakes Academic Talks: interactive and engaging presentations given by guest speakers, with catering provided by the BMS and local cafés such as Cottage Kitchen and Northpoint.
  • FAF Ball: a black-tie ball held in first semester, traditionally held at a castle venue and involving ceilidhs and featured DJs. You’ll figure out what FAF stands for eventually!
  • Bute Ball: the ‘big ball’ of the year held at Kinkell Byre. Who doesn’t love big balls, especially when they involve a three course meal (including a selection of wines and ice cream provided by Jannetta’s).
  • Bute Sport Teams: if you’re interested in playing hockey, football, or rugby with ‘yer medic mates, look no further!
  • Bute Revue: an end-of-year comedy show hosted by medics, performed by medics, and mostly making fun of medicine and us people who study it.

What do you need to do during Freshers’ Week? Freshers’ week for medics comprises numerous events as a joint effort between the Med School itself and the BMS. There’s going to be a variety of presentations, meetings, introductions, and socials- the best summary of which you’ll probably find on Flying Start or via the Orientation Week App (the latter being a bit of a work in progress).

Over the summer, the BMS committee is going to be putting together a schedule of events for your first few weeks in St Andrews. This is not an exhaustive list, but here’s some things you’ll probably want to put on your radar:

  • Sunday, September 9th: optional tours of the Medical and Biological Sciences Building on the North Haugh, directed by the finest members of the Bute Medical Society for both you and your families.
  • Monday, September 10th: additional tours of the med school and meeting your Clinical Skills Groups, followed by the annual Welcome Barbecue that will start at around 5pm. The food and refreshments are normally good, but the highlight is getting the opportunity to meet your classmates and mingle with the other medics. If you know anything about St Andrews tradition, this is also a good opportunity to get ‘Academically Adopted’.
  • Thursday, September 13th: the Medic Fresher’s Fayre will be happening in and around the Med School Café, where you’ll be able to sign up for the BMS, as well as other student-run medical societies and professional medical organisations such as the BMA and MDU.

What do I do now? If you want to meet some of the other students who will be joining you in September, join our St Andrews Medics 2018 Freshers’ Page. This will also serve as one of the main platforms for making announcements about upcoming BMS events. Feel free to add me on Facebook, too- and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. If you’d prefer to contact me by email, you can reach me at You can also get a hold of the current BMS Secretary (for any specific Bute-related enquiries throughout the year) at

…and one more link! We’ve also got a website: It’ll be updated closer to Fresher’s Week with events and profiles of the new committee, so that you can spot us in a crowd if you have any questions or want to chat.

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer! September will be here in no time, so make sure you soak up the sunshine and spend lots of time relaxing.

I’m looking forward to meeting to meeting you all very soon!


How do you do?

Some key staff at the School of Medicine are shown below

You can view a list of all staff and contact details on the School of Medicine website.


Things to do before I arrive…

Download the Flying Start checklist




The Flying Start Checklist is a pdf checklist which you can print out and use to help you to keep track of the things you need to do as you prepare to start your medical training at St Andrews.

Click for Word document


Read essential documents: BSc (Hons) Medicine Professionalism Agreement




The BSc (Hons) Medicine Professionalism Agreement should be read before arrival – however do not sign the agreement yet – you will be asked to do this when you meet you personal tutor during Orientation Week.

Click for pdf

Familiarise yourself with BSc (Hons) documents: Med Handbook UG Teaching



Students should be familiar with the School of Medicine Med Handbook.

Click for web based handbook

Download and prepare: Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme




You must prepare the information that you require to complete a ‘Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme’ application. This application form will be given to you during Orientation Week.

Please read the information and related documents with Advice for Medical and Health Psychology Students (formerly: letter from the Schools Disclosure Officer).

Complete and return: Occupational Health Questionnaire


The Occupational Health Questionnaire which was emailed to you in May should be completed and returned to the address below.  Forms should be returned by 30th June but no later than 3 weeks before your arrival at St Andrews to:-
Pre-entry Occupational Health Questionnaire
Teaching Support Office
School of Medicine
North Haugh
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9TF

The ‘Pre Entry Questionaire’ can be found on this page


Review and complete essential tasks at the University New Entrants page




The New Entrants page contains important general information for students who are matriculating (registering) at the University for the first time.

Be aware that there are a number of admin tasks to do before you come to St Andrews. You will find a helpful list on the New Entrants page.

University New Entrants page

Things to bring ….

Text books


We are aware that you will have many questions about the course and what you should be doing to prepare.

We are often asked ‘What shall I do about textbooks?’ For this reason we thought it would be useful to give you this list of recommended texts and to offer some advice about buying them. Please do not feel that you must rush to buy the texts before you get here (excess baggage can be heavy and expensive!). The books will be available for purchase from Blackwell’s Bookshop located in the Students Association Building in St Andrews. You can contact the bookshop, place a credit card order and your books will be waiting for collection when you arrive in St Andrews.

Blackwells tel: 01334 476367 or email:

When choosing textbooks we try to ensure that they will be useful for your 3 years in St Andrews and your 3 years at clinical partner schools. Although our list may seem lengthy and expensive, it is unlikely that you will have to buy any other essential texts while you are at St Andrews.

In making a decision to select textbooks, not only do we try to find those best suited to our course but also, if possible, the books also include access to the publisher’s on-line learning resources.


The Medical School and the University library have licensed several ebooks from different publishers (see reading list). This provides on-line access to the texts without restriction using your University user name/password combination. In addition to the core reading list which you may consider buying, there are additional texts available on-line. Though these are considered to be very useful throughout our curriculum, we do not think it is essential for you to buy these actual texts.

An important thing to note about most ebooks is that they are often not accompanied by the extra on-line resources which are available if you buy the texts and activate the access codes to the publisher’s web site.

Reading list (pdf)

Is there anything I could be reading before I come?

Students often ask us if they should read anything in preparation for Medical School. Rather than burden yourself with facts before you actually come, we suggest that students might rather read something that stimulates the mind!

Ben Goldacre’s book serves to remind us that not everything we read can be trusted. Tracy Kinder’s book reminds us about the humanity of medicine. Another book of interest is How to Succeed at Medical School: An Essential Guide to Learning.

  • Ben Goldacre:  ‘Bad Science’ (ISBN 000728487x Harper Perennial 2009)
  • Tracy Kinder: ‘Mountains beyond Mountains: One doctor’s quest to heal the world’ (ISBN-10: 1846684315 Profile Books)
  • Dason Evans / Jo Brown: ‘How to Succeed at Medical School: An Essential Guide to Learning’ (ISBN 978-1118703410)
Stethoscopes, Pocket Masks and Laboratory Coat
You will need to have your own stethoscope, pocket mask and laboratory coats for our clinical skills training.

Stethoscopes:  We currently recommend the Classic Littmann III stethoscope, which you can find at:  It is very important for your basic training that your stethoscope has both a bell and a diaphragm. The Classic Littmann Classic III is all you need; you will NOT require a specialist cardiology- or electronic stethoscope.

Where do I get a Stethoscope and Pocket Mask?

Use Google to research this. Last year the BMA ( British Medical Association) had a good offer on stethoscopes if you join.

There are a variety of suppliers and some special deals may be available after you arrive in St Andrews.

Pocket Masks: You will need a pocket mask, the clinical skills team recommends the Laerdal LD040 or LD021 masks. These can be purchased from:

Laboratory Coats: You will need a white ‘Howie’ lab coat for the Dissection Room. Although there are some available for purchase locally (from the shop in the Students Association), supplies are limited and it may be better to buy one before you come to St Andrews.

Safety Glasses: You will need your own safety glasses for dissection. There are many suitable types, some examples are:

Example of Dissecting Room lab coat and safety glasses:-

Clinical Skills Dress Code
We also require students to follow the NHS Fife Dress Code and Uniform Policy in any clinical environment, on any patient contact and within clinical skills.  This may affect the clothing you pack.  See summary as below:

  • Wear your identity badge that confirms you are a student.
  • Dress in a discreet and professional manner to convey a professional image and create and maintain public confidence. Denim jeans, short skirts or revealing tops which expose large areas of flesh are not appropriate clothing to wear.
  • Wear appropriate footwear (clean, soft soled, closed toe shoes). Trainers or excessively high heels should not be worn.
  • Tattoos that could be considered offensive should be covered where this does not compromise good clinical practice.
  • Keep hair tied back and off the collar.
  • Arms should be ‘bare below the elbow’. Long sleeves should be rolled up.  Wristwatches, fitness tracker wrist-straps and bracelets must not be worn when in clinical areas.
  • Jewellery is restricted to wearing one plain metal finger ring and one pair of plain stud earrings. Any other visible body piercings should be removed.
  • Keep finger nails short and clean. No nail varnish, false nails or nail extensions should be worn.
  • White coats, neck ties or lanyards should not be worn.
  • Pens or scissors should not be carried in outside breast pockets.
  • Store your stethoscope in a safe place such as your pocket or in your bag when moving between clinical areas or during breaks. Stethoscopes should not be worn around the neck.

For the purposes of learning clinical skills students practice non-intimate examinations on each other.  You may therefore also wish to pack some sports wear, such as shorts (+/- leggings) and a t-shirt; or an acceptable suitable equivalent.

Examples of clinical dress code are:-

Personal documents

You will need these documents when you are in St Andrews:

  • passport
  • driving license
    or an alternative formal piece of identification with your address
    (a bank statement is a good example)
  • birth certificate (not a copy)
Immunisation history
Students must research their own immunisation history to establish an immunisation record for their life to date, this probably involves a visit to their GP. Students are strongly encouraged and keep this record to prove their immunisation history through their studies and working life.

You should bring your immunisation history with you when you come to St Andrews.

There is more to read about this and related matters in the Occupational Health Questionaire and accompanying notes (see ‘Things to do before I arrive…’  on this page).


 Things to think about…

If you feel your health or a disability may impact on your studies please get in touch early.

Watching this video created by our students may help you reflect.

We want  you to achieve your full potential. If you want to explore this further contact putting “support” in the subject line.

Blood borne viruses
At the time of entry to Medical School students will be screened for tuberculosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infection and any necessary immunisations and antibody tests will be performed. All entrants are required to complete a course of immunisation against hepatitis B virus.

If you have been infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV this does not mean that you cannot train to be a doctor but it is important to consider at this stage whether or not this is the career option that you wish to pursue. Any entrant student who is found to be a carrier of hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV will require special counselling, as such a situation may place restrictions on the student’s clinical training and limit his or her medical practice following qualification. If you have had an infection of this nature and wish to discuss this further before making a decision, we would be happy to put you in touch with our Occupational Health Services who will be able to advise you of current policy.

If you are infected with any of these diseases you should consider your position carefully. If you wish to discuss this with an Occupational Health advisor, please contact the admissions team and we can arrange this for you.

Further advice can be found in the Medical Schools Council publication Medical and dental students: Health clearance for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and Tuberculosis

IT skills

During your time as a medical student you will need to be competent with the Microsoft products Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Although many of you will have been taught these skills at school there may be a number of you that would benefit from more formal training.

The University offers some IT training resources.

Any questions..?

First, please have a look at the frequently asked questions (FAQs) below …
I've got a question about IT, or computers...

It’s good that you are thinking about IT.

We’ve made a special section of Flying Start just for questions about IT.  You can find this here…

Where do I go on Monday of Orientation Week?

Where do I go on Monday of Orientation Week?

The School of Medicine orientation begins at 9.00am on Monday of Orientation week in the main Lecture Theatre on the ground floor of the Medical School building on the North Haugh.

At this introductory event, you will be welcomed by the Dean of Medicine, the Director of Teaching and 1st year Module Controllers. We will also explain all the events that are planned for Monday and the rest of Orientation Week.

The full programme can be found on this page in the medhandbook, linked under ‘Orientation Week Programme’

What about improving my study skills?

What about improving my study skills?

The University Orientation Week Programme includes courses in study skills which may help you in the transition to University. One of the great differences between school and university is that although we are committed to supporting you during your medical studies, we are unable to provide individual help on a daily basis. The School provides many resources to help you self-assess your own progress, and the University provides study skills sessions via CAPOD for those requiring additional help, but you ultimately have to take charge of your own studies. The responsibility for your success now falls on your own shoulders (this is a health warning!).

Are there any classes in Orientation Week?

Are there any classes in Orientation Week?


During Orientation Week there will be a full programme of introductory classes specifically organised by the School of Medicine for new medical students. Your attendance at these classes is essential since they will help you to find your feet in the early stages of your medical course.

The full programme can be found on this page in the medhandbook, linked under ‘Orientation Week Programme’

I still have another question…

If you have questions that are not covered in the FAQs, we’re here to help.

You can contact us by emailing the Teaching Support Office on or you can use the form below to send us your question. Either way, please do get in touch.

Please use this form to send us your questions

Enter your question



Orientation week

The University, Students’ Association, Societies and the Athletic Union organise a whole series of social and academic activities during Orientation Week. Find out more about Orientation Week at the University.

As well the University Orientation events, the School of Medicine is organising a programme specifically for new medical students to help you prepare for the beginning of your course. The full programme can be found on this page in the medhandbook, linked under ‘Orientation Week Programme’

St. Andrews Medic Freshers on Facebook

Tours of the School

Staff and students will be available to show parents and new students round the building on Sunday afternoon, meet at the front door.


Finding your way about

These should help you to find your way here, and around the Medical building: