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Undergraduate elective placements are an important part of the medical school curriculum. They involve a period of four to twelve weeks, occurring in the UK or abroad, during which students can see how some of their learning is applied in real situations. It also provides the opportunity to develop new skills, increase awareness of social and cultural issues, and be exposed to different healthcare settings. The elective period has a strong focus on independent learning.   

Considerations around electives periods include risk-assessment, learning objectives and ethical issues. Ensuring that the placement is beneficial to both the student and the host is a complex task, and while medical schools each deal with their unique elective programmes, the often international nature of electives means that coordination is important.

Electives Committee

The Electives Committee provides a forum for medical schools to share experience and best practice in undergraduate medical electives, both in and outside of the UK. It enables medical schools to identify issues that would be most effectively addressed by a collective approach.

Areas of work include: 

  • Developing national recommendations for good electives
  • Risk management issues, including the provision of guidance to medical schools on disaster and disease outbreaks
  • Consideration of the regulator’s global health objectives
  • Indemnity policy and advice
  • Matters related to incoming elective visitors
  • Preparatory materials covering ethical issues


The Electives Committee meets three times a year, which includes holding an annual conference. Its membership consists of all 32 Medical Schools Council members which offer undergraduate medical elective programmes. The medical schools are represented on the committee by their elective leads. Representatives from the student charity Medsin, as well as elective administrative staff, are also invited to meetings.

The current chair of the Electives Committee is Dr Bal Bajaj, elective lead of Swansea Medical School.

Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives: a UK consensus statement

In November 2017, the Electives Committee published Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives: a UK consensus statement in the Medical Education Journal. The aim of the publication  is to share experiences and good practice within UK medical schools, and inform and inspire others involved with similar programmes across the globe. The paper can be accessed here

Annual conference

The Electives Committee holds a conference every year. This year the conference theme was 'Electives - value for money, values for life' and was held on Friday 23 November.

The conference invites elective leads and coordinators from across the country, students who have completed or will complete an elective, and representatives from charitable and national bodies to discuss experiences and share best practice. The day involves guest speakers, presentations from members of the committee, a student poster forum and workshops. 

Useful links

Pre-Departure Training (PDT) toolkit from the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA)