UniGuide: Bologna Medicine and Surgery

The University of Bologna – Alma Mater Studiorum (literally “nourishing mother of studies”) is thought to be the oldest university in the world. It was founded in 1088 and focused on the teaching of law. The School of Medicine was founded around the XIV century, and it was the first to introduce the mandatory learning of anatomy. 

For more general information on the University of Bologna and the degree programmes, check this website. Check this other website for details on the School of Medicine. 

Medicine and Surgery 

The English course of Medicine and Surgery dates back to 2017. Since it is pretty recent, not all academic years are yet active, and they follow this scheme:

In the academic year 2021/22, there will be 90 spots divided as follows: 

  • 70 places for Italian citizens, EU citizens, and non-EU citizens with EU-equivalent status
  • 20 places for non-EU citizens residing abroad

Note that these numbers may vary from year to year. Make sure to check the admission webpage before enrolling. 

Location and Classrooms 

Bologna is a small city: it takes around 30 minutes to walk from one side to the other. 

Moreover, the university has classrooms all around the city. It’s like a big city campus. 

For this reason, there is no single place where lessons take place. 

Most classes of Medicine and Surgery will take place in Sant’Orsola (the main hospital of the city) or the university area (“zona universitaria” – Via Irnerio/Porta San Donato). 

Here is a list of classrooms where older students have taken lessons: 

  • Aula Murri- Via Massarenti 9 (it’s within Sant’Orsola Hospital) 
  • Aula Magna Patologia Generale – Via San Giacomo 14 
  • Aula Bigari – Via San Vitale 59 (it’s at the School of Dentistry)
  • Aula C Fisiologia – Via di Porta San Donato 2 

You can take a look at the course timetable to get a rough idea of where classrooms are located this year.  

The easiest way to move across Bologna is by bus as public transport is quite efficient and not pricy at all. University students can buy an annual pass for 180€ only. ​​Click here for more information.  

Driving a car can be quite challenging as most of the city centre cannot be accessed unless you have a special permit (which students don’t get). Parking can also give quite a headache. 

Another great option is biking. Bologna has a “bike highway” (Tangenziale delle biciclette, in Italian), an 8.4-km-long bike lane that circles the whole city. 

Clinical clerkships start in the 2nd year, and they mainly take place at Sant’Orsola Hospital. However, you might have the chance to chose clerkships at Ospedale Maggiore, Ospedale Bellaria (renowned for its Neurology departments) and Orthopaedics Rizzoli Institute (centre of excellence for orthopaedics). 

Course diagram 

The course diagram is quite peculiar and different from most English-taught medical schools in Italy. Most courses are integrated, meaning that each exam will cover different modules. 

This becomes pretty evident in the second year when instead of studying Anatomy or Physiology as whole subjects (the traditional way of studying them in Italy), you’ll be approaching them as single modules of an integrated exam regarding one system or apparatus. 

For example, the integrated course of Nervous System and Sensory Organs comprises the study of this system’s Anatomy, Physiology and Semeiotics. 

This approach is also reflected in the clinical years when you’ll study diseases from a clinical and surgical point of view, together with anatomic pathology, diagnostics and pharmacology. 

The first year 

During the first year, you’ll attend the Basic Life Support and Defibrillation course in partnership with the Italian Red Cross.

Classes usually start in October, so it is quite common to have lessons in January as well (although the exam session begins in late January). 

The schedule is quite packed. Most days, you might have classes from 9 AM to 6 PM. 

Please note that attendance is mandatory and strictly monitored (especially in the first years). You must attend at least 60% of lessons for each integrated course. If you fail to do so, you will not be allowed to sit the exam, and you’ll have to retake the classes in the following academic year. 

First semester

  • Cellular Molecular Biology and Genetics (10 CFU): it’s an oral exam with a vast syllabus. If you have a solid basis from your IMAT preparation, it is quite doable. 
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry (9 CFU): this exam is written and consists of both multiple-choice questions and practice exercises. You must practice a lot before the exam if you wish to excel. 
  • Humanities and Scientific Methods (8 CFU): this is quite an exciting course that few universities have in their course diagram. You’ll learn to use Pubmed and the basis of Scientific Research. The exam is multiple-choice questions followed by a voluntary oral exam which can help you increase (or decrease) your final score. 

Second semester

  • Medical Physics (4 CFU): written exam. It used to be quite an easy exam.
  • Morphology and Development (8 CFU): it’s an oral exam. The Lab part is a bit tricky as you are expected to recognised histology slides. 
  • Signalling Pathways in Health and Disease (14 CFU): probably one of the most challenging exams. It’s a 4-hour-long written exam that consists of multiple-choice quizzes that require an explained solution, practice exercises, fill-the-gaps texts etc. 

Note that you cannot sit 3rd-year exams if you haven’t passed all 1st-year exams. You cannot sit 4th-year exams without 2nd-year exams and so on. 

Pros and Cons 

Pros

  • More than 50% of students are international, meaning you’ll get the chance to meet people from around the world. 
  • Classes are small as compared to the Italian course or other International Med Schools. You’ll make friends quite quickly, and you’ll be able to interact with professors during lessons. 
  • Clerkships are present from the very beginning. You’ll be learning how to do blood works, sutures and RCP. It’s not much, but it allows you to take a break from books. 
  • UniBo is one of the few universities in Italy that has a dissecting room activity as part of its curriculum. 
  • The course administration is very open to discussion. All issues raised by students are listened to, and in most instances, measures are taken to meet the students’ needs.      
  • In Bologna, it’s always a good time to have an aperitivo: you’re sad? Drink on it! You’re happy? Celebrate with a drink! 

Cons 

  • Bologna is quite a small city and although there are many activities for young people you’ll not find the hectic lifestyle of a big metropolis. It might be a pro for some people! 
  • Rent is VERY expensive. 
  • Since there isn’t one single place for medical students, we rarely meet with students from other years and don’t get many chances to interact. 
  • Most professors are Italian, and sometimes their English is not exactly as British as Queen Elizabeth’s. 
  • The teaching is not always student-centred. 

Canteen and Lunch 

Students can use university canteens and catering services that have an agreement with UniBo. 

It is possible to receive a lunch voucher to cover lunch expenses when applying for a scholarship. 

Visit this page for more information and the full list of canteens and catering services. 

Libraries 

Being Bologna, a university city, it is packed with libraries and study rooms. 

Here is a list of those that belong to the School of Medicine: 

  • Biblioteca Autonoma Clinica “F. B. Bianchi” (pavilion 5, Sant’Orsola Hospital)
  • Biblioteca Biomedica Centrale
  • Sala Studio Clinica Medica (pavilion 11, Sant’Orsola Hospital)
  • Sala Studio Informatica Ginecologia (pavilion 4, Sant’Orsola Hospital)
  • Sala Studio Albertoni (pavillion 3, Sant’Orsola Hospital)
  • Sala Studio Prometeo (self-managed – pavilion 25, Sant’Orsola Hospital)
  • Sala Studio Anatomia Osteologia (Via Irnerio, 53-57)

Here you’ll find further information on UniBo’s network of studying facilities. 

Studying abroad

Medicine and Surgery students have several international exchange opportunities. 

One can choose to go abroad to study for a semester or an entire academic year with the Erasmus+ Mobility for Studies program. 

Alternatively, one can decide to do a training period abroad thanks to the Erasmus+ Mobility for Traineeship program. The exciting thing about this project is that one must find their own host institution (meaning you can go wherever you please). 

Furthermore, the School of Medicine offers study grants for international learning experiences abroad. 

There are many other opportunities, so make sure to check the course website regularly.  More information: outgoing exchange opportunities

Contacts 

FOR INFORMATION ON: Learning activities, student services.

EMAIL: medicine.surgery@unibo.it

PHONE NUMBER: +39 051 208 0883

ADDRESS: Polo Murri, 1st floor – Via Massarenti 9 – 40138 Bologna

FOR INFORMATION ON: enrolment, changes and transfers, degree certificates, diploma supplements

EMAIL: segmed@unibo.it

PHONE NUMBER: +39 051 2094601

FAX: +39 051 2086018

ADDRESS: Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi (Polo Murri) Via Massarenti, 9 | 40138 Bologna

Note that most university offices will ask you to get an appointment. Make sure to visit the contacts page of the course. 

Enrolment

When you get assigned to Bologna University, you will have 4 days to complete the enrolment procedure. 

You must go on Studenti Online and: 

  1. Apply for matriculation
  2. Pay the first instalment of your tuition fees 
  3. Follow these instructions to complete the procedure (find here detailed info for non-EU students and students with foreign qualifications). 

Transferring 

Important note: calls for transfer are published only in case one or more places are left vacant (e.g. if a student currently enrolled on the program drops out). 

This page explains very clearly the difference between Admission (IMAT) and Transfer. 

Make sure to read the transfer requirements to see if you are fit for transfer. 

Students who transfer to Bologna might get some learning activities validated based on the teaching and only if taught in English. This is at the discretion of a Transfer Committee that evaluates each individual case. 

Scholarships, study grants and accommodations 

Students can obtain economic support while studying at the University of Bologna. 

Students with low income can apply for reduced university fees or complete exemptions. 

Students with a low income and who meet academic requirements are also eligible for scholarships. Finally, students can apply for part-time jobs and tutor activities to get some extra money. 

Here is the complete list of study grants and subsidies.  

Check out the study grants and exemptions for international students

All economic interventions are managed by ER.GO, which is the Regional Authority for the Right to Higher Education in Emilia Romagna. 

ER.GO also provides housing services

Important note: the deadline for most of these services is in late August, early September. It is allowed to apply before sitting IMAT (as ridiculous as it sounds). 

Conclusion 

If you love ragù alla Bolognese and you wish to attend one of the most prestigious and ancient universities in the world, Bologna University is the choice for you! 

Good luck and see you soon!