MRCS - a guide for overseas surgeons

  • April 13, 2020

Here we take a close look at the MRCS exam for overseas surgeons looking to register with the GMC and find a job in the NHS. 

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) from any country in the world can sit the MRCS examinations, provided certain eligibility criteria are met.

These are summarised below along with a broad look at the following topics:

The UK Royal Colleges of Surgery:

There are four Royal Colleges of Surgeons in the UK (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).

All four of these colleges are professional bodies responsible for the specialty of surgery throughout the UK. Amongst many other duties, it is their role to set and monitor the educational curriculum for those training to enter the profession.

What is MRCS?

The Intercollegiate Membership exam of the Royal College of Surgeons tests the knowledge, experience and clinical competence expected of a doctor at the end of their core surgical training (ST2 level) and can be taken through any of the Royal Colleges mentioned above.

The MRCS examination syllabus and the format & content of this examination are common to all four colleges (Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).

Candidates can enter any part of the examination through any college, but may enter with only one college at each sitting. Completion of MRCS will allow you to work in the UK from ST3 level upward (ST3+), with seniority beyond ST3 level dependent on experience.

Upon successful completion of all parts of the examination, candidates will be elected as members of the college for which they have passed Part B of the exam.  MRCS is one of two routes an overseas doctor can take full GMC registration (postgraduate qualification or PLAB route). 

For doctors who wish to take more senior roles reflective of their current practice, IMG Connect advise that MRCS would be the best route to take and full MRCS is a pre-requisite for anyone looking to go onto a specialist training post as a surgeon in the UK.

What is the structure and content?

The MRCS exam is split into two parts:

  • MRCS Part A – written examination 
  • MRCS Part B – Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

Am I eligible? 

Part A:

To be eligible you must hold a Primary Medical Qualification (PMQ) that is recognised by the GMC for registration purposes.

Part B OSCE:

You must pass Part A before applying for Part B.  You can attempt Part A of the exam six times, and Part B four times.  

MRCS Part A - Written Examination:

The content is designed to test your knowledge of both applied basic science and the principles of surgery in general to a level of a UK trainee with two to three years of postgraduate experience.

Part A of the Intercollegiate MRCS is a five-hour multiple choice question exam with two papers sat in one day.  The questions are in single best answer format. The morning paper is 3 hours long and the afternoon paper is 2 hours long.


The OSCE is set in a practical setting and tests your ability to integrate knowledge and experience in the following two areas:

  • Knowledge - Your understanding of anatomy, surgical pathology, applied surgical science & critical care
  • Skills – your application of clinical, procedural and communication skills in a practical setting.

The OSCE consists of 18 examined stations, each 9 minutes in duration, broadly divided into the two components above – knowledge and skills.  Each station reflects elements of day-to-day clinical practice.

The knowledge component makes up eight of the stations. The skills component makes up ten of the stations. Candidates must pass both the knowledge and skills components to pass Part B.

How much will the exams cost me?

Part A of the Intercollegiate MRCS is £539 in the UK

Overseas centres will cost upwards of £539 and can include a local administration fee.

Part B of the Intercollegiate MRCS is £977.

Please note, fees can vary dependent on location. 

As an overseas doctor, where can I take the exams?

Part A & B of the exams can be taken in several countries across the world, with locations in the UK, Africa, Asia, Middle East, Central Asia and Europe. 

Should you require a visa in order to sit your examinations, the College will provide support letters after the closing date and when an application has been checked and the candidate is eligible. Requests for a Visa support letter must be made in writing.  

The full list of countries is below: 



Country – Asia

Country – Middle East, Europe & Central Asia


MRCS Part 1 & 2 (OSCE)


















Hong Kong

South Korea




Sierra Leone




Sri Lanka


















Saudi Arabia








United Arab Emirates



























How can I prepare and what resources are available? 

With lots of resources available online, we have discussed with IMGs the best place to start looking for materials relating to the exams. Most IMGs recommended starting with the Royal College, who have created useful resources to help you to prepare for the exams. See below: 


The complete MRCS syllabus is contained within the General Medical Council approved curriculum for the Early Years of Surgical Training in the United Kingdom. It reflects the Core Surgical Training Syllabus of the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Programme

At IMG Connect we recommend getting to know the curriculum as early as possible and using it as a road map for your study plan. 

Module Guidance:

Parts A&B both examine 10 modules and the specification for each module is detailed in the Guide to the Intercollegiate MRCS examination - published by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Royal College of England recommended courses:

Royal College of Surgeons of England

Part A guidance notes:

Candidate guidance notes that cover all four colleges, including information on examination procedure, admittance.

Content Guide:

The Intercollegiate Committee for Basic Surgical Examinations (ICBSE) produced this guide to the Intercollegiate MRCS examination which contains:

  • List of recommended textbooks and resources
  • Topics and skills that may be examined
  • Information and sample questions for both Part A & B

Intercollegiate MRCS Regulations:

Make sure to read through and familiarise yourself with the regulations for Membership Examinations. They are unilateral across all four colleges, you can find them here.

RCS Library resources:

The RCS Library contains excellent resources particularly useful for the MRCS examinations – they are available to affiliate members. Resources include Atlases, EBooks & Online Journals. 

The Funky Professor:

These anatomy video lectures are available from the RCS. Each video is accompanied with a detailed slideshow, plus a test on content. 

As ever at IMG Connect, we stronlgy believe in the right preparation. In order to succeed in the clinical exam, IMGs have told us that it is vital that you practice your clinical examinations as frequently as possible, preferably under the supervision of a senior colleague. This will give you confidence in approaching and examining with examiners present.

Passed? What next?

Once you have passed both parts of your MRCS examinations you can apply for a full registration with a license to practice. Once the GMC have approved your application, you can work as a doctor in the UK. 

IMG Jobs 

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Read more useful articles on finding an NHS trust doctor job, pay scales & doctor’s salary in the UK, relocation and much more!  

Get in Touch

Don’t hesitate to get in touch using the buttons above (and below) to discuss doctor job options in the NHS, including discussions regarding CESR, a typical doctor salary in the UK and the most suitable NHS jobs & hospital locations for you.



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An excellent opportunity for an experienced Consultant in Urology to join a Health Board in North Wales that promotes equality and diversity. If you love a challenge, have a passion to help others or simple fancy a fresh start, then this Health Board has all the ingredients. The post if suitable for overseas consultants, including candidates who are pursuing CESR. Specialists in Urology holding a specialist certification would be suitable for this post, based on experience entering at either Specialty Doctor or Consultant grade. 

Overseas applications from experienced Specialty Doctors and Consultants are welcomed. 


The Health Board is largest health organisation in Wales, that are developing an integrated health service which provides excellent care delivered in partnership with the public and other statutory and third sector organisations.

The Health Board have a budget of £1.3 billion and a workforce of over 17,000 staff. Providing primary, community, mental health and acute hospital services for the population of around 700,000 across of North Wales. They continuously develop their workforce so that it has the right skills and operates in a research-rich learning culture.

Besides their three main hospital sites, they are also responsible for community hospitals, health centres, clinics, mental health units, community teams, GP practices and other NHS services provided by dentists, opticians and pharmacists. They plan to improve the health of the population, with particular focus upon the most vulnerable in our society.


The department currently have three full-time urological surgeons, a Locum Consultant along with 5 middle grade registrar level training including 1 SpR from the Mersey Deanery training programme. There are two SHO level staff and one FY1 and FY2. The Department has recently undergone a refurbishment, to provide day-case urology and therapeutic services to include TRUS-Guided prostate biopsy lists, an endoscopy suite, dedicated lithotripsy sessions and specialist out-patient clinics. The department has inpatient beds based on the 3rd floor within the Surgical Department. Paediatric beds are also available on the main hospital site.

The department uses one of the two dedicated purpose built modern integrated laparoscopic surgery theatres for its heavy laparoscopic workload. Currently, major laparoscopic Nephrectomies and prostatectomies are performed in this OR. A 12 bedded Intensive Care/High Dependency Unit is located on the first floor of the hospital. There are excellent pathology facilities, including a Public Health Laboratory. The Radiology Department offers a full range of facilities, including CT, MRI and fully functional intervention radiology service.

The post holder will provide elective and emergency inpatient services, along with other members of the department. The post holder will also participate actively in the Department’s Clinical Audit Programme and Continuing Professional Development, which is fully supported by the Health Board.


North Wales has a vast national park, purpose built mountain biking trails, a breath taking coastal path, soaring zip wire, food festivals and world class sport and adventure around every corner. The North Wales is equipped with sport and leisure centres that provide opportunities for a wide variety of sporting, fitness and recreational activities. Not only does it have lots of activities for you, it also has a wide selection of private housing is available, both traditional and modern in towns, villages and rural settings.

For doctors with family, the educational standards are consistently high in both the primary and secondary sectors. There are several well established independent schools within North Wales and the surrounding area that cater for both day pupils and boarders. The regional University with its excellent scholastic reputation has a thriving student community. You can say goodbye to heavy inner city commuter traffic, and enjoy a breath-taking commute across North Wales.


With an extremely active education/teaching programme supported by the consultant team, there is opportunity to work towards and complete CESR, exams, get involved in active research and many aspects of CPD. Participation in research and educational activities will be encouraged.


EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Urology 
  • Board Certified Specialist in Urology 

Non-EEA Candidates:

  • Experience of working in Urology 

UK based applicants

  • Experience of working in Urology 
  • Within 6 - 12 months of completing CCT

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