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Exams, research and academia

This page provides information on the MRCOG exams as well as an overview of research and academic training in O&G.


As global leaders in medical education, we offer all women’s healthcare professionals the chance to develop and validate their capabilities with our exams and qualifications. The RCOG’s membership exam (MRCOG) is internationally recognised as the gold standard qualification in O&G. This three part assessment is intended for those who wish to specialise in O&G. Whilst you do not need to be in the UK training programme to undertake the MRCOG, passing the RCOG membership exam is a requirement of the specialty training programme.

If you’re successfully appointed to specialty training in O&G, you’ll be required to pass the Part 1 MRCOG within the first 2 years of training. Some doctors find it beneficial to undertake this study early in their careers, e.g., during foundation training. However, you must ensure this doesn’t detract from completion of foundation training and developing an excellent foundation portfolio.

If you’re considering sitting the Part 1 MRCOG during foundation training, please note that the exam has recently become more clinically focused, so lack of clinical experience in managing problems on the ward would be a disadvantage.


Research is the basis on which modern medicine is practised. New developments in our understanding of disease processes and their treatment rely on both basic science and clinical research. Many doctors in training spend a period of 1–3 years in a research post which can be done at any stage of training. You can undertake research in a laboratory setting or as part of a clinical research team. Universities advertise research posts in BMJ Careers.

Although research isn’t an essential part of training in order to obtain a consultant post, many doctors in training find that their experience of research gives them excellent insight into the use of statistics and other research methodologies, and an understanding of how science influences clinical practice. For many, a research project can be the impetus to proceed down a particular training pathway and to develop an area of particular interest as a consultant.

The Royal College of Physicians has produced a research engagement toolkit, which provides advice on how to get involved in research at any stage in your career.

Academic training in O&G

Academic training in O&G is essential for the future development of the specialty. Academic departments of O&G operate within the teaching hospitals framework, may be independent or integrated into larger units, but all work closely with their NHS counterparts.

Career paths in academic medicine have been redefined to enable access to academic training at all postgraduate levels. There are a number of academic foundation year posts, which provide interested doctors with a taste of academia. There are also dedicated academic training programmes that enable academic training to run alongside clinical training.

To progress to a senior position in an academic department as an O&G consultant, you’ll need to follow an academic clinical career path involving a period of research training leading to publications and a higher degree such as a PhD or MD. Find out more about academic training in O&G.

The RCOG actively supports the development of academic O&G. Find out more about the College’s work in academic O&G.