Radiology electives

A guide to undertaking a Radiology elective or student selected component (SSC)

What is an elective?

An elective is a block of 6-10 weeks when medical students are able to undertake a placement of their choice, either in the UK or abroad. This typically occurs in the final year of medical school but may also occur in the penultimate year.

Most students choose to do a hospital-based elective as it allows them to either explore a specialty of interest or to reinforce their learning. Others may organise an elective centred around medicolegal work, journalism or research. Electives are the perfect opportunity to experience how medicine is practised abroad, while enjoying the sights and culture that the country has to offer.


Photo of sunny elective location

Electives can be a good opportunity to experience medicine in other countries or regions


Similarly, student selected components (SSC) or modules (SSM) are opportunities to explore a scientific or clinical aspect of medicine throughout medical school but are usually done locally and over a shorter period of time.



  • Explore Radiology as a career – is it suited to me or not?
  • Gain insight into being a radiologist – life as a trainee and consultant
  • Revise imaging anatomy and improve on common imaging interpretation – useful for life as a doctor
  • Learn about the ins and outs of a Radiology department – when and how to refer to Radiology as a junior doctor
  • Demonstrate interest in Radiology
  • Opportunities to network
  • Potential research opportunities



  • Take on electives/SSC that your medical school has on offer
  • Join your medical school Radiology society for contacts and/or opportunities
  • Get in touch with your local Radiology department – plenty of enthusiastic and friendly consultants out there!
  • Be inspired by previous elective/SSC experiences
  • Speak to peers or seniors from your medical school to find out tips on organising one


Helpful tips

  • Plan early!
  • Take note of deadlines for local (UK) and international applications to medical schools or hospital trusts
  • Get familiar with the process – e.g. What is required of your medical school? What visa, vaccinations and medical indemnity do I need?
  • Make a realistic budget
  • Avoid paying for anything until the necessary approval is granted from your medical school
  • Think about what you want from the elective/SSC to get the most out of it
  • If you are interested in gaining some research experience, take the initiative and express your interest to your supervisor ahead of time


CT research

You may be able to get involved in research studies


 Be inspired

  • The Electives Network (TEN)  
    TEN is an excellent resource for planning your elective as it provides a list of elective opportunities to be inspired from and has a hospital database with deadlines and application information for hospitals worldwide. You can do an advanced search for ‘Radiology’ electives.
    *A subscription is required but access is free for MDU members – MDU membership is free for UK medical students*
  • Work the World  
    Work the World offers elective opportunities in Africa, Asian and Latin-America. Their established infrastructure gives students the flexibility and choice of hospital placement, supervision, choice of departments, and detailed information is provided on all the above. Reviews from previous electives are also available.
  • RAD-AID  
    RAD-AID works in over 30 countries to improve and optimize access to medical imaging and radiology in low resource regions of the world for increasing radiology’s contribution to global public health initiatives and patient care. RAD-AID offers a global health training certificate for medical students and volunteer opportunities on their projects worldwide.
  • Twitter  
    Social media is a great way to immerse yourself in the Radiology community for free education, keeping up with the latest research and networking with radiologists, but also to see how fulfilling and exciting a career in Radiology is. All of these may inspire you with ideas for an elective/SSC and how to get the most out of it!