Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) is an intercollegiate exam for surgical trainees who wish to become a member of one of the four surgical royal colleges in the UK and Ireland.

Award of this postgraduate diploma indicates that you have the necessary knowledge, experience and clinical competence to complete core training and progress to specialty training.


The MRCS exam is comprised of two parts:

Part A: a written paper using multiple choice questions (MCQ)

Part B: an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE)

The complete MRCS syllabus is contained within the General Medical Council (GMC)-approved curriculum for the Early Years of Surgical Training in the United Kingdom and reflects the Core Surgical Training Syllabus of the Intercollegiate Surgical Curriculum Project. The curriculum is competence based, requiring the trainee to demonstrate both applied and theoretical knowledge and practical skills, together with the professional behaviours described in the Good Medical Practice document of the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom.

The MRCS examination is an integral part of this Early Years training programme and is a requirement for progression to higher surgical training in the United Kingdom together with a satisfactory progression of training evaluated using the workplace based assessments in the trainee’s Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP). A central aim of the MRCS examination is to test aspiring surgeons over a broad range of surgical conditions and not just the area of surgery they hope to train in.

ICBSE believes that many aspects of the different surgical specialties require the same core areas of applied basic knowledge and skills and that these are essential both for successful higher training and to achieve a surgeon’s full clinical and academic potential.

This guide has been produced in order to indicate to candidates and their tutors the extent and level of knowledge that is required to pass the MRCS examination. Each examination will contain a range of questions that cover a representative sample of the syllabus but not every topic will be tested on each occasion.



The purpose of core training (CT1–CT2), and early years training in the run-through specialities (ST1– ST2), is to provide trainee surgeons with the essential knowledge and skills common to all surgical specialties. During the early years of training some additional specialty-specific experience and skills will inevitably be obtained. However, the MRCS examination will only test knowledge at the level expected of all trainees completing core training irrespective of their chosen specialty.

The syllabus is divided into 10 modules:

Module 1 Basic science knowledge relevant to surgical practice

Module 2 Common surgical conditions

Module 3 Basic surgical skills

Module 4 The assessment and management of the surgical patient

Module 5 Perioperative care of the surgical patient

Module 6 Assessment and early treatment of the patient with trauma

Module 7 Surgical care of the paediatric patient

Module 8 Management of the dying patien

Module 9 Organ and tissue transplantation

Module 10 Professional behaviour and leadership skills