Your preliminary year is coordinated by the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. You will study in a university environment alongside students who will progress to degrees in various science disciplines. All preliminary year medical students will take core chemistry and biosciences modules, plus an Introduction to Medical Sciences module that will introduce you to the world of Medicine. You will also be required to take mathematics modules if you do not have this subject at A level. These modules will ensure that you can join Year 1 on an equal footing with other medical students. You will also have some optional choices and you can choose from a range of science, language, and humanities modules. You can also join in many of the activities run by medical student societies.
Following satisfactory completion of the preliminary year, you will enter Year 1 of the integrated programme.
Your course is divided into three distinct phases. During Phase 1 (Years 1 and 2) you will learn the core science and clinical practice. In Phase 2 (Years 3 and 4) you learn to care through integrated clinical experience. During Phase 3 (your final year) you will be learning from and at work, consolidating your preparation for practice.
The undergraduate medicine course at Cardiff University is a Non-Modular Course so is impossible to compartmentalise your learning. The idea of C21 is to build and gain new knowledge and ideas by expanding and developing what you already know. A spiral curriculum means you revisit aspects of learning, deepening your understanding.
The primary mode of delivery in Year 1 and 2 will be via Case Based Learning, where you are supported in small groups by a trained facilitator. You will learn basic and clinical science via the theme of the ‘Chronological Life Course’. Each unit of study will consist of a series of patient cases, typically lasting about two weeks.
In your Years 3 and 4 you will apply and build upon earlier learning through increased clinical time in hospitals and GP surgeries throughout Wales. Your learning will be centred around the patient experience as you follow patients along the care pathway, from community settings into hospital care and back into the community on placements. Clinical placement learning will be complemented with time in Cardiff, where you will revisit core scientific principles and build upon these, but with an increased emphasis on the patho-physiology, diagnostic methods, management and treatment of common diseases.
By your Year 5 you will be ready to take a more active role within clinical teams. The emphasis is on consolidating knowledge and skills to prepare you for work as a doctor in the NHS, ensuring your smooth transition from student to Foundation Doctor.
Core learning is supplemented by a series of Student Selected Components (SSCs) in all years of the programme, allowing you to choose projects from a list of available options or to develop your own project. SSCs provide the stimulus and the opportunity for you, under appropriate guidance and direction, to acquire knowledge through a process of exploration and your own intellectual efforts.
SSCs complement core MBBCh teaching, allowing you to study areas of particular interest, introducing research skills and encouraging analytical and critical thought from your first year. You are encouraged to develop skills and knowledge in a variety of medical and scientific specialties, including those outside the realm of traditional medicine. In your final year, you will have an opportunity to go on an elective and visit medical settings almost anywhere in the UK or internationally. These options enable you to pursue an aspect of medicine of particular interest to you.
Between Years 3 and 4, and 4 and 5, Cardiff University offers a number of intercalated degree opportunities in health-related disciplines such as Anatomy, Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Pathology, Clinical Epidemiology, Emergency, Pre-hospital and Intercalated Care (EPIC), Medical Education, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Physiotherapy and Psychology & Medicine. There are also agreements with other Higher Education Institutes within Wales for medical students to gain a bachelor degree in one year, in subjects such as sports science. This intercalated degree provides students with interest in a research or academic career the chance to pursue an area of medicine in depth and further develop your research skills.
The modules shown reflect the existing curriculum and may be reviewed prior to the start of your academic year.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2018/19 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2018.
The preliminary year is co-ordinated by the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. During this preliminary year you study twelve modules alongside students from other science disciplines. The combination of modules depends on your prior qualifications, but usually includes biological and chemical sciences, mathematics and optional modules such as psychology and languages.
The programme initially focuses on building a platform for integrated clinical sciences. During the first semester of Year 1 you are introduced to the core knowledge, skills and behaviour expected of a doctor.
- Your introduction runs for the first 12 weeks, covering the basics of anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, cell and molecular biology, immunology, microbiology and pathology.
- You will develop the fundamental communication, clinical skills and professionalism required of a doctor.
The remainder of Year 1 is based on a series of clinical scenarios linking the basic sciences to common clinical conditions, such as musculoskeletal injuries, heart disease, diabetes and gastrointestinal problems.
- You will learn to address medical problems from first principles, and develop scientific reasoning skills;
- Small group sessions will be supported by lectures and seminars, access to life science and clinical skills resources;
- You will spend a day most weeks seeing patients in local hospitals, general practices and other community based services around South East Wales;
- Initially you will concentrate on normal structure and function but, as cases progress, you will move on to more complex clinical presentations focusing on abnormal structure and function.
Teaching will be based at our state-of-the-art facilities in the Cochrane building, a flagship development on the site of University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, and at the School of Biosciences. You will also rotate through regional clinical teaching and learning centres in Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, and Newport.
During Year 2 your learning continues to be based on common clinical scenarios and during Year 2 you will study 11 cases. Each case lasting two weeks. Some of the core science learning highlights of Year 2 include:
1. Community Based Learning
The Community Clinical Learning programme builds on the Case Based Learning. The importance of seeing a patient in his/her community is again emphasised and you will be based in a different hub from Year 1. Each placement will involve task-oriented learning, so that you collect a portfolio of clinical learning experience. This will help you link ‘real people’ to both the case you are studying and to more long-term learning such as professional attitudes, understanding health service delivery and leadership. One of the highlights of the community clinical learning programme in Year 2 is our Rural Health Day. This allows you to learn about the challenges of healthcare delivery in a rural setting, comparing it to services available in urban areas. You will learn, from doctors and paramedics, how to respond in an emergency by taking part in a simulated rural traffic accident.
2. The Student Selected Components (SSC) Programme
The SSC programme in Year 2 consists of four distinct learning opportunities:
A. Experience projects
The two experience projects expose you to a wide range of settings and topics and you will have opportunities to develop research skills at a more advanced level. Importantly there are projects that will facilitate study beyond the boundaries of traditional medicine, and these include placements in social work, complementary medicine and the Professions Allied to Medicine.
B. Journalistic article
The journalistic article will enable you to demonstrate the critical academic skills of literature searching and appraisal of complex scientific evidence-based material and the subsequent uncomplicated coherent and concise communication thereof. It will also challenge you to convey your journalistic message in an entertaining yet thought provoking manner.
C. A unique Year 2/Year 5 C21 Conference
The conference includes plenary sessions, with invited keynote speakers covering a range of themes around thriving & surviving in medical school and medical ethics.
Year 5 students will facilitate and share their experiences of Intercalating, Erasmus and clinical placements in Phase 2.
In small groups, Year 2 students will prepare poster presentations based on their first SSC experience project. Year 5 students “judge” the posters and give feedback to academics.
This SSC will enable you to gain experience of attending and presenting at a scientific/medical conference and provide a significant opportunity for interaction with older peers as they embark on the next stage of their academic and clinical careers.
In Year 3 you learn the principles of integrated clinical care, to learn about clinical method and diagnostic reasoning and relate this to the underpinning scientific principles of medicine.
The year is divided into five main sets of learning opportunities:
- Three clinical placements across Welsh hospitals, with bookend weeks at the Heath Park Campus in Cardiff;
- Applied Clinical Sciences taught all year in Cardiff;
- All year 'Student Selected Component' - an opportunity to go beyond core learning and study a subject in which you have a particular interest.
During Year 3 you will spend most of your time on clinical placements, learning medicine by following patients through the healthcare system. We expect you to make the patients the focus of your learning by witnessing the patient journey through the health care system. This will provide you with an insight into the patient experience of both illnesses and the health care system and learn about the fundamentals of excellent clinical care.
You should embrace all clinical opportunities offered, so that you can:
- Become proficient in performing clinical assessments;
- Formulate differential diagnosis;
- Describe and explain the principles of investigations;
- Describe and explain the management and treatment of common diseases.
Year 4 follows a similar pattern to Year 3, but your time will be concentrated on increasingly specialist cases. You will continue to practise the core skills learnt in Year 3 but apply this in different clinical settings.
The year is divided into multiple, separate learning opportunities:
- Specialist clinical placements across Wales, with bookend weeks at Heath Park Campus in Cardiff;
- An eight week ‘Student Selected Component’ – an opportunity to go beyond core learning and study a subject which you have a particular interest.
1a. Women, Children and Family
The overall aim of this placement is to enable you to acquire skills relevant to women and children, to make a clinical assessment of a problem, and develop a plan of care in its widest sense. You will spend time with obstetricians and paediatricians throughout Wales and have the opportunity to witness firsthand the importance of multi-disciplinary working in both community and secondary care settings. The patient should remain the focus of the learning and there will be opportunities to interact with women, children and parents who are accessing the health care system.
1b. Clinical Neuroscience, Psychiatry and Ophthalmology
This attachment utilises the expertise of one of the four Research Institutes in the School of Medicine. You will experience more specialist practice during the clinical neuroscience attachment but will see how an excellent grounding in generic skills facilitates clinical and diagnostic reasoning. These are essential skills for all good doctors to develop and perfect. You will also have excellent opportunities to see patients with psychiatric illnesses and come to appreciate the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in our population. You will learn about primary psychiatric disorders but will also see how mental health problems can influence how patients present with and manage other illnesses.
The ophthalmology teaching will be a dedicated week spent at Cardiff. During your one week placement in ophthalmology, you will be provided with opportunities to broaden your understanding of ophthalmological pathology, examination skills and management as well as highlighting the support requirements for visually impaired patients.
1c. Chronic Disease 2 - Geriatrics, Musculoskeletal Disease and Dermatology
We have an increasingly ageing population and a significant burden of chronic diseases in our population. These are priority areas to address for the current NHS and you need to understand the challenges posed by these illnesses. This placement builds on the principles of chronic disease management introduced in Year 3 but with particular emphasis on the elderly person and individuals with musculoskeletal and skin diseases.
Optional ERASMUS exchange
During year four, students with language skills will have the opportunity to apply for the ERASMUS exchange scheme. Successful students can choose to study the women, children and family placement at one of our partner medical schools in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy.
Our unique Harmonisation Programme brings together all elements of the course, blending existing knowledge and skills with those required by the Foundation Programme to prepare you for life after graduation.
- Your integration within clinical teams and responsibility for patient care increases through the final year of study, with the intention of preparing you for your role as a doctor working within the NHS, and ready for your postgraduate studies;
- You will focus on the assessment and management of acute and chronic clinical presentations, with increasing responsibility throughout the year;
- There will be two eight week clinical placements, one hospital based and the other community (general practice) based. You will be expected to contribute to patient care under supervision;
- Learning will be predominantly based in the workplace, with sessions in the simulation centre and small group sessions designed to refine clinical thinking and decision-making;
- These placements will be followed by an eight week student elective at a destination of your choice, anywhere in the world, to study aspects of medicine that capture your imagination;
- Four core learning blocks of two weeks will address important aspects of a medical career. These Cardiff-based activities, themed "Preparing for Practice", "Changing Practice", "Science in Practice" and "Practise for Practice," offer an understanding of what to expect when you start work. They include team-working, leadership, service improvement, academic research skills, and life as a Foundation doctor;
- The Harmonisation Programme will culminate in the seven week senior student assistantship. This allows you to really work as part of the clinical team by directly managing patients under the supervision of hospital teams. It takes place in the hospital where you undertake your first foundation job, if it is in Wales. If it is elsewhere, you can choose to arrange a senior student assistantship at that hospital yourself, or have us organise your senior student assistantship for you in Wales.
The final year ensures you are ready for your career in medicine, consolidating the skills and knowledge required to perform at the highest level within the NHS.
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.