Clare College Cambridge

Studying Medicine at Clare


Course Outline – Standard Course (A100)

At Cambridge, you study the medical sciences first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student.

The first three years (pre-clinical studies) involve lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and supervisions, with typically 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week. The emphasis during the clinical studies (Years 4, 5 and 6) is on learning in clinical settings: at the bedside, in outpatient clinics and in GP surgeries, which is supported by seminars, tutorials and discussion groups.

Assessment, both formative and summative, plays a significant role throughout. Your ongoing progress is reviewed weekly and termly by your College supervisors. Formal assessment, which determines your ability to proceed with the course, includes written and practical examinations, coursework submission and clinical assessments.

Successful completion of the first three years leads to a BA degree and on successful completion of the clinical studies in Cambridge you are awarded two degrees, the Bachelor of Medicine and the Bachelor of Surgery (MB, BChir).

Years 1, 2 and 3 (pre-clinical studies)

Years 1 and 2

In Years 1 and 2, you study the medically-relevant core scientific knowledge and skills needed as a medical professional.

Surrounded by some of the world's best academic biomedical scientists, we provide you with the scientific basis that will allow you to develop your medical career to the full, whether your aim is to deliver outstanding patient care or whether you wish to contribute to clinical academic medicine, combining research and teaching with clinical duties to push forward the boundaries of health care.

The main areas of learning are covered by courses in:

  • Functional Architecture of the Body – involves examining and dissecting the human body, and includes living anatomy, and the use of modern imaging techniques

  • Homeostasis – covers  the physiological systems that underpin the body's regulation of its internal environment and its responses to external threats. You also have related practical classes in experimental physiology and histology (the microscopic structure of tissues)

  • Molecules in Medical Science – examines the chemical and molecular basis of how cells and organisms work

  • Biology of Disease – deals with the nature and mechanisms of disease processes

  • Mechanisms of Drug Action – provides an understanding of the basic mechanisms of drug action at the levels of both drug-receptor interactions and the effects on body systems

  • Neurobiology and Human Behaviour – covering the structure and function of the sense organs and central nervous system, the effects of drugs on brain function, and various psychological aspects

  • Human Reproduction – looking at the biology of the human reproductive system, its social context, and its influence on demographic trends

    The clinical strand of Years 1 and 2 involves:

  • Introduction to the Scientific Basis of Medicine – covers epidemiology and how it is applied in medicine

  • Social and Ethical Context of Health and Illness – an introduction to the broader cultural aspects of healthcare and the medical profession in Britain, working with patients and colleagues, both in hospital and in the community

  • Preparing for Patients –involves meeting patients in general practice (Year 1), in a hospital setting (Year 2), and through visiting community-based health-related agencies (Years 2 and 3)

Read more about Years 1 and 2 on the Faculty of Biology website.

Year 3

You specialise in one of a wide range of other subjects offered by the University (sometimes known elsewhere as intercalation) to qualify for the BA degree. Options include:

You will continue Preparing for Patients in Year 3, visiting community-based, health-related agencies.

Years 4, 5 and 6 (clinical studies)

Clinical studies are based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals). As well as being a tertiary hospital with an international reputation for medical excellence, the Biomedical Campus is the site of several major research institutions. As a student, you normally spend at least half of your time on clinical placements in other regional NHS hospitals throughout the East of England and in general practices in Cambridge and the surrounding region.

Throughout your clinical studies, you build on your biomedical science education; developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to practise clinical medicine. Following an introductory course, each of the three years has its own focus – core clinical practice (Year 4), specialist clinical practice (Year 5) and applied clinical practice (Year 6) – and is built around several major themes, including:

  • communication skills, patient investigation and practical procedures

  • therapeutics and patient management

  • core science, pathology and clinical problems

  • evaluation and research

  • professionalism and patient safety

  • Improving Health

During clinical studies, you have weekly small-group clinical supervisions with junior doctors to develop and monitor your clinical skills.

For further information about the clinical course and about studying Medicine at the University of Cambridge, see the School of Clinical Medicine website.