A Closer Look

The first year

The first year of the course builds on your science background to cover most of the basic science that is needed for medicine, and essential clinical skills such as taking a clinical history and performing a basic physical examination. The aims of this year are for you to cover the core of medical science and clinical skills in which all medical students must be competent, to understand the application of science to clinical practice, and to gain experience in applying science and clinical skills to the process of diagnostic problem-solving.

The second year

The second year builds on the basic science and clinical skills of the first year and leads to periods of more intensive clinical practice. By the end of this year, you should be able to recognize common disease patterns in medicine and surgery and be capable of reaching a diagnosis of the commoner illnesses. You should also be able to plan first-line clinical investigations. A nine-week clinical pathology ("Laboratory Medicine") block is interspersed with the clinical attachments. The science teaching continues throughout the year, oriented more directly towards clinical practice. You will be expected to review clinical trials and clinical research reports, and to appraise the application of such reports to clinical practice.

The third year

For the final two years you will be fully integrated into the main stream of the standard clinical course. The third year consists of a series of attachments to clinical specialties such as orthopaedics, paediatrics and psychiatry. The aim of this year is to provide an overview of the major specialties within medicine, to allow you to recognize common complaints and to develop an understanding of when it is appropriate to refer a patient for specialist treatment. You can read more about this year of study on the clinical course pages of the Study Medicine website.

The fourth year

The final year of the course is designed to prepare you for life after qualification, with teaching specifically aimed at practical matters of diagnosis and management. During the year there are also opportunities for special study, with blocks set aside for you to pursue areas of particular academic interest (normally this takes place within Oxford), and a ten-week elective period, which most students choose to take overseas. The final examination is in February of the final year, allowing several months before the formal end of the course for you to concentrate on preparing for practice in your Foundation Years. You can read more about this year of study on the clinical course pages of the Study Medicine website.