Teaching and Learning
Oxford offers a broad range of scientific and clinical expertise. Teaching is provided by world-class scientists and clinicians; and the busy district hospitals in Oxford and in neighbouring towns guarantee you a very wide range of clinical experience. Teaching sessions throughout the course are based on discussion of clinical or research problems, not on repetition of textbook material: you will be expected to contribute actively, to present some topics to your colleagues and to take a role in leading some seminars and workshops.
The medical science teaching is based largely around problem-oriented seminars. You will be asked to prepare topics in advance of each segment of teaching; the teaching sessions themselves will then be interactive discussions with specialist tutors, centred on clinical cases or clinical research problems. There is very little lecture-based teaching, and you must therefore be ready to cover most of the basic ground by yourself, with guidance from tutors. It will be assumed that you do not need to be led through basic textbook accounts of core material, though there is plenty of tutorial support for students in difficulties.
Science teaching takes place in the University or in the Oxford hospitals, and most is confined to morning sessions: the rest of the day is available for private study and for college tutorials. It is expected that you will wish to pursue areas of particular academic interest on your own, and the curriculum is designed to leave plenty of time for you to follow your own studies.
Clinical teaching takes place on the wards, in outpatient clinics, and in general practices, usually in small groups (typically one or two students in a clinic or in a GP surgery; four to six students at a bedside teaching session on the wards). During most clinical attachments, you will be allocated a personal tutor, who will be responsible for overseeing your progress during your time on the firm, and for helping you with any specific difficulties you may have. Clinical teaching is delivered by junior doctors as well as by consultants and GPs, to give you a broad spread of tuition. As with the science, though, you will be expected to work for much of the time by yourself, and to ensure that you spend enough time seeing patients to gain adequate clinical experience. There will be no shortage of patients who will be glad to talk to you; it is your responsibility to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities that they afford you.
College tutorials are provided for medical science teaching and for some clinical teaching in the first two years of the course, and during some attachments later in the course also. These sessions are a special strength of Oxford: teaching will usually be in groups of two or three students, and tutors will monitor their students' progress closely throughout the course. Usually you will see the same tutor (or tutors, in colleges where teaching is shared between two or three) every week or two for much of the first two years; this allows your college tutor to provide very strong academic and clinical support where necessary.
Many graduate students are keen to teach, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Specifically, the course includes an optional module in Medical Education, and students from this module are encouraged to teach students who are just starting on the course. The feedback from first-year students who have experienced tutorials from final-years has been very postive, and the senior students also enjoy and learn from the experience.