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Aims of the Oxford Four-Year Course

The Oxford course is unusual in placing a very strong emphasis on academic and scientific aspects of medicine. We aim to produce doctors who are broadly educated in science and clinical practice, and whose clinical practice is informed by their scientific approach to medicine.

Many of the graduates from this course will choose careers in academic medicine: that is, in posts that combine medical research with clinical practice. Not all of our graduates will pursue research interests in later life, but we hope that all will bring a scientific approach to their thinking and to their practice at the bedside.

We recognize that graduates will wish to work on their own and explore areas that particularly interest them. The course aims to develop the skills that graduates have acquired in their first degree: there will be very little didactic lecturing, and plenty of time for private study and discussion of topics additional to core material. Exploration and appraisal of clinical and scientific literature, and its application to clinical practice, will feature strongly in both teaching and assessment.

Special Features of the Course

  • The course has a strong academic bias, in both science and clinical training.
  • Scientific, social and practical aspects of medicine are tightly integrated in the teaching on the course.
  • Most of the basic teaching is based on discussion of clinical cases or research problems, or examination of primary literature in clinical medicine or laboratory science; there is very little lecture-type teaching, and students are expected to be able to cover the basic ground by themselves.
  • Most teaching takes place in small groups; students are expected to prepare work in advance and to take an active part in the discussions.
  • In addition to the small-group teaching on the course, the college system provides weekly teaching from a personal tutor, at least in the early years: college tutors also provide strong pastoral support throughout the course.
  • Clinical teaching in the first year is shared equally between hospitals and general practice, providing students with experience across a wide area of medicine from the outset.

This may be the right course for you, if you are academically strong, are interested in the scientific basis of medical practice, and have the self-discipline to plan your studies in such a way as to be able to cover a large and intensive syllabus by yourself. If you fit this description, you will gain a great deal from Oxford's very strong academic and clinical teaching.