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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Widening participation to medicine

BSMS > About BSMS > Information for schools, teachers and parents > Widening participation to medicine

Widening participation to medicine

Greater diversity within the medical profession is a goal that benefits us all. BSMS is committed to seeking out talented people who have the potential to become tomorrow’s doctors but who may not have considered it as a possibility, thus enabling medicine to better reflect the patient population. 

For details of all BSMS Widening Participation Initiatives, please select the relevant section on the left side menu.  

BrightMed students in scrubs


Years 9-11 - BrightMed

BrightMed encourages students in state schools, within Sussex, to make an application during the spring term of each academic year. 

We make these young people aware of potential careers in medicine, the study that’s involved and what they need to do academically to realise their potential and make the right choices early on.

We help build their confidence and develop vital skills through engaging teaching and projects, enabling them to submit strong applications to medical schools throughout the UK. Providing advice, hands-on experience and practical exercises allow participants to make informed decisions concerning their future education. It's an approach that has already had great success. As an example, of the 35 participants in the 2018 Year 12 cohort, 14 applied to medicine with them all receiving one or more interviews, with 11 receiving offers to study medicine.

Schools will be invited to nominate pupils from their gifted and talented cohorts who have expressed an interest in studying medicine or who excel at science and wish to explore a potential avenue for their talents. 

If your school has not provided you with information on BrightMed, feel free to make an application by reading the information below and completing an application form when they open.

BrightMed aims to recruit 80 Year 8 students each year, starting the programme at the begining of Year 9. BrightMed is a rolling structured four-year programme which culminates in a week-long residential at the end of Year 12. Ongoing support is offered to students through Year 13 should participants wish to engage. Students selected will need to meet at least two of the below criteria. Priority will be given to those who fulfil more of the criteria.

Almost all of the young people we work with have no family background of higher education.

Students that are part of the BrightMed programme may be eligible for a Guaranteed interview with BSMS.

Students need to:

  • Meet the academic criteria required: 
    − Taking the BMAT admission test in the year of application
    − Accepted Level 3 qualifications include: 
    ♣ Predicted and/or achieved AAB in 3 A-levels including Biology and Chemistry OR
    ♣ Predicted and/or achieved AA in Biology and Chemistry A-level plus a Distinction in a Level 3 BTEC National Extended Certificate
    ♣ Predicted and/or achieved 35 points in the International Baccalaureate IB including higher level Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at grade 5 and the other at grade 6. 
    − GCSE requirements:
    ♣ Predicted and/or achieved at least at grade 5 in English (literature or language) and a grade 5 in Mathematics
  • Have 75% attendance at BrightMed  in year 11 and year 12
  • Have attended a BSMS student society conference
  • Attend the year 12 BrightMed Residential
  • Submit their E-portfolio bringing together required evidence that is explain to participants taking part in BrightMed. Portfolios have to be submitted by 15th October to be considered

Participants will be eligible to submit only once for a guaranteed interview and must submit within 18 months following completion of the BrightMed residential.
Please note you are eligible to apply to the BrightMed programme if you are currently in Year 8, 9, 10 or 11.  


BrightMed applications will re-open on 1 April 2020.

If you would like to register your interest, please complete the short form below below and we can send you an email reminder when they open.

Register your interest in BrightMed >

"Throughout the duration of this course, I have received an insight of the medical profession; it has guided my career choice and given me a wider platform of thought. My favourite experience has been diagnostics and learning about the cardiovascular system. BrightMed offers ways of learning that school doesn’t and, arguably, I much prefer how we are taught there. A lot of help is offered in terms of future planning and where to go and what to do after high school. This includes searching what universities look for in terms of A levels, which has helped me enormously. Overall, I’ve had a really good, positive experience at BrightMed and I don’t regret joining at all."

Ella – BrightMed participant 

BrightMed plastic heart


BrightIdeas is a research project, for Year 12 Students, that seeks to combine scientific literature with patient insight.

Supported by a current medical student as an E-mentor, students interested in studying medicine and enrolled on the BrightIdeas project will:

  • Choose a medical condition of interest
  • Research the science behind the condition
  • Explore the social implications and social stigmas of the condition via discussions with patients, or anyone who has cared for patients with the condition
  • Report their findings via an essay, video, podcast, blog etc 
  • Share their reports via a presentation or uploading online to educate local communities at a 4-day Summer Residential event, funded by the Medical Schools Council, at Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • Reflect on their experiences.

For this academic year, BrightIdeas will be running for students who meet the following criteria.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the programme the students should live and/or go to school in one of the following areas; Medway, Thanet or Sevenoaks (Kent & Medway programme) or in Hastings (Hastings programme)

In addition to this students, must be:  

  • In, or been in local authority care (1)

Or hold a minimum of two of the following:

  • Studying in a school that achieved below the national average Attainment 8 score at GCSE or had attended to the age of 16 
  • From a school with a high percentage of students receiving free school meals
  • Living in a geographical area with low levels of progression onto higher education (2)
  • Are a young carer (3)
  • From a family where the parents do not have a university degree from the UK or abroad
  • In receipt of or eligible for free school meals or the 16-19 Bursary Fund or Discretionary Learner Support or Means Tested Benefit
  • Be estranged from parents or guardians and/or be an asylum seeker or refugee.

(1) Experience of local authority care is defined as being looked after by a local authority, foster parents/other family members, at home with their parents under the supervision of social services, in a residential children’s home or in another residential setting such as school or secure unit, or someone who has experienced a period of three months in the care of the local authority within the last ten years.

(2) This is available at  For POLAR students from quintile 1 and 2 will automatically meet this criterion.

(3) Young carers are defined as under the age of 18 who help look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol. There is no time limit on the amount of care they provide for their dependents, this is just above and beyond what is normally expected.

For further information on the project, watch our video below and have a look at the information leaflets.





To make an application, please follow the appropriate link below



If you have any questions about BrightIdeas, please contact Charlotte Smyrk via

Our awards

The BrightMed initiative has been nominated for and won numerous awards since its inception: 

  • 2019 – WINNER: University of Sussex Education Awards – Better World Award. Read more >
  • 2019 – WINNER: National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Widening Access Initiative (Outreach) Award. Read more >
  • 2018 – WINNER: NEON Student of the Year Award – Jack Whiting, BSMS Medical Student & Outreach Teaching Mentor. Read more >
  • 2018 – Commendation: NEON Contribution to Widening Access Award – Darren Beaney, Head of Admissions. Read more >
  • 2014 to Present – Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance – Widening Participation lead – Darren Beaney, Head of Admissions
  • 2014 – Medical Schools Council Selecting for Excellence Outreach Guidance – example of best practice
  • 2012 – Social Mobility Commission, Fair Access to the Professions report – example of best practice

Data protection policy

Download our Widening Participation and Outreach Data Protection policy.

Download here >