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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Course structure

BSMS > Undergraduate > Our course > Course structure

Course structure

How is the course organised?

Years 1 – 2

Your academic and clinical studies will primarily be based at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex Falmer campuses, using purpose-built teaching facilities including a modern anatomy laboratory, small and large group teaching spaces, clinical science laboratories and IT resource suites.

The academic year

The academic year is organised into three terms of approximately 10 weeks each. About 25% of your learning at this stage will be clinically based and will include gaining experience in hospitals and primary and community care.

Developing clinical skills from day one

You will carry out two individual family studies - in year 1 with a family looking after a new baby, and in years 2 and 3, by carrying out a longitudinal clerkship following a patient with dementia and their family.

You will start to develop clinical skills in history taking, physical examination, diagnosis and effective communication with patients in a classroom setting. At the same time, you will study the normal and abnormal functioning of the human body using a system-based approach.

You will complete a series of integrated modules, which cover the core biomedical and psychosocial sciences that every doctor must know, together with Student-Selected Components (SSCs) that allow you to undertake individual studies and explore selected topics in depth, informed by the latest research.

students ophthalmology

Weekly clinical symposia, focussing on specific medical problems or diseases, emphasise the importance of problem solving and the integration of clinical and scientific information from different disciplines. There is an emphasis throughout on small group teaching, in addition to core lectures and symposia, with most year 1 and 2 classes in small groups.

Please note that BSMS does not offer medical elective placements directly.  If you are looking for a clinical placement, please contact the HR department at our local NHS trust >

Where will I study?

In the first two years, your academic and clinical studies will be based primarily at both Brighton and Sussex university campuses at Falmer.


Year 1 

Written assessments 14%
Coursework assessments 57%
Practical assessments 29%

Year 2

Written assessments 20%
Coursework assessments 40%
Practical assessments 40% 

Years 3 – 4 

The academic year

The teaching year is extended to about 45 weeks, with short breaks at Christmas and Easter and a longer break in the summer.

Year 3

Year 3 starts with a six-week course introducing you to clinical medicine as it is practised in secondary care. Then, at the heart of Year 3, there are four eight-week, ward-based attachments in the teaching hospitals of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. These attachments are in Medicine, Surgery, and Elderly Medicine and Psychiatry.

Weekly teaching sessions on the scientific basis of medicine throughout Year 3 provide an opportunity for you to build on the core knowledge gained in Years 1 and 2. You will learn about cutting-edge developments in areas such as genetics, immunology, infectious diseases and therapeutics. You will be supported by a clinical academic tutor for Years 3 to 5.

You will also extend your experience through several short attachments in specialist areas selected from a range of options. You can choose to deepen your understanding in specific areas already covered in your main attachments, or to broaden it to include topics such as complementary medicine or humanities. Recent options have included genetic blood disorders, how to investigate patients with infection, doctor-patient communication and the neuropsychology of ecstasy. Your selections may also include research internships.


microscope smiling student

You will maintain an individual e-portfolio that is similar to the one you will use as a junior doctor , which help you reflect on how your personal strengths are developing along with your clinical skills and experience.


Written assessments 14%
Coursework assessments 33%
Practical assessments 33% 


The intercalated degree is an optional addition to a medical degree. Subject to performance, you may be offered the opportunity to undertake an intercalated BSc or MSc degree, between Years 3 and 4.

Read More about intercalation >

Year 4

During this year you will also undertake a rotation of clinical placements in the specialist subjects of General Practice; Musculoskeletal Medicine and Surgery; Ophthalmology and ENT; Infectious Diseases, HIV / GUM and Health Protection; Dermatology; Oncology, Haematology and Palliative Care; Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Neurology and Neurosurgery; and Paediatrics. There will also be a year-long module dedicated to General Practice, Global Health and Public Health Medicine.

The clinical focus in Year 4 is on understanding patients' integrated care and how primary, community and secondary care structures work together for the patient. A major component of the year is an individual, in-depth research study. You will join a BSMS, University of Brighton or University of Sussex research team with whom you will undertake a personal research project throughout the year on a topic of your choice.


Written exam assessment percentage: 12%
Practical exam assessment percentage: 44%
Coursework assessment percentage: 44%

Where will I study?

You will be based at the Audrey Emerton Building, the Education Centre at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. The centre provides comprehensive learning facilities, including a fully stocked medical library, computer suites, a clinical skills training area, teaching rooms for large and small group study and a top floor restaurant with panoramic sea views.

You will undertake a variety of clinical placements, mainly at the Royal Sussex, County Hospital but extending into other NHS hospital trusts and primary care settings

Year 5

The academic year

The year begins with a series of placements lasting 24 weeks, in Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Elderly Medicine, Surgery, General Practice and Psychiatry. This is followed by a period of guided revision leading to the Finals examinations in March.

After Finals, you will undertake a four-week clinical elective period to experience healthcare in another environment in the UK or abroad. You will then undergo a Preparation for Practice module that will build on all you have done in the previous years so you are well prepared for life as a foundation doctor.

You will take part in a seminar programme and a range of mini conferences, which cover topics such as NHS structure, patient safety, leadership skills and advanced communication and ethical skills.

In Years 4 and 5 your learning will be supported by the online learning tool CAPSULE, a custom-built website and app. CAPSULE provides you with 670 clinical case studies and more than 350 questions mapped to the medical curriculum. After completing a case, you will be provided with instant feedback to maximise your learning.

At the start of Year 5 you will also apply for your Foundation Year training posts, and later in the year take the national Situational Judgement Test and Prescribing Safesty Assessment.

Read more about academic training >

Where will I study?

Year 5 provides intense clinical and professional preparation for your first year in practice after qualification. You will spend 24 weeks undertaking clinical attachments in three different regional locations which include: 


Written assessments 9%
Coursework assessments 18% 
Practical assessments 73% 

Preparing for Foundation Year training

A series of presentations will be given in Years 4 and 5 to help you prepare for the application process and your Foundation training.

Although the first year of registration can be taken anywhere in the country, many BSMS graduates choose to stay in the Brighton or Sussex area where they can take advantage of the postgraduate training and support offered by the medical school.

BSMS and Kent, Surrey, and Sussex Deanery (KSS) jointly oversee the Academic Training Programme. The programme is aimed at doctors who are considering an academic career in medicine.

Course overview

UG course overview 2019

(1) OSCE: Objective Structured Clinical Examination
KT: Knowledge Test
(2) P4P: Preparation for Practice

Please note: the curriculum outline for 2020 has not yet been finalised and may be subject to change. 

Please note that BSMS does not offer medical elective placements directly.  If you are looking for a clinical placement please contact the HR department at our local NHS trust >


GMC registration

Postgraduate foundation training and beyond

At the end of the undergraduate course you will receive your BM BS degree, which is a primary medical qualification (PMQ). Holding a PMQ entitles you to provisional registration with the General Medical Council (GMC), subject only to its acceptance that there are no Fitness to Practise concerns that need consideration. Provisional registration is time limited to a maximum of three years and 30 days (1,125 days in total). After this time period your provisional registration will normally expire.

Provisionally registered doctors can only practise in approved Foundation Year 1 posts: the law does not allow provisionally registered doctors to undertake any other type of work. To obtain a Foundation Year 1 post you will need to apply during the final year of your undergraduate course through the UK Foundation Programme Office selection scheme, which allocates these posts to graduates on a competitive basis.

All suitably qualified UK graduates have found a place on the Foundation Year 1 programme, but this cannot be guaranteed, for instance if there were to be an increased number of competitive applications. 

Successful completion of the Foundation Year 1 programme is normally achieved within 12 months and is marked by the award of a Certificate of Experience. You will then be eligible to apply for full registration with the GMC. You need full registration with a licence to practise for unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or private practice in the UK.

Although this information is currently correct, please be aware that regulations in this area may change from time to time.

There is some discussion about whether to remove provisional registration for newly qualified doctors. If this happens then UK graduates will receive full registration as soon as they have successfully completed a PMQ. It should be noted that it is very likely that UK graduates will still need to apply for a training programme similar to the current Foundation Programmeand that places on this programme may not be guaranteed for every UK graduate.

Read more about provisional and full registration on the GMC website >


Medical Licensing Assessment

The General Medical Council (GMC) has decided to introduce a Medical Licensing Assessment – the MLA – from 2022 to demonstrate that those who obtain registration with a licence to practise medicine in the UK meet a common threshold for safe practice. Applicants should be aware that to obtain registration with a licence to practise, medical students will need to pass both parts of the MLA, pass university finals and demonstrate their fitness to practise.

The MLA will be in two parts: there will be a knowledge test, which will be set and run by the GMC, and an assessment, delivered by medical schools, that will evaluate students’ clinical and professional skills.