Student in lecture hall

Keep up to date with the School of Medicine's MBBS curriculum review

Ways to get involved

  • Send an email directly using the 'Contribute to the review' button below
  • Come along to an open town hall event, hear an update and discuss your ideas with the panel
  • For any specific feedback or suggestions, get in touch with a Thematic Review Group Chair using the details on this page
Contribute to the reviewDownload the August 2017 Review Update Download the September-October 2017 Review Update

An Introduction from Dr Joanne Harris, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Medicine and Chair of the Curriculum Review project

In response to an ever-changing landscape for medical education, Imperial College School of Medicine is undertaking a major curriculum review covering all aspects of our undergraduate medical programme.

The School's six-year course is heavily science-focused in the early years (1&2), followed by three clinical years, during which the majority of teaching is delivered in hospitals. Clinical teaching is interspersed with a return to science in the BSc year in Year 4.  We are proud of our focus on the scientific underpinning of medicine; however, over twenty years the curriculum has remained broadly the same.

New drivers for change have emerged for medical education in the UK. The NHS is facing unprecedented pressure and is seeking to train more doctors to work as generalists in community settings. Developments in technology put more knowledge than ever at our fingertips, and we are now educating students who are used to accessing information at the touch of a button. Technology has also given rise to innovative teaching approaches and different modalities of delivering curricula. 

Significant change is also expected in the way that doctors are licensed in the UK. A Medical Licensing Assessment (MLA) has been proposed by the GMC, which we expect to be introduced in or near to 2022.

We therefore anticipate that we will need to make structural changes to our course to better prepare our students, and have launched this exciting project to ensure we are equipping our students with everything they need to be at the forefront of their fields, whether they choose a medical or scientific career.

This page will be updated with news, and the ways you can get involved are listed on the right. We are always keen to hear from you and hope that you'll stay up to date with our progress and contribute along the way.

Dr Joanne Harris

More information

News and updates

September & October 2017

The review has been moving on apace over the last month. Dr Chris John’s (Systems – Early Years TRG Chair) trip to take part in a six-day training course with Carl Wieman at Stanford University, as part of a wider group from Imperial College London and the Education Development Unit, was a success. The training was used for supporting and recognising ‘Departmental Educational Specialists’.

He has shared some of his experience with us below:

“One of the key aims for the group was to consider how this course might be used to inform the College-wide curriculum review process. Our recommendation was that a similar course (or courses) may be a starting point for those actively engaged in curriculum review and design aligned with the College’s Learning and Teaching Strategy.

The course provided numerous examples of good teaching practice that could be incorporated into course redesign.  However, those involved with the curriculum review at a more strategic level would normally need to have a more substantial educational understanding and /or qualification (e.g. the MEd) to allow greater influence on the implementation and development of the learning and teaching strategy.  The group also provided recommendations for how a two-stage curriculum review process could be implemented across College.

In addition, I visited the University of Bristol to discuss how they have implemented a new Medicine curriculum. The curriculum review at Bristol was a two-year, heavily project-managed process. The initial stages involved the development of clear methodology for the review process, followed by an analysis of the current curriculum, looking at strengths and weaknesses. A ‘Babies and Bathwater’ document was produced, to suggest what should be kept in place and what could be replaced. Staff engagement was maintained with regular feedback sessions throughout.There were numerous away days where key stakeholders came together to discuss and develop the process. A variety of groups were formulated, initially focused on strategy and eventually focused on implementation. The new curriculum, to be introduced this October, utilised a case-based approach with reduced content, refocused on key medical issues that the majority of doctors will come across in their careers. A lighter-touch assessment regime will also be implemented, although regular tests will be utilised to allow students to monitor their own progress.”

Closer to home, Professor Steve Gentleman (Anatomy, Pathology and Radiology TRG Chair), Professor Ceri Davies (Professor of Anatomy in the Department of Surgery Cancer) and Gideon Shimshon (Director of Digital Learning & Innovation) visited Leiden University to discuss opportunities for use of digital technology in the teaching of anatomy, and Steve shared the following update:

“The trip to Leiden University was both fruitful and engaging. Aiming to rethink anatomy education using technology, we agreed that the best approach was to bring academics, IT and educational design professionals together to produce novel learning experiences for students to broaden and enhance their education experience. As part of this, we discussed shared online anatomy tools, practical dissection videos and tutorials,  a new endoscopic dissection approach and the potential for augmented reality approaches. We will continue to think of new ways to collaborate, and plan to organise a Learning Experience Design workshop in London. We aim to have another meeting at Leiden to include a wider range of Imperial staff in the discussion of new teaching approaches, and to examine the infrastructure required to enable more staff to create digital learning materials and media in their curriculum.”

The School was also pleased to receive a visit from Dr Richard Schwartzstein, Director of the Harvard Medical School Academy, who spent two days teaching our students, workshopping with staff, holding teaching and digital education forums, as well as giving an open lecture called ‘Pathways: Creating a ‘Thinking Curriculum’ for 21st Century Doctors’. The lecture discussed the thinking behind Harvard’s innovative medical curriculum, and covered the ‘flipped classroom’ method, as well as research Dr Schwartzstein himself had conducted into the ways students learn best.

August 2017

This month has seen progress in the early stages of the Curriculum Review. After the Steering Group heard initial staff and student views at a first round of open ‘Town Hall’ discussions, the newly-established Thematic Review Groups (TRG) got straight to work and have been interviewing key people in their respective fields. Chris John (Systems – Early Years TRG Chair) and Julia Hillier (Clinical Programme – Years 1-4 TRG Chair) presented the Curriculum Review project at the annual Early Years meeting to begin more detailed discussion of the first two years of the course.

The Steering Group and TRGs have begun to consider how the Curriculum Review, and the curriculum it develops, can link to both the College’s digital strategy and the new Learning and Teaching Strategy. Jo Harris presented the project to a broad selection of the main digital stakeholders from the Faculty of Medicine, as well as some more central College figures, to start to examine how best the review can harness new technologies to support and expand the Medicine curriculum.

Some of the TRG chairs will be travelling abroad to universities to learn about innovative teaching methods. Chris John and a group of Imperial representatives are to meet Carl Wieman at Stanford University, while Steve Gentleman (Anatomy, Pathology and Radiology TRG Chair) will visit Leiden University to discuss teaching anatomy digitally.

Finally, the Review has begun to expand its work with the Students’ Union to ensure the student voice is heard at all stages of the project, and that students are represented on every TRG.

We’ll continue to update this page with news about the Review’s progress, so please bookmark this page and check it regularly. We’ll announce dates of future Town Hall events and any other discussion and feedback opportunities in the near future, but in the meantime, keep sending in any comments and ideas you have to the Review team via the button on the right-hand side of this page, or directly to the address.

Review governance

A Curriculum Review Steering Group will be convened to define the review’s priorities. The Steering Group will form part of a project board, chaired by Dr Jo Harris, Deputy Head of the School & Director of Curriculum and Assessment. Its work will be overseen by the School of Medicine Board. A number of thematic working groups have also been convened to work on specific areas of the review, and the details of the Chairs of each group are available below. These working groups will consult widely within our medicine community, seeking advice from students, staff and educational experts.

The Curriculum Review Steering Group are:

  • Dr Joanne Harris, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Medicine (Chair)
  • Mr Martin Lupton, Associate Dean and Head of Undergraduate Medicine
  • Professor Mary Morrell, Head of Years 1 & 2
  • Mr Chris Harris, Head of Programme Management

The Curriculum Review Project Board are:

  • Dr Joanne Harris, Deputy Head of Undergraduate Medicine
  • Mr Martin Lupton, Associate Dean and Head of Undergraduate Medicine
  • Professor Mary Morrell, Head of Years 1 & 2
  • Professor Margaret Callan, Director of Admissions
  • Professor Alison McGregor, Director of Undergraduate Science
  • Dr Sonia Kumar, Director of Undergraduate Primary Care Education
  • Dr Amir Sam, Head of Curriculum and Assessment Development
  • Dr Julia Kelly, Teaching Fellow
  • Ms Susan English, Director of Education Management
  • Mr Chris Harris, Head of Programme Management
  • Mrs Rebekah Fletcher, Head of School Secretariat
  • Mr Rhys Smith, ICSMSU President

The Thematic Review Group Chairs are:

Outline of project milestones

July 2017 – Review begins. Working groups will be formed, and begin work 

Academic Year 2017-18, 2018-19 – Detailed work on curriculum content undertaken and approved

Academic Year 2019-20 – New curriculum begins roll-out