Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

B.Sc. (Hons) Medical Sciences

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: School of Biomedical Sciences
Programme accredited by: N/A
Final award: B.S.c. (Hons)
Programme title: Medical Sciences
UCAS code: B100
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): Biomedical Science
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: Professor Alison Douglas
Date of production/revision: 26 April 2012

External summary

Medical Sciences is a multidisciplinary degree programme that provides opportunities to investigate the biomedical sciences, medical sociology and medical ethics that underpin and direct advances in 21st century medical practice. A flexible structure and a wide degree of student course choice allows the Medical Sciences programme to provide the knowledge, skills and personal and professional development appropriate to meet the needs of a future career in one of the many healthcare and healthcare-related professions. A unique programme identity is provided by programme-specific courses in the biomedical, physico-chemical and clinical sciences. In addition, close links with the Biological Sciences programme provide opportunities to explore biomedical disciplines in a spectrum of optional courses including physiology, pharmacology, neuroscience, immunology, reproductive biology, medical microbiology, and developmental biology. Medical Sciences is founded on developing skills in academic research and scientific enquiry thereby encouraging awareness and understanding of the research that is needed to continue to advance clinical practice. Alongside a depth of knowledge in Medical Sciences, graduates will have developed a breadth of skills and experience, including interpersonal skills, critical judgement and computer literacy.

The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh has a long established reputation for excellence in medical and biomedical research and teaching. Academic staff, involved in cutting-edge biomedical research programmes rated as internationally-excellent or world class, perpetuate this legacy. These staff bring a breadth and depth of research-based knowledge and expertise to their Medical Sciences teaching and supervision, providing an outstanding student learning environment that fosters individual intellectual development.

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims to equip its’ graduates with attributes that will prepare them for employment in a wide range of healthcare and healthcare-related professions. These include;

  • Discipline-specific knowledge and understanding, including awareness of emerging medical issues and unsolved questions.
  • Research skills, both experimental and literature-based, including understanding of good laboratory practice and health and safety policies.
  • Research-based practice including the design and execution of experimental investigation.
  • An awareness of key issues that impact on health and healthcare provision.
  • A range of generic skills including communication, critical analysis, management and IT.
  • Personal and intellectual skills that give an adaptable and effective approach to study, work and social activities.

The development of each student as a medical scientist and as an individual is fostered through; the provision of courses that deliver specific medical sciences knowledge and its’ underlying scientific principles; opportunities to develop learning skills that encourage an analytical and interpretative approach to problem solving; skills related to the design and execution of laboratory-based experimental investigation; understanding of the research methodologies that govern the quantification, analysis and interpretation of scientific data.

On graduation the student will have acquired a level of understanding of the Medical Sciences that will enable them to contribute to, and guide, public debate on issues that affect healthcare for present and future generations.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

The programme provides, in the early years, a broad-based knowledge and understanding of the range of Medical Sciences, thereby, establishing a solid foundation for progressive discipline specialisation in subsequent years. In each year compulsory, core courses, some unique to the programme, facilitate the development of knowledge and understanding in a wide range of medical and biomedical disciplines. In years 1 and 2 of the programme courses introduce all the major aspects of Medical Sciences, including relevant chemical, mathematical and physical principles. The second year, in particular, develops knowledge and learning in the Medical Sciences disciplines of human anatomy, immunology, infectious diseases, microbiology, neuroscience, pathology, physiology, and pharmacology.

The Honours years of the programme provide expert specialised knowledge in Medical Sciences that enables students to understand current research and to discuss critically its significance and implications. Junior Honours core courses cover aspects of social medicine including several health and society issues related to healthcare careers, from the understanding of disease at a population level, its impact on individuals and society, prevention of disease and promotion of good health, to the allocation and use of healthcare resources, ethical issues in medicine, health needs for older people, population health and health sciences, health and illness behaviour. In addition, more detailed knowledge in new areas is developed including haematology, clinical biochemistry, oncology, endocrinology, reproduction, regenerative medicine, pathology/forensic medicine, clinical pharmacology, clinical immunology, infectious diseases and control of infection, and environmental and public health.

More importantly, in all years, most courses are designed specifically around the research interests of the academic staff thereby introducing some of the major biomedical and biological issues and controversies of the day.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

The Medical Sciences programme has at its core the importance of research to the advancement of medicine.  Students will engage in developing research skills from the earliest stages of their studies by embarking on group and individual work that requires investigation of the scientific literature and acquisition of practical skills and methodologies. These will be obtained through tutorial, laboratory and project-based courses. Students will be provided with guidance on the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and the design of scientifically valid experiments that form the basis of programmes of research.  Students will be instructed in the skills required to acquire, analyse and interpret scientific data, including the importance of accurate observation and an appropriate level of numerical and statistical competence.  Students will be enabled to develop insight into the evaluation of scientific evidence and its use in the testing of hypotheses and the construction of alternative arguments that might support or contradict particular points of view. Students will also have experience in the written and presentational skills required to communicate and exchange research-based ideas with scientific colleagues and with the wider public.

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

Individual students are encouraged to develop skills in critical thinking that lie at the core of personal and intellectual autonomy. The Medical Sciences programme, with its programme specific courses in each year, allows students to build on their existing knowledge and use it to plan their future study opportunities and ultimately focus towards career pathways for professional development.

Students are instructed in the skills that allow the work of others to be accurately and concisely summarised and abstracted.

Independent thinking and the ability to draw together novel but relevant information from a wide range of sources and synthesise coherent conclusions is encouraged through a variety of formats including essay writing, peer and tutor-led discussion groups and the creation of academic portfolios.

Intellectual and scientific curiosity is fostered through interactions with research active academic staff.

Students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning and developing skills and this is supported by a personal electronic portfolio on the Medical Sciences programme virtual learning environment.  Ultimately, Medical Sciences graduates should have the skills to reflect on and apply scientific knowledge in order to improve the quality of life and to create wealth

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

The ability to communicate freely and understandably with a range of audiences is essential for the modern Medical Scientist. The degree programme allows development in the different forms of communication at all stages and academic levels of the programme.

Students are practised in the creation of coherent written, electronic and oral communications based on independently accumulated information. The acquisition of these skills is spread over a range of different courses and is, therefore, not discipline-specific making them widely transferrable.

Students are provided with opportunities to develop discussive/argument- based skills by using previous knowledge and applying it to unfamiliar scenarios in tutor and peer-led discussions.

Group discussions develop skills in listening and arguing specific points. Collaborative skills are also encouraged in group work contexts. Time-management on an individual and a collaborative scale is dictated by balancing workloads across courses in relation to submission deadlines.   

From a healthcare perspective, a number of additional interpersonal, interview, and observational skills are addressed through interactions with members of the public and other healthcare professionals in a dedicated Health, Illness and Society course. There is also an important focus on developing awareness of healthcare-specific professional and ethical relationships that exist in this field

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

Personal development arises as a consequence of interactions with other students, staff and the students’ academic advisors.

Through engaging with the programme of work within the degree programme students adapt to organising their own learning, managing their workload to fit to a defined academic timetable.

From an early stage, the concurrent demands of different components of the programme encourage the development of effective planning.

Personal confidence and its development are fostered through the presentation of academic and research studies and the formative feedback provided on these activities. Self-confidence is also engendered through interactions with academic advisors (course organisers, honours programme organiser) that might review academic progress

The ability to work in large or small groups and the collaborative skills required when working with unfamiliar colleagues is a feature of group work in some of the larger courses in earlier years.

Ultimately the ability to work independently and sustainably is a core skill that all students aspire to achieve.

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

A broad range of technical / practical skills are acquired in all years of the programme through laboratory practicals within individual courses.  Specific anatomical, pathological and biochemical laboratory skills relevant to medical diagnosis and research are incorporated into dedicated core courses within the programme. In the final year a 12 week Honours project delivers research specific technical skills alongside the development of analytical and intellectual skills essential for effective research.

Students have the option to take a theoretical course Practical Skills in the Biomedical Sciences that provides an understanding of the scientific approach to investigation, how scientific questions can be tackled, the planning and the analysis of experiments. Quantitative and statistical skills are taught at all levels and all courses include evaluation and problem solving components related to biomedical techniques.  Many of the communication and analytical skills learnt from such technical work are integral to the graduate attributes listed in the sections on intellectual autonomy, communication and personal effectiveness.  Work in laboratories is usually in pairs or larger groups requiring cooperation and joint input. Work in Honours projects involves both individual responsibilities and responsibilities related to working as part of a larger group.  Over the degree programme, as part of the core components of study, students gain the following skills/experience:

  • design and rationale of scientific experiments
  • use of bioinformatic and other software tools
  • use of graphics and data analysis software
  • detailed anatomical knowledge
  • competence in generic laboratory skills (pipetting/weighing/solution preparation, handling of biological materials, safety procedures )
  • measurement of biological parameters e.g. DNA, proteins, enzyme activity
  • preparation of laboratory reports
Out with these common skills, specific skill sets of individual students will depend on the elective courses undertaken and the nature of the specific Honours project and can vary widely. However all Medical Sciences students should receive training such that their technical skills are exportable and useful in comparable laboratories

Programme structure and features

Courses and Progression

Students take courses totalling 120 credit points in each year of the programme.  The programme is full-time for 4 years, except where direct entry into 2nd year has been permitted.

Medical Sciences (BSc Hons) Courses and Progression.

Year 1 - Starting month: September

Notes:

Before selecting your course options, please ensure you have met your Director of Studies.

Progression to Year 2 requires at least 80 credits be gained by the end of the second assessment diet.

COMPULSORY COURSES  (All courses SCQF level 8)

Medical Sciences 1
20CP
Molecules, Genes and Cells 1
20CP
Medical Biology 1
20CP

Select exactly 20 credits from the following list of courses, during Semester 1.

Biological Chemistry 1A  
20CP
Introductory Chemistry for Biologists
20CP

Notes: Exceptionally, with the permission of the Programme Organiser, the courses Introductory Chemistry for Biologists and Biological Chemistry 1A may be replaced by any other course at level 7/8 chosen from Schedules A-Q/T.

Select exactly 20 credits course level 08, during Semester 2

Biological Chemistry 1B                                  20CP

Notes: Exceptionally, with the permission of the Programme Organiser, the course Biological Chemistry 1B may be replaced by any other course at level 7/8 chosen from Schedules A-Q/T.

Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 1

Year 2 - Starting month: August

Notes:

1. Before selecting your course options, please ensure you have met your Director of Studies. 2. A booklet giving details of course options, including recommendations and restrictions, will be available for students on the degree programme to facilitate advance planning. 3. Progression to Honours (Year 3) requires marks of 50% or above in at least two of Anatomy and Pathology 2, Microorganisms, Cells and Immunity 2, Neuroscience with Pharmacology 2 and Physiology 2, at the first examination diet AND passes in all four of these core second year courses with an average mark of at least 50% by the end of the August (second sitting) exam diet OR permission of the Head of School.

COMPULSORY COURSES (All SCQF Level 8)                         

Anatomy and Pathology 2
20CP
Physiology 2
20CP
Microorganisms, Cells and Immunity 2
20CP
Neuroscience with Pharmacology 2
20CP

Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 1

Select exactly 20 credits from Level 7 and 8 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 2

Year 3 - Starting month: September

Notes: 1. Before selecting your course options, please ensure you have met your Director of Studies. 2. A booklet giving details of course options, including recommendations and restrictions, will be available for students on the degree programme to facilitate advance planning.

3. Progression to year 4 requires minimum of 320 credit points including passes in all core Medical Sciences courses and aggregate mark of at least 40% over six SCQF level 9 courses at the first sitting. (Up to 40 CP can be awarded by “aggregation” for failed level 9 courses).

4. All year 3 courses are at SCQF level 9.

COMPULSORY COURSES

Health, Illness and Society 3 
20CP
Clinical Biochemistry and Endocrinology 3
20CP
Clinical Immunology & Haematology 3A
20CP

Select exactly 60 credits from these collections:

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 60 credits from Level 9 courses in Schedules K and T below, as available

Pharmacology 3  
20CP
Physiology 3  
20CP
Reproductive Biology 3  
20CP
Brain & Behaviour 3  
20CP
Mechanisms of Brain Development 3  
20CP
Medical Microbiology 3  
20CP
Practical Skills in the Biomedical Sciences 3  
20CP
Molecular Genetics 3  
20CP
Molecular Microbiology 3  
20CP
Biotechnology 3  
20CP
Developmental Biology 3    
20CP
Molecular Cell Biology 3  
20CP

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 40 credits from Level 9 and 10 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, as available.

Year 4 - Starting month: September

Notes: 1. Before selecting your course options, please ensure you have met your Director of Studies. 2. A booklet, "Senior Honours Guide", giving details of course options, including recommendations and restrictions, will be available for students on the degree programme to facilitate advance planning. 3. Course options in List 1 in the Senior Honours Guide are STRONGLY recommended for this programme. Course options in List 2 in the Senior Honours Guide are recommended for this programme.

4. To graduate with an Honours degree in Medical Sciences, students must obtain a minimum of 80 CP at SCQF level 10 or 11 in the final year, have an aggregate mark of more than 40% over 120 CP worth of courses at SCQF level 10 or 11in the final year and at the first assessment sitting and meet all progression requirements in previous years.

COMPULSORY COURSES (All SCQF level 10)

Medical Sciences 4  
20CP
Medical Sciences Project Preview Dissertation  
10CP
Medical Sciences Project  
40CP
Medical Sciences Academic Portfolio  
10CP

Select exactly 40 credits from these collections:

Select a minimum of 20 credits and maximum of 40 credits from the following list of courses (All SCQF level 10),

Animal Models of Human Diseases
10CP
Biomedical Ethics
10CP
Cancer Biology: From Bench to Bedside
10CP
Forensic Investigation
10CP
Health Promotion
10CP
Immunotherapy
10CP
Inflammation
10CP
Ion channels and electrical signalling in the brain: power cuts and disease
10CP
Ion channels in health and disease 
10CP
Making Sense of Disease Pathways
10CP
Neuroimaging: Your Brain Inside Out
10CP
Regenerative Medicine
10CP
Science Communication
10CP

Notes: These courses make up List 1 and are STRONGLY recommended for this programme.

Select a minimum of 0 credits and maximum of 20 credits from Level 10 and 11 courses in Schedules A to Q, T and W, during Semester 1

Exit Qualifications

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education: students who obtain a minimum of 120 CP from passes in courses at the University of Edinburgh.

Undergraduate Diploma of Higher Education: students who obtain a minimum of 240 CP, where at least 120 CP are from passes in courses at the University of Edinburgh, and at least 80 CP are from courses at level 8 or above.

BSc Ordinary in Medical Sciences: Students must have obtained 360 CP, according to the requirements of the Medical Sciences degree programme table. Up to 40 CP at SCQF level 9 can be awarded by aggregation.

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

Teaching and Learning strategies employed at the University of Edinburgh consist of a variety of different methods appropriate to the programme aims.  The graduate attributes listed above are met through a teaching and learning framework (detailed below) which is appropriate to the level and content of the course.

Teaching and Learning Activities

In Year 1

Lectures

Practical Classes

Tutorials

Facilitated Group Discussion

Group Projects

Problem based learning

Presentations

One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 2

Lectures

Practical Classes

Tutorials

Seminars

Problem based learning

One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 3

Lectures

Practical Classes

Workshops

Tutorials

Seminars

Presentations

Problem based learning

One to one and group meetings with Personal Tutor

In Year 4

Lectures

Seminars

Tutorials

Presentations

Problem based learning activities

Original Research Project under the supervision of a staff member that encompasses (1) laboratory-based experimental work OR (2) analysis and interpretation of new or previously generated/collected data OR (3) library based investigative research addressing a specific question/topic. This also involves reviewing relevant published scientific papers, writing a review essay on subject matter relating to the research topic, analysing data, writing a report and presenting findings.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 130700
Year 229710
Year 322780
Year 417830

Assessment methods and strategies

Courses are be assessed by a diverse range of methods and often takes the form of formative work which provides the student with on-going feedback as well as summative assessment which is submitted for credit.

In Year 1

Poster presentation; group and individual components

Oral presentations; students are provided with written and verbal feedback

Laboratory Reports; formative feedback is provided early in the first semester followed by summative feedback contributing to course results.

Essays; students are provided with written feedback

Assessed Problems; students are provided with written feedback

On-line Tests; on-line feedback with explanations

Degree Examinations; comprising written work, multiple choice and extended matching components. Students can request feedback sessions with course organisers to view their examination scripts.

Example: as part of the Origins and Diversity of Life 1 course students are provided with on-line feedback for their essay, including video feedback.

In Year 2

Laboratory Reports

Essays; students are provided with written feedback

Class Tests

Online Multiple Choice Tests

Assessed Problems; students are provided with written feedback

Degree Examinations; comprising written work, multiple choice and extended matching components. Students can request feedback sessions with course organisers to view their examination scripts.

In Year 3

Laboratory Reports

Wiki production; group and individual components

Essays; students are provided with written feedback

Class Tests

Assessed Problems

Degree Examinations; comprising written work and multiple choice components. Students can request feedback sessions with course organisers to view their examination scripts.

In Year 4

Research Project Reports and Presentations; feedback is provided by staff

Production of reflective Academic Portfolio and interview; feedback is provided by staff

Written work; essays, précis, synopses. Students are provided with written feedback

Oral Presentations; feedback is provided by staff

Written Degree Examinations; students can request feedback sessions with course organisers to view their examination scripts.

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 1541234
Year 2591724
Year 362038
Year 422078

Career opportunities

The Medical Sciences degree prepares students for careers in a range of disciplines, including biomedical/clinical laboratory sciences, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare/ medical teaching, medical writing, healthcare management and clinical trials management.

The strong research element of the programme is an ideal preparation for undergraduates considering careers in postgraduate research.

A Medical Sciences degree is not a qualification in medical practice, nevertheless, it may lead to careers in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and physiotherapy. Students entering these professions by this route would be required to undertake further study and training.

Other items

 

Each student is assigned a Personal Tutor who provides both academic and pastoral guidance.  Throughout a student’s time at the university the Personal Tutor guides the student in choice of courses and provides general pastoral support.

The programme is administered and run through the Biomedical Teaching Organisation. 

Detailed course guides are provided for new students and for continuing students.  These guides provide details of courses and also advise students on assessment and general university policy and regulations.

Degree Programme Tables (DPTs) for the Medical Sciences Degree Programme can be found at:

Degree Programme Tables (DPTs)