Student Selective Components (SSCs) aim to address some of the key, non-academic elements in medical education.  They establish a foundation for lifelong learning, develop mentoring and teaching skills including contributing to the support, appraisal and review of colleagues.  SSCs also provide an opportunity to manage time and resources effectively and, perhaps most importantly, to develop an approach to learning based on curiosity and the exploration of knowledge rather than on passive acquisition.

SSC modules are assessed through a mixture of staff and peer assessment. Assessment is generally based on:

  • Group written report
  • Group oral presentation
  • Individual summary of report
  • Team working (peer assessment)

Year 1 SSC

This block of course work centres around building student confidence in self-directed learning, team working, literature reviewing and scientific writing.

Students are tasked with contributing to a group report and oral presentation on a subject largely of their own choosing.

In first year seven different broad research themes are offered:

  • Developmental
  • Metabolism
  • Neuroscience
  • Reproduction
  • Inflammation and Immunity
  • Exercise and Health
  • Tropical Diseases

Prior to the start of the SSC module students choose which theme they wish to study. When the module begins, the students meet with the theme lead for that topic where they receive a short introduction and form into groups of around 8 within which they work together, over a three week period, to prepare a written report on their chosen sub-speciality within that theme. At the end of the three week period the group also present their findings orally to the other groups in the theme.

Year 2 SSC - 'The Mysteries of How Molecules Cause Disease’

The biochemical and cellular nature of many diseases, long a mystery, are beginning to be understood.

The year 2 SSC explores such molecular mechanisms of disease and students pick from 20 topics. Students, in small groups, explore 1 topic in depth for 1 month.

Topics have included:

  • Understanding the cause of particular cancers
  • Why ‘superbugs’ become antibiotic resistant
  • Why Parkinson’s disease occurs in some patients but not others and
  • Why some cancers evade drug treatments.

Students do most of the work themselves, and present their findings as a group report and presentation to the rest of the class. Challenges include trying to understand how molecules work and coping with your fellow students!

Year 3 SSC - Medical Humanities

During their six week Medical Humanities SSC third year MBChB students are encouraged to consider Medicine, Healthcare, Illness or Disability from an alternative perspective.

There is a wide range of options and project opportunities drawing on disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches across the University including;

  • Literature and Creative writing;
  • History of Medicine, Art and Anatomy;
  • Theology, Philosophy and Ethics;
  • Sociology, Anthropology and Global Health;
  • Fine Art, Music and Film;
  • Education and Psychology. 

It is also possible to study a variety of modern languages.

Courses are either taken alongside honours students from Humanities courses, or are bespoke courses designed specifically for medical students. Alternatively, students may opt to complete an individual project in an area of their own choosing.

We feel this course enriches students' personal lives as well as their educational experience, allowing for a greater understanding of patients' lives.  There are also opportunities for students to learn to communicate in a variety of media to different audiences, writing essays and reports even publishing papers, giving presentations some at conferences and gaining medical school and national prizes.

Many students find this very rewarding part of the course and all students gain additional skills and attributes as a result.   

For more information please visit the Medical Humanities SSC page: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/medical/humanities/

Year 4 SSC - Clinical Effectiveness

At the beginning of Year 4, again students have the chance to work with a small group of colleagues and a tutor to study, in depth, a medical topic of their choice. Students focus on assessing whether a treatment, surgical procedure or public health intervention is effective in its aim to improve health. Students have the chance to share this work with peers at a presentation session at the end of the 4 weeks.

Each year, a few groups go on to work with their tutors to produce work that has been presented at national conferences, sent as briefing papers to local clinical leads and even submitted for publication in journals!