Student Selective Components (SSCs) aim to address some of the key, non-academic elements in medical education, such as establishing a foundation for lifelong learning, developing mentoring and teaching skills including contributing to the support, appraisal and review of colleagues, learning 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 its 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

The Medical Humanities SSC aims to provide students with an alternative perspective on medicine - or healthcare, sickness and disability - which is not provided by the mainstream medical curriculum.

This is achieved by studies in an extensive range of Humanities subjects including anthropology, economics, history, sociology, educational studies, divinity and art.

Languages, including French, German, Gaelic and Spanish are also offered and prepare students for working in regions where those languages are spoken. Students taking Medical Humanities are encouraged to work on their own initiative and some courses do not have the regular weekly lectures students may be used to.

Further, Alternative Project options are available, where students come to us with ideas of their own. These are considered for feasibility in conjunction with the student. Medical Humanities encourages students to consider the nature of knowledge-making; to reflect on the processes of teaching and learning; to understand the experiences of medicine, health, sickness and disability from different perspectives including that of the patient.

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!