BSc Medical Sciences

UCAS code B100
(See also pathways for their individual UCAS codes)
Duration 3 Years
Typical offer AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32
Discipline
  • Medicine
Location Taught in Exeter
  • Streatham (Exeter)
  • St Luke's (Exeter)

Overview

BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences video

Clare Gallon, Lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, talks about our Medical Sciences programme. VIEW FULL SIZE VIDEO

  • A broad and flexible programme, looking at the science behind medicine
  • Innovative approaches to individual and group learning
  • A vibrant and supportive environment for personal, academic and professional skills development
  • State-of-the-art research, teaching and learning resources

At present many scientific discoveries never leave the laboratories in which they are made. At the same time the needs of frontline clinicians – and their patients – often go unheard by those doing research. This career-focused degree prepares you to be able to fill these gaps, and thereby enhance the lives of patients.

Our Medical Sciences degree offers an innovative approach to learning that includes lectures from world-leading experts; supportive small-group learning; internationally renowned e-learning resources; hands-on sessions in research laboratories and clinical settings; inspirational clinician-scientist-patient sessions; and worldwide professional training placements. The curriculum combines contemporary medical science with the training required to undertake cutting-edge research.

The programme has been developed in consultation with industry employers, the NHS and academia and provides a firm foundation in the core biomedical and biomolecular sciences, alongside an insight into medical practice and the biotechnologies used to prevent, test and diagnose disorders and treat patients.

You’ll develop an integrated, scientific knowledge that you can put into practice in a clinical setting and robust research skills, plus creative and inquisitive communication, leadership, critical appraisal and problem-solving skills. These key skills will prepare you for a career helping to progress scientific discovery into clinical and medical practice, ultimately to improve human health.

Programme variations

Open Days

Join us at one of our Open Days .

I have truly enjoyed the course so far, despite all of the hard work, and feel that it is very rewarding. The course provides you with knowledge of the science that underpins medicine and also gives you opportunities to learn various clinical skills, which has been great fun. I feel that the course has helped me develop as a person, due to the structured small group learning we do as part of ICS (integrated clinical science). This helps to develop many core skills, such as communication, leadership, and self-study. The standard of education you will receive here is top class, accompanied by support, improving your employability skills, which will make you feel prepared for the future. ​

Kieran Woolcock, BSc Medical Sciences, Year 1.

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

Our Medical Sciences degree prioritises the science that underpins medicine and clinical practice, preparing you to translate scientific discoveries and technological advances into improved healthcare. To achieve this, the first part of the programme gives you a wide-ranging insight into how the human body normally works. We study this through small-group sessions (in the Integrated Clinical Science and Expanding Horizons modules), lectures and hands-on laboratory practicals.

We then build upon this foundation to see how things can go wrong in the body due to disease and trauma and how normal function might be restored. We are keen that you develop a holistic understanding of human health. For example, whilst pharmaceutical intervention may be appropriate in some conditions, other conditions might be helped more by using technology or engineering. You will be able to see this for yourself, thanks to the wide range of placements that run throughout the programme.

Your final year will be spent specialising in the area that interests you most, tailoring your degree to match your specific career ambitions. You’ll also undertake a two-term long independent research project under the supervision of an academic.

Year 1

In your first year you will explore the science that underpins the advancement of modern medical practice. The emphasis is on understanding the normal functioning of the human body, from enzymes through to whole biological systems. Without this core knowledge of how the body works, it would be impossible for us, as scientists, to devise the new diagnostic tests, drugs or treatments that will best benefit patients.

Alongside traditional lectures, tutorials and laboratory practicals, you will engage in small group work where you are given the freedom to explore a scientific topic under the expert guidance of one of our tutors (in the Integrated Clinical Science and Expanding Horizons modules). Further tutor-guided learning occurs within our Life Science Resource Centre, supported by state-of-the-art technology-enhanced learning resources (the Integrated Clinical Science module). Your core laboratory skills will be developed through laboratory-based practicals that run alongside and support your other sessions. Some sessions also involve a doctor, scientist and patient to explore key clinical cases from three different perspectives.

You will begin to compile your Personal Development and Professionalism Portfolio, in which you chart your progress from a new student to a professional individual ready for the world of employment. You will do this by analysing your academic performance and the frequent feedback offered by the school to identify opportunities for personal and professional development to help you achieve your career goals. Support for your academic progress and career planning is provided by your Personal Tutor and through various workshops and training sessions.

Compulsory modules

CodeModuleCredits
CSC1001 Integrated Clinical Sciences 1 30
CSC1004 Fundamental Skills for Medical Scientists 30
BIO1341 Biochemistry and Genetics 30
BIO1342 Microbiology and Cells 1 30

Year 2

The second year focuses on the scientific basis of important diseases, beginning with some fundamental insights into the ways in which human biology goes awry in disease. This knowledge is then used to explore how cutting-edge scientific technologies can be exploited to advance disease diagnosis and treatment.

Within a variety of learning environments, including lectures, tutorials, workshops, laboratory practicals and small group learning, you will have opportunities to investigate and debate how disease develops and how healthcare can be improved. Key aspects of applied research are explored, including clinical research methods and its design and setting within healthcare environments. Your understanding of these areas develops through a variety of hands-on learning opportunities which enhance your practical research skills and knowledge of contemporary medical research issues.

Compulsory modules

CodeModuleCredits
CSC2012 Disease, Diagnostics and Therapeutics 30
CSC2014 Principles of Medical Research  30

Students on the pathways also study one additional compulsory module (Human Genomics study CSC2004, Neuroscience pathway CSC2006, Pharmacology and Therapeutics pathway CSC2005):

CodeModuleCredits
CSC2004 Medical Genetics 15
CSC2006 Foundations in Neuroscience 15
CSC2005 Introduction to Pharmacology 15

Optional modules

Students on the Neuroscience, Human Genomics and Pharmacology, and Therapeutic pathways must take 45 credits of optional modules, at least 15 credits of which must be from the Biosciences options.

Students on the core Medical Sciences programme must take 60 credits of optional modules, at least 30 credits of which must be from the Biosciences options.

Medical Sciences optional modules
CodeModuleCredits
CSC2013 Translational Medical Research Evaluation 15
CSC2009 Anatomical Sciences 15
CSC2008 Immunopathology 15
CSC2004 Medical Genetics (core module for Genomics pathway) 15
CSC2006 Foundations in Neuroscience (core module for Neuroscience pathway) 15
CSC2005 Introduction to Pharmacology (core module for Pharmacology and Therapeutics pathway) 15

 

Biosciences optional modules
CodeModuleCredits
BIO2078 Medical and General Microbiology 15
BIO2094 Molecular Microbiology 15
BIO2092 Genomics and Introductory Bioinformatics 15
BIO2089 Molecular Biology of the Gene 15
BIO2088 Advanced Cell Biology 15
BIO2090 Analytical Techniques in Biochemistry 15

Year 3

In your final year you have opportunities to study and undertake research to help improve current medical knowledge and practice. In addition to the core modules, you can select from a range of optional specialist advanced modules, enabling you to tailor your degree to match your own specific interests and career ambitions.

You will look at authentic and complex clinical case scenarios and, working as a team, apply evidence-based scientific theory and explore emerging new health technologies to help improve patient health. During this year, you will undertake a clinical/medical research project, closely supervised by an expert research professional.

You will complete your Personal Development and Professionalism Portfolio. Support will be provided to help you consider your career options and help consolidate your CV and interview technique.

Compulsory modules

CodeModuleCredits
CSC4019 Translational Medical Science 30
CSC4020 Research Project 45

Optional modules

Students may select 45 credits (three options) of optional modules.

Medical Sciences modules
CodeModuleCredits
CSC4004 Managing Clinical Trials: Putting Science into Practice 15
PAM2901 Medical Imaging - Principles and Applications 15
CSC4003 Psychology Applied to Health 15
CSC4018 Health Economics 15

Subject to confirmation, Biosciences hope to offer the following options:

Biosciences modules
CodeModuleCredits
BIO3078 Cellular Basis of Immunity 15
BIO3079 Molecular Basis of Infection 15
BIO3085 Horizons in Biochemical Research 15
BIO3086 Cell Biology of Disease 15
BIO3095 Parasitology (new module) 15
BIO3041 Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry 15
BIO3077 Frontiers in Molecular Cell Biology 15
BIO3080 Microbial Effectors of Disease 15
BIO3092 Bioinformatics (new module) 15
BIO3093 Energy Metabololism (new module) 15

Entry requirements 2017

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32

Required subjects

At least one grade A and one grade B in GCE AL science subjects, one of which must be Biology. At least one HL6 and one HL5 in IB science subject, one of which must be Biology.

GCE AL/AS science includes: Biology/Human Biology*; Chemistry; Computing; Design and Technology; Electronics; Environmental Studies; Geography; Geology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths*; Physical Education; Physics; Psychology; Science (applied); Statistics.

 *If more than one of these is taken they would only count as one ‘science’ but could count as two A levels towards our general requirements

Students joining the three-year programme will have the option to transfer to the four-year programme, and vice versa.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

Throughout the programme, you benefit from a careful blend of innovative and traditional teaching methods employed by both the Medical School and the Biosciences department. A variety of stimulating, cutting-edge resources are also available to support your learning.

Structured small group learning sessions

In tutor-led groups of 8-12 students you will investigate key scientific concepts and systems presented in the form of triggers. The style of trigger varies week by week but will include patient-based clinical case studies, current media-worthy medical science breakthroughs and extracts from research papers.

Within your group, you will discuss the trigger and report back your individual research findings, coming to a shared understanding of the medically relevant scientific knowledge important to fully understand the trigger. Throughout your degree you will have the opportunity to apply your increasing knowledge to new triggers and build on the depth of your understanding.

These small group sessions will also develop your critical thinking, problem design and solving, teamwork, presentation and lifelong learning skills which are essential for your career development.

Life Sciences Resource Centre activities

You’ll be supported in your exploration of the human biomedical science that is presented in your small group sessions by the rich variety of state-of-the-art resources available in the Life Sciences Resource Centre. These resources include anatomical models, multimedia and IT resources, and a well-stocked library. Tutor-led activities will drive your engagement with selected resources in order to increase your understanding of the small group triggers.

Clinical Skills Resource Centre sessions

You’ll work with the specialist equipment available in this facility to consolidate your understanding of human physiology and train you in key practical clinical research techniques and patient communication skills. You will have access to state-of-the-art simulated patient mannequins and other equipment which you would find in a clinical environment.

Lectures and seminars

Large group lectures and cutting-edge research seminars delivered by academics as well as external speakers will complement your studies. Lectures may contain students from a variety of different programmes for which the lecture content is relevant.

Practical laboratory sessions

You will develop your laboratory skills in the biosciences teaching laboratory on the Streatham Campus, which is equipped with instruments for observational, experimental and numerical aspects of biosciences including a range of biochemical, molecular, physiological and electronic apparatus.

Computer-based practical sessions are held in the IT suite on the St Luke’s Campus. Helpful and friendly technicians and demonstrators are always available during practical sessions to ensure that you get the most out of your training sessions.

Online learning

Your learning will be supported by the University’s virtual learning environment. You will have individual access to electronic journals, content-rich study guides, and interactive online learning materials covering various science disciplines, formative online assessments and group discussion forums.

Assessment

Regular assessment is used to help provide you with frequent feedback, enabling you to identify your strengths, as well as areas for improvement. Feedback is provided in a number of different ways including online written feedback and self, peer, tutor or small group feedback.

Assessment in the early stages of the degree tends to be more knowledge-based to ensure a strong and broad grounding in the subject area, with some opportunities for essay writing and critical analysis.

Assessment in the later degree stages tends to assess your critical appraisal skills, depth of understanding and your ability to think independently. Some assessments take place in groups, focusing on the team product or how well you lead your team to complete a task.

A variety of assessment methods are employed across the programme, each aligned to the intended learning outcomes of the modules. Assessment formats include multiple-choice tests, essays, structured practical exams, reflective essays, oral and poster presentations, scientific report writing, short-answer question tests and independent project work.

Careers

This programme is designed to prepare you for employment in a wide variety of professional careers and helps to develop the key transferable skills valued by employers.

These skills range from identifying and solving problems, to efficient communication, leadership and management. Key vocational skills, such as advanced laboratory training within molecular biology, also enhance your employability.

Science graduates compete well in the wider graduate employment market, as they offer strong analytical and problem-solving skills valued highly across all sectors.

Future career pathways include:

  • Postgraduate study, either at a university or with the NHS
  • Employment in knowledge industries, such as pharmaceuticals or medical technology. Roles might include research and development, clinical trials, or sales and marketing
  • Training and employment to become a Scientific Officer in the Civil Service
  • NHS management
  • Postgraduate training for the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)
  • Graduate entry to professional degrees such as radiotherapy
  • Graduate entry to medicine*, dentistry or other accredited healthcare programmes

*Final year students on track to get a 2:1 or 1st may apply to join the medical programme at Exeter and will be guaranteed an interview; we will waive the normal requirement for applicants not coming directly from school to take the GAMSAT.

Contact us

Email: medicine@exeter.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725500

Website: Visit the Medical Sciences website

Pathways

We offer four pathways which provide you with the option to study a particular area in more depth. These pathways have been developed through discussions with the scientific community to make sure graduates have the skills and knowledge needed to work in the ever evolving workplace. These areas link with the research strengths of the Medical School; this means that you will learn about the most relevant and up-to-date thinking in these fields.

All students complete the same first year regardless of whether you choose Medical Sciences or one of our four Medical Sciences pathways. Our programme is designed to be flexible so that you can change between pathways, or onto a pathway at the end of year one. In year two, modules are introduced which are designated to the pathways, and in the final year you will study advanced pathway-specific modules and complete a research project within your chosen area. You also have the option of taking a Professional Training Year (PTY) in your third year.

PathwaysUCAS code
Medical Sciences (Human Genomics) B109 3 yrs (B119 4 yrs)
Medical Sciences (Neuroscience) B106 3 yrs (B116 4 yrs)
Medical Sciences (Pharmacology and Therapeutics) B105 3 yrs (B115 4 yrs)

Human Genomics

Genetics is the study of genes, their action and how they are passed on through generations. Powerful technologies in genomics allow us to sequence a person’s entire genetic code: the genome, giving insight into the mechanisms of normal and pathological states, as well as the identification, diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders.

Topics/modules will include:

  • Medical Genetics
    Genetics influences both risk and outcome of disease. An understanding of how our genes are regulated, and how mutations, genetic variation or epigenetic alterations may contribute to this is of pivotal importance. In this module you will focus first on the basics of how genetic material is replicated and curated. Secondly, you will focus on how sequence changes can lead to genetic disease, or susceptibility to complex diseases. Following this, you will explore the molecular mechanisms by which genes are regulated and the contribution of the environment, and finally you will concentrate on the ethical implications of this for families and individuals.

  • Medical Genomics
    It is now feasible to sequence the entire human genome of an individual in just a few weeks, for less than £1000. A step change in technology has enabled the interrogation of whole genome data on a relatively routine basis for the first time. The interpretation of these genomic data is the focus of this module, with particular emphasis on the application of genomics to medical scenarios. You will gain practical hands-on experience of the data available, how it is generated and how it can be used for patients’ benefit. You will gain experience of statistical analysis of large datasets using computer packages such as STATA. Skills in data manipulation and interpretation will be valuable within the genetics field for future employment, but are also easily transferred to other specialties and career paths.

  • Pharmacogenomics
    Pharmacogenomics and individualised therapy are exciting areas of medicine and scientific research. It has been known for many years that genetic variation can affect the efficacy of some drugs which may also result in adverse side effects. Recently, however, there have been developments in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and cystic fibrosis on the basis of patients’ genetic information and are having a real impact on their survival and quality of life. In this module you will cover the basic concepts of pharmacogenomics and relate these to current clinical practice where appropriate. Additionally you will have the opportunity to study in depth examples of individualised therapy in diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and diabetes. You will also consider the introduction of genetic testing for new pharmacogenomics discoveries taking into account analytical and clinical validity, clinical utility and ethical aspects.
    A broad understanding of the concepts involved in pharmacogenomics and an understanding of how research findings are implemented into clinical practice will provide you with skills useful for a career in research or clinical science.

Neuroscience

The study of the Central (brain, the spinal cord) and the Peripheral Nervous Systems, and how they interact with the internal and external environments in normal and disease states. Study neurological and behavioural disorders and gain an insight into the latest research methodologies in these areas.

Topics/modules will include:

  • Foundations in Neuroscience
    The human brain is one of the most complex organic systems. Our nervous system constantly responds to a myriad of stimuli and learns to associate events, conceptualise and manipulate the environment, develop a sense of self and communicate this to others. This module will address these broad issues by providing you with grounding in fundamental concepts in neuroscience, encompassing functional anatomy, molecular cell biology of the nervous system, and synaptic transmission. The basic biological concepts will be illustrated using practical elements and clinical examples from neurological disorders.

  • Frontiers in Neuroscience
    Through a critical exploration of primary literature and experimental neuroscience techniques you will develop an understanding of the normal physiology of the nervous system and how this goes awry in neurological disorders. You will understand how these neurological disturbances may be treated by current therapies and through an appreciation of the latest discoveries and cutting edge technologies consider what the future may hold for improved and novel treatments. Learning the limitations of investigative approaches in light of the complexity of the nervous system will enable you to understand the key challenges facing neuroscience and the value of an interdisciplinary approach. Critically assessing these issues will provide the basis for the generation of a relevant research hypothesis which you will be able to justify in terms of relevance to human health and the appropriate tools required.

    Through working with leading researchers in this module you will start to identify key outstanding questions in neuroscience and formulate a research proposal to tackle your chosen question through the application of appropriate methodologies. 

    It will equip you with the theoretical, analytical and methodological skills necessary for postgraduate work or study in industrial or academic applications of neuroscience research.

  • Neuropharmacology
    The nervous system is central to the regulation of all aspects of physiology and behaviour. In this module you will learn how altering nervous system signalling using drugs and toxins, leads to changes in physiology and behaviour which ultimately may have both beneficial and detrimental consequences for human health. You will investigate why some substances historically used as therapeutics have also been co-opted for “recreational” use and develop an understanding of the associated complexities; including, possible side effects and the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of drug dependence and tolerance.

    Illustrated using examples of well-known neuroactive substances such as opium, caffeine, nicotine and amphetamine, you will learn about the complexities of drug-action in the central nervous system (CNS). Through a combination of workshops and seminars you will begin to understand the molecular basis underlying the modulation of CNS signalling by drugs and toxins, including the development of drug dependence and tolerance. You will also learn about the challenges of designing new CNS-acting drugs and discover how advances in basic research are driving the development of novel therapeutics.

Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Study how drugs are designed and how they work in the body. Become familiar with research and development in the new generation of ‘smart’ drugs and how they are being targeted for specific sub-set of disorders.

Topics/modules will include:

  • Introduction to Pharmacology
    This module will enable you to develop an understanding of the fundamental concepts behind pharmacology and pharmacotherapy as the basis for disease treatment. The basic principles of pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and drug metabolism will also be discussed. Throughout, the module will give specific information concerning cardiovascular, central and peripheral nervous systems and historical and recent examples in each category. With each drug classification, the discovery, mode of action, wanted and clinical effects will be emphasised.

  • Rational Drug Design
    This module explores the biological basis of rational drug design, the deliberate targeting of a particular biological pathway for the treatment of disease. This approach is based on knowledge of the pathophysiology of the disease in question and identification of a suitable molecular target.  Targeted drug design also has implications for the personalisation of medicine, through selection of appropriate drugs/therapies for a particular patient based on the molecular signature of their disease, e.g. the use of Herceptin in HER2-overexpressing cancer.  You will follow the journey of drug discovery from identification of a potential new drug target (through study of genetics, epigenetics or cell biology), through approaches taken to test and modify both pharmacokinetic values and biological activity, including chemical group substitution, structure-based drug design, and drug formulation and route of administration.

  • Pharmacogenomics
    In this module we aim to examine the influence of genetic variation (monogenic and polygenic) on the efficacy and adverse side effects of drugs.  We will cover the general concept that genetic variation can affect either the pharmacodynamics or pharmacokinetics of a drug or cause idiosyncratic drug reactions, using current and relevant examples, and relate these to clinical practice where possible. Specific examples of individualised therapy in diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and diabetes will studied in depth linking with local research where possible. You will appraise recent developments in pharmacogenomics research and evaluate the application of these findings for precision diagnostics and targeted treatment.

    A broad understanding of the concepts involved in pharmacogenomics and an understanding of how research findings are implemented into clinical practice will provide you with skills useful for a career in research or clinical science.

  • Neuropharmacology
    The nervous system is central to the regulation of all aspects of physiology and behaviour. In this module you will learn how altering nervous system signalling using drugs and toxins, leads to changes in physiology and behaviour which ultimately may have both beneficial and detrimental consequences for human health. You will investigate why some substances historically used as therapeutics have also been co-opted for “recreational” use and develop an understanding of the associated complexities; including, possible side effects and the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of drug dependence and tolerance.

    Illustrated using examples of well-known neuroactive substances such as opium, caffeine, nicotine and amphetamine, you will learn about the complexities of drug-action in the central nervous system (CNS). Through a combination of workshops and seminars you will begin to understand the molecular basis underlying the modulation of CNS signalling by drugs and toxins, including the development of drug dependence and tolerance. You will also learn about the challenges of designing new CNS-acting drugs and discover how advances in basic research are driving the development of novel therapeutics.