The Cambridge pre-clinical medicine course (years 1-3)

Aims. The first three years of the course ensure a thorough understanding of the basic principles of the biomedical sciences that underpin modern medicine. It also offers the excitement of research experience in the third year in an internationally recognized laboratory, before embarking on your clinical training. This allows students increasing independence to study subjects in depth and carry out original research. The goal is to produce doctors who can critically evaluate fast-moving medical research and apply this rigorous approach to their clinical practice.

Course structure. All students take the same courses in the first two years, covering physiology, anatomy and biochemistry in the first year (Part 1A) and pathology, neuroscience, pharmacology and endocrinology in the second (Part 1B). You will also have the opportunity to learn some clinical skills through the ‘Preparing for Patients’ modules. However the main focus is on biomedical science. See information for prospective students.

In the third year (Part 2) students choose from a wide variety of courses within the Biological Sciences, or from other departments such as Philosophy, Anthropology, Theology or Modern Languages. You will have the opportunity to gain research skills through a practical project or dissertation.  Popular Part 2 choices include: Pathology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Developmental Biology, Zoology or Experimental Psychology, however many other subjects are available including Law, Social Sciences, the History and Philosophy of Science and Anthropology. Each course offers choices from a number of modules. This exciting mix of opportunities means that Cambridge medical students can interact with students from other disciplines. They can thus develop a detailed understanding of many of the increasingly complex scientific and ethical issues that underpin modern medicine - essential for an effective doctor.

More information about pre-clinical subjects studied each year can be found at the medicine course website. The current undergraduate prospectus is available with full details here.

The clinical course (years 4-6)

Students who successfully complete their undergraduate course, graduate with a B.A. degree and can then apply to continue their clinical training based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Application to the clinical school requires a formal application and interview, which takes place during the third year of the undergraduate degree. Further details about the clinical Course are available here, together with details of the  MB/PhD programme at Cambridge for those who decide at an early stage that they are interested in undertaking clinical research. Advice on clinical school applications is available from the Directors of Studies and clinical fellows.

Why come to Robinson College?

Support for students. As well as developing excellent clinical skills, we seek to equip our students to undertake and lead research to develop the new medical treatments of the future. At Robinson we will help you throughout your time here to achieve these goals. Small group supervisions are an informal stimulating forum for discussing with experts any difficulties with particular topics. The supervisions will also cover essay writing and practice of examination skills, providing thorough support for all our students, enabling them to achieve their full academic potential.

Summer projects. Through our scientific fellows we help our students arrange clinical and scientific placements during the summer vacation so they can start to put what they have learned into action. This year, Robinson 2nd year pre-clinical students undertook research projects as far afield as Toronto, Michigan, Siena, Mysore and at Yale medical school. If things go well you may well get the opportunity to begin to publish as part of a research team. An example of a publication by one of our second year students, Fredrika Asenius resulting from her summer project in 2012 is shown here.

Facilities. The college is located a beautiful 15-minute walk (10 minutes by bicycle) from all the lecture halls for medicine. It has excellent accommodation and teaching facilities for supervisions. There is a dedicated Resource Room on G staircase for the use of medical and veterinary students, equipped with models, skeletons and textbooks, and an excellent college library.

All Robinson students are encouraged to participate in the many social, artistic and sporting activities available throughout the University. Learning to balance the demands of the course with your other activities is an essential requirement for a successful career in medicine. The College has its own Medical Students Society (MedSoc) which arranges talks by distinguished visiting speakers and arranges social events with MedSocs in other Colleges so you get to know students throughout the university. For a student’s view of life at Robinson see the alternative prospectus. This link also has details of how to contact the current student reps for medicine to get their view of medicine at Robinson.

Robinson College Directors of Studies (DOS) and teaching fellows in medicine.

Together with the teaching fellows, the Directors of Studies in pre-clinical and clinical medicine work to ensure that the college provides outstanding training and mentoring for student doctors throughout their time here. They meet regularly with individual students to review progress and to support them in achieving their full academic potential.  They also provide advice about career development.

Director of Studies: Pre-clinical, Dr Andrew Sharkey PhD.

Director of Studies: Clinical, Professor Peter Hutchinson FRCS.

Additional Teaching Fellows

All Cambridge medical students attend the same lecture and practical courses.  These are supported by weekly supervisions organised by their college in groups of 2-4 students for each subject. These are led by biomedical scientists or clinicians with relevant research experience. Robinson has a strong and dedicated group of supervisors and teaching fellows. Many are themselves clinically qualified and involved in lecturing, teaching and examining university courses as well as in research. They are therefore well placed to help our students realize their full academic potential and achieve the highest clinical standards possible for their patients. Current Robinson Teaching Fellows and College lecturers are listed below together with links to their research and teaching interests.

Professor G E Berrios (Department of Psychiatry)

Dr Christopher Constant (Clinical Anatomist, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)

Dr Colin Crump (Department of Pathology)

Dr Brian McCabe (Department of Zoology)

Professor Tony Milton (Department of Pharmacology)

Dr Judith Richards (Consultant Medical Microbiologist, Deputy Director of infection control)

Dr Paul Schofield (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)

Dr Teresa Tiffert (Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience)

Dr Gary Doherty (Clinical Lecturer in Oncology, Addenbrooke’s hospital).

How to apply to study Medicine at Robinson

Once you have decided to apply to the Cambridge medical course on your UCAS form, you can also select a college of preference. (Alternatively you can submit an Open Application and allow a college preference to be assigned at random).  This is an entirely personal choice and students have many different reasons for selecting a particular college or for making an open application. We would strongly suggest that you come to the university and college Open days, to talk to students and Admissions tutors to find out whether Robinson is right for you. More information about how to apply is available on our how to apply page. This also has details of our open days.

Work Experience.

During the interviews we will be interested in what you have done to gain understanding of what a career in medicine will involve. We would normally expect applicants to show that they have tried to find out about current developments in the subject through wider reading as well as practical work.  This could involve volunteering at the local hospital, GP surgery or with charities working in nursing homes and other settings. There is no set formula and we understand that applicants may not always be able to get as much experience in clinical settings as they would like. Working with local youth groups, coaching in sport or helping other students with academic work are all valuable ways to develop skills such as listening and communication that you will require in addition to your academic side, to be successful in medicine.

For those considering medicine the General Medical Council has an excellent website with answers to many FAQs about this career choice. GMC FAQs.    

Updated September 2013