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Curriculum Overview

The undergraduate degree in Medicine in Trinity College Dublin is a 5-year programme which is accredited by the Irish Medical Council in accordance with the guidelines set by the World Federation of Medical Education.

Structure & Composition

The programme recognises the doctor as a scholar, a scientist, a practitioner and a professional . The curriculum content and sequencing is designed with this in mind, with opportunities for students to learn and explore the most recent developments in biomedical sciences, clinical practice and professionalism.

The Graduate Attributes

The School of Medicine of Trinity College Dublin has been training doctors since 1711. We’ve evolved to become a Top 100, state of the art Modern Medical School. To achieve this we’ve developed a panel of Graduate Attributed we wish to achieve and these are listed below. These Attributes combine with those of the Trinity Education Project to help us create a pattern for what we believe the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes a Trinity medical graduate should have.


Image result for TEP graduate

The Science and Practice of Medicine: The Doctor as a Scientist and Scholar 

KNOWLEDGE: Graduates must have knowledge of:-

  • the clinical and basic sciences and the  behavioural and social sciences, and be able to integrate and critically evaluate evidence from all these sources to provide a firm foundation for medical practice.
  • biological variation of disease, and have an understanding of scientific methods, including both the technical and ethical principles used when designing experiments.
  • the range of alternative and complementary therapies. The reason why some patients use them, and how these might affect other types of treatment that patients are receiving.
  • the issues and techniques involved in studying the effect of diseases on communities and individuals, including genetic, environmental and social causes of disease.

SKILLS:  Graduates must be able to:-

  • gain, assess, apply and integrate new knowledge and have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances throughout their professional life.
  • source, evaluate and prioritise new information.
  • be aware of the psychological effect that illness can have on patients and their families and how the behavioural sciences including psychology can be used help the understanding of their condition and can facilitate their compliance with treatment plans.
  • apply the principles of good patient management.

ATTITUDES: Appropriate professional attitudes require that the graduate complies with the following:-

  • be aware of issues such as alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and abuse of the vulnerable individuals.
  • Be aware of the over-riding importance of ethical principles in bio-medical research.

The Science and Practice of Medicine: The doctor as a practitioner

KNOWLEDGE: Graduates must have knowledge of:

  • the principles of good medical practice as set out by the Medical Council.
  • The principles of disease aetiology and pathogenesis, mechanisms diagnosis and management.
  • the rights of patients statutory requirements regarding patient consent e.g. who is appropriate and capable of making an informed decision.
  • the role that lifestyle, including diet and nutrition, can play in promoting health and preventing disease.
  • the principles of promotion of health and prevention of disease.
  • the health hazards of medical practice, the importance of their own health and the effect that their health has on their ability to practice safely and effectively as a doctor.
  • the relationship between the environment (economic, cultural, geographic, etc) and the practice of medicine.

SKILLS:  Graduates must be able to:-

  • take and record a patient's history, including their family history.
  • perform a full physical examination and an assessment of mental state.
  • interpret the findings from the history, the physical examination, and the mental-state examination to construct a differential diagnosis .
  • decide on range of investigations required.
  • interpret the results of commonly used investigations including  radiology and electrocardiography.
  • make clinical decisions based on the evidence they have gathered in order to develop a management plan for the patient and to involve the patients in this process.
  • perform a range of clinical and practical skills safely  the following list is indicative:- venepuncture,  insertion of a cannula into peripheral veins, giving intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous injections, arterial blood sampling, suturing, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, basic respiratory function tests, administer oxygen therapy, use a nebuliser correctly, insert a nasogastric tube, perform bladder catheterisation.
  • Prescribe Medicines with efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness.
  • communicate clearly, sensitively and effectively with patients and their relatives, and colleagues from a variety of health and social care professions.
  • communicate effectively with individuals regardless of their social, cultural or ethnic backgrounds, language skills or disability, this may include working through interpreters and/or advocates.
  • communicate effectively with patients in difficult situations e.g. breaking bad news or dealing with difficult and violent patients.   
  • provide perioperative care.
  • recognise and manage acute illness.
  • care for people with recurrent and chronic illnesses and be aware of facilities for rehabilitation and palliative care.
  • follow the principles of safe practice and  risk management when they practice.

ATTITUDES:  Appropriate professional attitudes require that the graduate complies with the following:-

  • respects the right of patients to be fully involved in decisions about their care, including the right to refuse treatment or to refuse to be participate as a patient for teaching or research purposes.
  • Can deal with issues such as withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment.
  • responds to questions and ensures that patients have an opportunity to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.
  • respects  patients regardless of their lifestyle, culture, beliefs, race, colour, gender, sexuality, disability, age, or social or economic status.
  • probity - graduates must demonstrate honesty.
  • recognise the need to make sure that they are not prejudiced by patients' lifestyle, culture, beliefs, race, colour, gender, sexuality, age, mental or physical disability and social or economic status.

The Social and Professional Context of Medicine Communication in Medicine: The doctor as a professional

KNOWLEDGE: Graduates must have knowledge of:

  • the principles of good medical practice as set out by the Medical Council.
  • what is meant by professionalism, its basis in morality, the reason for its existence, its characteristics ( competence, morality, altruism, promotion of the public good) and the obligations necessary to sustain it throughout their lives as doctors.
  • the range of continuing professional development opportunities available to ensure that they maintain high levels of clinical competence and knowledge.
  • the principles of health service research including audit and  how evidence is used to inform and improve future practice.
  • the roles and expertise of other health and social care professionals.
  • the working, organisational and economic framework in which medicine is practised in Ireland including government policy on health, patient entitlement to free treatment and the range of health insurance available.

SKILLS:  Graduates must be able to:-

  • communicate effectively at individual, group and community level with respect to the issues related to medical practice.
  • demonstrate effective team-working and leadership skills.
  • understand the importance of privacy and confidentiality, when it is appropriate and how it is protected and maintained.
  • maintain accurate and complete records having regard to confidentiality and legislation on Freedom of Information.
  • reflect on their practice and be proficient in realistic self assessment
  • identify their own learning needs.
  • use different techniques to record, organise and present information
  • manage their own time and that of others.

ATTITUDES: Appropriate professional attitudes require that the graduate complies with the following:-

  • understand and is prepared to apply the basic tenets of ethical professional behaviour i.e. beneficence, justice, confidentiality and respect for autonomy
  • recognises personal and professional limits, and is willing to ask for help when necessary.
  • accepts the moral and ethical responsibilities involved in providing care to individual patients and communities.
  • recognise the duty to protect patients and others by taking action if a colleague's health, performance or conduct is putting patients at risk understand a range of social and cultural values, and differing views about healthcare and illness.


Curriculum Overview - The integration of domains across each year

The table illustrates the vertical and horizontal integration that has been achieved in the programme. For example the Professional Development domain extends over the 5 years becoming more sophisticated at each level.

Curriculum Overview
Humanity, Health & Environment Molecular Medicine, Neuroscience, Clinical Skills & Mechanisms & Management of Disease Patient Centred Evidence-Based Medical Practice & Professional Development
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Biomedical & Clinical Sciences (ECTS = 90) Human Form & Function 30 Principles of Pharmacology & Practical Scientific Research * 10
Evolution & Life 10 Infection & Immunity 5
Neuroscience 15
Head & Neck Anatomy 5
Clinical Biochemistry 5
Molecular Mechanism of Disease and Personalised Medicine 10
40 50
Integrated Clinical Science & Practice (ECTS = 125) Pharmacology & Therapeutics 5 Obstetrics & Gynaecology 10 Integrated Medical Science & Practice 20
Laboratory & Investigative Medicine (Path & Micro) 10 Public Health, Primary Care & Epidemiology 10
Principles of Medical and Surgical Practice 30 Principles & Practice of Psychiatry 10 Integrated Surgical Science & Practice 20
    Paediatrics & Child Health 10
45 40 40
Professional Development & Clinical Competency
(ECTS = 60)
Human Development, Behavioural Science & Ethics 15 Fundamentals of Clinical & Professional Practice 10 Advanced Clinical & Professional Practice 10 Jurisprudence Ethics & Law 5 Competency Based Preparation for Practice 10
Professionalism & Scientific Method 10
Student Options for Research and Elective Practice (ECTS = 25) Science & the Humanities 5 Practical Scientific Research *(ECTS as above) Principles & Practice of Evidence Based Medicine & Elective Practice 1 5 Elective Practice 2 5 Elective Practice 3 10
20 10 15 20 20

5 Domains within the Medical Curriculum

In addition, it is recognised that it is vital to develop learning skills throughout the programme and as students transition from the novice to practitioner there is a progressive development of the following 5 domains:

  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Clinical sciences & Practice
  • Professionalism
  • Research Skills
  • Lifelong Learning


This year is designed to:

  • Promote personal development and facilitate the development of skills necessary for the successful transition from secondary student to novice health care worker
  • Enable students to understand the evolution of man in his environment
  • Ensure a thorough and integrated knowledge of normal human structure and function and man's relationship with society

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This phase extends over two years and is designed to:

  • Continue and expand the generic skills development with emphasis on the professional aspects
  • Emphasise critical thinking and foster insight into the essential role of research in healthcare including aspects of molecular medicine and genetics
  • Commence the development of non-invasive clinical skills at the individual (history taking and physical examination) and community (health promotion) level
  • Introduce students to disease processes and to global as well as national aspects of disease control
  • Focus on professional development by exploration of the legal, moral, ethical and economic aspects of safe effective medical practice

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The Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and Laboratory and Investigative Medicine modules build on material covered in the second medical year. There is increased clinical exposure and professional development through materia medica, Advanced Clinical and Professional Practice and Principles and Practice of Evidence Based Medicine and Elective Practice 1. The Hospital Attachments module begins with an introduction week and further develops the Clinical Skills that were covered in the second medical year. This year there is particular emphasis on various aspects of clinical medicine and surgery. Specialist clinical rotations take place in the third year.

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Within fourth year students are required to complete a hospital attachment in each of the following disciplines:

  • Obstetrics/Gynaecology
  • Paediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Public Health and Primary Care

There are also modules in Medical Jurisprudence, Professionalism in Clinical Practice and Elective Practice

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The fifth year modules reflect the culmination and integration of previous studies. Therefore, much of the teaching is integrated. There is a combination of acute care environments, clinical skills consolidation, intern shadowing, clinical attachments in both Medicine and Surgery (with beside tutorials, consultant clinics and small group seminars) lecture programme and an elective.

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In order to deliver opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and professional behaviours required by a graduate doctor, there are many different methodologies used. When teaching knowledge, we use a variety of methods, with the goal of getting the learner to actively engage in learning the material.

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We recognise that assessment has a strong influence on student learning. A founding principle of curriculum design is that the learning outcomes, content, instructional methods and assessments should be aligned appropriately. In the undergraduate degree in Medicine, assessment is never considered in isolation but as an integral component of the learning process. We are cognisant that assessment drives learning through a variety of means.



This challenging and rewarding year provides graduates with a supervised and supported learning environment. The Intern Year is an essential step in transitioning from a graduate with a medical degree, to becoming a member of the Register of Medical Practitioners maintained by the Medical Council of Ireland. Interns have the opportunity to experience patient care through education, training and clinical responsibility, enabling the development of personal and professional competencies.

Internship - General Information


From the beginning of the third medical year, students must attend hospital continuously. In addition to clinical rotations, students must also obtain credits by completing eight weeks of clinical elective posts in order to rise to the fifth medical year. These eight weeks of elective posts are carried out during the summers of 3rd and 4th Med, with students typically completing four weeks of electives after 3rd Med and another four weeks after 4th Med. Students may opt to break down the eight weeks differently, but a minimum of 2 weeks of electives must be completed each summer. It is the responsibility of each student to secure their summer electives and to submit the required elective evaluation forms at the end of each summer.

During the first semester of 5th Med, students are required to carry out a further four weeks of clinical elective experience. This enables students to consolidate their clinical knowledge in a setting which will allow for escalation of responsibility in comparison to electives undertaken in 3rd and 4th Med.


Students will take a core module in Clinical Research based in the Clinical Research Facility, St James's Hospital and concurrently follow one of six specialist tracks, which will be provided by the actual modules as offered by the currently running three Masters courses (i) the masters course in molecular medicine, (ii) the masters course in neuroscience, (iii) the masters course in bioengineering (iv) the masters course in immunology (v) the masters course in translational oncology or (vi) the masters course in healthcare infection management. Students will then conduct a three month research project and will submit a dissertation based on this project.

Admission to this course is restricted to undergraduate students on year 3 (and occasionally year 4) in the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin. At this point, students will have qualified for a B.A. which is normally awarded when the students are conferred with their final M.B. The intercalated Masters will also be conferred at this point. The course is coordinated through the Department of Clinical Medicine, TCD, St James's Hospital Dublin.

Intercalated MSc in Biomedical Science