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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 curriculum content in each phase/year develops one of the following domains:

  • Biomedical & Clinical Sciences
  • Integrated Clinical Science & Practice
  • Professional Development & Clinical Competency
  • Student Options for Research and Elective Practice

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 25 Principles & Practice of Psychiatry 10 Integrated Surgical Science & Practice 20
ENT and Ophthalmology 5 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 10
20 10 15 20 20

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

Teaching and Learning

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.

When teaching skills, we recognise the need to demonstrate the skill, supervise the student doing the skill, and later, when a degree of confidence and competence has been obtained, monitor how the skill is being performed in practice and provide feedback. Competences are initially taught in a safe and supported environment such as a clinical skills lab, and later students progress to the real life clinical settings. When teaching about attitudes, we use methods that require the application of the attitude and values in particular relevant situations, followed by reasoned discussions and a time for reflection, through the use of expert plenaries, workshops and a reflective assignment.

In the early years, through the use of logbooks and learning logs, students describe their learning experiences, their strengths, and areas that require improvements. Students are responsible for identifying their own learning needs and are assisted in the process through appropriate Tutor/mentor feedback. There are a range of instructional techniques used such as lectures, problem based learning, clinical skills tutorials, simulations, workshops, case based discussion and conference formats, project work, research supervision, self-directed learning, clinical work and experiential learning.

Instructional methods within the TCD curriculum
Clinical Context Small Group, Active Reflection Expert Elective
Year 1 Family Case Study Problem Based Learning Self, Tutor Assessment Lectures Humanities
Year 2 Clinical Skills, Hospital based Clinical Skills, Research Project, Ethics Debates Logbook Lectures Research Project
Year 3 Clinical Placements Bedside & Clinical Tutorials, Psychology Applied to Medicine Logbook, Reflective Log Lectures Elective, Evidence Based Medicine
Year 4 Clinical Placements Bedside & Clinical Tutorials Video Reflection Lectures Elective
Year 5 Clinical Placements, Consultant Clinics, Intern Shadowing Bedside & Clinical Tutorials Lectures, Consultant Clinics Elective, Consultant Teaching, Placement


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.

Assessment is used to: Type:
• decide who progresses or qualifies from the course summative
• provide feedback on performance formative
• to identify the individual learner's strengths and future learning needs    formative
• to provide information regarding the overall quality of a module evaluation

The spiral curriculum model that has been adopted for curriculum design is also the basis for the design of assessment practices. The assessment methods used for each year takes into account the knowledge level of the student, the degree of clinical competence and professional development appropriate to the stage of training.

For example, the clinical component of the curriculum becomes more sophisticated as a student progresses through each year; therefore the clinical assessment practices reflect this increased degree of complexity, moving from logbooks to OSCE to modified long case assessment. Similarly, clinical reasoning skills which become more developed are assessed by MCQ initially and EMQ in later phases.

Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the assessment progression through Years 1 to 5 for the knowledge and skills domains of the course. Attitudes which are more difficult to measure are mainly assessed by observation of behaviour and recorded as part of the log books and as part of consultant sign off. They can also be explored on a one to one basis through elements such as the clinical reflection or using validated questionnaires.


Year 1: Logbook
Year 2: Logbook, OSCE
Year 3: Logbook, OSCE, Short Case
Year 4: Logbook, OSCE, Clinical Exam
Year 5: Short Case, Modified Long Case


Year 1: MCQ, SAQ, Essay
Year 2: MCQ, EMQ, SAQ, Essay
Year 3: MCQ, EMQ, SAQ, Essay, Practical
Year 4: MCQ, SAQ, Essay
Year 5: MCQ, Structured Essay Question, Viva, Short Case, Modified Long Case