Medicine @ Liverpool | Q&A

These questions have been answered by Anthonia, a 3rd year medical student at the University of Liverpool.

Do lots of people in the year intercalate?

Quite a few do! We’ve been told about 50% of our cohort intercalate; as our curriculum has had a bit of a revamp we now intercalate after our third year of study and we can  choose whether we intercalate at Liverpool or at another university.

Why did you choose Liverpool?

Honestly I fell in love with the city when I visited it for my applicant discovery day! Everyone is super friendly and there’s always something to do – whether you like museums, eating out, shopping or clubbing! Liverpool is a very student friendly city – you’ll find tons of fab places (which offer student discounts too)! The course is the perfect mix of lecture based learning and hands on learning via case based learning and early clinical experiences starting in second year which really suited my style of learning! The hospitals in the area are absolutely fantastic and we’re really fortunate to have access to amazing specialist hospitals like Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the Walton Centre for Neuro plus you get free scrubs. All in all, it’s an amazing place to study and you can find out more about it (and see me in my scrubs!) here!: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/medicine/why-liverpool/

What surprised you the most about the medicine course at Liverpool?

How quickly and seamlessly the course all fits together! At Liverpool our course is structured in a systems based way so we have a block on each system of the body; from first year you see how every CBL session, seminar and lecture in a system block really builds you knowledge of the topic which is amazing!

Are clinical placements close to the university/in the city, or further away?

Placement at Liverpool starts in second year and the hospital sites tend to be in or very close to Liverpool; as you progress through the years you have the chance to be placed in hospitals and GP practices further out such as North Wales and Blackpool! At first it can seem quite daunting but it really gives you the chance to see the difference in presenting conditions in different areas which I really appreciate.

How do you think Liverpool will handle blended learning? Do you think students will be in every day for face to face sessions or just for clinical skills/anatomy?

I’m not really sure! For students in Years 1 and 2 I think the focus will be to minimise face to face contact without impacting learning too much whereas from Year 3 onwards the aim will be to have students on placement in a safe manner; I think Liverpool Medical School (like lots of other med schools!) will still be trying to find the best option but make sure to check the med school website (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/medicine/) for any updates!

I have seen some students saying that Medical Schools are now providing iPads for their students – does Liverpool do this?

Liverpool does not currently provide iPads for the medical students 😞 but maybe one day!

Do you have any clinical placements in first year?

In first year you don’t have hospital placements but you do get the chance to visit a healthcare in the community’ centre; a handful of student doctors and I were fortunate enough to visit a HIV clinic where we got to learn about the role they play in supporting individuals living with HIV as well as talk to people with HIV to get an insight into their lives. It was a really powerful day and I feel it has greatly affected the way I see and consider patients on placement. 

Do you feel prepared to go into clinical placement when starting third year? How are you prepared?

Placement starts in second year for us – we get ~6 weeks of it dotted throughout the year and this really helps with getting accustomed to being on the wards and approaching both patients and medical staff. We also have clinical skills sessions throughout medical school where we get to practice our examination skills on models (and each other!) as well as communication seminars where we have the chance to practice our history taking skills in small groups and with simulated patients (actors). Full time placement from third year onwards is still a big transition but these sessions plus the taste of placement in second year really help to ease this.

Is there an opportunity to engage in dissection?

Liverpool teaches via prosection so all the bodies and organs we see are already dissected – this gives us the time in our anatomy session to really appreciate the anatomy without fear of dissecting incorrectly. Our anatomy sessions are facilitated by expert instructors who are always willing to answer any question we might have!

What sort of support is available to students who might be struggling?

The medical school and the wider university have provisions for this; the medical school has a wellbeing team where you can talk to a staff member about anything that is bothering you; we also get an academic advisor who you will have scheduled meetings with ~three times a year but you can schedule to see them more often if you need to and talk to them too. If you live in UoL accommodation in first year you will have UoL also has a welfare and guidance centre with staff members that you can book in to speak to and there are two GP sites on campus if you want to talk to a doctor or a nurse.

What are the exams like?

At Liverpool we have our  formative exams roughly halfway through the year and all our summative exams take place towards the end of each academic year. In first year your written exams only count towards you progressing to second year; second year onwards all end of year written papers count towards your decile and affect your FPAS points. In second year you also will have a formative OSCE and from third year onwards your end of year OSCEs will count towards your decile. Liverpool is updating its course at the moment but written exams test you on all the systems you cover in medical school; in first year you cover the basic sciences like anatomy and physiology which is tested on the end of year exam. As you move up the years the questions get more complex and you will be tested on key aspects like treatment, prescribing and pathophysiology. Exams normally are made up of two types of multiple choice questions – extended matching questions and single best answer questions – but in later years include short answer questions too.

How strict are they on failing exams?

If you fail your exams you will have an opportunity to sit a resit during summer so you get a second chance. If you fail these exams you will have to go in front of a panel and explain why you should be allowed to resit the year(e.g. health issues in the year or family members passing away). I know a few people this has happened to but from what I’ve heard the panel is normally quite understanding.

How is CBL different from PBL?

To the best of my knowledge, problem based learning (PBL) is a method where students do the bulk of the learning via cases and pick out the key points themselves. With case based learning (CBL) we do have cases as a big part of our curriculum, but we are also given compulsory lectures by doctors and we have set learning objectives that we should aim to meet by the end of that particular system. Basically CBL is the perfect mix of PBL and a traditional course!


Thank you to Anthonia for answering these questions! You can find out more about her on Instagram and YouTube:


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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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