Welcome to the 11th week of the Virtual Medicine Open Day: giving you an insight into each of the UK medical schools and the opportunity to ask current medical students about the realities of studying there!

This post is written by Eleanor Deane, a medical student intercalating between 3rd and 4thyear at BSMS. 

Brighton and Sussex Medical School gets continually high student satisfaction scores and is a small medical school with a family feel. It is based in one of the sunniest cities in the UK and means you get to live by the sea. If all that interests you, you can find out more in this post. As a disclaimer, some of the curriculum or teaching may change slightly each year, so might be different once you get there. If in doubt always check the BSMS website. 


  1. An Overview of Teaching Methods
  2. Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at BSMS
  3. The Non-Medical Stuff
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. 3 Top Tips For Applying to BSMS
  7. Q&A

An Overview of How We Are Taught

BSMS have ‘Phase 1’ in year 1 and 2 and then move to hospital placements in year 3. Here, I will focus on how we are taught in phase 1. 

Systems-based approach

BSMS used a variety of teaching methods, and there is an emphasis on the ‘patient journey’. In years 1 and 2 you study the normal and abnormal functioning of the body. You have 3 10-week terms each year which are systems-based. Year 1 is 1) Foundations of Health and Disease 2) Heart, Lungs and Blood. Year 2 is 1) Neuroscience and behaviour, 2) Reproduction and Endocrinology and 3) Musculoskeletal and Immune System. 

This is predominantly-lecture based with some smaller group teaching to consolidate some of the learning. There are also symposiums which are when you have different lectures for 3 hours and part of this is usually involves a patient sharing their experiences.


In phase 1, you will be taught anatomy every term as you work through the systems. Anatomy teaching includes cadaveric (full body) dissection, prosection, living anatomy and ultrasound sessions. Prosection is where you study a part of the body that has already been dissected by an experienced member of the anatomy team. In living anatomy, you learn about surface anatomical landmarks which are useful to clinical examination. BSMS also 3D print different anatomical structures. 

Early clinical experience 

In first year, you will also have one day a week with a clinical focus to develop history and examination skills and includes primary, secondary and third sector placements. In year 1 you also spend time visiting a new baby and their family over the year and in years 2 to 3 you visit a patient with dementia or a chronic condition. 

Student selected components

You also get to choose a student selected component (SSC) which run each term from year 1 to year 3. These allow you to discover topics in greater depth. Examples of SSCs I have chosen include ‘Introduction to Moral Philosophy’, ‘Psychology of Eating disorders’, ‘Science of Consciousness’, ‘Reproductive ethics’ and ‘Creative writing for professional development’. 

After Phase 1

From 3rd year you are hospital-based. Between 3rd year and 4th year BSMS give you the opportunity to intercalate which means you can go and spend a year studying a degree at any UK university of your choice. In 4th year at BSMS, you get the opportunity to carry out your own research project throughout year 4 and present it at the BSMS conference. 


A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic

Here is my timetable for Year 1, Term 2, Week 3 as an example:

As you can see, there is a combination of lectures, module tutorials (smaller group teaching), the weekly SSC, dissection sessions and living anatomy sessions. I tried to pick a week that was representative of an average week in 1st year. Tuesday is a clinical day which normally consists of lectures on clinical skills, small group teaching with your GP facilitator or sessions with actor patients in the morning, then in the afternoon there would usually be a placement. For further insight into life as a first-year I would recommend visiting this page.

The Non-Medical Stuff

In 1st year you either live of Sussex University Campus or Brighton University Campus and the medical school teaching building is a 10-minute walk between the two halls of residence. As a BSMS student, you get to choose societies and sports at BSMS, Sussex Uni and Brighton Uni. This allows you to pick a sports team of a suitable level or time commitment. I have played badminton for Sussex University and run cross country races with Sussex university athletics. With the BSMS refugee society, I went to Calais to volunteer in one of the warehouses that provide supplies to refugees. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved with outreach and widening participation to medicine. 

The university is on the edge of the South Downs so there are some lovely routes to walk, run or cycle nearby. In 2nd year you move out of halls and most people tend to live between the university and the coast. In 3rd year you are based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital which is next to the seafront. Brighton is a great city and you will discover things all the time. I’d recommend exploring the Lanes and North Laine if you visit. As a city, Brighton celebrates the arts and there is the month-long Brighton Fringe Festival every year. I would recommend googling ‘Reddit guide to Brighton’ and visiting some of the places mentioned.

Pros of Studying at BSMS

The early clinical exposure and clinical skills training is good as it gives a context for your science-based learning. 

BSMS is a small and friendly medical school, making it easy to get to know everyone.

• Brighton has all the perks of being a city but is still small enough for you to walk or cycle most places.

There are opportunities to do research in SSCs, intercalation and your 4th year individual research project. 

Having the option to easily get involved with societies and sports at BSMS, Brighton and Sussex means you can make really good friends who are medics and also from other courses

• In year 1 and 2 you have exams at the end of each of the 3 ten-week terms, which means you never have to revise for exams during the holiday. 

• You get to live in a warm, sunny area of the UK and by the sea!

Cons of Studying at BSMS

• If you are from a big city or want to go to a big city for university, you might find Brighton quiet. However, it is very easy to get to London from Brighton which is useful and rent here will be less than in London.

• The campus for year 1 and 2 is not in the city, it is a 10 min train/ 20 min cycle/ 30min bus from the city centre.  

• It is a small medical school with 200 in a year so if you feel you would suit a bigger medical school better, BSMS might not be for you. 

• BSMS uses the BMAT so if you have a really good UCAT score you might prefer to apply to UCAT universities.

3 Top Tips For Applying to BSMS

1. Find out as much as you can about the course and the area. When you are excited to study somewhere it can really help with your own motivation and really shines through at interview. You also may get questions related to healthcare in Brighton and why you have chosen BSMS at interview. 

2. I’d recommend trying to get hands-on experience. A lot of my work experience was practical caring experience. I worked as a home carer and volunteered in a hospital and this gave me a lot to talk about at interview. 

3. Make sure to have a look at the Medical Schools Council’s document on core values and attributes needed to study medicine before your interview. Think about what attributes you might expect in a medical student. 

Good luck everyone with your applications!

For the BSMS Virtual Open Day hub visit this page. To get a feel for what Brighton is like as a city see the following Instagram pages: brighton, brightonupdaily, alwaysinbrighton

Thank you Eleanor for writing all about Brighton & Sussex. You can get in touch with her via her twitter:

Your Turn To Ask Any Questions!

Thank you for submitting your questions, they’ve now been answered by a current student – click below to read the answers!

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Posted by:Life of a Medic

One thought on “What’s it Really Like To Study Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School?

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