Understanding why people think and act as they do is fascinating! You must agree - you’ve chosen a career (medicine/dentistry) that is focused on interacting with different people every day. Not only is psychology fascinating, it is also fundamental to the practice of both medicine and dentistry. How a person thinks, feels and behaves has an enormous impact on their state of physical and mental health/illness, and of course a person’s health/illness state affects how they feel, think and behave. Mental illness (disorders of thoughts, feelings, behaviours) will affect at least 1 in 4 of us at some point in our lives. All doctors and dentists, irrespective of specialty, will treat patients with mental illness. Intercalating in Psychological Medicine will benefit any medical or dental student, whatever the field in which they are hoping to work. We have had students on the programme who have gone on to work in fields such as, general practice, psychiatry, paediatrics, neurology, anaesthetics, general medicine and even surgery! Many of our graduates go on to have highly successful clinical academic careers.
The programme integrates the interesting scientific disciplines of psychology (the study of mind and behaviour) and psychiatry (the study of disorders of mind and behaviour), and combines science and art by an exploration of how psychopathology is portrayed in the arts. As with the other intercalated BMedSc programmes at Birmingham, there is a strong focus on research and you will spend over 4 months of the intercalation year completing research in an area of psychological medicine that interests you. Apart from one January examination (Research Methods module), the assessments are all coursework and you are given the freedom to determine your own areas for further study. An overriding aim of this programme is to allow you to focus on topics that interest you.
As well as our own students, we have attracted students from all over the UK to study in Birmingham for this year long programme. Students have conducted research in a variety of settings in the UK and abroad (general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, GP surgeries, community mental health teams, schools, universities, internet surveys, laboratories) and on a variety of patient populations (for example, patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, Huntington’s disease, drug and alcohol addiction, diabetes, arthritis, dementia). Other students prefer literature-based research and have conducted literary analyses or systematic reviews.
Many of our students have presented their work at national and international conferences, and a number have won prizes for their presentations. Wherever possible, we encourage and support students in submitting their research for publication. Approximately 100 graduates of the programme have resulted in 51 research publications in high quality peer-reviewed journals co-authored by psychological medicine students.
On completion of the programme you should have knowledge and understanding of:
- Commonly used research methods and data analysis techniques within health and medicine.
- Legal and ethical frameworks of medical research.
- The neurobiological basis of processes of the mind and behaviour.
- The neurobiological basis of mental illnesses.
- The portrayal of psychiatry and psychopathology in the arts.
- The value of fictional narratives, poetry, biography, letters, and journals in medical education.
In addition to enhancing knowledge and understanding we believe our teaching methods with emphasis on feedback and easy access to support strongly support development of the following skills and attributes:
- The ability to critically read and appraise research evidence.
- The ability to produce scientifically valid research.
- The ability to manage a research project from conception to completion with enhanced project management skills which will be transferable to other aspects of your career.
- The ability to effectively communicate your ideas or scientific findings through a range of commonly used presentation mechanisms including oral presentation, poster presentation, production of a journal article and essay writing.
- Enhanced independent learning skills.
- Greater awareness of team working and skills to support this in clinical and academic settings.
- Improved ability to think logically and broadly about a range of problems, drawing on a variety of disciplines to support arguments.
This is a representative sample of comments we have received on student feedback forms:
“Gave me time to think rather than just learn – it was liberating”
“I used to be scared of research but now I’m not”
“I think I now understand better what it must be like to suffer from a mental illness”
“This will be useful in whatever specialty I choose”
“Thought provoking and challenging”
“Well structured – I liked having a theme each week”
“I now have the confidence to argue and discuss topics”
“I've learnt a lot, not just knowledge but so many 'skills' - in terms of presentation/discussion in lectures, structuring arguments, professional approach to research…and so on”
“Now I read books and watch films from a completely different perspective”
“Don’t think this course is an easy option – it’s much harder and much more work than I imagined”
“It’s all so interesting”
“The approachability of the tutors is excellent – this is the best bit of the course”
“This course is completely different to anything we’ve done before…in a good way”
“Made me think outside the box”
Semester 1 (October-December)
This semester consists of three specialist modules covering psychological medicine, one larger module covering research methods and analysis, and the research design module that concentrates on the development of the protocol for the research project that is conducted in Semester Two.
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
- Neurobiology of Psychological Processes
- Neurobiology of Mental Illness
- Psychiatry & Psychopathology in the Arts
- Psychological Medicine Research Design
Semester 2 (January-May)
This semester is dedicated to carrying out, analysing and writing-up the research project. All students will be supported by at least one nominated academic supervisor to support their research activity and will have access to one-to-one research and statistics support throughout the year.
- Psychological Medicine Research Project
This is the module list for 2015, but the programme continues to evolve and you should check the website regularly for any changes for next year.
Standard Fees Apply
All students are entitled to reclaim up to £500 project expenses for conduction of their research. Claims must be accompanied by original receipts. Further to this students who incur travel costs are eligible to apply for an Arthur Thompson Travel Award (up to £500). Applications for these awards will be considered at the end of the programme of study and are not guaranteed. These sources of funding are available to all students irrespective of their primary University of study.
All students who are registered on the MBChB or Dental Programmes at the University of Birmingham are eligible to apply for a bursary to support them during their period of study. The intention to apply should be indicated on the application form and students expressing an intention will receive further information. Bursaries are currently set at £3,000 and are limited. Students with an overall mean mark of <65% in year 2 of their programme of study are unlikely to be awarded a bursary.
Our funding sources mean that we are unable to offer bursaries to students from outside of Birmingham.
The College usually receives an invitation each year from the Royal College of Physicians to submit a limited number of applications for their Wolfson intercalated programme. The deadline for this is usually the end of March which means the programme needs to shortlist by mid-March. Bursaries are up to £5000 and are nationally competitive. Our students have a very good record in securing such awards. Any student interested in applying needs to contact the Admissions Tutor (Dr Lesley Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org) by the 31st of January in the year in which they plan to apply.
Eligible students should:
- Demonstrate a consistent and outstanding academic track record (an overall mean mark >70% in year 2 and consistently high marks in other years. N.B. Because of the need to show consistent academic achievement it is expected that students will be in year 3 or 4 at the time of application. A second year applicant who can demonstrate excellence may be considered but should contact the admissions tutor at the earliest opportunity to discuss this).
- Be applying for an intercalation in one of our science programmes (International Health, Psychological Medicine or Public Health and Population Sciences). As this bursary relates to science projects students on humanities programmes (Health care ethics and law and History of Medicine) should not apply (but should make contact with the relevant programme lead to enquire whether there are any discipline specific bursaries currently available nationally).
- Have a research focus or area of interest (Support will be given during February to develop this into an application).
- Be prepared to work on their application (including designing a research project) during February and early March.
All eligible students who express an interest will have the opportunity to meet with the Admissions Tutor to discuss the application and receive guidance in drafting an application. Further to this there will be the opportunity to submit one draft application by the 28th February for comment. All students will then be required to submit their application by the specified deadline (varies annually but likely to be mid-March). Students will be informed if their application has been selected for submission to the Royal College within 2 weeks. Any student submitted will receive an early and unconditional place on the programme. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to use their work in their application for an internal bursary.