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”