Background and Progress

The New Curriculum

UCL Medical School implemented a New Curriculum which built on the strengths of the previous MBBS programme and new opportunities within the School of Life and Medical Sciences and UCLP. With an emphasis on scientific rigour, clinical reasoning and professionalism, achieved through greater integration and better application of educational methods, the new curriculum will prepare The UCL Doctor for the contemporary healthcare environment.

This initiative was led by Professor Jane Dacre, UCL’s Director of Medical Education, with Dr Deborah Gill, Undergraduate programme lead in charge of the day-to-day operations. Sir John Tooke was the Project Sponsor. All governance and work groups included representatives from academic and administrative staff, NHS partners, patients associations and the medical student body.


The MBBS review began in 2007, involved extensive consultation with over 600 stakeholders, and made a series of wide ranging recommendations about the MBBS programme at UCL. The first phase of its implementation began in early 2008 and was mainly concerned with structural and organisational changes that would allow the review’s educational recommendations to be implemented. These were completed in late 2009, after which the team began to concentrate on the content and organisation of the programme, with a strong focus on the student experience throughout the course. This phase was timed to coincide with the new version of Tomorrow’s Doctors, to ensure that these GMC recommendations were taken into account.

A Steering Group and a series of Working Groups were established to focus on four key areas of the recommendations: integration of the programme, both horizontally and vertically, learning objectives and curriculum map for the programme; creative teaching and learning methods ; implementation and delivery across the university and healthcare delivery settings; and financial implications of the changes. These groups were lead by, respectively, Professor Mike Gilbey & Dr Anita Berlin; Professor Peter Delves; Dr Gavin Johnson; and Professor Jane Dacre. They produced a summary steering group report and a set of principles in early 2010, which formed the basis of the strategic direction and proposed changes, and an implementation report in February 2011, describing how the changes might be implemented. Work then started on detailed planning of the changeover to the New Curriculum, which was followed by all UCL medical students from September 2012.

Work to clarify the role of the BSc in the New Curriculum was also undertaken by an iBSc Steering Group (see Integrated BSc Strategy 2010-15 and Intercalated BSc Review 2010).

Implementation progress

Many elements of the new curriculum needed a significant lead time before implementation due to their complex demands on academic and administrative staff, the requirement for further consultation and the need for appropriate notification of existing and incoming students.

Some aspects of the New Curriculum were implemented in the 2010/11 ahead of the main launch: these focused on changes to the first two years of the course and to the final ’preparation for practice’ year.

2011/12 was a busy year of further implementation, pilots and prototypes and extensive evaluation and student and teacher feedback. These included the introduction of a new foundation module, a new patient pathway and the introduction of an authentic NHS e-portfolio. There were also a number of transitional changes to the old curriculum to allow seamless transfer of students between curricula and extensive planning work for all of the new horizontal and vertical modules: from aims through to assessment .

The new curriculum became fully operational in September 2012 welcoming new students for the first time and with existing students moving across to the new programme. Year 5 remained in transition that year and new year 5, the final stage in the implementation process launched in September 2013.