Undergraduate Education

Undergraduate medical students currently spend about 15% of their learning time based in general practice and other community based health related settings. The Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health (PCPH), is closely linked with the medical school’s main hospitals and primary care trusts and has an extensive network of teaching practices provides a range of academic activities, including education, research and development, supported by appropriately trained staff, learning materials and informatics.

Information on all the subjects taught as components of the MBBS Programme for the UCL Medical School is available in the Community Based Teaching web pages.

UCL Front Lodges in the Snow

Integrated BSc in Medical Sciences with Primary Health Care


Based in the Faculty of Population Health Sciences, the iBSc in Primary Health Care is now in its 19th year.

This programme offers a unique combination of ongoing clinical experience (attached to a general practice) and the acquisition of academic skills relevant to a career in clinical medicine.

Testimonial from Sally El-Ghazali:

“Some people believe that this course is only for those who want to be GPs.

I’m living proof that this is not necessarily the case! “The Consultation” and “The Patient, Family and Illness” modules covered themes that as future doctors you should be aware of, regardless which branch of medicine you eventually go into.

Plus having knowledge of the structure and future of the primary healthcare sector is always important, as any changes will have implications on the rest of the health system”.

  • Do you enjoy having interactive, group-based discussions and voicing your opinion on health-related topics in a supportive and friendly environment?
  • Do you want to gain a better understanding about the structure of the primary healthcare sector, its future and how it may affect your subsequent practice as a doctor?
  • Do you want to learn the art of participating in an effective consultation and improve your communication skills?
  • Do you FINALLY want to get your head around how to critically appraise a paper (Not only does it come up in finals, but as a doctor you will constantly critically appraise papers so it is an important skill!)
  • Would endless hours in a lab, looking at cells under a microscope bore you?
  • Would it interest you to know that you don’t have to be a budding GP to undertake this iBSc (read the first quote –above)

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then I would say an iBSc in Primary Healthcare is the one for you!

Programme Outcomes

The programme provides the students with theoretical knowledge in the following areas:

  • Research methodology
  • Ethics and governance of applied health research

By the end of the programme students will have acquired an understanding of:

  • The key concepts of clinical science as applied to medicine
  • Clinical research methodology

In addition they would also gain:

  • An appreciation of ethical and governance requirements of research
  • The ability to evaluate scientific literature
  • The ability to design and complete a research project



The programme is made up of four compulsory course units in total: five 0:5 unit modules and a 1.5 unit research project. The course has a clinical commitment (one day a week) in terms 1 & 2.

Each module is taught in 7-9 seminars with much of the remaining time spent following up reading suggested on Moodle, in writing essays and in preparing, conducting and analysing the research project.


A range of methods is used; essays, written exams and a research project.


The teaching is delivered through a combination of seminars, workshops and group based discussions. The content that you will cover can be found under the ‘Modules’ tab below.



PRIM3001: An Overview of Primary Care and its Research Base (0.5 unit)

Module Lead: Dr Tamar Koch - t.koch@ucl.ac.uk

Assessment:   1 piece of in-course assessment (30% of total) plus the exam (70% of total)  

This module covers the historical development of Primary Care and General Practice in the UK, and how its evolution has been influenced by political drives. Students will learn about the structure of Primary Care within the context of the wider NHS, what happens in General Practice and Primary Care, the variety of different primary care professionals and their roles, and how the UK’s health system compares to those of other countries’. The module takes place in term 1.


PRIM3002: The Consultation in Primary Care (0.5 unit) 

Module Lead: Dr Anita Berlin - a.berlin@ucl.ac.uk

Assessment:   1 piece of in-course assessment (30% of total) plus the exam (70% of total)

This module examines the doctor-patient interaction using various theoretical models before analysing the various tasks within consultations. Factors such as consultation style, the patient perspective and the cultural backgrounds of both doctor and patient will then be explored. There will be an opportunity to examine the student’s consulting style within the module.


PRIM3003: The Patient, the Family and the Illness (0.5 unit) 

Module Lead: Dr Surinder Singh - s.singh2@ucl.ac.uk

Assessment:    1 piece of in-course assessment (30% of total) plus the exam (70% of total)

The module will aim to give an overview of the various influences on patients' health, beliefs and behaviours, including personality variables, education, cultural background, social class and environment. It will look at patients' and doctors' perceptions of ill-health, the influences on patients' health beliefs and behaviours, the role of family in the origin, recognition, and management of ill-health. Non-medical forms of primary health care will be reviewed. This module will draw on work from the social sciences such as anthropology, sociology and psychology.


PRIM3004: The Population Perspective (0.5 unit)

Module Lead: Dr Rob Aldridge - rob.aldridge@gmail.com

Assessment:   1 piece of in-course assessment (30% of total) plus the exam (70% of total)

This course enables students to understand the health needs of a population, how these may be assessed and the role of primary care services in meeting these needs. The themes include; principles of epidemiology, assessing the health needs of a population, preventing disease, promoting health, evaluating health care delivery and allocation of resources.  This teaching takes place at The Farr Institute.


PRIM3005: Research methodology and project training (1.5 unit) 

Module Lead: Dr Richard Meakin - r.meakin@ucl.ac.uk

Assessment:   Submission of protocol (10% of total) plus the ‘final’ project (90% of total) 

Training in research methods is an essential component of this course and each student will be required to undertake a project in a primary care setting. This will include principles of scientific method, qualitative and quantitative research methods, ethical issues in research, statistical computer packages and their use, writing a scientific paper, and oral presentation of a project.


PRIM3007: Critical Appraisal of Primary Care and Paediatric Practice (0.5 unit) 

Module Lead: Dr Rose Crowley - r.crowley@ucl.ac.uk

Assessment:   1 piece of in-course assessment (30% of total) plus the exam (70% of total) 

This module will aim to develop students' knowledge and skills in important areas of clinical management in the primary care setting. Students will develop critical appraisal skills, and learn how to apply evidence in decision making in the primary care setting.  This teaching takes place in term 1 and mainly in the Wolfson Building.

Clinical sessions

We start off with a mini-introductory course which is optional and then all students are placed with a designated iBSc GP tutor for the clinical days during terms 1 and 2.  We give GP tutors a variety of suggestions regarding how you can make best use of this time and obvious examples include:

  • Sitting in with the GP and other clinicians seeing real patients
  • Sitting in with the practice nurse/health-visitor/trainees also seeing patients
  • Taking histories (and collecting stories) from patients
  • Observing basic clinical examination
  • Doing examinations where opportunities allow
  • Sitting in with allied professionals – for example the pharmacist/visiting clinicians


Students are required to produce an original piece of research as part of the requirement of the degree programme. These are substantial pieces of work (10,000 words and taking up to 6 months to complete). Students follow a research methods course during the first 2 terms and then are expected to come up with an original research question or attach themselves to an existing departmental research project. They must produce a research protocol and take the project through research ethical committee (REC) approval where appropriate. The students collect and analyse data (collected using qualitative or quantitative methodologies) and then write up the project. Students must perform the work themselves, but are closely supervised by a member of the department.

Previous and current student research projects have included:

  • Information framing and the pre natal diagnosis of thalassemia
  • Patients' views on new patient medicals Doctors' views about health promotion
  • Are GPs involved in a tele-medicine trial representative of all GPs?
  • An exploration of the role of GPs' receptionists (using anthropological methods)
  • GPs' attitudes (in urban and rural areas) to treating IV drug users
  • How people from the Asian community feel about HIV and AIDS
  • Is there an incentive? attitudes of GPs to pharmaceutical reps
  • Primary care services received by the children of people with substance misuse problems
  • Condom use amongst students
  • The needs and concerns of terminally ill cancer patients and their carer, nurse and GP
  • Attitudes of GPs towards changes in the post graduate education system


  • Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs towards waterpipe tobacco smoking and electronic shisha (e-shisha) among young adults in London: a qualitative analysis. Kotecha S, Jawad M, Iliffe S. Prim Health Care Res Dev. 2015 Apr 13:1-9 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25864374
  • Joht Chandan has had an abstract accepted for the forthcoming Madingley Hall conference (January 2014):  Do Special Constables in London feel that they are adequately prepared to meet their first aid responsibility to the General Public/Offenders?
  • Your Life in Their Pocket: Students’ Behaviours Regarding Confidential Patient Information - Shilpa Jethwa, BSc, MBBS; Pauline Bryant, MBBS, MMEd; Surinder Singh, BM, MSc; Melvyn Jones, MBBS, MSc, MD; Anita Berlin, MBBS, MA; Joe Rosenthal, MBBS, MSc Medical Student Education, May 2009; Vol. 41, No. 5

Course Publications by Faculty Staff:


Examination Success

Academic Year No: of Students First Upper Second Lower Second
2014/15* 11 2 8
2013/14 14 1 12 1
2012/13 11 1 10
2011/12 10 2 8
2010/11 9 2 7
2009/10 8 4 3 1
2008/09 11 8 3

*One student withdrew and will re-sit exams 2015/16

Other Awards

  • Amy Garret – Wellcome Vacation Scholarship 
  • Dr Tom Smith – Betuel Prize (runner-up) in the University of London MBBS Gold Medal viva 
  • Dr Uy Hoang – BMJ Clegg Scholar


We have limited places on this programme, which we offer to all UCL students outside the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care. The programme is open to all students who have successfully completed Years 1 and 2 of the medical school programme at UCL.

Application forms can be obtained from the Integrated Degree Office.  General information can be found on the Year 3 web pages: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medicalschool/staff-students/course-information/year-3


For further information about this programme, please contact:

Programme Director: Dr Surinder Singh, email: s.singh2@ucl.ac.uk

Programme Administrator: Sandra Gerrard, email: s.gerrard@ucl.ac.uk

Community Based Teaching

Community Based Teaching

UCL Medical School's commitment to deliver a large proportion of its undergraduate medical curriculum in community means we have several well established programmes in which GPs teach medical students in their own practices, often in subject areas which have traditionally been taught exclusively in the hospital. As well as traditional ‘Core’ General Practice attachments, where GPs supervise individual students for their four-week GP placements in years five and Six, GPs also take part in a variety of innovative programmes of practice based teaching:

The following subjects are taught in General Practice as components of the MBBS Programme in the relevant years:
» Year 1 & 2: Patient Pathways & Integrated Community Care Program (PPICC)
» Year 3: Integrated BSc in Primary Health Care
» Year 4: Medicine in the Community
» Year 5: Core General Practice 1
» Year 5: Care of the Older Person
» Year 5: Child Health
» Year 5: Dermatology
» Year 5: Mental Health
» Year 5: Women’s Health
» Year 6: GP Assistantship

We recruit GPs & Practices to teach medical students throughout the academic year. Teaching Opportunities for GPs booklet provides detailed information of all GP Community Based teaching programmes in terms of content, time commitment and payment.

If you are interested in becoming involved, please complete and return the recruitment form (PDF).

Click on the subject names to view date options for teaching each course. 
» Care of the Older Person - Year 5
» Child Health - Year 5
» Core General Practice 1 - Year 5
» Dermatology - Year 5
» Medicine in the Community - Year 4 (email p.oluyemi@ucl.ac.uk)
» Mental Health - Year 5
» Patient Pathway & Integrated Community Care Program (PPICC) - Year 1 & 2
» Women’s Health - Year 5

Please let us know your availability to teach by completing and returning the forms as instructed on the individual forms.

Tools and resources available to students currently studying at UCL:

Portico Services: an on-line portal that allows you to maintain your contact details with UCL, select your modules, view your timetable and find out your exam results. You can also pay your fees, re-enrol each year and also apply for graduation tickets.
MOODLE: UCL’s on-line learning space. It includes a wide range of tools which can be used to support learning and teaching. It is used to supplement taught modules, usually by providing essential information and materials; it may also be integrated more fully, becoming an essential component of the module. Some modules may have content, activities, collaboration tools and assessments for you to use within Moodle.
The Graduate School: aims to provide support for students in many ways, but particularly, through its Skills Development Programme, Research Funds, Scholarships and Codes of Practice, all of which are detailed on the web site.
IT Support and Training Courses: If you are experiencing IT related issues or would like to know further information regarding the training courses currently on offer at UCL, then visit the Information Services Division website which will point you in the right direction