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Queen Mary in Malta

Curriculum and Assessment

The Medicine MBBS Malta programme has been designed to provide students with the medical knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes that are required to become a competent and safe Foundation Year 1 (FY1) Doctor.

The curriculum is taught in a series of modules based on body systems which, in turn, encompass various scientific and medical themes.

Subjects are revisited and built on throughout the three phases of the course. This means each system is visited a minimum of three times during the programme.

Phase 1

Phase 1 encompasses the first two years of the MBBS programme. It is taught via a series of systems-based modules which introduce the basic biological sciences and address key topics, including the normal structure and function of cells, organs and body systems, the effect of illness on people and their families and the impact of environmental and social factors on health. Students are regularly placed in general practices where they can learn about the clinical context of their growing medical knowledge.

The MBBS Year One Curriculum The MBBS Year Two Curriculum
  • Fundamentals of Medicine (9 weeks)
  • Metabolism (3 weeks)
  • Locomotor (3 weeks)
  • Cardiorespiratory (4 weeks)
  • Student Selected Component 1b (2 weeks)
  • Human Development (3 weeks)
  • Student Selected Component 1c (2 weeks)
  • Brain and Behaviour (3 weeks)
  • Expansion of knowledge gained in Year One modules
  • Cancer
  • Human Science and Public Health

Phase 2

Phase 2 incorporates Years 3 and 4 of the MBBS programme. Students are introduced to clinical medicine through a series of placements in our associated teaching hospitals and community placements in Malta and Gozo. In addition, they regularly return to the medical school for teaching weeks and assessments. Year 3 focuses on general medicine and surgery while Year 4 addresses the specialities. Students' knowledge and clinical skills are enhanced by working alongside clinical teams. This enables them to expand and apply the knowledge and skills acquired during Phase 1.

The MBBS Year Three Curriculum The MBBS Year Four Curriculum 
  • Cardiology, Respiratory Medicine and Haematology
  • Endocrine, Renal, Urology and Breast
  • Surgery, Gastroenterology and Hepatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Paediatrics
  • Musculoskeletal, Health Care of Elderly, and Dermatology
  • Psychiatry and Neurology


Phase 3

The final year of the programme provides students with clinical and community placements, practical skills and first-hand experience of the working life of an FY1 doctor. It is a year dedicated to preparation for practice. The core curriculum in weeks 1-29 takes place on the Maltese islands. In the remaining weeks of the programme, students will carry out their electives and Student Assistantship. This placement will depend upon the country and health system in which students will be working after graduation. We will try to organise as close a match as possible with their clinical experience at the end of year 5. However, this is subject to immigration requirements of the country in question, as well as capacity. Those staying in Malta for FY1 will be placed wherever possible in the hospital and with the team they will work with as qualified doctors.

The MBBS Year Five Curriculum
  • Surgery
  • Anaesthetics and Critical Care
  • Emergency Medicine and General Internal Medicine
  • SSC – Elective
  • Student Assistantship/Shadowing


Medical Electives 

Student Selected Components (SSC)

Each year, students must complete a number of SSCs that differ as they progress through the course, ranging from clinical and non-clinical academic learning experiences, patient interviews and history-taking to active research experiences and full-length clinical placements.

A portfolio of SSC choices will be made available for students to choose from. This portfolio will include key subject areas, such as dissection and a variety of other clinical and non-clinical projects similar to those offered in the UK but also vastly adapted to the Maltese context and resources. The School will support the option of students from either site transferring over for a particular SSC experience. SSCs are an integral part of the curriculum, enabling students to demonstrate mandatory competences while allowing them a degree of choice to study areas of particular interest to them.

SSCs range from basic sciences (biochemistry, anatomy, physiology and pharmacology), to clinical specialties, community and public health, ethics and law as applied to medicine, as well as understanding the importance of research in the development of medicine. Students are encouraged to pursue any area related to medicine or medical sciences that are of particular interest to them. Students are also encouraged to organise their own SSCs.

The pattern of assessment is a combination of continuous assessment and regular examinations throughout the programme, with final exams each year. A scheme of merits and distinctions rewards excellent or outstanding performance across each sector of the curriculum. There is also a comprehensive scheme of prizes to recognise special ability both in the main examinations and in specialist subjects.

Continuous assessment

Continuous assessment provides you with regular opportunities to consolidate your learning. You can monitor your own progress and teaching staff can identify students who may need additional help with their studies. Continuous assessment takes many forms: short in-course examinations, written accounts of problems or cases studied, poster, clinical or other presentations, log-books, work-books, direct observation or clinical firm grades. This approach to the end-of-year examinations results in less cramming and examination stress for students.

End-of-year examinations

End-of-year examinations measure progression through the core curriculum and use a range of innovative assessment methods. Written papers test knowledge and its application to problem-solving, with extended matching questions, short answer and modified essay questions often used in conjunction with clinical scenarios. In addition, computer-based exams for anatomy, histology and data interpretation are used in the first two phases of the programme.

Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs)

These are used from the first year of the programme to assess competence in clinical, communication and practical skills. Students move through a series of stations, where they have five or ten minutes to perform a specified task with a real or simulated patient or a mannequin.

Formative assessment workshops

Formative assessment workshops (where scores do not count) and informal feedback in small group teaching sessions help you develop your knowledge, and personal and group skills throughout the programme.

Assessment of Student Selected Components

SSCs are assessed individually on a simple grading system, which build into a portfolio covering many aspects of medicine. They must be successfully completed at the end of each year in order to progress to the next year and can help inform the award of merit in other parts of the programme.

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