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Year guides


MB16 course is rolling out, new students from 2017 onward should check out the MB21 guides here!


If you liked systems teaching, you’re in for a treat. Year 2 starts off with a clinical placement in the form of an introduction to clinical skills (ICS) week for cardiovascular medicine. From then on, each system is taught through lectures, followed by a corresponding ICS week in that specialty. Systems 2 is made up of respiratory, GI, renal, and integrated physiology (if there’s one thing you take away from integrated physiology, it should be acid-base balancing). Systems 3 consists of the nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems. Year 2 ends with 3D week (disability, diversity, and disadvantage), and your first extended clinical placement in the form of LiTHE (Learning in the Hospital Environment).


1) DO YOUR LIBRARY SSC ASAP – It’s in all caps for a reason. After picking your title, you can spend two weeks or so reading around, and another week planning. Writing 500 words a week (very doable) will mean that you can be done well before the deadline, and possibly even before Christmas! 3000 words may seem like a lot, but it’ll seem like even more if you’re trying to plow it out in three days (still doable, but not recommended).

2) Literature searching is actually a godsend – We know the drill: you get a timetabled session on literature searching, courtesy of the library. It’s the same one you’ll get every year. Why do you need the same one every year? Because the library staff are saints, and realise that even though you weren’t listening the first three times, maybe the fourth time it’ll click that this could be useful. For anyone who still got lost during the session (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), these articles from the Cochrane Library and OvidSP (courtesy of UCL) may be handy.

3) Make the most of preclinical years! If you’re intending to intercalate between years 2 and 3 this is a bit less relevant, but second year is possibly the best time to get involved in things like societies, volunteering, or research (if that’s what you’re into)! You’ve settled in, but you’ve also got a nice structured timetable which will get ripped away from you in clinical years- take advantage of it while you can.

4) Which stethoscope? – Littmann Classic II SE. Any other model will get you ostracised by the junior docs.

(Of course we’re kidding, if you’ve been given one of the higher spec cardiology ones it’s absolutely fine, but the Classic II SE offers the best balance of functionality and affordability)

5) Intercalation is more than just the points – An additional undergrad degree can give you up to four extra points when applying for foundation jobs, and this is the reason that many second years choose to apply for intercalation. However, these four points (fewer if you don’t get a first) pale in comparison to the 35 which are used to score performance in your medical degree. Intercalated degrees focus on the depth of material as opposed to breadth, which is the complete opposite of preclinical medicine. You’ll be required to read to the cutting edge of whatever discipline you choose to intercalate in, whereas most preclinical medicine hasn’t changed in the last 50 or so years. In short, if you don’t like what you’re intercalating in, you’re going to have a horrible time and potentially be worse off for it. Think carefully.

6) ICS weeks are what you make of them – don’t feel pressured to retain absolutely everything! But at the same time turning up is generally a good idea; you’ll start to get a feel for history taking and clinical examination, which are your bread and butter in third year. Whilst ICS weeks aren’t summatively assessed, the things you cover will most definitely come up again and again once you reach clinical years.

7) LiTHE is also what you make of it! The weather’s starting to get nice, and your friends are starting to plan holidays or make some money with a part time job. You get… LiTHE. It’s so easy to slack off for this placement (sometimes it seems like the doctors want you to!), but it can provide some invaluable time to get to know the wards. The workload is pretty light, meaning that you can see whatever you’re interested in. The whole point of LiTHE is to become comfortable being in the hospital as a medical student- it’s much easier to do this without a log book and a clerking portfolio hanging over your head à la third year.

8) Neuro will always be a bit of a slog – Some love it, some hate it, but neuro is probably the most hard work of any of the systems. Linking the concepts in the lectures is key, as it can be tempting to rote learn everything but feel like you understand nothing. Everyone will have their own ways of doing this, so don’t feel put off if your friends are using different approaches. It’s also the only system I’d recommend actually using a textbook for, as some of the lectures tackle the same concepts from different angles; a textbook can help you get everything on the same page (pun fully intended). Check out the library’s selection, or “acquire” a book online for reference.

9) Be a medic parent – if you’ve managed to accumulate any wisdom during your first year at uni, it’s nice to have someone to pass it on to. Meeting the freshers is also a reminder of how far you’ve come, not to mention a great night out!

10) Don’t forget to look after yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Second year is largely just a rinse and repeat of first year in terms of revising for exams, so you might feel like you should have it all figured out by now. If you do, great! If you’re in the vast majority who’ll still feel at least a bit swamped, then asking for help early on is probably the best move you’ll make. Galenicals is running drop in sessions this year for academic and pastoral issues, so if you feel like running questions past some fogeys in fourth year, drop an email to Matt at, or Jean-Luc at

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