Teaching Style: Lecture, PBL, CBL

When choosing a medical school it is important to consider the teaching style offered at the school along with many of the other factors that students usually think of considering such as location or ranking of the university. So why is considering the teaching style so important? Many students fail to consider the teaching style before applying to university, and this is a huge oversight

Exploring UK Medical School’s Teaching Styles

Traditional courses:

Traditional courses are ones with a distinct pre-clinical and clinical split. For this there are : Cambridge, Oxford and Edge Hill. However, there are an increasing number of integrated programmes that adopt the traditional style with a main focus of pre-clinical science years, before main clinical placements are undertaken. These include; Anglia Ruskin, Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh and Nottingham. However, these appear under the integrated section of our guide as the courses introduce clinical contact with patients much earlier than a traditional course. 

Edge Hill 
In the first 2 years of pre-clinical study students will used Case-based learning and team-based learning, with a following 3 years focusing on clinical study. 
Pre clinical years followed by clinical years. 
Traditional course, where the first five terms focus on pre-clinical learning followed by clinical training.
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Problem based learning, or PBL, is taught using small groups (usually around 8-10 students) with a tutor. The aims of the group sessions is to identify a problem or scenario, define the key concepts identified, brainstorm ideas and discuss key learning objectives, research these and share this information with each other at subsequent sessions. Tutors are used to guide students so they stay on track with the learning objectives of the task. It is increasingly used by universities, along with the CBL style of teaching.

Barts and The LondonPBL is the central part of the curriculum, taught along with lectures, practical sessions, e-learning, communication skill sessions and project work.
Hull YorkProblem-based learning, lead by experienced practising clinicians. 
KeeleProblem based learning along with lectures, seminars, clinical skills teaching and also dissection for anatomy teaching. 
LancasterTeaching style is an integration of Problem based learning along with clinical anatomy teaching and lectures for the first phase. This is followed by PBL integrated with clinical training. 
University of East AngliaProblem-based learning techniques are used along with lectures, tutorials and clinical skills/placements. 
GlasgowThe teaching style focuses on problem-based learning following a spiral curriculum, where different subject material is revisited at different stages of the curriculum with increasing depth and clinical focus.The course is split into 4 phases with gradually integrated clinical exposure from the beginning of the course. 


Case based learning, or CBL, is very similar to PBL, but focuses on specific patient cases to identify learning objectives. It is also taught using small groups with a tutor to guide group discussions. Many students like this approach is it goes hand in hand with cases seen in students clinical placements. 

CardiffCase-Based Learning is a modernised curriculum that takes a similar format to PBL teaching styles, but focuses on specific patient cases to focus on learning outcomes. Along with this students benefit from early clinical exposure 
ImperialCase-Based Learning with early clinical exposure. The spiral curriculum is delivered in three phases with a focus on layering knowledge from the previous phase of study. Phase 1 – preclinicalPhase 2 – BScPhase 3 – integration into clinical
Queen’sCase-based learning that integrates clinical, biomedical and behavioural sciences with the integration of clinical placements into the teaching.
ManchesterFocusing on themed Case-Based Learning with the integration of early clinical exposure, the course aims to teach using a wide variety of learning methods. This is further supported by lectures, practical classes which includes anatomical dissection, and clinical experience.  
WarwickCase-based learning is the main teaching style for the medical degree at Warwick, with the support of lectures, small group sessions, experiential learning and clinical skills. In year one you will learn largely through university-based teaching with the inclusion of integrated clinical exposure in various settings.
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    Integrated courses are where clinical and preclinical teaching overlap. These courses also tend to introduce clinical medicine a lot earlier than other courses, with early patient contact, often within the first year, as well as theory-based lectures. Further to this, integrated courses often use a systems-based approach, where you follow body systems such as digestive system to learn the anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry and genetics, as well as the clinical sciences relevant to the system. 

    Anglia RuskinThere are two phases:Phase 1 (years 1-3) focuses on pre-clinical science and relating this to clinical work.Phase 2 (years 4+5)  focuses on primary and secondary care placements.
    Birmingham2 years of pre-clinical study followed by 3 integrated clinical years. 
    Brighton and SussexIntegration of systems based learning with clinical teaching in both primary and secondary placements. In early years you will also cover core biomedical and psychosocial sciences with cadaveric dissection and prosection teaching. In later years you will focus on general specialties and specialist disciplines alike as your knowledge base grows. 
    BristolWith clinical exposure from first year, and more time spent on placement each year. 
    Kent and MedwayFor the first 2 years you will spend 20% of your time in the clinical setting, with the rest of your time spent in lectures and tutorials. Following this, you will spend 80% of years 3 and 4 in the clinical environment, with the rest of your time spent in small group teaching. Finally your 5th year will be spent  on clinical rotational placements and also on your elective placement. 
    King’s College LondonIntegrated: 1 year of pre-clinical with the following years being integrated
    NewcastleThe integrated course gives students early clinical exposure during their study of basic medical sciences is introduced. Case-based Learning is the approach used to learning and teaching during the first couple of years. With later years focusing on clinical skills and clinical practice. 
    St George’sThe first two years provide you with a thorough understanding of clinical science, with clinical work introduced from the beginning of year 1. Following this you will get more clinical teaching including 4th year where you will rotate between 10-week clinical attachments. 
    SwanseaIntegrated spiral curriculum
    BuckinghamThe course offers systems based learning with an integration of clinical practice. 
    AberdeenIntegrated – systems-based course uses clinical cases to act as a focus for teaching.
    ExeterIntegrated course taught with the use of PBL (problem-based learning). Structure overview is two pre-clinical years, followed by three clinical years. Having said this, students get clinical exposure from the first month of the degree programme.
    LeedsFirst two years are mostly taught through lectures, dissection and tutorials. With placement time increasing throughout the years, to nearly full time in year 3-5. 
    LeicesterIntegrated teaching style where students benefit from meeting patients from day one. Enabling you to acquire the medical knowledge and professional competencies that are essential for effective medical practice. 
    LiverpoolOne pre-clinical year with clinical skills sessions included. This year will mostly consist of lectures, workshops and seminars. From year 2 onwards students will undertake clinical placements at local NHS Trusts, GP practices, hospices, specialist services and community services.
    PlymouthThe first two years will focus on your core scientific foundations of medicine within a clinical context. You will start a series of single placements in your 2nd year.Your 3rd and 4th years will focus more on clinical practice and spending time in a patient-centred learning environment. In your final year your will be set to apply the knowledge, skills and confidence you have acquired over the first 4 years by working ‘on the job’ so to speak, as part of a healthcare team in action. 
    SheffieldThe course is designed to integrate basic and clinical sciences throughout the course.
    SouthamptonThe course offers an integrated approach with early clinical contact from the beginning of the course. The course is taught through a range of teaching methods including lectures, workshops, practical classes and structured clinical modules. 
    St AndrewsSt Andrews offers an integrated curriculum within a strong clinical context building on the core principles of; competence, professionalism, reflection and independence. All while providing clinical teaching, forming confident and competent graduates who will become the doctors of tomorrow.
    SunderlandThe course has been designed to be clinically realistic, with teaching activities in the anatomy lab, the use of PBL and CBL (problem-based learning and case-based learning), as well as extensive clinical placements in hospital and community settings. 
    DundeeThe teaching are based on traditional lectures, with the addition of PBL (problem-based lectures) and CBL (case-based lectures). In addition to this students will be taught human anatomy through full-body dissection. Students will also benefit from early clinical interaction from the first year of study. 
    EdinburghYears 1-2 are pre-clinical years, followed by an intercalated degree in year 3. This is followed by year 4-6 which are clinical years.
    NottinghamThe first few years focus on biomedical science themes which are clinical case-based and often involve bringing patients into teaching session. There isn’t specifically clinical exposure in the first few years which makes this more of a traditional course, but the integration of the patient centered learning makes this course have more of an integrated approach. The final two years of the course are the clinical phase where you will be based in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire for your clinical placements. 

    Frequently Asked Question

    →What is CBL and TBL?

    Over time, a variety of methods have been developed to achieve these outcomes. Three commonly utilized methods include: problem-based learning (PBL), case-based learning (CBL), and team-based learning (TBL).

    →What is a lecture-style teaching approach?

    A lecture-style teaching approach is a traditional method of teaching where the teacher delivers information to students through a presentation or speech. The teacher is typically the central figure, and the students are passive recipients of information.

    →What are the advantages of lecture-style teaching?

    Lecture-style teaching can be an efficient way to deliver a large amount of information to a large group of students. It also allows for clear communication of complex ideas and provides structure and organization to a course.

    →What is PBL (Project-Based Learning)?

    PBL (Project-Based Learning) is a teaching approach that emphasizes learning through real-world projects and problem-solving. Students work in groups to identify problems, research possible solutions, and create projects that address the problem.

    →What are the advantages of PBL?

    PBL encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. It also provides a context for learning and can increase student engagement and motivation.

    →What is CBL (Case-Based Learning)?

    CBL (Case-Based Learning) is a teaching approach that uses real or simulated cases to provide context for learning. Students analyze the cases, identify key issues, and develop solutions or recommendations.

    →What are the advantages of CBL?

    CBL encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. It also provides a context for learning and can increase student engagement and motivation.

    →Which teaching approach is best?

    There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the most effective teaching approach will depend on the subject matter, learning outcomes, and the needs and preferences of the students. However, incorporating a variety of teaching approaches, including lecture, PBL, and CBL, can help to accommodate different learning styles and maximize student engagement and learning.

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    Post as “Anonymous”

    AnonymousMedic Mind Tutor

    2 December 2021

    how about Aston medical school?