Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Medical Education

BM4 Programme


The BM4 programme was developed to draw on the existing strengths of graduates, which include effective study and time management skills, the ability to think critically, and written and oral communication skills. Four year programmes of study for graduate entrants to medicine are standard in the United States of America and Canada.

The programme also built on the strengths of the five year programme (BM5). The overall aims and learning outcomes for both programmes are identical and BM4 students take the same final examination as BM5 students, ensuring equivalence at completion.

The first cohort of BM4 students started on the Programme in 2004.

A101 BMBS Medicine (BM4, graduate entry) (4 years)

Key facts

Four year programme for graduates of any subject

Explicit links to clinical topics from year one

Clinical work from the outset, in a dedicated hospital clinical base

Regularly group work in the first two years similar to problem-based learning

Final two years studied alongside BM5 students on the 5 year programme

Elective Opportunity in Final Year

Clinical Apprenticeship in Final year

Principles underpinning curriculum development

The programme is underpinned by three key educational principles which have both informed and guided its development. These are that the curriculum should:

  1. Enable students to relate their learning to future practice;
  2. Encourage students to understand concepts and principles rather than merely reproduce factual knowledge;
  3. Encourage students to adopt independent thought and self-direction in learning

Medical students need to study a wide range of science and social science disciplines that underpin medical knowledge, understanding and practice. The BM4 curriculum has been designed to encourage students to link their knowledge and understanding across disciplines and to integrate the theory and practice of medicine.

In the first two years, all learning is structured around clinical topics, and students learn in small groups, using ‘trigger materials', relevant clinical experience and a small number of lectures to achieve stated learning outcomes.

The additional skills and life experience brought by graduates to the course have enabled the development of an innovative curriculum which enables achievement of the BM degree in four years.

The development team

The programme was developed by Dr Jenny Field, Dr Angela Fenwick & Ms Lisa Porges with a team of other staff with a wide variety of expertise. Thus a general practitioner, an educationalist with a social science background and an administrator worked together in the initial development of the programme.

The BM4 team continues to include staff from a range of backgrounds and experience and this is crucial in ensuring the curriculum design remains true to its underlying principles by having staff who are experts in education as well as clinical staff from a range of backgrounds who can ensure the learning relates to future practice.

The current team includes academics with backgrounds in anatomy, physiology, immunology, cell biology, bioengineering, sociology and psychology as well as Clinicians from General Practice, Emergency Medicine, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Public Health, Pathology and Respiratory Medicine. Facilitators for the small groups have been recruited mainly from non-clinical science academics in the Faculty alongside some clinical staff. However recently we have had an increasing number of medicine graduates on the clinical academic foundation programme act as facilitators, and even our own BM4 graduates returning to facilitate.

Continuous Improvements over the Years

The programme has continually developed from inception as a result of the enormous amount of high quality feedback that the students on the programme have provided. Until 2014/15 these have been gradual small changes to individual sessions as well as the introduction of various initiatives including:

Following a review of all the BM curricula in 2012/13 we introduced a New BM4 Curriculum in 2014/15 which has benefited from some more substantial changes:

Privacy Settings