Year 1

Welcome to Imperial College School of Medicine

Hello freshers & welcome to Imperial College Medical School! Congratulations on securing your place at one of the world’s best universities.
Starting out as a first year can seem daunting. But worry not – your Student’s Union is here to support you every step of the way as you make your transition from sixth form or college to university life.
Some of your biggest unanswered questions might be about studying here. We have created this page so that you have a better idea of how year 1 is broken down, and the various resources you can use as study aids. So do have a read through these pages, and get excited! You are now officially on your way to becoming doctors.
The start of term can be mind-boggling at first – and you might need to adapt your study techniques to match the new teaching styles and volume of work here. But don’t panic! You will find your feet very soon. And if you don’t / want to chat about the course / want some reassurance about the way you’re tackling the year – please don’t hesitate to contact me via email / phone (details below).
You are all super bright sparks and more than capable of doing amazingly. Remember this, & best of luck this year!
Alice Lee
ICSMSU Academic Officer (Early Years)
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For the majority of you, first year will be a bit of a shock to your system. Living away from home means fending for yourself, but it also means you have full control over your life and your learning. There is scheduled teaching given in the forms of lectures, practicals, tutorials, dissections, PBL sessions etc, and there are exams dotted around in summer term; however other than that, you have complete free-reign of how you learn. Unfortunately the good-old days of leaving everything to the last minute and cramming are over: you are not just learning to pass an exam, you’re learning stuff that will be relevant to you when you are responsible for people’s lives. But enough of that seriousness. It’s vital with a course like medicine to not spend every second of your day in the library, but to find a balance. Fresher’s is the time to make lifelong friends and try out new things – whether it is a club, a society or a new hairdo.

After your first week and a half of introductory lectures (how to use a computer, what to do in a fire alarm – the bare essentials) and occupational health visits, you will start on the first theme that builds on the basics that you have learned in Biology already – this is called MCD. This theme builds a solid foundation for the rest of your medical knowledge. This background knowledge will give you a better understanding of how your body works. The only way you’re going to know what’s wrong is by knowing how it should be normally. There are numerous tutorials and practicals intertwined with MCD, varying from a tutorial on cyanide poisoning to practicals on enzyme kinetics to a blood taking practical. During autumn term you will also experience a module called FoCP.

Starting in this term, you will also get Problem Based Learning sessions (normally fortnightly), which will allow you to integrate your prior knowledge with information from lectures and other resources. It is also a chance to hone your research and presentation skills within the comforts of a small group of friends.

You start with the dreaded Formative that will test you on the material you were taught in Autumn, however I would advise you not to fret too much about it over Christmas, try to enjoy your holiday! The lectures given in term 2 and 3 are all part of two different topics. These are the topics you came to med school for. You even get taught proper anatomy with weekly dissections at Charing Cross Hospital as well as Living Anatomy Sessions.

  • Life Support Systems

    LSS is broken down into two topics, the first one (LSS1) covering everything involving the thorax and the second one (LSS2) covering generally the abdomen.

    Other than the Anatomy of the Thorax, you will be taught about everything to do with the heart and lungs in Cardiology & Respiratory Sciences! These are the biggest two topics in LSS as they’re pretty important and interlink with various topics in the future.

    In LSS2, you get taught the abdomen with lectures on the Alimentary and Urinary Systems plus some lectures on Skin These lectures cover both the normal physiology and the important clinical aspects of the different systems.

  • Life Cycle and Regulatory Systems

    LCRS is pretty self-explanatory with lectures on Endocrinology (how hormones influence your body), Neuroscience (the basics that you will build upon in Year 2), Musculoskeletal with a bit of embryology in the form of Human Life Cycle (You will be taught pregnancy in 60 minutes).

The summative exams, i.e. those that matter, are located in Summer Term: starting with MCD just after Easter. Then the rest of them are at the end of the term: LSS1, LSS2 and LCRS. The format of the papers is generally around 40 “Single Best Answer Questions”, 5 “Short Answer Questions” and sometimes some “Extended Matching Questions”.

SBAs are essentially multiple choice questions, however a couple of them may be right and you have to select the BEST answer. SAQs are marked out of 10 and have a layout very similar to A-level biology questions. They try to integrate different topics into the questions, with a leading 1 mark question that might be followed by a 9 mark or a 4 and 5 marked question. These are the ones people prefer as they can be less specific than the SBAs. EMQs is essentially a matching words/answers with a question or definition. You are given 10 options and 5 questions, however some options may not be used at all or more than once. The intranet (Blackboard) has an exams page with detailed breakdowns and dates of each paper.

You may turn around and go “Multiple Choice? It’s that easy?”, but it’s not quite as easy as it seems. Results are posted a month later and you’ll have completed 1/6 of a way through medschool!

Year 1 > Representation


Why become a year rep?

In the weeks following Fresher’s, you will have an opportunity to run for one of the four positions of being your year’s educational representative. Year Reps are your number one port of call for anything educational.

Years reps attend termly student-focussed meetings called Staff-Student Liaison Groups (SSLG) where students can voice their opinions to the course leaders themselves. The Faculty of Medicine and ICSMSU pride ourselves on the strong relationship we have with each other and how changes actual occur from student feedback and suggestions. In the past, year reps have had huge impacts on making exams more bearable by spreading out them out at the end of year 1 and 2. They have also started from a student suggestion to provide us with valuable exam feedback, which we never got before.

So if you like being in the know and are passionate, enthusiastic and wouldn’t mind being the voice of your year, then we want you!


Going to a new place with new people and a buzzing atmosphere allowed me to start completely new. There are so many people to meet and so much to get involved with. In my opinion academically first year is about learning how you learn best. Lectures are a completely different set up to school lessons and it takes a while to get the hang of it. It is important to remember that everyone finds a different learning style more easy, so it is best to find yours.


The Formative & Summatives from a Student’s POV – Steve Tran

This webpage has been designed as a learning tool for you to come and find current revision resources that are available to you in one place.

Ensure that you make the most of:

  • Self tests accessible via Blackboard
  • Blackboard discussion boards
  • Student and staff-led tutorials throughout the year
  • e-Books, books etc available through the library
  • A student-written EMQ and SAQ question bank (coming soon!)

DISCLAIMER: All the material found on this page are student-made, so may contain errors, mistakes or in some cases be incomplete. They are also only for personal use. If there is a discrepancy with the material, please follow what the lecturers’ material

Student Led Tutorials

Click to download Ken Wu’s Metabolism Tutorial Dec 2012
Click to download Cheng Zhang’s Muslim Medic Microbiology Tutorial 1/12/2011

Link to all the Muslim Medic tutorial slides

Revision notes

Please look at the Notebank available here: