Queen Mary, Malta: A Comprehensive Guide to Programmes and Placements

Discover key information about Years 1 to 5 of the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

Dr Gianluca Farrugia, a senior lecturer in Basic Medical Sciences and Deputy Head of Student -Selected Components (SSCs), provides a detailed overview of Queen Mary, Malta’s MBBS course and its role in preparing you for a career in medicine.

Years 1 and 2 of the MBBS

The first two years are mostly campus-based, with students learning and understanding health through modules based on the primary organ systems of the human body. These modules are taught via a combination of lectures, practicals in physiology, histology and anatomy as well as by Problem-Based Learning (PBL) sessions that collectively help facilitate a dynamic, varied, engaging and effective learning experience for students.

Academic from Queen Mary Malta University making notes.

Start with the Fundamentals of Medicine (FunMed)

Year 1 begins with Fundamentals of Medicine (FunMed), a 9-week module that covers the basics of medical sciences such as genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, physiology, and anatomy. The module even incorporates an introduction to public health and important academic writing skills. Standout moments in the module are the anatomy practicals, which students really love, and the group-based Problem-Based Learning task, which is the first real assessment task the students must complete.

After FunMed, Year 1 proceeds through system-based modules dealing with how different organ systems (such as the nervous systems and cardio-respiratory system) work in health, furnishing our students with a broad knowledge of how the human body works.

Shape your own learning

Students also get an early opportunity to shape their own learning experience by choosing different Student Selected Components (SSCs): short, two-week learning programmes taking place twice a year, covering a range of medically related topics such as anatomical art, holistic medicine, dissections, rational drug use and first aid. We also offer a small range of clinical placements for SSCs, during which students get the opportunity to shadow, observe and learn clinical practice from medical professionals.

Early clinical exposure of students is further facilitated by Medicine in Society (MedSoc), where students interact with patients through General Practice (GP) placements. Then in Year 2, students visit a geriatric facility in Malta and attend placements with Allied Health Professions to get an understanding of the Multi-disciplinary Team in hospital care.

A group of medical students looking and learning about the human body.

Year 2’s focus on disease

In Year 2, students revisit the same system-based modules tackled in Year 1 (excluding FunMed) but with focus shifting to how these same human systems are altered by diseases and subsequently treated or managed by clinical teams. There is also a more in-depth study of public health principles. 

Enhance your learning with in small groups

Problem-based learnings constitute a central element of our curriculum in the first two years. Students are divided into small groups (about 6 to 8 students per group). Under the guidance of a tutor, students work together to understand and explain the central issues of a presented problem. This strengthens the students’ ability to work in a team, undertake research and present their findings, thereby developing their academic and communication skills.

Year 3 of the MBBS

Develop practical skills in clinical attachments

Students get to experience the exciting world of clinical attachments as a major part of their core learning. In Year 3, students are placed in clinical attachments in General Medicine, General Practice, and General Surgery. These series of placements are undertaken at our associated teaching hospitals and community placements around Malta and Gozo. Find out more from a doctor and a student who explain our medical student hospital placements

Under the guidance of health professionals working within the Maltese and Gozitan health systems, students learn the basic principles of patient-centred care, putting into practice clinical skills and other important tasks such as history-taking, patient communication and overall patient management. There is also more extensive learning of public health, as well as the principles of drug prescription. 

Overall student performance is assessed based on attendance, engagement, and professionalism during placements. Student academic knowledge and clinical skills are also assessed via written assignments, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and written summative exams.

Year 4 of the MBBS focuses on specialities

In Year 4, students delve deeper into the specialties, which include Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Musculoskeletal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Dermatology, Psychiatry and Neurology, and General Practice. Here, students further expand and cement their knowledge of clinical skills, linking the principles of clinical practice with the knowledge learned in their previous years of MBBS. Once again, student performance is assessed based on attendance, engagement, and professionalism. Academic knowledge and clinical skills are also assessed via written assignments, OSCEs and written summative exams.

Moreover, in Year 4, students are given the opportunity to engage in academic research by means of a dissertation task concerning any medical topic of interest, allowing them to put into practice all the academic skills taught to them in previous years and try their hand at creating publishable research under the guidance of their tutors.


Year 5 of the MBBS offers extended clinical attachments

The final year of MBBS is probably the most exciting year for students. Here, students are allocated to a sequence of extended clinical attachments granting them the opportunity to experience general practice, accident and emergency medicine, anaesthetic medicine, and hospital assistantships in other important specialties. These experiences are designed to collectively shape the students into fledgling doctors with the required skills and mindset to start their foundation years. 

We help guide students in developing this same set of skills, professional behaviour, and mindset of patient-centred care. The assistantship model emphasises learning by doing, whereby students shadow Foundation Doctors and actively participate in patient care. Students become an integral part of the medical teams they are assigned to, which enriches their practical experience and cultivates an environment of active learning under supervision, always keeping patient safety at the forefront.

Finally, the SSC programme in Year 5 gives students even more opportunity to experience clinical placements in any other specialty of their choice. This is complemented by the once-in-a-lifetime elective experience that takes place right after their final exams, requiring students to organise one or more clinical placements of their choice either in Malta, the UK or abroad. The elective placement is a transformative experience for students, where they bring together all the skills and learning experienced over the full five years of MBBS.