Brighton and Sussex Medical School

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Coordinates: 50°51′54″N 0°05′06″W / 50.865°N 0.085°W / 50.865; -0.085

Brighton and Sussex Medical School
BSMS logo.png
TypeMedical school
DeanProf Malcolm Reed
LocationBrighton, Sussex, United Kingdom
Typical OfferA*AA - (To include Biology and Chemistry at advanced level)
AffiliationsUniversity of Sussex and University of Brighton

Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is a medical school formed as a partnership of the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. Like other UK medical schools it is based on the principles and standards of 'Tomorrow's Doctors', an initiative by the General Medical Council outlining the role of British practitioners. Since opening in 2003, BSMS has produced more than 1,500 new doctors who now work across the UK.


The first intake of students began their five-year medical degree programmes in September 2003. The school was opened as a part of the British Government's attempts to train more doctors, which also saw Peninsula Medical School, University of East Anglia Medical School, Hull York Medical School and Keele University Medical School open their doors.

The school is one of a number of new medical schools formed in the UK following the Labour Governments 1997 election victory. Students are technically full members of both universities with access to both sets of facilities. The school gained its licence in 2002, its initial course being a heavily modified version of the University of Southampton course. It admits approximately 136 students per year with all of them being based for the first two years on the split campus at Falmer.

Since then, it has become one of the most popular medical schools in the country. According to UCAS statistics, 2005 saw BSMS as the most competitive medical school to gain a place at. In 2017, the National Student Survey ranked the school as 1st in the UK for student satisfaction.[1]

The school makes use of five libraries: the University of Sussex library, the University of Brighton library, the Sussex Education Centre Library, the Princess Royal Hospital library and the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS trust library.


The University of Sussex is situated in the village of Falmer, just out of Brighton and has direct pedestrian access into the South Downs National Park. Falmer is roughly 9 minutes by train from Brighton City Centre. The campus is situated across the A27 and South Coast railway line from the Sussex Falmer site. Both the Brighton and Sussex Falmer sites have accommodation, shopping facilities and other ancillary services.


The curriculum is a blend of both progressive and traditional teaching methods, based around lectures, practicals and small group based learning mostly taking place on the University of Sussex campus. BSMS does not use Problem Based Learning.

BSMS main building on the University of Sussex campus at Falmer

The University of Brighton provides the professional aspects of the course through its faculties of health, sciences and engineering using experience from other healthcare courses such as nursing and midwifery. In contrast Sussex provides primarily biological science and anatomy teaching for which it is better suited due to the close proximity of the Sussex portion of the medical school to the University of Sussex school of life sciences 'John Maynard Smith' building. Also located close by are the medical research building and the genome damage stability and control centre (an MRC research facility).

The medical school requires dissection of human cadavers as a compulsory part of the course. This means the course is more anatomically based than that of many other modern UK medical schools.[2] As well as the emphasis on anatomy, BSMS also gives early clinical exposure, with students from preclinical years regularly going on placements in both the primary and secondary care sectors.

Undergraduate course[edit]

The five-year medical degree at BSMS leads to a qualification of Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (BM BS). BSMS admits 135 new students each year.

Postgraduate courses[edit]

BSMS offers a number of full and part-time postgraduate courses, as well as research degrees.

The intercalated degree[edit]

Although BSMS does not offer an accelerated graduate entry programme, subject to performance students may be offered the opportunity to study subjects of their choice in greater depth by taking an intercalated Bachelors or Masters level degree, resulting in an extended 6-year course. This is taken between the third and fourth years of the BM BS programme, and provides the necessary academic background for those who wish to embark on a career combining medical practice with medical research or teaching. BSMS offers a range of intercalated degrees (at the MSc level) open to its own and external medical students (see It is also possible for BSMS students to transfer to another university to undertake an intercalated degree, and then return to complete the medical course at BSMS.

Teaching hospitals and clinical placements[edit]

Students will undertake a range of clinical placements, mainly at the Royal Sussex but extending into other trust and primary care settings. The University Hospitals NHS Trust provides a full range of clinical specialties with major centres in cardiology/cardiovascular surgery, cancer, renal dialysis, neurosurgery and HIV medicine. In 2017, there were 12 hospitals affiliated with the school.[3]

The clinical placements are served in general practices and teaching hospitals throughout the south-east, including many in Kent, and all Sussex hospitals, such as the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Medical students have General Practice placements in years 1, 2, 4 and 5 . In early years, the focus is on practicing communication skills and on learning in the clinical environment. In later years, the focus becomes clinical skills, managing undifferentiated symptoms, minor illness and chronic disease. In the final year, students carry out student-led surgeries, under GP supervision. In these sessions, students see patients independently and start to draw up management plans.

The Department of Primary care and Public health is very active in research, and there are opportunities for students to get involved in health service and clinical research projects as part of their medical training. There is also an active student GP Society.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital[edit]

This hospital is part of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and provides general hospital services and specialist services, including cancer Services (Sussex Cancer Centre Fund, Cardiac (heart) Surgery, Maternity Services, Renal (kidney) Services, Intensive Care for Adult and Intensive Care for newborn babies. It also houses the new Audrey Emerton Building, a medical education centre and library where 3rd and 4th years are based. It was opened by Baroness Audrey Emerton in 2005.

The Brighton General Hospital[edit]

Brighton General Hospital is the headquarters of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust but also hosts some services provided by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust.

The Princess Royal Hospital[edit]

The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, is part of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust. It is situated in the heart of Mid Sussex and the hospital enjoys far reaching views over the South Downs.

Regional attachment[edit]

In Year 5 students undertake clinical attachments in two different regional locations allocated from: Chichester, Eastbourne, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Redhill, Worthing and Brighton. Attachments will be available throughout the range of departments in an acute district general hospital, as well as community placements in mental health and general practice.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust[edit]

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest teaching Trusts in the country providing general and specialist acute hospital care for more than a million people.

Services are located on two main sites, the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath and the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, which work in partnership with other local community hospitals, GP practices and clinics.

The Trust provides district general hospital services to the local population of some 460,000. It also provides a range of specialist services including cancer services, neurosciences, cardiac surgery, renal services and intensive care for adults, children and newborn babies. The Trust is a very large public sector employer, employing some 5,500 staff with an annual budget of over £300 million. The Trust manages around 1,140 beds and provides the majority of its services from two main sites:

  • The Royal Sussex County Hospital campus (including the Sussex Eye Hospital) in Brighton
  • The Princess Royal Hospital campus (including the Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre) in Haywards Heath.


The Brighton and Sussex Clinical Investigation and Research Unit (CIRU) is a £4 million state-of-the-art facility which offers a range of specialised equipment and resources to carry out clinical investigations, patient-centred research and research training. It is available for use by researchers from the regional health and academic sectors. It is a partnership between Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. The unit opened in September 2006 and has been developed to underpin the development of the medical school and Trust's research strategy.


The Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre (CISC) is located on the University campus at Falmer. It opened in summer 2007. It houses an integrated Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography (PET-CT) imaging system and a 1.5T Magnetic Resonance (MR) imager. It provides an important resource for the School's research, particularly in oncology and neuroscience.

Institute of Postgraduate Medicine[edit]

The Institute of Postgraduate Medicine (IPGM) was founded in 2000 with Professor Richard Vincent as the Head of School. In 2006 it became one of the four academic divisions of Brighton and Sussex Medical School. The department contributes to both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and also to the research output of the School.

With 80 modules up to Masters level, IPGM provides three main programmes of study including:

Clinical Specialties – Cardiology, Diabetes, Nephrology, Trauma & Orthopaedics.

Public Health – Child Health, Epidemiology, Research Methods and Critical Appraisal, Women's Health and Psychiatry.

Institute of Post Graduate Medicine, BSMS runs PG courses in Public Health and Management to meet the needs of doctors and other senior health and environmental colleagues in delivering and managing the public health and/or environmental agenda. Participants gain an understanding of public health and management issues and the various roles of all the professionals involved in both the statutory and non-statutory sectors.

Professional development – Primary Care, Personal Development, Leadership, Medical Education, Quality & Clinical Governance, Evidence-based Practice, and Knowledge & Management.

Staff research projects in the department include the preparation and support of medical teachers involved in inter-professional education; complexity theory in medical education, leadership and management; experience of non-graduates studying Masters courses; and the development of clinical reasoning in medical undergraduates.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

Brighton and Sussex Medico-Chirurgical Society ("Med-Chi")[edit]

All BSMS students are automatically members of the Brighton and Sussex Medico-Chirurgical Society which meets monthly on Thursday evenings at the Audrey Emerton Building main lecture theatre. The Society was founded in 1847 and continues to provide educational sessions to medical students and doctors on diverse topics related to medicine, from clinical care to global health and medical humanities. BSMS students are encouraged to attend to discuss key medical issues, meet colleagues and to continue a fine historic tradition. Further information about the society can be found at the Med Chi website.

BSMS MedSoc[edit]

At the centre of student life is BSMS MedSoc. It works with both Students’ Unions to organise sports and social events specifically aimed at medical students, such as balls, cabarets, talks and charity marathons. It is similar to a university students' union and acts as an umbrella organisation - providing funding and support for various societies and sports clubs at the medical school. Further information about the society can be found at the BSMS MedSoc website.

BSMS Theatre Company[edit]

The first ever BSMS Medic Revue took place on Saturday 10 November 2007 in front of a sell-out audience in the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton. The cast took the sell-out show to the Brighton Fringe Festival on 13 May 2008, being one of the fastest-selling shows in the fringe that year and earning a 4 star review from Three Weeks, the official Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe Festival Magazine.

The cast made a much anticipated return to the fringe with a brand new show on the 23 and 24 May 2009, again being one of the fastest selling shows in the Fringe that year. On the back of this success, the company were invited to showcase a short set at Komedia, a comedy club in Brighton.

The BSMS theatre company returned to the Brighton Fringe in 2010 and performed at the Brighton Dome as part of the Brighton and Sussex hospital awards ceremony hosted by local comedian, Stephen Grant.

In 2011 the cast performed their latest show at the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton, again to a sell-out crowd. The following week, the company performed a 15-minute set at Komedia. The cast were also asked to perform in the comedy tent at the 'Playgroup' festival in Kent. The company returned to the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2012, where they performed for an extra night.

Further information about the company can be found at

BSMS Surgical Society[edit]

Since the beginning of the medical school in 2003, there has been a highly successful society for students interested in surgery. The society has hosted many successful events, including a hugely popular evening with Professor Harold Ellis. More details can be found at

BSMS Paediatric Society[edit]

The BSMS Paediatric Society was set up in June 2011. Ran by medical students for those interested in a career in child health. The society held the very first National Medical Student Paediatric Conference (NMSPC) in May 2012 supported by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). Delegates included over 250 students from all UK medical schools and individuals from the BSMS BrightMed (outreach program). Prestigious consultants from UK hospital trusts including Great Ormond Street Hospital were honoured speakers at the event. The society is proud to support the only children's hospice in Sussex, Chestnut Tree House in their fundraising efforts and promotion of their fantastic work. The second NMPSC will take place at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in 2013. See for more details.

BSMS Clinical Skills Society[edit]

The BSMS Clinical Skills Society was founded in September 2012 following a series of highly popular revision events for the first year Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) the previous year. The society runs extra-curricular clinical skills sessions for BSMS Students, both on the Sussex university campus and at the Audrey-Emerton Building, as well as yearly OSCE revision sessions in the third term. The society also produces a variety of examination resources 'in-house', specifically tailored for BSMS students although accessible to students from other Medical Schools. More details about the society can be found at[permanent dead link]

BSMS BakeSoc[edit]

BakeSoc is one of BSMS's newest and greatest societies. Founded in 2016 it has held a number of events which raised many funds for local charities and supported the medical school for occasions such as the annual careers fair. Since 16/17 it has formed a strategic partnership with BSMS ShootSoc, both societies have benefitted from the increased awareness and large scale events they host together. Examples include Cakes&Shotguns and Bake-a-Bullet.



BSMS Men's Rugby has been in place since the University was opened in 2003. Whilst small in numbers, the team has gone from strength to strength, winning best BSMS sports team in 2012, whilst narrowly missing out on winning the South East Development League in the same year. The team is expanding and improving year on year, reaching the quarter finals of the National Association of Medical Schools (NAMS) Sevens tournament.

A highly successful 2015-16 season saw the team achieve silverware as both the league champions and Sussex Shield winners. A string of impressive NAMS victories was ended in the semi-final after losing to eventual winners, Southampton.

The 2016-17 followed the same vein, with BSMS ending the year on a high as NAMS plate champions after a closely fought victory over Liverpool Medical School.

At the end of the season the BSMS Men's Rugby team play against the Doctors from the local hospitals; something which is usually a great spectacle but unfortunately it is usually the doctors side who win.


Winning the prestigious BSMS Team of the Year award in 2017 was one of the many achievements made by BSMS hockey in recent years. Competing around the country in a number of medical school tournaments has developed the team and led BSMS to win matches against medical schools with much larger hockey clubs.

The Sussex Healthcare Hockey Club was founded by BSMS students in 2016 with the aim to bring together a variety of health care professionals and students. This initiative allowed these people to get some exercise as well as the ability to socialise with staff they may never have met before.


The BSMS Men's Football Team won the first intramural league, based at the University of Brighton, and finished sixth at the National Association of Medics' Sports tournament in Dublin.

On Wednesday, 22 March 2012 BSMS Men's Football secured the league title with a 7–1 victory over CSL. The win also meant the team had achieved a maximum 10 wins from 10 in the competition. The following weekend the team reached the semi-finals of the National Association of Medics' Sports 2012 tournament in Dundee, Scotland. They were beaten on penalties by eventual winners Newcastle.


BSMS have their own cricket team. Other students/staff play for local sides such as Lewes Priory Cricket Club


Rowing at BSMS was formed in 2014 making it the newest sport on offer at the medical school. It was founded by Joseph Guppy(president) and Guglielmo La Torre(captain). It first began with once weekly gym sessions for the keen but soon grew and in 2015 it opened its doors to the student population of the University of Sussex and in 2016, for the University of Brighton. Now the club is twinned and trains at Ardingly Rowing club, following a rigorous daily training programme making it one of the most strenuous yet rewarding sports available at the Universities.


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  2. ^ Evans DJ, Watt DJ (May 2005), "Provision of anatomical teaching in a new British medical school: getting the right mix.", Anat Rec B New Anat, 284 (1): 22–27, doi:10.1002/ar.b.20065, PMID 15898082
  3. ^

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