Programme specification

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Programme title:

iBSc in Cardiovascular Science

Final award (BSc, MA etc):

(where stopping off points exist they should be detailed here and defined later in the document)

Integrated BSc in Cardiovascular Science

UCAS code:
(where applicable)

Cohort(s) to which this programme specification is applicable:

(e.g. from 2015 intake onwards)

3rd year MBBS (intake from 2016) or equivalent for external students (intake from 2017 onwards)

Awarding institution/body:

University College London

Teaching institution:

University College London


Population Health Sciences

Parent Department:
(the department responsible for the administration of the programme)

Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences
(School of Medicine and Life Sciences)

Departmental web page address:

(if applicable)

Method of study:


Full time only

Criteria for admission to the programme:

Successful completion of years 1 and 2 of the UCL MBBS programme or equivalent from a UK medical school

Length of the programme:

(please note any periods spent away from UCL, such as study abroad or placements in industry)

One academic year full-time

Level on Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)
(see Guidance notes)

Level 6: iBSc degree

Relevant subject benchmark statement (SBS)
(see Guidance notes)

QAA Benchmark Statement: MBBS degrees

Brief outline of the structure of the programme and its assessment methods:

(see guidance notes)

The Integrated BSc (iBSc) in Cardiovascular Science provides students with a rigorous foundation in the key knowledge and skills relevant to cardiovascular science and its application in a clinical or healthcare setting. The course is multidisciplinary and has contributions from Departments and Faculties across the School of Life Sciences at UCL, including the Institute of Cardiovascular Science (ICS; the host department) as well as the Divisions of Biosciences, Medicine and Surgery & Interventional Science. The course will consist of four taught modules run over two terms (2.5 credits) and a research project (1.5 credits) in a cardiovascular or disease-related topic, involving either an experimental laboratory-based approach, or for example, an evidence-based review involving data analysis of patient cohorts.

The course has been designed to provide 3rd year medical students with a connected curriculum in Cardiovascular Medicine. Two core modules will be taken - Heart & Circulation and Clinical Case Studies in Cardiovascular Medicine. A choice of complimentary optional modules on different aspects of heart and vascular disease within ICS or elective modules run outside the Institute (e.g. receptor mechanisms; control of cardiorespiratory function), will be offered. Two new modules, including a Research Project geared towards translational medicine and Clinical Case Studies in Cardiovascular Medicine exploring epidemiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology and therapeutic strategies, have been specifically designed for this iBSc. For those students wanting additional transferable research skills, courses covering methods of research, critical analysis, writing/presentation, statistical analysis/interpretation, epidemiology, experimental, project design, fundamental laboratory skills and more advanced molecular biology methods can be taken in term 1.

The course material will be taught using a mixture of lectures, small group based tutorials, journal clubs and practical classes with e-learning sessions. Students will be assessed by individual and group coursework, 3,000 word essay, written exams (short & long answer essays, single best answer MCQs, data interpretation of seen paper), poster and oral presentations. Students must take core and optional courses and submit a 7500 word research project on a cardiovascular topic.

The new clinical Case Studies in Cardiovascular Medicine module will consist of a review of recent literature, a workshop on cardiovascular pharmacology and a focus on evidence-based clinical guidelines, related to one of five case studies of common forms of cardiovascular disease. Students will work in groups to develop group presentations for formative assessment with an accompanying fully referenced handout on aspects of pathology, clinical presentation, risk factors, investigation and management of patients, based on one of the case studies to be presented and discussed in a group-learning environment facilitated by clinical academic staff.

The programme structure is aligned with the design of other Integrated BSc programmes in the Medical School. The current reforms of the NHS and the recent reports stating that “in future the role of the doctor will increasingly include significant input to managing and leading health services. To do this effectively, the Doctors of the future need education and training in appropriate skills and competences” emphasizing the importance of offering a course like this. On completion, our students should be equipped to critically evaluate and assimilate information from research publications and patient-based problems and have developed skills in communicating arguments related to “cutting edge” cardiovascular medicine. These are key attributes of the next generation of medical leaders.

Board of Examiners:

Name of Board of Examiners: ICS iBSc Board of Examiners

Professional body accreditation

(if applicable):


Date of next scheduled accreditation visit:


The course is designed to build upon existing knowledge of cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology and give a sound, but contemporary view, of the scientific basis of cardiovascular disease and how this relates to clinical diagnosis and patient treatment.

Specifically, the course will enable students to:

  • gain a holistic view of the heart and circulation through an understanding of the physiological, pharmacological and pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning cardiovascular function in health and disease

  • develop an understanding of the etiology, diagnosis and clinical management of common cardiovascular diseases through case-based, team work and class discussions

  • appreciate current controversies and as well as the limitations of knowledge in the field of cardiovascular sciences.

  • critically appraise basic science and clinical research papers with respect to experimental design, analytical methods and conclusions in a variety of cardiovascular-related topics

  • have a foundation in scientific methodology and be able to use appropriate standard statistical techniques for analysing data as well as interpreting data

  • to become an independent learner by leading on their own research project in an area of specialist interest.

  • demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills

The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

A: Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding of:
Structure and development of the heart and control by autonomic nervous system; ionic basis of excitation-contraction coupling in normal and diseased hearts; how channelopathies give rise to abnormal ECGs and associated syndromes; anatomical basis of congenital heart disease and treatment strategies (surgical and interventional); diagnostic imaging and how to treat the failing heart.
Physiological functions of the vascular endothelium and smooth muscle and how ion channels, hormones and drugs regulate vascular homeostasis; receptor mechanisms; formation of new blood vessels and therapeutic targeting in angiogenesis; molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease risk factors, including hypertension, obesity, sepsis, inflammation, hyperlipidaemia, diabetes and thrombosis; animal models of cardiovascular disease;
Case studies associated with common forms of cardiovascular disease, where underlying pathology, genetics, clinical presentation, risk factors, clinical investigation, pharmacological and surgical management will be covered.
Statistical analysis/interpretation, experimental project design, fundamental laboratory skills and more advanced molecular biology methods

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
Through a connected curriculum of several modules (lectures, seminars and tutorials) covering key topics in cardiovascular science and associated research methodologies and data analysis techniques. Constant interaction and debate amongst students, lecturers and tutors will be fostered, and geared towards developing critical thinking. Teacher and peer review will provide feedback of students’ level of performance. E-learning using Moodle, Lecturecast, Turnitin, Henry Stewart Talks, online and Biotechnology Company resources will be a key activity in many parts of the curriculum.
Through the modules “Clinical Case studies in Cardiovascular Medicine and Congenital Heart Disease Fundamentals”, which will present contemporary topics in the diagnosis and clinical management of patients, students will gain exposure to key healthcare topics by interacting with internationally renowned clinical leaders in the fields of cardiac morphology, hypertension, heart failure, obesity, coronary heart disease and heart valves. Through this the student will learn about how cutting edge technology via imaging and/or drugs, surgery, devices is being used to treat cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer in the Westernised world.
Students will have to demonstrate their ability to develop and communicate complex and original ideas

Assessment will be based on a variety of methods that include: written individual course work, practicals, research dissertation, group work, individual presentation of presentations including case studies, class participation and exams. All of these will be used to gage students’ academic ability using both formative and summative assessment.

B: Skills and other attributes

Intellectual (thinking) skills:
The programme aims to help students:

  • Find information, critically appraise, organise and use it effectively: communicate ideas both orally and in writing.

  • Confidently and critically appraise papers, clinical cases and cohort studies to assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others and find solutions to problems.

  • Experimental design

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
Intellectual skills are developed throughout the programme. Each module involves discussion of key issues, practice in applying concepts orally and in writing, analysis and interpretation of material, and constructive, continual appraisal and feedback from tutors and peers.
Interactive learning and group work discussions and presentations will enhance students’ learning.
Training how to assimilate teaching and reading material to enable students to search successfully for relevant database and source material and interpret information for coursework, practical reports case studies and essays to a high standard. Good communication skills in writing, speaking and examination will be a key outcome.
Laboratory, analytical and statistical skills in an experimental and clinical setting.

Particularly through group work, individual presentation of clinical cases and research projects.

C: Skills and other attributes

Practical skills (able to):
Fundamental laboratory skills (e.g.pipetting, aseptic techniques etc.)
Advanced genetic/molecular biology methods such as genetic screening, sequencing methods and molecular cloning.
Sequential segmental analysis of congenital heart disease
Critical evaluation of arguments based on evidence, logic and values of different management perspectives to appropriately analyse existing literature (articles, books and reports)
The ability to clearly communicate original and complex ideas and arguments
Preparation and delivery of formal presentations
The capacity to analyse, synthesize and appraise theoretical perspectives in a creative and critical way
The aptitude to plan and complete a research topic within a given time scale

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
A range of methods, including interactive lectures, online study, group work, practical exercises, as well as visits to libraries, clinics, laboratories and institutes. Tutorial support and supervision along with verbal and written feedback will be used.


Course work, class participation, work in teams, clinical case base analysis, and laboratory and research projects.

D: Skills and other attributes

Transferable skills (able to):
Research skills, including statistical analysis, writing, laboratory methods
Analyse complex research studies in a logical and systematic way
Communication and presentation skills.

Diagnosis of common clinical conditions

Problem solving individually and in teams
Time Management
Confidence building

Teaching/learning methods and strategies:
Students learn to present current cardiovascular research and clinical case studies both formally to examiners and informally to other students, with discussions aided either by a course tutor or lecturer.
Practical experience in methods and tools employed in routine, as well as in advanced biomedical science research and diagnostics.
The students are also required to approach a supervisor who has proposed a project they are interested in and negotiate their entry into the lab and to complete the project within that lab in the time frame, complete a written dissertation and present their findings orally.


Through the production and oral examination of posters, PowerPoint and Case study presentations and a dissertation on original research carried out by the student under supervision of an active international class scientist.

The following reference points were used in designing the programme:

  • the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications:


  • the relevant Subject Benchmark Statements:


  • the programme specifications for UCL degree programmes in relevant subjects (where applicable);

  • UCL teaching and learning policies;

  • Staff research and feedback from medical students.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information on the learning outcomes, content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each course unit/module can be found in the departmental course handbook. The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed annually by UCL and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency.

Programme Organiser(s) Name(s):

Professor Lucie Clapp - Director

Date of Production:

February 2014

Date of Review:

23rd October, 2015

Date approved by Chair of Departmental Teaching Committee:

16th November 2015

Date approved by Faculty Teaching Committee


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