Study Medical Biology with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 16-18

Also available for students aged 13-15.

Class Summary

This summer Medical Biology course is designed for students who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of the science behind modern medical practice. It uses class discussion, debates, presentations, role plays and written work to explore topics that students might not have encountered before, and to encourage students to think more broadly about human health and how it relates to wider social, political and environmental factors. The lessons aim to be an interactive and challenging introduction to medical sciences, and students are expected to get involved in discussions and to participate fully in class activities.

The course aims to give students a solid grounding in human biology, introducing them to cutting-edge ideas in the field and encouraging a thoughtful and creative approach to contemporary medical issues. This is not a pure science course; it incorporates issues arising from public health and medical ethics in order to give a complete and well-rounded impression of the subject.

The Medical Biology course consists of ten 90-minute sessions, in which the following topics are covered: diabetes, arterial disease, heart attacks and strokes, infectious diseases, brain diseases, the the designing of medical research studies, and medical imaging techniques. Students will even have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on heart dissection, should they wish to try this.

This course provides the perfect introduction for students who are thinking of pursuing future careers such as nursing, pharmacology, midwifery, nutrition or medical technology, or indeed broader related fields such as public health or global development. It may also be of interest to students who have settled on a path in the sciences and who are unsure which specialism they might like to pursue in future. Of course, having future plans that relate to medical biology is not essential for taking this course; it has relevance in all of our lives and students may wish to pursue it out of pure intellectual curiosity and the desire for a challenge.


All students will be expected to be sufficiently confident in English to discuss scientific ideas and participate fully in group discussions and debates.

Suggested Reading

Students who are interested in this class and who wish to do some preliminary reading may wish to read either of the following texts. Neither is compulsory; they are merely intended as a suggested taster for the course if students are interested in investigating the subject before coming to Oxford.

  • Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, by Atul Gawande
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains: One Doctor’s Quest to Heal the World, by Tracey Kidder