Developing an outcome-focused core curriculum


Dr Patsy Stark, The University of Sheffield, Academic Unit of Medical Education, 1st Floor, Coleridge House, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK. Tel: 0114 271 5939; Fax: 0114 242 4896; E-mail:


Background  Many UK medical schools have modified their curricula to meet the requirements of the General Medical Council and other external agencies. In particular, efforts have been focused on increasing integration and reducing factual overload through the definition of a core curriculum. Various approaches to curriculum change have been adopted in an attempt to meet such demands.

Purpose  This paper describes a curriculum development process, which commences with a clear vision, adopts an outcome-based approach and identifies clear statements of learning outcomes. The process led to the development of an outcome-focused core curriculum structured around clinical problems, which is available to all students and staff.

Conclusion  A model of curriculum development has evolved which is relatively simple in concept, and appears to be easy to comprehend by students, teaching staff and visitors from other institutions. It provides a practical framework for managing the difficult problems of integration and factual overload. It should be of general interest and applicability to other schools with health professional programmes looking for a realistic and acceptable way of defining a core curriculum.