DIY special study modules
Tom Lewis and Michael Innes provide a student guide
Special study modules (SSMs) are intended to introduce students to areas of medicine that would not normally form part of an undergraduate medical curriculum, encouraging interest in diverse areas and adoption of more independent and questioning learning styles.1 Despite such worthy ideals, it is apparent that there is some disquiet among students as to the merit and value of many SSMs.2
We believe that SSMs often fail on three levels. Firstly, the topics being offered may not address issues that students find interesting. Secondly, there is often little attempt to break down the traditional barriers between teacher and learner, with the result that students do not identify with the subject matter. Thirdly, teaching may be organised in ways that conflict with other learning demands. Involving students in the conception, design, and running of SSMs may help overcome these problems.
With reference to our experiences of setting up an SSM in