Dr Marina Sawdon

PhD, SFHEA, PGCert (T&L), BSc (Hons)

Director of Assessment & Associate Professor of Medical Education

Role at Hull York Medical School

In my role as the Director of Assessment, I provide strategic and operational leadership in the development and delivery of assessment in the school, including the MB BS (undergraduate medicine, including Gateway) programme, the Physicians Associate programme and the Health Professions Education Certificate, Diploma and Masters programmes.


Marina graduated in 2002 with a PhD in the cardiorespiratory response to trauma at Durham University and again in 2008 with a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. In 2019 she received recognition as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the University of Sunderland's Vice Chancellor's Teaching Fellowship award for her teaching and learning innovation in medical education.


Medical education research

Marina's main area of research is within the field of medical and healthcare education, specifically in the assessment of professionalism in health care students and professionals. Other research has been in the field of simulation based education and innovative teaching practices. Before this, Marina specialised in trauma research, specifically the effects of trauma on the autonomic control of the cardiovascular system and how this leads to alterations in cardiovascular reflexes, haemodynamics and response to fluid resuscitation.

Summary of research in the Assessment of Professionalism

Robust measures of professionalism continue to be elusive. This may be attributed to the complex nature of professionalism, which goes beyond the application of knowledge and skills to encompass humanism, accountability, altruism and the pursuit of excellence. It is known from the wider literature on work psychology that conscientiousness is the single strongest predictor of work place performance, and an expanding body of research confirms that this is also true in health care. We have developed an objective, scalar measure of diligence or conscientiousness; the Conscientiousness Index. This can be used as a proxy measure of the trait of professionalism, and it is now being explored in postgraduate health care settings. It has been shown to be valid and reliable and correlates strongly with staff and undergraduate medical students' views of professionalism. We have used it as a research tool, and for summative assessments in undergraduate medical students. The Conscientiousness Index in years 1 and 2 of undergraduate medicine has recently been shown to have predictive validity for later performance in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.

This research into measuring professionalism has had national and international impact and is influencing policy in bodies such as the General Medical Council, Health Professions Council and at Government level in the UK, and has been incorporated into the formal assessment procedures of undergraduate medical students at Durham, Newcastle and Sunderland Medical Schools.


Marina has previously taught cardiovascular, respiratory and renal physiology to Phase 1 (years 1 and 2) undergraduate medical students at Durham and Sunderland medical schools, and assessment theory and practice on PG Medical Education programmes at Durham and Sunderland.

Postgraduate research supervision

Improving assessments in medical educations, assessment of professionalism

External roles

External Examiner for Years 1 and 2 of the MBBS5 programme at St. George's, University of London medical school.

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (now known as Advanced HE)Member of European Team Based Learning Board

Honours and awards

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Vice Chancellor's Teaching Fellowship award for teaching and learning innovation in medical education (University of Sunderland)