Health Professions Education Unit

At Hull York Medical School, we are committed to delivering exceptional medical education. The Health Professions Education Unit (HPEU) brings together the scholarship of those engaged in teaching and education development across the School.

The Unit facilitates and provides leadership for many issues related to innovation in learning and teaching, and provides a platform for much of the school’s medical and health care education research.

Our strategic priorities

The HPEU focuses on four key strategic priorities:

  • Scholarship

  • Research

  • Educational programmes

  • Consultancy

The emphasis and balance of these different facets of the Unit’s activity changes from time to time, with impact often most measurable in the areas of overlap as colleagues work collaboratively. As a result, Hull York Medical School is able to demonstrate flexibility and agility as priorities emerge and evolve, particularly in relation to the rapid rate of change in NHS service configuration and the national context of health and social care.

Each domain has clarity and direction but the ability to harness this collective expertise and experience brings the real added value to our work across the school.


Research groups within the HPEU are active and agile, with current core themes centred around the interpretation of large data sets and workforce development. This work is led by Dr Paul Tiffin and Dr Gabrielle Finn. Collaboration and scale is key to our success, with all colleagues encouraged to forge effective alliances with other education departments, faculties and institutions.

We are delighted that in the academic year 2017-18 a key priority has been to establish a number of PhD studentships linked to MB BS (undergraduate medicine) curriculum development, as well as the broader health professional education agenda. These currently include but are not limited to:

  • Assessment of problem-based learning and professionalism

  • Teaching basic sciences in the later, more clinically focused years of a health professional course

  • The impact of longitudinal clinical placements

  • Interprofessional learning

If you are interested in studying with us at PhD level please contact us at:

The Hull York Medical School MSc in Health Professions Education has also provided an interesting range of research projects, including:

  • Utilisation of simulated patients to teach communication skills

  • A curriculum for social accountability in GP training

  • Clinical reasoning in dental education

  • A randomised control trial of personalisation theory in multimedia presentations

  • Training needs for those involved in unexpected child death

We also provide support for NIHR Academic Clinical Fellows, other Academic Clinical Fellowships, intercalated students, as well as education related Student Scholarship and Special Interest Projects.

View our staff's research publications on their individual profile pages.


As well as on-going support for curriculum innovation and change management, the HPEU also offers a wide portfolio of scholarship, knowledge transfer, quality improvement, audit, and curriculum development.

This range of activities can result in fledgling research questions, whilst at other times the emphasis is placed more on how pedagogic research findings can inform and guide the work of our teachers as scholars.

We are committed to providing a collegial and supportive academic environment where colleagues feel they can challenge the status quo, harness support for change in their respective programmes, and identify common purpose and opportunities to be innovative. This year we have identified two key priority workstreams for scholarship:

  • Problem-based learning

This work is led by Dr Marie Cohen, and includes collaboration with colleagues at our parent Universities such as the Law School at the University of York, sharing best practice across the UK medical school sector as well as working further afield, collaborating and engaging in exchange visits with colleagues in Denmark.

  • Clinical reasoning

This work is led by Dr Anna Hammond and Dr Janine Henderson, and includes the practical application of the current evidence base and how this develops and enhances the undergraduate medicine curriculum. The implications of the subsequent approach to student assessment and the need for a supportive and coherent tutor development programme has been a cornerstone of this work.

Seminar series

The HPEU also facilitates an annual seminar series which provides:

  • Academic conversation/forum on medical/health care education

  • Tutor and staff training and development e.g. workshop series, journal club

  • Space for working groups on curriculum innovation and sharing of best practice


The Hull York Medical School now offers a developing portfolio of academic programmes at postgraduate level as well as our flagship five year medical degree.

The HPEU conducts a range of activities to support all learning, teaching and assessment across the school. In addition, it also increasingly undertakes a schedule of regular and on-off activities, including short courses, which support our educators through a series of ‘how to’ sessions, including:

  • how to supervise a student/junior member of the team

  • how to give feedback

  • how to deliver an educational talk

These sessions are more aligned to ‘top tips’ and practical guidance than our academically rigorous accredited programmes, and are always very well evaluated. Please do contact us if you are interested in joining any of these sessions. All ideas and suggestions welcome:

In addition, the HPEU also provides:

  • bespoke staff development courses for Hull York Medical School academic and clinical tutors

  • student teaching programmes, including peer medical student teaching; the FY1 as a teacher; and the role of the PA as a teacher


The Hull York Medical School is increasingly approached by other medical schools (both in the UK and abroad) to assist and support with set up and development in the current context of globalisation in medical and health care education. The school has well-established collaborative links with fellow researchers across the world, and so the work of the HPEU is very much focussed on our nurture of international partnerships in educational development.

We currently are in the process of implementing an international strategy that will focus on the development of an effective infrastructure to support our growing portfolio of international work. This will also provide clarity on our key international principles, including our aim to fulfil a social mission and support global health teaching and education.

For more information about consultation and collaboration with the HPEU, please contact us at


About HPEU


Head of Unit

  • Professor Gabrielle Finn - Director of HPEU, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education and Postgraduate Director for MSc, Dip and Cert in Health Professions Education

Academic and research staff

Programme tutors

Postgraduate students

  • Lauren Aylott - PhD student
  • Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust Medical Education Research

  • Department of Health Sciences, University of York

Gabrielle M. Finn, Lazaro Mwandigha, Lewis W. Paton, Paul A. Tiffin (2018), The ability of ‘non-cognitive’ traits to predict undergraduate performance in medical schools: a national linkage study. BMC Medical Education, 18:93

Laughey, W. , Sangvik Grandal, N. and M Finn, G. (2018), Medical communication: the views of simulated patients. Med Educ. . doi:10.1111/medu.13547

Connolly, S. A., Gillingwater, T. H., Chandler, C. , Grant, A. , Greig, J. , Meskell, M. , Ross, M. T., Smith, C. , Wood, A. and Finn, G. (2018), The Anatomical Society's core anatomy syllabus for undergraduate nursing. J. Anat., 232: 721-728. doi:10.1111/joa.12782

Finn, G. M., Hitch, G. , Apampa, B. , Hennessy, C. M., Smith, C. F., Stewart, J. and Gard, P. R. (2018), The Anatomical Society core anatomy syllabus for pharmacists: outcomes to create a foundation for practice. J. Anat., 232: 729-738. doi:10.1111/joa.12787

Finn, G. M., Connolly, S. A., Gillingwater, T. H. and Smith, C. F. (2018), Putting gross anatomy into the curriculum: New anatomy syllabi for nursing and pharmacy students. American Association of Anatomists. doi:10.1002/ase.1781

Justine J. Aka, Natalie E. Cookson, Frederic W. Hafferty, Gabrielle M. Finn (2018), Teaching by stealth: utilising the hidden curriculum through body painting within anatomy education. European Journal of Anatomy, 22 (2), 173-182.

Lewis W. Paton, Paul A. Tiffin, Daniel Smith, Jon S. Dowell and Lazaro M. Mwandigha (2018), Predictors of fitness to practise declarations in UK medical undergraduates. BMC Medical Education 18:68.

Finn, G. M., Hitch, G., Apampa, B., Hennessy, C. M., Smith, C. F., Stewart, J. and Gard, P. R. (2018), The Anatomical Society core anatomy syllabus for pharmacists: outcomes to create a foundation for practice. J. Anat.. doi:10.1111/joa.12787

Connolly, S.A., Gillingwater, T. H., Chandler, C., Grant, A. W., Greig, J., Meskell, M., Ross, M. T., Smith, C. F., Wood, A. F. and Finn, G. M. (2018), The Anatomical Society's core anatomy syllabus for undergraduate nursing. Journal of Anatomy. doi: 10.1111/joa.12782

Intercalation opportunities

The HPEU offers two intercalation options:

MSc by thesis

The MSc by thesis offers candidates the chance to conduct original research within the HPEU. A thesis of up to 50,000 words must be produced, in addition to carrying out 20 credits of taught research skills content.

The unit will endeavour to support your choice of project but can also offer guidance for applicants without a predefined study idea based upon the research activity of the HPEU. Any interested candidates should email the HPEU Director in the first instance. 

MSc in Health Professions Education

This programme is blended learning which means that weekly content is delivered online and there are additional optional study days (approximately 10-12) per year that students can attend. This route suits students that wish to take a flexible approach to their studies as online content can be covered at at any point during the designated week. 

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries to study with us. Please contact the Director of our Health Professions Education Unit Professor Gabrielle Finn.