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School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health

Staff Members

Professor John McLachlan

Member of the Centre for Medical Education Research
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 40323
Member of Medicine and Health Postgraduate Programmes

Contact Professor John McLachlan (email at


John McLachlan is a graduate of Glasgow University, and gained his PhD at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School. He is an embryologist by background, and has published extensively in development, with papers in Nature, Proceedings of the Royal Society and Development. His last paper in this area, on human sex determination, was featured in Nature Update and in the international news media. He also produced an undergraduate textbook on medical embryology which was short-listed for the BUPA Prize for Medical Writing.

From 1995 onwards, he began to focus on educational roles, both in terms of educational leadership and management, and also in educational research, especially in assessment and in e-learning. In 1999, he was invited to join the Scottish Medical Dean’s Curriculum Group and the Scottish Qualification Authority. In 2001, he was appointed Director of Phase 1 at the new Peninsula Medical School, where he developed and introduced the first two years of the course, admitting the first students in September 2002. In 2003, he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship, and a Personal Chair in Medical Education. In this year, he was also Raine Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Western Australia.

In 2005, he moved to Durham University, where he is Professor of Medical Education and was formerly Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medicine. He advises the General Medical Council on selection and on the assessment of overseas doctors, the Health Care Professions Council on professionalism, and the Department of Health, and Scottish Government, on professionalism in health care. He is an elected Board Member of the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test Consortium, and a member of the United Kingdom Foundation Office Rules Group.

John is currently an External Examiner for the Undergraduate Medical Programme at Birmingham.

A major research focus is the measurement of professionalism, and in particular the relationship between conscientiousness and professionalism. Conscientiousness is a relatively stable trait, which it is possible to measure objectively and quantitatively at relatively low cost compared to other approaches to measurement of professionalism. Associated with measurement are issues of selection, including selection for medical school, for Foundation places, and for specialty training.


Conference Paper

  • McLachlan, JC., Finn, G. & Sawdon, MA. (2010), “With all due diligence” measuring conscientiousness in complex settings (workshop), AMEE Ottawa Conference on the Assessment of Competence in Medicine and the Healthcare Professions. Miami, Florida, USA, Miami FL.
  • Finn, G. M., Fleming, K. & McLachlan, J. C. (2010), Invisible maps of the body: constructing myths, uncovering legends, 4th International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science. Barcelona, Barcelona.
  • Finn, G. M. & McLachlan, J. C. (2010), Students' perceptions of body painting as a tool for learning anatomy (Presentation), Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) International Meeting 2010. Glasgow, UK, Glasgow.
  • McLachlan, JC, Finn, GM & Sawdon, MA (2010), The relationship between professionalism and conscientiousness, ASME Annual Scientific Meeting. Robinson College, Cambridge, UK. Robinson College, Cambridge.
  • McLachlan, JC, Finn, G, Sawdon, MA, Macnaughton, J, Clipsham, L & Douglass, S (2009), Exploring the relationship between professionalism and conscientiousness, AMEE International Conference. Malaga, Spain., Malaga.
  • Fleming, K, McLachlan, JC, Finn, GM & Ludlow, A (2009), Invited Speakers Flex and Ply: does my S3 look big in this?, AMEE International Conference. Malaga Malaga.
  • McLachlan, JC & Fleming, K. (2009), Invited Speakers Tactility, Object and Knowledge: Art and Anatomy Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration Popular Culture Association and American Culture Association International Conference, Turku, Finland. Turku.
  • McLachlan, JC & Fleming, K (2009), Invited speakers. Making Futures Conference, Plymouth, England, Plymouth.
  • Fleming, K & McLachlan, JC (2009), Invited Speakers. Naked, Nude and Just Slip Your Things Off, American Cultural Association Conference. New Orleans., New Orleans LA.
  • McLachlan, JC, Sawdon, MA, Macnaughton, J & Finn, GM (2008), Assessment of conscientiousness and its relation to professionalism. (Prize winning presentation and abstract), Teaching and Learning: Improving the Experience. Newcastle University, Faculty of Medical Sciences., Newcastle University, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
  • Fleming, K, McLachlan, JC & Ludlow, A (2008), Invited Contributor IFA International Design Exhibition, North Carolina North Carolina.
  • McLachlan, JC (2008), Invited Contributor St George’s Advanced Assessment Workshop.
  • Fleming, K & McLachlan, JC (2008), Invited Presenter 6th International Biennale Wearable Expressions, Palos Verdes Art Centre, Los Angeles, U.S.A., Palos Verdes Art Centre, Los Angeles.
  • Fleming, K & McLachlan, JC. (2008), Invited Presenter Antenna Live Surgery Event, Science Museum, London., Science Museum, London.
  • McLachlan, JC & Fleming, K (2008), Invited Presenter Seamless 2008 Museum of Science Boston.
  • McLachlan, JC, Finn, GM & Macnaughton, J (2008), Invited Speaker. ASME Annual Conference New Horizons in Medical Education, Leicester, England, Leicester.
  • McLachlan, JC (2008), Invited Speaker. ASME Conference Medical Students and Professional Behaviour, London, England, London.
  • Patten, D, Donnelly, JL, White, P & McLachlan, JC. (2008), Learning anatomy from the living body: a modern approach to anatomical teaching. Invited Speakers, ASME Annual Scientific Meeting, New horizons in Medical Education. University of Leicester, University of Leicester.
  • Finn, GM & McLachlan, JC (2008), The colour of your inside: Using the body as a canvas. (Invited key speaker), “Create” conference on colour. University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. University of Ulster.
  • McLachlan, JC, Finn, GM & Macnaughton, J (2008), The Conscientiousness Index: An objective scalar measure of conscientiousness correlates to staff expert judgements on students’ professionalism, ASME Conference (Medical Students and Professional Behaviour). London, England, London.
  • Finn, GM , Patten, D & McLachlan, JC (2008), The Impact of wearing scrubs on contextual learning(Poster), ASME Annual Conference New Horizons in Medical Education.
  • Wearn, A, Rees, CR, Bradley, P, Vnuk, A, Sato, T, McLachlan, JC, Patil, N, Lam, C & Harsh, B (2007), Invited Speakers ‘What not to touch’ Medical students from six schools report on peer physical examination in clinical skills and anatomy learning, 2nd International Clinical Skills conference. Prato, Italy Prato.
  • McLachlan, JC, White P, Donnelly L & Patten D (2007), Invited Symposium. Integrating the living body into anatomy teaching, Anatomical Society Conference. Durham, England., Durham.
  • McLachlan, JC (2006), Invited Keynote Speaker. CETL Launch “Professionalism”, Liverpool, England, Liverpool.
  • McLachlan, JC (2006), Invited Opening Plenary Speaker. The Scholarship of Discovery, ANZAME. Gold Coast, Australia, Gold Coast.
  • McLachlan, JC (2006), Invited Plenary Speaker. History of Medical Education, ASME. Maastricht, The Netherlands., Maastricht.
  • McLachlan, JC et al. (2006), Invited Speaker. Is collaborative learning in PBL promoted by using asynchronous learning network methods?, AMEE. Genoa, Italy, Genoa.
  • McLachlan, JC et al. (2006), Invited Speaker. Medical students’ attitudes towards peer physical examination: preliminary findings from a multi-school, international study, 12th International Ottawa Conference on Medical Education. New York, USA, New York.
  • McLachlan, JC et al. (2005), Invited Speaker IADIS (Selected by organizers as High Quality Paper within the theme), International Conference on Web Based Communities,. Algarve, Portugal., Algarve.

Journal Article


  • Finn, G. M. & McLachlan J. C. (2010), Designer Bodies, Designer Bodies. Centre for Life, Newcastle..
  • McLachlan, J. C. & Finn, G. M. (2010), The Appliance of Fashion to Science, The Appliance of Fashion to Science. Durham County Hall..


  • Tiffin, P, Illing, J & McLachlan, JC (2014). Developing an evidence base for the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test review. General Medical Council.
  • Tiffin, PA, Webster, LAD & McLachlan, JC (2013). Forecasting the impact of the mode of use of the UKCAT on the demographics of UK medical and dental entrants. Prepared for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) Board. UKCAT Consortium, Nottingham, UK.
  • Tiffin, PA, Illing, J, Webster, LAD & McLachlan, JC (2013). The validity of the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) exam: Research report. Prepared for the General Medical Council, London, UK.
  • McLachlan, J.C. & Turnbull, L.L. (2010). Selection for the Foundation Programme: A review of available methods. Prepared for the Medical Schools Council. Medical Schools Council, London.

Research Groups

Teaching Groups

  • Medicine Phase 1

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Embryology. All aspects of human development, including abnormalities and their causes, IVF, genetic engineering in humans, termination of pregnancy, stemm cells and cloning
  • Science & Technology: Embryology. All aspects of human development, including abnormalities and their causes, IVF, genetic engineering in humans, termination of pregnancy, stemm cells and cloning
  • Education: Education in healthcare, including training doctors, and assessment (including exams and testing) of all kinds
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and health claims in general
  • Health & Welfare: Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and health claims in general