Aims and method: To examine the effect of taking an elective psychiatry and literature course during the first year of medical school on performance in the later mandatory general psychiatry curriculum. Class members were surveyed for baseline characteristics at the time of their admission to medical school. Following completion of their fourth year, average grades in psychiatry were calculated and results compared for those who did and those who did not take the course. Multiple regression analysis was used to assess the effects of baseline characteristics that were significantly different between the groups. Results: Students who took the course had statistically significant (t= -3.34, P<0.001) higher grades in fourth year psychiatry. They had lower admission interview scores (t= -2.15, P<0.05) and reported less academic stress (t= -9.55, P<0.01) before taking the course. Clinical implications: Literature is an effective medium through which to teach medical students psychiatry as it can lead to a greater understanding of the topic. Declaration of interest: None.