University of Sydney Handbooks - 2012 Archive

Download full 2012 archive Page archived at: Wed, 02 May 2012 14:20:26 +1000

Postgraduate coursework


Postgraduate courses are higher award courses such as graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, master's degrees and doctorates. Information on the graduate-entry University of Sydney Medical Program, which leads to registration as a medical doctor, can be found in the sections on Medicine and Surgery and Combined Medicine.

What is a coursework course?

Coursework courses are similar to undergraduate study in that the student enrols in a set of units of study, with largely predetermined content and predetermined assessment. The units of study can be offered face to face, with lectures and tutorials, or offered online with set readings and a web-based forum or similar, or a combination of both. Each unit of study has a credit point value and each course has a defined number of credit points the student must attain to be awarded the qualification.

Governance, including the resolutions for all postgraduate degrees, are covered in the individual chapters relating to the area of study. The information in this chapter provides a summary and is subordinate to the provisions of each chapter containing the relevant degree resolutions.

Embedded courses

Coursework courses in the Faculty of Medicine include graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and master's degrees. Some of these are stand-alone but many of them are known as 'embedded' or 'articulated' courses. This means that the two or three levels involved are linked with overlapping content so that a student may progress through the levels seamlessly, or transfer from a higher level and be awarded a qualification with a smaller load.

For example a student may be unsure about undertaking study again after a protracted period away, so only requests admission to the graduate certificate. However, the student finds the study so relevant to their work that they decide to continue with the graduate diploma. Instead of having to reapply and repeat units of study, the student can request a transfer to the graduate diploma with full credit for their studies in the graduate certificate.

Alternatively, a student may enrol in the master's degree, but part of the way through is posted overseas for work and can't continue. The student can apply to graduate with the highest level of award for which they have satisfied the requirements, thereby adding a qualification to their list of achievements.

Another example is that a year after completing a graduate certificate, a student can apply to undertake the graduate diploma and, if accepted, will be given credit for the units of study completed in the graduate certificate.

Note that time limits do apply for returning students. See the faculty's credit policy at:

Transfer between levels is not automatic. A student must request a transfer. The request is considered by the course coordinator in the first instance, who makes a recommendation to the Chair of the Board of Postgraduate Studies, who makes the final decision.

In the Faculty of Medicine, the general structure of embedded courses is as follows:

  • a graduate certificate requires 24 credit points for award
  • a graduate diploma requires 36 credit points
  • a master's degree requires 48 credit points.

Not all courses follow this structure so students should ensure that they read the resolutions and other information about their course to ensure they are aware of the requirements.

Units of study

Units of study are the building blocks of all coursework courses, each with an associated credit point value. Each award course has a number of credit points necessary for completion of the course, and these credit points are gained through successfully completing units of study.

For some courses, the course coordinator specifies units of study for which a student must enrol. Other courses have only one or two units of study which are compulsory and the student has a choice, within limits, of which other units of study to undertake to achieve the required credit points for award.

The units that are compulsory are known as 'core' units, and a student must successfully complete these in order to be awarded the relevant qualification. Even if the student has the necessary number of credit points for award, if they have not passed the core units then they are not regarded as having qualified.

The units of study where students have a choice are called elective units. Generally the choice of elective units of study is restricted to certain groups of units. Each following chapter provides a description of a postgraduate course offered through the Faculty of Medicine, the resolutions governing that course and an outlines of requirements of core and elective units for each course.

Some units of study have restrictions on who may enrol in the unit. The three types of restrictions are prerequisites, corequisites and prohibitions.

Enrolment in a unit may only be possible if students have already completed a particular unit of study, the prerequisite.

For example, the unit of study OPSC5004 Practical Ophthalmic Science builds on the content of OPSC5001, and without having completed OPSC5001, students will not be able to understand and complete OPSC5005. Hence, OPSC5001 is a prerequisite for OPSC5005.

A corequisite is where a unit of study requires a student to have already completed a second unit of study, or to enrol in it at the same time.

For example, the Biostatistics BSTA5020 Workplace Project Portfolio Part A requires students to also enrol in BSTA5021 Workplace Project Portfolio Part B during the same semester.

A prohibition is where a student may not enrol in a unit of study if they have already completed the unit with a prohibition against it. For example, if a student has already completed BSTA5022 Workplace Project Portfolio Part C then he/she may not enrol in BSTA5020 or BSTA5021.

Financial information about coursework courses

Postgraduate coursework courses within the Faculty of Medicine are fee-paying, with the exception of the Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Health Promotion and the Indigenous Health (Substance Use) program, which are covered by HECS-HELP for Australian citizens.

A limited number of Commonwealth Support Places (CSP) are available in a restricted number of postgraduate coursework courses. Applications submitted by the application deadline will be considered for a CSP place, based on merit and availability. Please check with the relevant course co0ordinator for further information.

Few scholarships exist to cover the fees for coursework degrees for either domestic and international students.

For information on scholarships see: