Frequently asked questions

Future students

 

Here are some questions and answers for prospective undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students to help you decide whether you want to enrol in one of our courses and become a qualified speech pathologist.

Speech pathology: Is it for me?  What is a speech pathologist? 
Where do speech pathologists work? Where can I see what a speech pathologist does?
Availability of work experience?  Job prospects?
Private practice? How difficult / busy is the course? 
Can the course be done part-time?  Is the course offered externally? 
Speech and drama background?  Credit transfer?
Specialisation during the course?  Course prerequisites?
Science components of the course?  Bridging courses / recommended studies?
Subjects advised for study in secondary school?  What subjects are studied in the course? 
Clinical work in the course?  Why study speech pathology at the University of Sydney? 
Mid-year intake?   

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Speech pathology: Is it for me?

Yes or no?

  • Do you want a people–focused profession?
  • Do you want to work in the area of communication?
  • Would you like to work with children and/or adults?
  • Do you want a career that allows you to specialise?
  • Do you want a career that extends your life skills?
  • Do you want a career that offers diverse career opportunities in public and private practice?

What is a speech pathologist?

Speech pathologists work with children and adults with communication difficulties caused by congenital or developmental problems, illness, and emotional or physical trauma. These difficulties include multiple problems with speaking, understanding what people say, reading, writing, voice problems and stuttering. Speech pathologists also work with children and adults who have swallowing difficulties or need alternative, non-verbal ways to communicate. They work in hospitals, schools, health centres, special schools, universities and sometimes with professionals in the workplace.
Fact Sheets can be found at Speech Pathology Australia

Where do speech pathologists work?

The largest employer of speech pathologists in this state, is the Department of Health. Speech pathologists usually work in hospitals, community health centres, special schools and classes (such as for children with hearing impairment or developmental delay), in rehabilitation centres and in private practice.

Where can I see what a speech pathologist does?

Some private speech pathologists will accept brief visits by prior arrangement from people interested in finding out more about what Speech Pathologists do. They will show you the clinic and talk to you about their job. Telephone a clinic near you to see if this is possible. See the Speech Pathology Australia website for your nearest clinic.

Most large hospitals employ speech pathologists and so do many community and area health centres. They may let you observe for an hour or two.

Another possibility is to attend the University's Sydney LIVE day on the last Saturday of August each year. This is a wonderful opportunity to attend lectures on the Speech Pathology course as well as meet individually with staff members from the Discipline of Speech Pathology who will be able to discuss the course with you and answer any questions or concerns that you may have.

Availability of work experience?

Because of considerations like client confidentiality, it can be quite difficult to get work experience in a speech pathology clinic.

Job prospects?

At present, most graduates obtain jobs in speech pathology within a few months of graduating. It is always easier to get a job in the country than in the city. Graduates wanting to specialise may have to wait longer for “the right job”. Many graduates start their career in ‘locum’ positions (e.g. when someone is on maternity leave). This can be a great way to get started and recognised as having experience.

Private practice?

Private practice is an option for speech pathologists. The Private Speech Pathologists' Association recommends that a new graduate work in public employment for at least a year before going into private practice for oneself.

How difficult / busy is the course?

  • The two speech pathology courses we offer will present different levels of difficulty to different people, depending on what they have studied before and their particular interests.
  • They ARE demanding courses in terms of time and the professional commitment required to successfully complete the clinical practicum.
  • Lecture attendance and clinical practice is scheduled for Mondays to Fridays during semester. Clinical placements can be scheduled outside the semester periods
  • There may be some early starts and late finishes to the university day.
  • In most semesters there are approximately 15-17 contact hours per week, plus clinical practicum commitments once you start your clinical units of study.

Can the course be done part-time?

Undergraduates?

  • Part-time study involves a reduced number of hours per week - there are no evening classes/lectures offered or available. Part-time is classified as being enrolled in less than 18 credit points worth of units in a semester. Most units (subjects) are worth 6 credit points each
  • Following acceptance of your place and enrolment in the full-time course, you may apply to the Undergraduate Course Director to reduce your enrolment / workload
  • Minimum recommended number of units you can enrol in is two. Please note - this can still involve you being on campus 3-4 days per week to attend lectures
  • Maximum time allowed to complete the course is 10 years from the initial academic year of enrolment
  • All Year 1 units of study must be successfully completed within the first 2 years (4 semesters). Year 1 has 8 x 6 credit point units
  • Students who receive government help or scholarships should check with the provider, as these often require students to be enrolled in a fulltime load - 18 to 24 credit points per semester

Postgraduate coursework? Yes:

  • Students enrolled in the Master of Speech Language Pathology course can apply to study part-time, however only daytime lectures are offered

Is the course offered externally / via distance?

No. Both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses are only available face-to-face, Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 6pm, on Cumberland Campus.

Speech and drama background?

Applicants sometimes ask if their background study and/or qualifications in speech and drama or elocution (or AMEB) will enable them to do the course in a shorter time. There is invariably insufficient overlap in the subjects studied to gain credits in the B AppSc. (Sp. Path). So while this background certainly means these students are well informed about some aspects of speech, the course must still take the same amount of time.

Credit transfer?

Undergraduates:
You can apply for credit transfer at enrolment, so you must bring all the necessary documentation at that time. You will need information about the subject content you have passed and a copy of your academic transcript.

Postgraduate coursework:
Subjects completed as part of an undergraduate degree will not qualify for credit transfer, however credits may be available for equivalent postgraduate subjects.

Specialisation during the course?

Both courses provide thorough generalist clinical education in speech pathology. If you are interested in a particular disorder area (such as children with hearing impairment) you can request a clinic placement in this area during the course, but your total clinic placements will as much as possible cover the full range of disorders in both adults and children.

Up to 5% of undergraduate students may be invited to pursue Honours in the final two years of their course. This involves conducting research in a particular area of interest.

Course prerequisites?

Undergraduates:
There are NO subject prerequisites for entry into the undergraduate Speech Pathology course. Selection of your HSC subjects is solely on the basis of your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) which UAC will calculate based on current HSC results or on your previous state-based University Admissions Index (UAI).
It should be noted however that certain “recommended studies” underpin the course and the individual subjects within it (see the following question/answer about the science component).

Postgraduate coursework:
There are admission and background knowledge requirements for entry into the postgraduate coursework programs

Science components of the course?

Speech pathology is an applied science. Speech pathologists need to understand the physical and physiological mechanisms underlying normal and disordered speech.

Undergraduates:
Topics such as anatomy, physiology and neurology are included in the course. These biomedical sciences are studied during the first two years of the course. For instance, in the first year, there is considerable biomedical science (lectures, labs, practicals, etc.). Similarly, chemistry is included as part of the basis for understanding body system functioning and physiology. Physics of sound is studied in relation to its role in speech and hearing. No assumed knowledge is expected in physics.

Postgraduate coursework:
Topics such as anatomy, physiology and neurology will be referenced in your first year of study - they are not taught. There are no science related pre-requisites for the MSLP program.

Bridging courses / recommended studies?

If you are accepted into the Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology), it will be assumed that you are familiar with a basic knowledge of chemistry and grammar. If you do not possess this knowledge it is recommended that you consider attending either or both of the short bridging courses that are offered by the faculty, each February before Semester 1 starts.

Details of bridging courses

Postgraduate coursework:
Not required.

Subjects advised for study in secondary school?

Undergraduates only:
Select HSC subjects that you expect to do ‘best’ in. These will assist you in reaching the necessary ATAR, which is usually around 90+ for speech pathology. There are no pre-requisites for the course, however:

  • Advanced English and advanced languages are important for achieving success in the Speech Pathology course.
  • Knowledge of traditional grammar is important. If you don't have this then it is recommended that you enrol in the Grammar Bridging Course
  • Human biology is useful background for the Biomedical Science subjects
  • Chemistry is often recommended as knowledge in this subject helps you understand human physiology. Basic knowledge of Chemistry, up to Year 10 level, will be assumed by lecturers in Biomedical Science subjects - so therefore will not be taught.
  • It is not worth taking Chemistry as an HSC subject if you do not enjoy it or do not expect to do well in it. If you have Chemistry at a HSC level you definitely don't have to do the Chemistry bridging course.
  • The ‘assumed knowledge’ of Chemistry can be achieved by doing a Bridging Course. Take the Chemistry self-assessment test to determine whether you need to do the bridging course or not.
  • Speech pathology students study more units that require proficient use of English language and reasoning than pure science, mathematics or economics subjects

What subjects are studied in the course?

Undergraduates:
Speech pathology covers the diagnosis and management of normal and impaired speech, voice, fluency, hearing and language and swallowing in children and adults. There are three main strands in the course:

  1. Behavioural sciences include psychology, sociology and research
  2. Biomedical sciences covers anatomy, physiology and neurology. In addition to these three main strands, phonetics and linguistics subjects are included
  3. Supervised clinical practice in adult and child clinics is incorporated from 2nd year of the course. Students spend several hours a week in clinics, both on campus and off campus (if possible - reasonably close to where they live)


Postgraduate coursework:
See the postgraduate coursework page for full details

Clinical work in the course?

Undergraduates:
Clinical observations commence in first year. Supervised clinical practice commences in the 2nd year of the course. From 2nd year, students spend several hours a week in clinics, both on-campus and later off-campus. There is one out-of-semester clinic block of three weeks (in third year during an inter-semester break). Students are encouraged to do this block at a country clinic, but it is not compulsory to do so. In the final year students will do two off-campus six-week blocks in child and adult clinics. These also may be done in city, country or interstate clinics.

Postgraduate coursework:
Clinical units of study start in Year 1, Semester 2

Is there a mid-year intake?

The discipline of speech pathology does not have a mid-year intake.

Your pathways to becoming a speech pathologist

The discipline of speech pathology offers two pathways to becoming a speech pathologist:

Applicants with a disability are encouraged to apply. If you have a serious mobility disability, an uncorrected sensory difficulty (vision or hearing) or a diagnosed learning disability, please contact the Discipline for advice on preparation and completion as soon as possible.

The Faculty of Health Sciences offers the three year Bachelor of Health Sciences course which has a Hearing and Speech specialist stream. This is an alternative pathway to becoming a qualified speech pathologist.