Anatomy by Whole Body Dissection Course (AWBD)

This course is not offered in 2017, awaiting the new structure of the medical course to be finalised.



Course accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for surgical trainees

This course is accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons for surgical trainees.


AWBD 2017: Monday 5th of December 2016 to Wednesday 15 February 2017


The online STUDENT APPLICATION FORM will open for submissions on Monday 11th of April at 7am.

Please use this SCREENSHOT of the application form (from last year) to prepare your application.

NOTE: First applicants will be considered for 48 places. Applications will be judged on promptness and quality.

DEMONSTRATORS - Online applications are open.


NOTE: Applications for Demonstrators will only be accepted from candidates already on an SET program

AWBD2017 is an approved elective. Student enrollments will be limited to 48 places. Applications online must include:

  1. Name and contacts of a Clinical School mentor who has agreed to referee your application.
  2. If you are an Honours student, you will need to provide written permission from your Supervisor/Sub Deans by completing the 'Elective While Doing a Research Project' form (refer to the Honours website) and agreeing that you will be available for the full course including the post course assessment.

This course is restricted to Medicine 4, University of Sydney students, in their Elective Term before the commencement of their Final Year.

Class of 2014

Acceptance of applications to interview from eligible students is on a "first come first served" basis. The course has been conducted 2009-2016. The AWBD2017 Course will run from Monday 5th of December 2016 to Wednesday 15 February 2017. There is no cost for this course.

Prior to acceptance for the course Students must agree to attend the Pre-course Test on Monday 5th of December 2016 and the Post-Course Test on Wednesday 15th of February 2017.

2017 Dissection Schedule

The dissection schedule below is to be used by students as the primary resource for timetable information and can be printed off for the course.

Dissection Schedule (PDF - 98KB)

Class of 2012

Course introduction

The Anatomy by Whole Body Dissection Course focuses on practical dissection skills for the development of topographical surgical anatomical knowledge. Students with aspirations to surgery and other procedural specialties have found this an invaluable elective and others have indicated that the course was also valuable for many other aspects of Medicine.

A key advantage of the course is the proximate availability of surgeons and proceduralists (of various specialties) acting as Supervisors, together with surgical trainees, acting as Demonstrators, who provide contextual references to and clinical relevance of the dissection tasks.

Class of 2011

Student outcomes

Student assessments have revealed a marked increase in the topographical anatomical knowledge of the course participants at the end of the course and this appears to be sustained at the Post-course test. The feedback from students regarding personal outcomes from completing the course has been overwhelmingly positive. Students were asked in an anonymous survey what they had derived from the course. The following is a sample of what they had to say in their own words.

“Dissection allows the development of a three dimensional mind map of the different anatomical regions of the body”

"Full body dissection gives a comprehensive whole of body view of anatomical regions. Supervising surgeons and demonstrators were invaluable for teaching"

"Course was well organised and small groups enhanced learning"

"Feel much more comfortable with the structure and feel of body tissues i.e. tactile gnosis"

"Great way to learn anatomy, feel like I will always keep the knowledge gained here"

Class of 2010

Supervisors and Demonstrators

Senior surgeons (of various specialties), attend dissecting sessions as Supervisors, especially when their area of expertise is being dissected. Members of the Discipline of Anatomy and Histology also act as supervisors.

Senior Surgical Trainees (seconded from various teaching hospitals) act as anatomy demonstrators during the course. AWBD2017 applications for Demonstratorships will only be accepted from trainees already on an SET program. A Whole Body Dissection experience is now available for non-SET trainees through the University of Sydney Master of Surgery program. Individuals appointed as Demonstrators are to be present for all or part of the course depending on their availability. The minimum period that a Demonstrator can be present is 5 continuous dissecting days.

Attendance in the course by a Demonstrator should consolidate their topographical anatomical knowledge and enhance the anatomy component of their surgical training.

All Demonstrators and Supervisors take part in this course in a "pro bono" capacity.

Class of 2009


  • Dissection follows the traditional methods and directions as outlined in Grant’s Dissector,Patrick W Tank,Wolters Kluwer
  • A good anatomical Atlas is essential. Rohen, Johannes Willhelm, Chihiro Yokochi and Elke Lütjen-Drecoll. Color Atlas of Anatomy: A Photographic Study of the Human Body. Schattauer Verlag, 2006.
  • Many students have found reading Last’s Anatomy, Regional and Applied, 9th Edition, Editor CV McMinn, Churchill Livingstone, useful. This is the text used by the surgical trainees and recommended by the RACS.


  • Students are divided alphabetically into groups. Each group is assigned to a cadaver and dissection table with instruments. A set amount of pre-reading of the text of the dissection manual is also scheduled for each day’s dissection and must be completed the night before the dissection is undertaken.
  • Each morning at 9 am,the briefing for the day’s dissection is given by an allocated student with visuals from the dissecting manuals and Rohens Atlas. All students are expected to be present at each briefing and a roll is called.
  • Didactic teaching is kept to a minimum in the dissecting room to allow students to get on with the dissecting process. However, Demonstrators and Supervisors circulate continuously - advising, explaining, answering queries and when necessary giving mini-tutorials.
  • Each day a short lecture is given usually by a Supervisor, on the clinical aspects of the current dissection.
  • At the completion of dissection of each region of the body, an individual “spot test” and MCQs are carried out on the day that region is completed.
  • Other days of dissection, groups are assessed by “scorpio” type assessments.

Assessments and requirements for successful completion

All students are formally assessed three times by a Pre-course, a Mid-course, and End-of-course tests. These assessments take the form of Spot tests and MCQs.

Attendance at this assessment is mandatory. Unsatisfactory exam results and/or failure to attend daily will result in the student failing the Course. In those circumstances no Certificate of Attainment will be awarded.

Laycock Prosectors Prize

At the end of the course, students can apply to be selected to carry out a prosection, which is submitted for the John and Lillian Laycock Memorial and J.L. Shellshear Memorial prizes. These prosections are carried out in the two weeks following the end of the dissection course. The prosectors personally present their prosections (with an emphasis on clinical relevance) to the judging panel (3 academics and 3 surgeons).

A winner and runner-up are selected and the details given to the Head of Discipline for further processing regarding prizes. If you have any enquires (beyond what is already answered on this page), please contact the course coordinator Lindsay Wing.

More information


  1. Ramsey-Stewart G, Burgess AW, Hill DA, Back to the future - teaching anatomy by whole body dissection, MJA 2010, Volume 193, Number 11/12, 668-671.
  2. Ramsey-Stewart G, May J, Contemporary teaching of anatomy is Australian Medical Schools : are we doing enough? Letters to the Editor ANZ J Surg, 2012, 82:88-9
  3. Burgess AW, Ramsey Stewart G, May, J et al. Team based learning methods in teaching topographical anatomy by dissection ANZ J Surg 2012 S2, 82: 457-460.
  4. Ramsey-Stewart G, Ramsey-Stewart E, Surgical Anatomy of the Peritoneum, 2012, RSID Sydney. (See:

If you have any enquires (beyond what is already answered on this page), please contact the course coordinator Lindsay Wing.

Lindsay Wing
Coordinator of Surgical Anatomy
Room S233, Anderson Stuart building - F13
+61 2 9351 5161 - Phone