Frequently asked questions

Certified copies: What is a certified copy?

A certified copy is a copy of a document that has been endorsed and signed by an authority figure – a solicitor, lawyer, Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public – as being a true copy of the original document. The endorsement should be in the following form:

"I certify that this is a true copy of the original document"

  • The endorsement must be followed by the name and the signature of the person who endorsed it and the date.
  • A family member cannot certify a document.
  • Senior members of Medical School can certify documents. Any document certified by a senior Medical School member must include the name and position of that Medical School member, and carry the University stamp or seal.
  • Any document not properly certified will be rejected.

Changing Attendance: How do I change from full-time to part-time or part-time to full-time?

If you are a research student you need to complete the candidature variation form, obtain the necessary approvals and submit to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit. Further information is available here.

It is not necessary for coursework students to request a change in their attendance pattern since whether they are full-time or part-time is determined solely by the credit point load of the units of study in which they are enrolled in a particular semester. If a coursework student is enrolled in units of study worth less than 18 credit points they are automatically considered to be part-time. If they are enrolled in units of study worth 18 credit points or more, they are considered to be full-time. Further details are available here.

Changing attendance: I need to take a break in my studies for one semester – what do I do?

You need to apply for a suspension of your candidature by completing a candidature variation form, obtaining the necessary approvals and submitting the form to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit.
Information for research students is available here.
Information for coursework students is available here.

Changing degrees: I want to transfer to another degree – what do I do?

It is possible to transfer between articulated coursework degrees and certain research degrees. All students wishing to transfer to another degree should complete the candidature variation form, indicating the degree that they wish to transfer from and to and the amount of credit sought, and obtain the approval of their postgraduate co-ordinator before submitting the form to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit.
Research students should in addition obtain approval for the transfer from their supervisor.
Information for research students is available here.
Information for coursework students is available here.

Conferences: Can I get a grant to attend a conference?

Under the University of Sydney Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS), eligible postgraduate research students may apply for grants from $200 to $1,200 for conference expenses for the purpose of presenting a paper or poster in connection with the students’ research (up to $2,000 to support presentations at conferences in overseas countries).
Further information about the PRSS is available here.

Coursework: What is the difference between a coursework course and a research course?

Coursework courses consist of taught units of study and usually require attendance at lectures and tutorials. In research courses, students undertake supervised research leading to the production of a thesis and are not usually required to attend lectures or tutorials.

Deferral/Suspension: What is the difference between deferring and suspending my candidature?

If, having received an offer of admission letter, you would like to postpone the commencement of your chosen course you can apply for a deferral. If, after having commenced your course, you need to take a break in your studies you can apply for a suspension.

Distance learning: Am I a distance learning student?

You are a distance learning student if you are enrolled in one of the following course areas offered by Sydney Medical School:

  • Biostatistics
  • International Ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmic Science
  • Paediatric Medicine
  • Pain Management
  • Refractive Surgery
  • Sleep Medicine

In addition, courses in Medical Education and Public Health are available by both face-to-face and distance learning.

Distance learning courses are taught predominantly via the internet/using CD-ROM, although some may have residential course components. These courses are offered to both international and local students and are an increasingly popular way of undertaking postgraduate study.

Electives: "Rights and Duties" Statements

Elective students from other institutions are unable to have the same rights and duties as students enrolled in the Sydney Medical Program. The fourth stage of our medical program is tailored to our own requirements and may not correspond with those of your own institution. While welcome to attend our lectures, participation in small group sessions is limited.

Most of your time during the elective period should be spent in ward or clinic attachments in association with Stage three students doing their Integrated Clinical Attachments. Clinically, elective students have the same rights and duties as our own students.

Electives: Does four weeks equal a 30 day elective?

Electives are measured in weeks. A four week elective equals 28 days while a five week elective equals 35 days. Electives students from other institutions should check how flexible their own University is on this ruling.

Eelctives & Illness: What if I am sick during my elective and have to have time off?

Being unable to attend your clinical school for two days or more will require you to show a Doctor's certificate. Elective students from other institutions should check these requirements with their own University.

Electives: Where do I go on my first day?

An elective coordinator will contact you at least a week prior to you starting your elective and arrange the time and place that you are to meet at.

Please do not be late without prior arrangement – you may be turned away or your elective cancelled.

Electives: What do I wear?

As a medical student you will be involved in day-to day interactions with patients, members of the public, and members of the medical staff. These interactions may involve discussion of sensitive issues and the performance of a range of clinical duties. Thus while attending the ward, clinics or general practice your dress and general appearance should be appropriate to the environment.

As a guide, a medical student must appear well groomed and professional.

  • Your official hospital ID badge must be prominently displayed at all times to ensure that your status as a student is clear.
  • Males are expected to wear a shirt and tie.
  • Females are expected to dress modestly, avoiding tops that are low-cut or bare the midriff. Short skirts are also inappropriate.
    Jeans and trainers are not acceptable items of clothing. Sandals or open toe shoes are inappropriate in clinical areas as sharp objects may pierce the foot.
  • Theatre scrubs are only worn in designated areas and are provided by the hospital.
  • If there are any special dress requirements, you will be informed by your hospital.
  • A white coat is not necessary.

Australia is a multicultural society and you should consider the sensitivity of other people.

Electives: Can I get student concession on public transport?

Concession travel is not available to elective students. However, an International student ID card will give you access to a network of specialist student travel offices around the world and valuable savings on accommodation, tours and transportation (such as a 40% discount on full adult ordinary fares on Countrylink train or coach services). Applications forms for the ISIC are available at the STA and SRC offices in the Wentworth Building.

Electives: Can I get a refund or postpone my elective?

The application, administrative & enrolment of clinical school elective fees are non-refundable, unless you can provide good cause for cancelling, then a refund may be considered only for the clinical elective fee.

Should you notify your nominated clinical school 6 months in advance, you may receive back 50% (no need for medical certificate).
Should you notify your nominated clinical school 3 months in advance, you may receive back 50% (must provide medical certificate).

Requests are considered on a case by case basis and require supporting documentation.

Postponing your elective may be possible and is subject to local availability determined by each clinical school.
Please note that you will need to provide evidence in support of your application where appropriate at least 3 months in advance.

International Students: am I an international student?

You are an international student if you are NOT:

  • an Australian citizen
  • a permanent resident of Australia, or
  • New Zealand citizen.

You are an international fee-paying student if you hold a permit for temporary entry to Australia. For example, if your status is:

  • overseas student
  • permanent resident of New Zealand
  • diplomat
  • temporary resident who hold permits for work purposes
  • refugee
  • a dependent of any of the above.

International Students: can I study part-time if I am an international student?

International students who are resident in Australia are normally required under the terms of their entry visas to undertake full-time candidature only. However, there are circumstances where it is permissible for international students to be part-time. An example would be in the final semester of candidature.

International Students: What kind of visa will I need?

You are advised to contact the nearest Australian Consul. We are not permitted to advise you on visa requirements as these can differ from place to place. We recommend that you apply for your visa promptly as approval can take time. The location of Immigration Offices outside Australia can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.

Please contact your nearest Australian Consul or check the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website if you are interested in nominations for an Occupational Trainee Visa.

International degrees and practice in Australia: I did my medical degree overseas, how do I become a practicing doctor in Australia?

In order to practice medicine in Australia, overseas trained medical practitioners must register with an Australian State or Territory Medical Board. In most cases, registration is only granted to overseas trained medical practitioners who have successfully completed the examinations administered by the Australian Medical Council. A Medical Board may consider waiving the requirement to successfully complete these examinations in certain special circumstances. Contact the relevant Medical Board for details.

Contact details for the State and Territory Medical Boards can be found on the Australian Medical Council website.

Part-time: What is the difference between part-time and full-time candidature?

Full-time candidates for research degrees do not keep to the normal semesters but work continuously throughout the year except for a period of four weeks’ recreation leave. There is no strict definition of what constitutes full-time candidature but, generally speaking, if you have employment or other commitments that would prevent you from devoting at least the equivalent of a 35-hour working week to your candidature (including such attendance at the University for lectures, seminars, practical work and consultation with your supervisor as may be required) you should enrol as a part-time candidate. If in doubt you should consult your faculty or supervisor. Scholarship holders should check the conditions of their scholarship as many prohibit a student being part-time and receiving a salary for paid work for any more than 20hr per week.

Whether a coursework candidate is part-time or full-time is determined solely by credit point load for all coursework masters, graduate diplomas and graduate certificates. A student is part-time (full-time) in a semester if he/she is enrolled in units of study which total less than (at least) 18 credit points. Therefore, a student’s status can vary between part-time and full-time from one semester to the next depending on their study load.

Postgraduate co-ordinators - What is the role of a postgraduate co-ordinator? Who is my postgraduate co-ordinator?

While every coursework program has a course co-ordinator, every research discipline or unit has a postgraduate co-ordinator. A postgraduate co-ordinator is an academic staff member that approves research degree applications and provides academic guidance and support to all the research students enrolled in a particular academic discipline.

View the list of Postgraduate Coordinators here.

Research: Annual Progress Report - What is an annual progress report?

For research students, the annual progress report form and the annual review process are mechanisms whereby the Medical School can be assured that satisfactory progress is being made. Further information is available here.

Research degrees: Do I have to pay to do a research degree?

As an international student, unless you hold a scholarship, you will be required to pay research degree tuition fees.
If you are a local student you will be exempt from paying fees under the Research Training Scheme for a specified period of time. Local students undertaking a doctor of philosophy are exempt from paying fees for 8 full-time or 16 part-time semesters. Local students undertaking a master's by research are exempt from paying fees for 4 full-time or 8 part-time semesters.

Research away from the University: Can I work on my degree overseas/interstate?

Research candidates are permitted to spend “time away” which is time in another university or institution during their candidature and also to complete their candidature away from the University of Sydney. A candidature variation form should be completed, the necessary approvals obtained and the form submitted to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit. Candidates and their supervisors are expected to provide details for provision of their continued supervision whilst they are away from the University, such as the name of institution and alternate supervisors. Further information is available here.

Research Training Scheme: What is the Research Training Scheme (RTS)?

The RTS is a Commonwealth Government funded performance-based scheme that "aims to recognise and reward those institutions that provide high-quality research training environments and support excellent and diverse research activities." See Research Training Scheme (RTS) on the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research website.

It provides funding to universities to support the training of research students, including funding for fee-exempt places for students enrolled in higher degrees by research (HDR).

Prior to the commencement of RTS on 1 September 2000, the Commonwealth Government allocated universities a certain number of Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-exempt scholarships to fund postgraduate research students. In comparison and very simplistically, RTS funds universities by the number of students it attracts, rewarding universities that are most able to attract students, presumably due to the high-quality environment and resources they provide.

For more information, visit the RTS section of our Costs and Assistance page.

Scholarships: Why has my scholarship stopped?

There are a number of reasons why your scholarship could have ended and the list below gives some examples.

  1. Scholarships are only given for a set period of time which may not correlate with the length of time given by the University to complete your degree. You may be able to apply for an extension to your candidature but this does not automatically give you an extension to your scholarship.
  2. One of the requirements of all scholarships is to remain enrolled and if you fail to enrol for a given year your scholarship will be terminated.
  3. Most scholarships are only available to students undertaking full-time candidature. If you have changed to part-time your scholarship is likely to be terminated. It is highly recommended that students check the conditions of their scholarship before changing to part-time.
  4. Under a suspension students are not eligible to receive their scholarship.
  5. Most scholarships require that students prove satisfactory progress each year. This is done through the Annual Progress Report which is compulsory for all research students. If you do not complete your Annual Progress Report and submit it to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit your scholarship will automatically be terminated.
  6. If you have changed bank accounts you must inform the Research Office immediately.
  7. Once a student submits their thesis their enrolment is terminated along with their scholarship.
  8. If you have withdrawn from your candidature your scholarship is automatically terminated.
  9. If you have commenced full time work or are working over the maximum number of hours (generally 20) your scholarship will be terminated.

Thesis: I have just submitted my thesis for examination. How long before I hear the results?

The length of time taken to complete the examination process depends on a number of factors, most of which are beyond the control of the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit. The majority of research candidates will hear their results within 3 to 6 months of submitting their thesis. Why does it take so long? It may be that when you submit your thesis, examiners have yet to be nominated. Clearly, your thesis can only be sent out to examiners once appropriate examiners have been nominated by your supervisor and then your Postgraduate Co-ordinator and the Chair of the Board of Postgraduate Studies have given their approved. A delay in nominating the examiners will result in a delay in dispatching your thesis to the examiners therefore please advise your supervisor and the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit of your intention to submit your thesis at least three months in advance of doing so.

Examiners are given 8 weeks in which to provide their reports. Reminders are periodically sent to examiners who fail to submit their reports within 8 weeks and if a report has not been received within 16 weeks, Supervisors will be asked to provide a replacement examiner. Once the replacement examiner has been nominated and approved, a copy of the thesis will be dispatched directly. This replacement examiner will also be given the required 8 weeks to examine the thesis. Once all the reports have been received, it will be about another 2 to 6 weeks before the Unit writes to you with your result. During this time your Postgraduate Co-ordinator will make a recommendation to the Chair of the Board of Postgraduate Studies based on the examiners’ reports. The course of action by the Board of Postgraduate Studies very much depends on the nature of the recommendation. A detailed description of the examination process can be found here.

Examiners in the field of medicine are very often practicing doctors with very heavy schedules, so although we ask examiners to report within eight weeks, they often have emergencies which prevent them from fulfilling our request. Examiners are used from around the world and operate largely on goodwill rather than payment by the University for their time. The amount of pressure the University can place on them to report promptly is limited as the Unit recognises the fine line between reminders and harassment.

Please do not contact the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit about the examination process. We are unable to advise you of specific details.

Further information is available here.

Thesis: When is the latest I can submit my thesis?

All research degrees have a minimum and maximum time limit for submission of the thesis. These minima and maxima time limits vary depending on the degree undertaken. A PhD candidate, for example, has a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 4 years (full-time) to submit his or her thesis. If necessary, you may, in the final year of your candidature, apply for an extension. Extensions, if approved, are granted for one semester at a time. To determine your latest date for submission refer to your letter of offer, your last Annual Progress Report or any letters from the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit regarding suspensions, extensions or changes between full-time and part-time candidature.

Thesis: format, presentation and number of copies

A thesis may either be submitted as a printed and bound document (the most common format) or electronically. Further information is available here.

The resolutions for the PhD require four copies to be submitted and generally Master’s degrees require three copies.

Thesis: Can I include published papers in my thesis?

Yes, it is possible to include published works in a thesis subject to the rulings approved by the Academic Board. Further information is available here.

Thesis: How many corrected theses do I need to submit?

Students should submit one hard-bound copy of their corrected thesis printed on acid-free (or archival) paper. Submissions should be made to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit. Further information is available here.

Thesis: I have submitted my corrected/acid free thesis, why have I not received a letter of award?

Students can only be awarded their degree if all the following steps have taken place.

Prior to submitting your corrected thesis you must consult your Postgraduate Co-ordinator to determine if the changes you have made are to his or her satisfaction. Gaining this approval from your Supervisor is not sufficient. Only if you have been notified that you can be awarded without further examination can you miss out this step.

Your Postgraduate Co-ordinator must then send his or her approval and recommendation to the Student Administration Unit in writing - mail or email are both acceptable.

Your thesis must be submitted to the Postgraduate Student Administration Unit, Room 208D, Edward Ford Building, The University of Sydney NSW 2006. Some Disciplines will send the thesis for you via the internal mail but you must ensure that this is done.

Once all of the steps above have been completed and the Chair of the Board of Postgraduate Studies has made a recommendation, you will then receive a letter explaining that you have been awarded the degree and giving details of the graduation ceremony to which you have been assigned.

If you believe all of the above has occurred and you have still not received a letter please check that the University has your current home address.

Medicine: How do I become a specialist doctor?

Australian universities do not have responsibility for conducting the programs which provide training for medical practitioners who wish to become specialists. These are controlled by professional medical colleges. To become a specialist, a medical practitioner must complete a training program arranged by one of the recognised professional colleges (for example, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons or Royal Australasian College of Physicians). A major part of this training takes place in teaching hospitals but is NOT the responsibility of any of the Australian universities, although members of university staff do have significant roles in both colleges and in hospitals.

Medical practitioners who want to become specialists are appointed to hospital training positions by individual hospitals with the approval of the state health departments and sometimes in conjunction with the colleges who select trainees for some specific training programs (for example, orthopaedic surgery). Training positions are competitive and often not easily available, particularly to non-residents. Under special circumstances, arrangements can be made for selected overseas students to undertake specific training programs in Australia, for example in a speciality such as cardiology. This may be organised by bodies such as the International Development Program (IDP), Australian Aid (AusAID), through the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine (APFM) or by discussion with senior Australian specialists in charge of specialist units.

Temporary registration for the purpose of training is granted by the state medical board concerned if it accepts the qualifications of the applicant and if the host hospital is prepared to undertake responsibility for the trainee.

The University of Sydney does offer several postgraduate vocational masters by coursework programs (in areas such as reproductive health and human genetics and sexually transmitted diseases/HIV). However, graduates of these programs are NOT automatically eligible to work as medical practitioners. Universities also provide research training, for example in PhD programs, but this training is not a qualification to practice medicine. If you are a non-resident medical practitioner, and wish to arrange a period of training in Australia, you should ensure that you are eligible for an appropriate visa. Enquiries for hospital positions should be directed to appropriate hospitals, to the relevant professional college or to the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine.

Contact details for the specialist colleges can be found on the Australian Medical Council website.

Medicine: Masters of Medicine - What is the difference between a Master of Medicine and a Master of Science in Medicine?

Only medical graduates, i.e. those with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS), can enrol in the Master of Medicine. If you do not have an MB BS but do have a Bachelor’s degree with first or second class honours you may enrol in the Master of Science in Medicine. In most cases, in a given field of study, students enrolled in the Master of Medicine and Master of Science in Medicine follow exactly the same program of study, with the only distinction between them being the title of the degree they are awarded on completion.

Medicine: Graduate Diploma of Medicine: What is the difference between a Graduate Diploma in Medicine and a Graduate Diploma of Science in Medicine?

Only medical graduates, i.e. those with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS), can enrol in the Graduate Diploma of Medicine. If you do not have an MB BS but do have a Bachelor’s degree with first or second class honours you may enrol in the Graduate Diploma of Science in Medicine. In most cases, in a given field of study, students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Medicine and Graduate Diploma of Science in Medicine follow exactly the same program of study, with the only distinction between them being the title of the degree they are awarded on completion.