Summary of Requirements for Pathology Honours


The Discipline of Pathology offers undergraduate research degree candidature to students from the Faculty of Science. These courses are undertaken either within the Discipline of Pathology or externally in one of the Clinical Schools or research institutes associated with the Discipline. Each project is under the supervision of a member of academic staff from the Discipline and, in the case of external candidates, in association with a supervisor from the laboratory where the work will be performed. The Roles and Responsibilities laid down by The University of Sydney for students and supervisors are available to students and staff ["Code of practice for supervision of postgraduate research student"].


  • To train undergraduate research students in the methodologies, skills, conventions and ethics of science.
  • To promote links between basic science, the discipline of pathology, and clinical medicine.
  • To prepare students for postgraduate studies.
  • To foster a broadly based interest in science among graduates of the University.
  • To conduct high quality research in an environment of intellectual freedom and equal opportunity.
  • To encourage research students to publish their results in high quality journals.
  • To provide a safe working environment for students and to ensure that they learn safe laboratory practices.

Entry Requirements

Students must meet the following criteria before being allowed to enrol in a BSc Honours or equivalent degree (please note, it is not necessary to have completed Cell Pathology):

  1. Have obtained a SciWAM of 68 or greater*
  2. Have approached a Supervisor who has agreed to undertake supervision of the nominated project ('Honours Student Preliminary Information Sheet' to be completed and submitted to the Discipline's Honours Administrator via email).
  3. Have suitable Associate Supervisor/s nominated by the Discipline in consultation with the Primary Supervisor (NB Students planning to be located in a laboratory associated with the Discipline and not located in the Discipline must be interviewed by their Discipline Associate Supervisor before acceptance into Honours).

*Students not meeting this criterion may consult the Honours Coordinator or Head of Department to discuss the possibility of entry. Please also see the information regarding Graduate Diplomas here.

NB Students whose SciWAM is less than 68 may have difficulty in achieving a mark in the range of Class 1 Honours, since the Discipline is constrained by a requirement of the Faculty of Science that the average Honours mark for all the students in a Discipline must not exceed the average SciWAM +10. The minimum score for Hons 1 is 80.

Requirements of Candidates


  • To optimise time available during the year, it is strongly recommended that students start by 1 February.
  • Students who handle animals during Honours must complete an Animal Handling Course early in the year.
  • Students who will be handling radioactive substances or may be exposed to other sources of radiation (eg X-ray, radioisotopes) are required to undertake a Radiation Safety Course.

Literature Review and Thesis

  • The maximum length of the thesis is 25,000 words (excluding references and figure legends). This will usually equate to approximately 85 pages for the main text, at the rate of approximately 300 words per page (assuming Times font, 1.5 line spacing and reasonable margins). Normally, the entire thesis will be approximately 120 pages, including all parts of the thesis.
  • For Semester 1 students, the Literature Review (Introduction) is due around the first week in May and should be submitted in both PDF and hardcopy. The Introduction should be approximately 7,500 words (excluding references and figure legends), equivalent to approximately 25 pages for the main text. The Literature Review is expected to be formatted in a similar style to the final thesis Chapter 1, and should include a list of references cited, and appropriate figures and tables.
  • For Semester 1 students, the completed Thesis is due around the first week in November. This submission date is required to meet Faculty of Science and APA Award deadlines.
  • Short extensions (less than one week) without penalty will only be granted in extraordinary circumstances with the approval of the Head of Department or his nominee. Longer extension requires approval of the Head of Department and the Dean of the Faculty concerned.
Procedure for submission of Literature Review and Final Thesis

These documents must be submitted electronically as an Adobe Acrobat PDF document (~5-10 megabytes), with the file being submitted by email to the Discipline's Honours Administrator.

Theses are examined by three examiners: members of the Discipline of Pathology and external examiner/s. Each examiner is asked to submit a report based on the following criteria:

 Content Introduction
Material and methods
Scientific Merit Is the work properly controlled?
Are the conclusions justified?
Are alternative conclusions canvassed?
Style Overall presentation
Accuracy (typographical errors, text-table correlation, figures and captions)

The Discipline holds a Board of Examiners meeting in which the marks for all students are discussed, an overall mark allocated and rankings made. This Board consists of the Head of Department (or his/her representative), the Honours Coordinator and other members of the Academic Staff. In addition, the Faculty of Science holds an examiner's meeting at which marks can be adjusted in accordance with the Faculty's requirements.


  • Students will present a short overview and research plan to the Discipline usually during the first week in March for Semester 1 students (10 min presentation, 5 min question).
  • Students present a full seminar (20 min presentation, 10 min question), reporting their data, after submission of their thesis. The final seminar is expected to be in the second week of November for Semester 1 students.
  • Compulsory Research Techniques Seminars: Fortnightly Research Techniques seminars are held Thursday 4pm in the first semester which cover practical and theoretical aspects of a variety of commonly used research tools. A logbook will record attendance.
  • Compulsory Journal Club: On alternate weeks in the first semester a Journal Club is held. Students present a journal article for discussion. A Research Scientist from the Discipline is on hand to "guide" the discussion.
  • Additionally, all students are required to attend four formal research seminars during the year. For internal students this may be the Discipline seminar series, and for external students the seminar series run by their own department. Similarly, any formal research institute seminar series would be suitable. Students are required to write a 200 word synopsis of each seminar in their log books, to be reviewed and commented on by their supervisor.


Mark Breakdown:


Coursework (including all aspects of seminar participation) 10%
Thesis 75% Final Seminar 15%

Additional Information

Postgraduate Scholarship Application
Students considering applying for Commonwealth Scholarships for postgraduate study are advised to ensure that they inform their supervisors and discuss their options in adequate time for applications to be completed correctly and submitted.

A number of avenues exist to assist students who are experiencing problems with their candidature. In the first instance students are encouraged to speak with their supervisor/s. If this is unsatisfactory, or inappropriate, students may contact their Honours Coordinator, Postgraduate Student Representative or Head of Discipline. Additionally, advice may be sought from the University Equal Opportunity Unit: