Coursework programs

Overview | Areas of Study | Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences | Career destinations


The Discipline of Surgery offers four coursework programs at postgraduate level: Master of Surgery (coursework), Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences, Graduate Certificate in Advanced Clinical Skills (Surgical Anatomy) and the Graduate Certificate in Surgery (Breast Surgery). The Master of Surgery aims to offer clinicians the opportunity to learn the principles of applying the best available research evidence to surgical patient care and offers a range of elective units of study. The Master of Surgery also requires research stream students to submit a research dissertation on any subspeciality theme of their choice are listed under Areas of Study).

The Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences aims to assist students in their preparation for the Generic Surgical Science Examination (GSSE) conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

The Graduate Certificate in Advanced Surgical Skills (Surgical Anatomy) provides students with a sound knowledge and understanding of human anatomy through a series of whole-body cadaveric dissections, taught in small groups by subspecialist surgeons. There are 4 whole body regional dissection units of study and it is possible to complete one or more of these units and have them credited towards a Master of Surgery. Candidates must enrol concurrently in the Graduate Certificate to undertake any of these units but must not graduate from the Graduate Certificate should they wish to apply for credit.

The Graduate Certificate in Surgery (Breast Surgery) This course provides surgeons with the latest in-depth knowledge of breast oncology and breast surgical and oncoplastic techniques. It is the first formal educational credential for specialist breast surgery in Australia and New Zealand and has been endorsed by BreastSurgANZ.

The comprehensive curriculum will supplement the practical experience you acquire while undertaking your BreastSurgANZ training fellowship. A supportive learning environment will help you to understand and apply evidence and refine your clinical care of patients. As well as enhancing your surgical practice, it will enable you to participate effectively in multidisciplinary team meetings.

The degree is also suitable for post-fellowship trainees, and individual units of study can be completed outside of the degree to tailor, enhance or update your knowledge and theoretical understanding of a broader range of surgical options for practising breast surgeons.

Leading Australian clinicians have contributed to the program, including breast and plastic surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, epidemiologists, breast physicians and psychologists.

The course can also be undertaken at master’s level with the addition of core and elective units of study. Some units of study may be undertaken by non-enrolled students as a short course. Breast surgery is the only sub-specialty that can be completed either by a combination of coursework and dissertation or via coursework only.

Areas of Study

Some of the areas of study students may cover include: practical research methods for surgeons, biostatistics, literature searching, surgical metabolism and imaging for surgical patients, surgical anatomy by whole body dissection, microsurgery, vascular and endovascular surgery, transplantation immunobiology, surgical oncology and surgical endoscopy.

Master candidates enrolled in the Surgical Research Dissertation Streams may select any one of the following themes:

  • Breast surgery
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Endocrine surgery
  • Hand surgery
  • Head and neck
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopaedic
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Paediatric surgery
  • Plastic/reconstructive surgery
  • Surgical oncology
  • Surgical outcomes
  • Transplant surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • Upper Gastrointestinal surgery
  • Urology
  • Vascular and Endovascular surgery

Students in these streams will complete a combination of coursework and research dissertation. Breast surgery is the only subspecialty that can be completed either by a combination of coursework and dissertation or via coursework only.

Master candidates enrolled in the Surgical Sciences, Surgical Anatomy or Surgical Skills streams will complete coursework only (there is no dissertation required for these streams).

Graduate Certificate In Surgical Sciences

The coursework approach provides a pathway for medical graduates and senior medical students (years 3 or 4) to undertake study that will assist students in their preparation for the Generic Surgical Science Examination (GSSE) conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). This course also gives students the opportunity to complete the Graduate Certificate of Surgical Sciences concurrently with their medical studies.
Advanced medical students enrolled in graduate medical programs who have completed their preclinical science studies, would be able to enrol in 1 unit of study (6 credit point per unit of study) per semester and complete the graduate certificate at the same time as completing their medical program. They would also have the option of applying their 24 credit points towards the Master of Surgery (coursework) in place of the Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences.

Admission to Graduate Certificate requires:
(I) MBBS or equivalent qualification from the University of Sydney, or an equivalent qualification, or enrolment in, and successful completion of all pre-clinical studies, in a graduate medical degree program offered by an Australian University.
(II) Satisfactory interview, satisfactory references and approval by Head of Discipline or his nominee.

*Stage 3 and 4 Sydney Medical students should complete and return the attached registration form prior to enrolment in units of study - Registration for Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences.

The four core units are:

SURG5031 - Surgical Skills and Practical Professionalism, Semester 2 - (online plus 2 consecutive days, Royal North Shore Hospital)
PATH5000 – Surgical Pathology, Semester 1 or 2 - Online
SURG5034 - Surgical Anatomy Based on GSSE, Semester 1 or 2 - (Fortnightly Sat 9:00am–4:30pm)
SURG5032 - Physiology and Pharmacology for Surgeons, Semester 2 - Online

Career destinations

Our graduates will have the opportunity to understand the principles of applying the best available research evidence to patient care. They will also develop knowledge of epidemiological methods, biostatistics, literature searching and controlled trials for clinical research, as well as an understanding of laboratory based methodology for those with a future interest in this academic surgical pursuit. For the academic surgical educator, they will gain a foundation for a career involving advancing academic undergraduate and postgraduate surgical education. These courses all are designed to best equip candidates for a successful surgical career.