Skip to main content
Faculties and schools_

Discipline of Surgery

At the forefront of surgical teaching and research
The Discipline of Surgery is the largest academic surgical department in Australasia and operates across seven different clinical schools in New South Wales.

About the discipline

Our staff and students are conducting cutting-edge teaching and research to enhance surgical practice across a range of specialties. We have more than 100 members across our clinical schools who are well integrated into hospital activities, many of which occupy leadership roles within the New South Wales Area Health Services structure.

Learn more about our history via the University of Sydney Medical School Online Museum website.

Our courses are accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons

Study options

Our postgraduate surgery program offers a range of courses for medical graduates, surgical trainees and surgeons. All of our subjects are accredited by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and with so much choice, you will be able to tailor a program to suit your interests.

The knowledge you develop in our courses complements the practical experience you can obtain through the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) training program, and will augment your research, leadership and communication skills.

Post 2020 enrolment

In 2020 a new Master of Surgery program will be offered. This flexible new program will allow you to pursue your interests and develop knowledge and skills in surgical specialty areas as well as non-technical areas such as professionalism and leadership.

We have added graduate certificate and graduate diploma level qualifications to complement our master's program and research streams have been removed. The surgical science units have been revised and are designed to prepare you for the GSSE. 

Choose from a:

Students completing the masters' will still have the opportunity to complete a dissertation (which is now up to 10,000 words and is worth 12 credit points). On graduation the testamur will now read, ‘Master of Surgery’.

The following subspecialties themes are available for dissertations:

Breast surgery

Paediatric surgery

Cardiothoracic surgery

Plastic/reconstructive surgery

Colorectal surgery

Surgical oncology

Endocrine surgery

Surgical outcomes

Hand surgery

Transplant surgery

Head and neck

Trauma surgery


Upper Gastrointestinal surgery




Vascular and Endovascular surgery

Useful links

We have also updated our breast surgery courses to provide surgeons with the latest in-depth knowledge of breast oncology and breast surgical and onocplastic techniques. This is the first formal educational credential for specialist breast surgery in Australia and New Zealand and has been endorsed by BreastSurgANZ.

Choose from a:

The comprehensive curriculum will supplement the practical experience you acquire while undertaking your BreastSurgANZ training fellowship. 

Our unique Graduate Certificate of Advanced Clinical Skills is a whole body dissection course and is the only one of it's kind in Australia. This gold standard course, taught by small groups of subspecialist surgeons will enable you to stand out in the operating room.

It provides you with a sound knowledge and understanding of regional surgical anatomy through a series of cadaveric dissections, including head and neck, thorax, limbs or abdomen pelvis and perineum. This will give you added confidence throughout your surgical career.

Units of study from this course can be rolled into the Master of Surgery on completion.

Please refer to our 2020 whole body dissection course timetable for more information. 

Our Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences provides an early pathway for senior medical students (years 3 or 4) or medical graduates to undertake study that will assist them in their preparation for the Generic Surgical Science Examination (GSSE) conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).

You can choose four subjects from the below list of five course units:

Unit code 

Unit title Semester Delivery method
SURG5031 Surgical Skills and Practical Professionalism Semester 1 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 for 10 Saturdays 9:00am–4:30pm
SURG5032 Physiology and Pharmacology for Surgeons Semester 2 Online

HAEM5001 Thrombosis and Haemostasis in Acute Care Semester 2 Online

The Doctor of Clinical Surgery combines surgical studies and training with research. It's designed to be undertaken in conjunction with the surgical training program of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons to enhance research, leadership and communication skills. 

Find out more: 

The University offers a range of research opportunities to help you pursue your passion. You can undertake a:

Our research expertise lies across a variety of surgical specialties including cardiovascular, cardiothoracic, colorectal, ear, nose and throat, gastrointestinal, laparascopic, neurosurgery, onocology, orthopaedics, otorhinolaryngology, paediatrics, plastic and reconstructive, transplant, urology, vascular and endocrine surgery.

You can also learn more about research opportunities in the Faculty of Medicine and Health by visiting our postgraduate research page.

The University of Sydney offers short courses in surgery. Visit our short courses section to learn more about available topics and upcoming dates.

It is possible to complete almost any unit of study as a non-award student.

Pre 2020 enrolment

If you were enrolled prior to 2020, our Master of Surgery (coursework) programs allowed students to enter one of five streams: surgical anatomy, surgical sciences, surgical skills, breast surgery or a surgical research stream.

  • Master of Surgery (Surgical Anatomy)
  • Master of Surgery (Surgical Sciences)
  • Master of Surgery (Surgical Skills)
  • Master of Breast Surgery
  • Master of Surgery (Research)

There is also a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Clinical Skills (Surgical Anatomy), a Graduate Certificate in Surgical Sciences, a Graduate Certificate in Breast Surgery and a Doctor of Clinical Surgery.

The research streams are available in all sub-specialties, including: 

Breast surgery 


Cardiothoracic surgery 

Paediatric Surgery 

Colorectal surgery

Plastic/reconstructive surgery 

Endocrine Surgery 

Surgical oncology 

Gastrointestinal surgery 

Transplant surgery

Hand Surgery 

Trauma surgery 

Head and neck surgery 



Vascular surgery and endovascular surgery 

Orthopaedic surgery 


These research streams involved the completion of a written dissertation of no more than 20,000 words and totalling 18 credit points. All or part of the dissertation required a successful peer-reviewed journal publication.

Students enrolled in the Master of Surgery prior to 2020 will be able to complete the course in its original structure or may elect to transfer to the new program.

Useful links

Completing a dissertation

The dissertation component of your course should reflect your interest in a particular field of surgery based on a research project written in the format of an academic composition.

Prior to 2020, dissertations had a word limit of 20,000 and equated to 18 credit points of study. In the new program, a disseration should be no more than 10,000 words and counts toward 12 credit points of study

A disseration encompasses self-directed study with supervision by one or more academics, one of whom should be an academic staff member of the University. (The Discipline of Surgery is able to assist you if your supervisor is not affiliated with the University of Sydney).

You are ultimately responsible for your own work which is undertaken in collaboration with a local supervisor who is agreeable to be responsible for you offering tailored guidance and constructive feedback throughout the course of your research.

You are responsible for approaching a local supervisor at your hospital and ensuring there is clear communication in terms of individual responsibilities, a common understanding of the aims of your project including key milestones, a realistic working timetable and opportunities for regular meetings with feedback to ensure that the project stays on track. 

Suitable projects for the dissertation may include: the collection and analysis of new data based on a common theme, the analysis of an established dataset, a randomized clinical trial, a meta-analysis, a systematic review, a critical narrative review, a prospective or retrospective cohort study. 

Candidates are required to discuss their project with their local supervisor before commencement of their research including seeking appropriate ethics approval and statistical support. All students are required to comply with the Academic honesty Guidelines of the University of Sydney and all written work must by scrutinized by Turnitin for plagiarism prior to submission. 


The dissertation is assembled in two parts (Dissertation A and Dissertation B) both of which need to be completed in a minimum of one year of full time study or two years of part-time study. 

The format of your dissertation should broadly follow that of an original article as published in the issues of the ANZ J. Surg. It should include an introduction followed by an aim(s) (research questions), the methods used, results obtained, a critical discussion of your findings in light of existing knowledge and nay limitations of the study, followed by concluding remarks and/or recommendations together with a list of pertinent correctly cited references. 

Your dissertation must be undertaken during your candidature such that any work or publications written prior to or outside the enrolment period is not acceptable.

There is an option to submit published work based on research undertaken during the period of candidature and this may be enclosed as an appendix to the detailed body of the work.

You are welcome to view previous dissertations submitted by students. Please contact Farida Bolano in advance to arrange a time to access the library.

View a list of dissertations completed by previous students.

The dissertation guidelines, submission requirements and cover sheet are accessible below. Please note that all enquiries regarding the dissertation should be directed towards your supervisor in the first instance, or the Postgraduate Coursework Coordinator - Prof Pierre Chapuis. 

Prior to enrolling in Dissertation A and B, please complete and email the dissertation registration form to Farida Bolano in the Discipline of Surgery:


Listed below are the details of University of Sydney and Sydney Medical School scholarships directly relevant to our research and coursework students in surgery. Please note that not all scholarships are offered in any one year.

Find out more about scholarship opportunities available through Sydney Medical School.


John Loewenthal Society

Named after John Loewenthal, an exceptional alumnus of the University, this surgical society was established to maintain a sense of unity among members of the Discipline of Surgery and to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of its namesake.

John Lowenthal had an impressive and varied career in surgery and in the military, before returning to the University as the Chair of Surgery. In this role, he made significant advances to the discipline by decentralising teaching to hospitals across NSW.

Scientific meetings are held each year by the society in November and April to encourage discussion of topics relevant to medicine and surgery. The Annual General Meeting is held in association with the scientific meeting, including a formal dinner at which the John Loewenthal medals are presented for outstanding research.

Membership to the society is open to current and past members of the academic staff, research fellows, and past and present registrars of Professorial Surgical Units. Persons outside the University of Sydney may be invited to membership by a majority of the members of the Society present at the Annual General Meeting.

Key leadership

  • Professor Paul Bannon, Head of Surgery, Sydney Medical School
  • Professor Pierre Chapuis, Director of Postgraduate Surgical Education
  • Jayne Seward, Discipline Support Officer 
  • Farida Bolano, Discipline Administration Assistant

Head of Discipline

Professor Paul Bannon
View academic profile

Director of Postgraduate Education

Professor Pierre Chapuis
View academic profile

Discipline of Surgery

  • Level 2 The Medical Foundation Building The University of Sydney 92-94 Parramatta Road Camperdown NSW 2050