University of Sydney Handbooks - 2017 Archive

Download full 2017 archive Page archived at: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 11:21:55 +1000

Genetic Counselling

Master of Genetic Counselling

Graduate Diploma in Genetic Counselling (early exit only)


  Master of Genetic Counselling Graduate Diploma in Genetic Counselling
Course code MAGENCOU1000 GNGENCOU1000
CRICOS code 072362M 072363K
Degree Abbreviation MGC GradDipGC
Credit points required to complete 96  48
Time to complete full-time 2 years  Exit qualification only after 1 year


Knowledge in genetics and genomics directly impacting on human health has expanded rapidly in recent years. A genetic counsellor, as a member of a medical genetics team, provides families with information about: genetic conditions due to single gene variations or chromosome changes, genetic conditions due to multi-gene variations and gene-environment interactions; screening and genetic testing; genetic test results and risk estimates for genetic conditions; and provides support for decision making, the coming to terms with the impact of test results and family communication.

The Master of Genetic Counselling is a two-year full-time program consisting of coursework (30 credit points), clinical practice including a minimum of 15 weeks under supervision in a variety of genetics services (33 credit points), and a supervised research project (33 credit points). The research project constitutes the capstone experience of the program.

Course outcomes

Graduates will have current advanced knowledge of: medical genetics and genomics; community genetics and genomics; clinical practice and genetic counselling skills; ethical, legal and social issues of genetic medicine; and research training and skills.


The two year program complies with international standards and is accredited by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA). The course fulfills the requirements for Part 1 certification by the HGSA and entry into Part 2 of the professional certification for genetic counselling.

Further information

Students are encouraged to undertake one or more clinical placements and/or their research project within their home state/country and clinical context under joint supervision. A Graduate Diploma of Genetic Counselling (48 credit points, one year full time) may be awarded to a candidate under exceptional circumstances who has successfully completed Year 1 but is not permitted to proceed due to a supervisor report indicating insufficient skills to undertake advanced clinical practice. The Masters program has reciprocity agreements with other countries facilitating links to international training programs. International clinical placement may be requested.

Assessment is by written examination, oral presentations, written assignments, supervisor reports, log books, case studies, audio and video assessment, development of education materials, and research project dissertation.

The majority of teaching takes place at the Kolling Institute, Sydney Medical School -Northern, Royal North Shore Hospital campus.

Sydney offers opportunities for a rich diversity of community and clinical placements for genetic counselling students. Invited speakers, including professionals with national and international standing, will present new developments and differing perspectives in genetics and genomics.

Students will be encouraged to seek extra clinical placements supplementary to the minimum 14 weeks.

Placement with leading researchers for the research project will be available.

Mode of program delivery includes problem-based learning; didactic lectures; seminars and journal clubs; site visits to laboratories; counselling and communication skills development including role play and audio and video-taped feedback; supervised clinical placements governed by the development of competencies; reflective practice; log book documentation and case studies.

Twelve to fourteen students are enrolled each year. Small interactive classes will foster productive and enjoyable learning experiences.

The course has been designed with working professionals in mind. Classes are conducted on Wednesdays and/or Thursdays from 9am - 5pm at the Sydney Medical School - Northern, Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, with occasional classes outside of this day including several intensive weeks. Attendance at 1, 4 (2 two-week blocks), 4 and 5 full time weeks clinic placements will also be required in Semesters 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. In Year 1, 40 hours will also be spent in a variety of community placements to provide experience of the lived experience of a disability. In Year 2, students are required to undertake 100 hours of professional development.

Applicants will have a relevant degree recognised by the University of Sydney. Preference will be given to those with a basic knowledge of human genetics and who can provide evidence of volunteer or work experience in a caring role. Applicants must also provide a 500 word essay outlining what they understand about the role of genetic counselling and why they have chosen a career in genetic counselling. International students will require an IELTS score of 7.0 (minimum score of 7.0 in listening and speaking).

A limited number of Commonwealth-Supported Places (CSP) may be available for residents of Australia and New Zealand. CSPs are allocated on academic merit.

Further enquiries

Associate Professor Kristine Barlow-Stewart
Course Director
T +61 2 9926 4553
F +61 2 9926 4033