University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Master of Philosophy in the Sydney Medical School

Course Duration full-time Duration part-time
MPhil 1 to 2 years 2 to 4 years

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) is aimed at those who intend to pursue careers in medical or health research or who wish to upgrade their qualifications to give them a competitive edge in their employment by demonstrating superior ability and research experience. It may also be used as a stepping stone to commencing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).

The MPhil is a research degree in which students undertake supervised research leading to the production of a thesis.

MPhil students are required to complete one six credit point unit of study, MEDF5005 Research Methods and Ethics, early in their candidature to provide them with guidance on areas relating to research such as writing papers and theses, reading and critiquing technical papers and writing literature reviews. Otherwise, MPhil students are not normally required to attend classes or undertake coursework units of study, with the thesis being the major examinable assessment requirement for the degree.

Major research areas include:

  • anaesthesia
  • anatomy and histology
  • cardiology
  • dermatology
  • endocrinology
  • gastroenterology and hepatology
  • general practice
  • geriatric medicine
  • haematology
  • infection and immunity
  • medical education
  • medical genetics
  • neurology
  • nuclear medicine
  • obstetrics and gynaecology
  • oncology
  • clinical ophthalmology and eye health
  • paediatrics and child health
  • pathology
  • pharmacology
  • physiology
  • psychological medicine
  • public health
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • renal medicine
  • respiratory medicine
  • rheumatology and surgery.

Degree resolutions

Sydney Medical School resolutions and the handbook are the official statement of faculty policy.

The resolutions contained in the handbook are accurate as at the time of publication. If a conflict is perceived between the content of the handbook and information available elsewhere, Sydney Medical School resolutions and the information available in the handbook shall always take precedence.

See the Policy Register, for copies of University policies.


Master of Philosophy

These resolutions must be read in conjunction with applicable University By-laws, Rules and policies including (but not limited to) the University of Sydney (Coursework) Rule 2014 (the 'Coursework Rule'), the Coursework Policy 2014, the Resolutions of the School, the University of Sydney (Student Appeals against Academic Decisions) Rule 2006 (as amended) and the Academic Board policies on Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism. Up to date versions of all such documents are available from the Policy Register:

Course resolutions

Part 1: Preliminary

1 Course codes


Course title


Master of Philosophy



Part 2: Admission requirements

2 Eligibility for admission to candidature

To be eligible to be admitted to candidature by the Dean or Associate Dean, an applicant must hold or have completed the requirements for a bachelor's degree from the University of Sydney, in a subject area related to the proposed course of advanced study and research, with -
first or second class honours; or
a result of at least a Credit grade in the highest, relevant unit of study.
The Dean or Associate Dean may admit to candidature an applicant who does not meet the requirements of sub-clause (1), provided that the applicant holds a qualification or qualifications that, in the opinion of the Combined Board of Postgraduate Studies, are equivalent to those prescribed in sub-clause (1).


3 Application for admission to candidature

An applicant for admission to candidature must submit to the School:
satisfactory evidence of the applicant's eligibility for admission;
a proposed course of research and advanced study, approved by the Head of the Discipline in which the work is to be undertaken; and
a statement certifying the applicant's understanding that, subject to the HDR Rule, if the candidature is successful, his or her thesis will be lodged with the University Librarian and made available for immediate public use.
In addition, an applicant for admission to part-time candidature must submit a statement that he or she will have sufficient time available to complete the requirements of the degree in accordance with these resolutions.


4 Credit transfer

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the granting of credit for previous studies, including the effect on completion times.


Part 3: Candidature

5 Appointment of supervisor

The Head of Discipline will appoint a supervisor and associate supervisor for each candidate in accordance with the HDR Rule and Academic Board policies for postgraduate research higher degree supervision.


6 Control of candidature

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the control of candidature by the University.


7 Location of candidature and attendance

The HDR Rule specifies the conditions for the location of candidature and attendance by candidates at the University.


Part 4: Requirements

8 Degree requirements

To satisfy the requirements of the degree candidates must:
successfully complete any specified probationary requirements and conditions of candidature;
successfully complete a 6 credit point research methods unit of study as set out in the Table of Units of Study: Master of Philosophy, and any other units of study prescribed by the Head of Discipline;
conduct research on the approved topic; and
write a thesis embodying the results of the research that passes the examination.


9 The thesis

A candidate shall produce a thesis that meets the requirements specified in the HDR Rule.
The thesis will be no more than 60,000 words, except with permission of the postgraduate coordinator.


Part 5: Enrolment and progression

10 Probation

A candidate is normally accepted for candidature on a probationary basis for a period not exceeding one year according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.
In the probationary period each candidate must:
Successfully complete a specified research methods unit of study;
develop and present a refined research proposal to the satisfaction of the Supervisor and Head of Discipline;
meet any conditions set by the Combined Board of Postgraduate Studies, School and Discipline; and
demonstrate adequate English language competency for the completion of the degree.


11 Time limits, earliest and latest submission dates

The HDR Rule specifies the allowable completion times and submission dates available for full- and part-time candidates in this course.


12 Mode of attendance

The attendance pattern for this course is full-time or part-time according to candidate choice but is subject to approval by the Combined Board of Postgraduate Studies.


13 Discontinuation of candidature

A candidate may discontinue enrolment in a unit of study or the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.


14 Suspension of candidature

A candidate may suspend enrolment from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.


15 Leave of absence

A candidate may take leave of absence from the degree subject to the conditions specified by the HDR Rule.


16 Progress

A candidate is required to maintain satisfactory progress towards the timely completion of the degree. Progress will be reviewed annually according to the provisions of the HDR Rule.


Part 6: Examination

17 Form and lodgement of thesis

The thesis must be typewritten and bound as prescribed by the Academic Board resolutions of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


18 Examination of the thesis

Examination of the thesis will be conducted in general accordance with process prescribed by Academic Board for the Doctor of Philosophy, except that:
two examiners will be appointed by the Head of Discipline, at least one of whom shall be external to the University; and
the Combined Board of Postgraduate Studies will act in place of the PhD Award Sub-Committee.


19 Award of the degree

The thesis will be graded by the examiners and the thesis grade will be recorded on the academic transcript.


Part 7: Other

20 Transitional provisions

These course resolutions apply to students who commenced their candidature after 1 January, 2017.
Candidates who commenced prior to 1 January, 2017 shall complete the requirements in accordance with the resolutions in force at the time of their commencement, provided that requirements are completed within the time limits specified in those resolutions. The Dean or Associate Dean may specify a later date for completion or specify alternative requirements for completion of candidatures that extend beyond this time.

Unit of study Credit points A: Assumed knowledge P: Prerequisites C: Corequisites N: Prohibition Session

Master of Philosophy (Medicine)

Health Research Methods and Ethics
6      Semester 1
MEDF5005 Health Research Methods and Ethics

Credit points: 6 Teacher/Coordinator: Dr Timothy Schlub Session: Semester 1 Classes: 2x compulsory in person interactive full day workshops, 4x optional in person 3hr tutorials, 5x online lectures and discussions, 2x online elective module readings Assessment: Study design and ethics assignment (40%), statistics assignment (20%), statistics exam (20%), online self-study elective task (10%), online quizes (10%) Mode of delivery: Block mode
This unit of study introduces students to the fundamental skills that are required for postgraduate research in medicine and health. Students will learn how to conduct research that is scientifically and ethically sound, and be able to critically appraise and review literature. Students will understand the strengths and limitations of common study designs and develop simple but important statistical analysis skills, including how to present and interpret data, basic data management skills, and how to determine the required sample size for a study. Obtaining ethics approval is necessary for any study involving the collection or analysis of data involving humans, animals or their tissues. Hence, this unit will also cover ethics in research and when and how to apply for ethics approval. These fundamental skills promote a scholarly attitude towards knowledge and understanding, and are essential for engagement with the research community.