University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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Clinical Surgery

Doctor of Clinical Surgery


Credit points

Full-time completion

Part-time completion

Doctor of Clinical Surgery


3 years

3.5-10 years


The Doctor of Clinical Surgery is a combination of clinical and non-clinical coursework and research.

The course aims to produce surgical leaders with attitudes and skills that allow them to meet the challenges of surgical specialist practice. Completion of the doctorate allows students to develop research skills which equip them to plan an academic career.

The Doctor of Clinical Surgery is designed to be undertaken in conjunction with the surgical training program of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

Candidates who have already completed surgical training in Australia or a recognised surgical training program elsewhere, will benefit from the non-clinical study opportunities and research skills development.


The Doctor of Clinical Surgery is endorsed by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Students who undertake clinical placements in College accredited training posts will be prospectively approved for recognition in the SET Program.

Course structure

The Doctor of Clinical Surgery requires the successful completion of 144 credit points including:

  • 108 credit points of core units of study comprising:
    – 66 credit points of clinical coursework (surgery) units of study
    – 6 credit points capstone units of study
    – 36 credit point research dissertation; and
  • 36 credit points of non-clinical elective units of study.

The typical semester load is:

  • two clinical coursework (surgery) units (unless credit for previous study is granted)
  • one research unit of study
  • one elective.

In special circumstances a student may apply to undertake two electives in one semester. They must undertake two research units of study the following semester.

Clinical Surgery Coursework

Each coursework subject (Clinical Surgery 1-11) is a culmination of the clinical service work and close, one to one supervision by a nominated training supervisor.

The coursework includes detailed surgical anatomy and pathology of the relevant region.

Each subject is assessed by a combination of:

  • satisfactory participation in the care of a number of patients
  • a competence-based assessment of operative skills
  • an in-depth review of one patient including a critical review of the literature.

Clinical Surgery Capstone

Assessment in this subject includes satisfactory presentation at a Viva Voce. Students are expected to discuss and justify from the available evidence, their clinical management of a number of randomly chosen cases from their logbook.

Non-clinical Subjects (Electives)

  • Students complement core clinical coursework with non-clinical electives. These electives can be taken from within Sydney Medical School or from areas across the University.


Students show evidence of research through a continuous research project on a topic approved by the University Training Supervisor.

This research may be undertaken in any of the multidisciplinary units of the Sydney Medical School or may be undertaken in other faculties as approved by the Course Coordinator. Research undertaken in other faculties may include include Engineering, Law, Humanities, Economics and Science.

The Research units of study each cover a particular aspect of the Thesis and must be taken in the prescribed order.

The general pattern for 36 credit points of research units are as follows:

  • SURG6001 – (Surgical Research 1) Abstract
  • SURG6002 – (Surgical Research 2) Narrative Review/Aims
  • SURG6003 – (Surgical Research 3) Methods (Data Collation)
  • SURG6004 – (Surgical Research 4) Results
  • SURG6005 – (Surgical Research 5) Discussion/Future Directions
  • SURG6006 – (Surgical Research 6) Bibliography

Course outcomes

Graduates will:

  • have a solid understanding of the scientific, pathological, clinical and surgical basis of disease
  • have a solid understanding of the principles of research methodologies that underpin good surgical practice
  • be able to lead and/or contribute to designing, efficiently conducting and appropriately interpreting the results of single and multi-centre clinical trials
  • be able to identify and understand the appropriate literature with respect to clinical questions and clinical trials design
  • be able to demonstrate skills and capacity as surgical leaders with a keen academic interest.

Further enquiries

Professor Pierre Chapuis
Phone: +61 2 9767 6736
Fax: +61 2 9767 6894