University of Sydney Handbooks - 2020 Archive

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Master of Philosophy in the Sydney Medical School


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.

Master of Philosophy

These resolutions must be read in conjunction with applicable University By-laws, Rules and policies. These include:
– the Resolutions of the Faculty;
– the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research) Rule 2011 (the HDR Rule); and
– the Research Code of Conduct 2013; and the Research Data Management Policy 2014.
Additionally, the coursework components of this award course are subject to:
– the University of Sydney (Coursework) Rule 2014 (the 'Coursework Rule');
– the Coursework Policy 2014;
– the Academic Honesty in Coursework Policy 2015; and
– the Academic Honesty Procedures 2016.
The latest 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 with first class or second class honours from the University of Sydney in a relevant discipline;
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 Faculty Research Education Committee, are equivalent to those prescribed in sub-clause (1).
The Associate Dean may impose on a student admitted to candidature pursuant to sub-clause (2) such conditions as the Associate Dean considers appropriate.


3 Application for admission to candidature

An applicant for admission to candidature must submit to the Faculty:
satisfactory evidence of the applicant's eligibility for admission;
written evidence confirming that an academic within the Faculty, with an academic background appropriate to the candidate's proposed research:
supports the applicant's proposal; and
is willing to supervise the research.
a written preliminary research proposal developed in conjunction with the proposed supervisor and in the form specified by the Faculty.
a statement certifying the applicant's understanding that, subject to the University of Sydney (Higher Degree by Research Rule) 2011, if the candidature is successful, their thesis and record of design-based work will be lodged with the University Librarian and made available for immediate public use;
Evidence of minimum English language requirements, where not demonstrated by academic qualifications; and
the contact details of two academic or practitioner referees.
In addition, an applicant for admission to part-time candidature must submit a statement that they 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 Associate Dean will appoint a research supervisor and auxilliary  supervisor for each candidate in accordance with the HDR Rule and the Supervision of Higher Degree by Research Students Policy 2013.


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:
complete any specified probationary requirements;
if commencing during or after 20201, complete within the first year (full-time equivalency) of candidature a minimum of 6 credit points of study from Table R as determined in the relevant Faculty milestones statement, and any other studies, as required by the supervisor(s) of the research project; 
conduct research on the approved topic; and
write a thesis embodying the results of the research.


9 The thesis

A candidate shall produce a thesis that meets the requirements specified in the HDR Rule.
The thesis will have an upper limit of 50,000 words including footnotes that may be exceeded by no more than 10,000 words with the permission of the Associate Dean. The word limit does not include appendices.


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 other than in exceptional circumstances, to the satisfaction of the Faculty Research Education Committee, each candidate must:
meet any conditions set by the Faculty Research Education Committee; 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. Visa requirements commonly restrict international students to full-time study only.


13 Discontinuation of candidature

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


14 Leave of absence

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


15 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 and the Progress Planning and Review of Higher Degree by Research Students Policy 2015.


Part 6: Examination


16 Examination of the thesis

Examination of the thesis will be conducted in general accordance with process prescribed by Academic Board for the Master of Philosophy, which are set out in the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degree by Research Policy 2015.


17 Award of the degree

The degree is awarded at the Pass level only.


Part 7: Other

18 Transitional provisions

These resolutions apply to students who commenced their candidature after 1 January 2020 and students who commenced their candidature prior to 1 January 2020 who elect to proceed under these resolutions. Students who commenced their candidature prior to 1 January 2020 may complete the requirements in accordance with the resolutions in force at the time of their commencement. 

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

Master of Philosophy (Medicine)

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.