Surgeons operating in theatre
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At the forefront of surgical teaching and research
The University of Sydney is home to the largest academic surgical department in Australasia and operates across seven different clinical schools in New South Wales.

Our range of postgraduate surgery programs are designed with medical graduates, surgical trainees and practising surgeons in mind.

With plenty of subjects to choose from, 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) and BreastSurgANZ training programs and will enhance your research, leadership and communication skills.

Surgery can be studied at the postgraduate coursework level (such as our Master of Surgery) or by enrolling in a higher degree by research, such as our Master of Philosophy (Medicine and Health) or Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine and Health).

Below is information about surgery postgraduate coursework degrees.

Courses in surgery

Courses in breast surgery

Learn more about each program:

In 2020 our new Master of Surgery program was launched, allowing students to develop knowledge and skills in surgical specialty areas and  non-technical areas such as research, professionalism and leadership.

The new program has been redesigned to allow students more flexibility to pursue specialised units of study or a research dissertation relevant to their interests.

The new graduate certificate and graduate diploma level qualifications also enable students greater flexibility with their level of commitment, with the ability to upgrade to the full master's program on completion.

Students completing the masters' will have the opportunity to complete a dissertation (which is now up to 10,000 words and is worth 12 credit points).

Examples of the subspecialties themes available for dissertations include:

  • breast surgery, 
  • cardiothoracic surgery, 
  • colorectal surgery, 
  • endocrine surgery, 
  • hand surgery, 
  • head and neck surgery, 
  • neurosurgery, 
  • orthopaedic surgery, 
  • otorhinolaryngology, 
  • paediatric surgery, 
  • plastic/reconstructive surgery, 
  • surgical oncology, 
  • surgical outcomes, 
  • transplant surgery, 
  • trauma surgery, 
  • upper gastrointestinal surgery, 
  • urology, and
  • vascular and endovascular surgery.

Choose from a:

This is the first formal educational credential for specialist breast surgery in Australia and New Zealand and has been endorsed by Breast Surgeons of Australia and New Zealand Inc (BreastSurgANZ).

Designed to provide breast surgeons with the latest knowledge of breast oncology and breast surgical and oncoplastic techniques, the comprehensive curriculum will supplement the practical experience you acquire while undertaking your BreastSurgANZ training fellowship.

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.

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.  

Postgraduate research

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.

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

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

Professional development and short courses

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.

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.

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

A dissertation encompasses self-directed study with supervision by one or more academics, one of whom should be an academic staff member of the University. The Specialty of Surgery can assist you if your supervisor is not affiliated with the University of Sydney. Find out more about our list of potential supervisors 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 randomised clinical trial,
  • a systematic review and/or meta-analysis, or
  • a prospective or retrospective cohort study

Candidates must discuss their project with their local supervisor before the commencement of their research, including seeking appropriate ethics approval and statistical support. One-on-one support for ethics, data management and statistics may also be sought from the faculty. All students are required to comply with the Academic honesty Guidelines of the University of Sydney. The dissertation must be submitted by Turnitin to check for plagiarism.

The dissertation is assembled in two parts (Dissertation A and Dissertation B), 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 the 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 any limitations of the study, followed by concluding remarks and/or recommendations together with a list of pertinent correctly cited references. More details of the structure of the dissertation can be found here and by watching this video.

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

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

Examples of dissertation topics submitted by students who have performed well include:

  • Dr Sean Leow was awarded a HD for his project titled “Contemporary Australian Trends in Antiseptic Pocket Rinse in Primary Breast Implant Surgery”, supervised by Dr Robert Knight
  • Dr Simon Donald was awarded a HD for his project titled “Reconstruction of massive uncontained glenoid bony deficiency with a combined autograft-allograft construct and total shoulder arthroplasty: long-term results and literature review”, supervised by Dr Ed Bateman
  • Dr Mitchell Murray was awarded a HD for his project titled “Additive manufacturing and its role in optimising mechanical and antimicrobial properties of orthopaedic implants”, supervised by Professor Bill Walsh
  • Dr Andrew May was awarded a HD for his project titled “Practical extended use of antimicrobial silver”, supervised by Professor Allison Cowin
  • Dr Nicholas McNamara was awarded a HD for his project titled “Predictors of failed chest tube drainage and recurrence in first episode primary spontaneous pneumothorax”, supervised by A/Professor Christopher Cao
  • Dr Neelprada Pradhan was awarded a HD for her project titled “Management and Outcomes of Carotid Disease in the Cardiac Surgery Perioperative Period: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, supervised by A/Professor Siven Seevanayagam
  • Dr Peter Ryan was awarded a HD for his project titled “COCHLEAR NERVE DYSFUNCTION IN UNILATERAL CONGENITAL SENSORINEURAL HEARING LOSS – A prevalence study and update on management”, supervised by A/Professor Catherine Birman
  • Dr Emily Sawyer was awarded a HD for her project titled “Comparison of surgical fixation to conservative management of rib fracture”, supervised by Professor Michael Muller
  • Dr Ahmad Sulaiman Sulaiman was awarded a HD for his project titled “Epidemiology of flexor tendon injuries and re-rupture following repair”, supervised by Dr Sean Nicklin
  • Dr Christopher Ovenden was awarded a HD for his project titled “Incidence of hydrocephalus following decompressive craniectomy for ischaemic stroke: A systematic review and meta-analysis”, supervised by Dr Adam Wells
  • Dr Sonia Sinclair was awarded a HD for her project titled “Characterisation of Costal Cartilage Allograft”, supervised by Professor Bill Walsh
  • Dr Jason Trang was awarded a HD for his project titled “Ex-vivo investigations of a novel synthetic, rapid-templated cranioplasty substitute”, supervised by Professor James Van Gelder

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 unit coordinators:

Students wishing to enrol in Dissertation Part A and Part B will be at the discretion of the unit coordinators, who will determine if the project meets the minimum requirements. This will be determined by completing the dissertation registration form, which will be emailed to students by the Education Support Officer. Some relevant documentation for these units include:

Contacts and key leadership

  • Associate Professor Sarah Aitken, Head of Specialty, Surgery, Sydney Medical School
  • Associate Professor Anthony Glover, Program Director, Master of Surgery coursework programs
  • Dr Chris Nahm, Co-Director, Master of Surgery coursework programs

For Master of Surgery and subsidiary programs as well as the Doctor of Clinical Surgery please contact the Clinical and Professional Education team.

For the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) please contact the Higher Degree by Research Administation Centre: