Person with Petri dish
Study area_

Honours in medical sciences

Become a part of the future of health
Honours in medical sciences is available across eight disciplines and several of our clinical networks.

Honours in medical sciences

Hear from our students on why you should study an honours in medical sciences at the University of Sydney

Students will be part of a multidisciplinary medical and health research environment within the School of Medical Sciences.

Projects are available across a wide range of locations including the Camperdown and Westmead campuses, but also through the numerous affiliated medical research institutes and hospitals.

The one-year honours program includes a 36-credit point research project giving students access to the latest biomedical technologies, and the chance to work on real-world medical problems and contribute to improved health outcomes.

The redesigned curriculum includes two 6-credit point coursework units.

  • The first will provide the opportunity to learn theoretical and practical aspects of cutting-edge research techniques. 
  • The second will encourage critical appraisal of published scientific literature and develop outstanding scientific communication skills.

Find out more information about the program.

Honours in medical sciences are available in ten discipline areas:

  • Anatomy and Histology
  • Applied Medical Sciences
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Infectious Diseases  
  • Immunology
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Neuroscience
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology

There are three pathways to study honours in medical sciences:

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours): To be eligible, you must have qualified for or be a graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent (including the Bachelor of Science (Medical Science)) from the University of Sydney or equivalent qualification from another tertiary institution.
  • Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours): To be eligible, you must have qualified for, or be a graduate with, a Bachelor of Medical Science degree from the University of Sydney.
  • Students who commence a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Medical Science) before semester 1 2025 and complete two majors, at least one of which is from the ten discipline areas listed above (see what can I study) may be eligible to apply for an appended honours year in the Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Honours). This and other honours options will be communicated to potential candidates during your studies.

To apply for Honours in Medical Sciences, you will need to:

1. Find a project and a supervisor willing to take you on. Search available projects here.

2. After you have confirmed support from an Honours supervisor, formally register for your Honours project, and nominate your preferred SOMS4101 modules by submitting an Expression of Interest through our Honours platform.

3. If your Expression of Interest is accepted, you will receive an email and PDF confirmation of supervision for your nominated Honours project.

4.  Submit a formal application for admission to the appropriate course. Please refer to the list of courses above for details of the correct application pathway. You must attach your PDF confirmation of supervision to your application.

The timeline for applications and enrolment into Honours is as follows:

14 June 2024 School of Medical Sciences deadline for Expressions of Interest for Supervision*
25 June 2024 Deadline to apply for admission to Honours
29 July 2024 Semester 2A (S2CRA) – last day to add SOMS4101

*Please ensure you submit your Expression of Interest with sufficient time for processing prior to the application deadline relevant to your Honours pathway.

Once you receive your offer, you must enrol in the correct units of study for your Course and Honours pathway. Please refer to the relevant Handbook tables for Honours in your course and subject area.

First Semester of Honours Second Semester of Honours
SOMS4101 SOMS4102
SOMS4103 SOMS4106
SOMS4104 SOMS4107
SOMS4105 SOMS4108

The timeline for starting Honours is as follows:

22 July 2024 You may commence your research project, but only if you have completed your enrolment and are therefore insured to attend University
29 July 2024  SOMS4101 Research Skills for Medical Sciences (S2CRA) commences – there will be summative assessments starting from 29 July 2024
29 July 2024 - 27 August 2024 SOMS4101 teaching dates (Zoom orientation on 26 July)
28 August 2024 Research project commences for all

SOMS4101 - Overview and Module selection

SOMS4101 is a Semester 2A unit that is run in intensive mode. It will commence on 29 July and conclude on 27 August. Over a period of 4 weeks, students will complete a range of modules. In weeks 1–3, students will select 1 module to complete each week from the offering. In week 4, students will complete all core modules.

Modules in weeks 1–3 will all follow the same format – pre-reading online, with a short quiz; a workshop or practical with approximately 10–15 hours of face-to-face requirement, and a final report and in-class assessment. All assessments will be completed by the end of week 5.

Week 1 (25%)

Week 2 (25%)

Week 3 (25%)

Week 4 (25%)





Flow cytometry



Molecular and chemical probes in research


Work Health and Safety


Tissue preparation and Histological stains


Cell culture



Advanced immunostaining


Research Integrity


Data analysis and data visualisation

Camperdown / Zoom

Mass Spec and HPLC


Western blotting / proteomics


An introduction to Biostatistics



Qualitative Research Methods





PCR/Genomics - Westmead

This module will introduce the key concepts of gene expression analysis. In workshops (4h), you will identify components of a PCR reaction, design appropriate controls, compare and contrast PCR, qPCR, digital droplet PCR, RNA-Sequencing, NanoString and single cell RNA sequencing, articulate differences between relative and absolute qPCR and their key applications, design primers and a qPCR experiment. In practical classes (4h), you will execute the designed experiment. In the analysis session (4h), you will evaluate key parameters for high quality PCR data, learn how to present the data in a written report covering the experimental design, results, figures, discuss strategies to circumvent failed experiments, limitations and data validation.

Tissue Preparation and Histological Stains – Camperdown

In this module, you will gain a basic understanding of histological techniques, starting with fixation and paraffin embedding of tissues, followed by cutting your own sections using a microtome. You will gain an understanding of how stains bind to different tissue types, and carry out staining protocols, including the haematoxylin and eosin stain. Using light microscopy, you will capture publication-quality images of your stained tissue and learn how to recognise artefacts.

Data analysis and visualisation – Camperdown/Zoom

This module will introduce common tools and methods used in the analysis and visual representation of large and complex datasets, including introductory methods in machine learning. You will be able to access and use practical datasets published in recent research articles. You will acquire analysis methods, including data visualisation and supervised machine learning methods. Using R, you will independently develop the code needed to import, process, and visualise data from raw sources, and learn how complex data generated in biomedical sciences are analysed, interpreted, and effectively communicated in research reports. Please note that this module is designed for students who are already proficient with R and teaches best practice methods for data analysis and visualisation in research reporting.


Flow Cytometry – Westmead

This module aims to introduce the key concepts that underpin flow cytometry. In workshops (4h), you will learn about the key components of flow cytometers, how to design flow panels, identify controls and how to achieve high quality flow and cell sorting. In a laboratory practical (7h), you will prepare cells and controls according to the panel design of the workshop, perform flow acquisition and record data on a flow cytometer. In the analysis session (4h), you will analyse, interpret and learn how to present your data in a written report spanning from the experimental design, results, figures to discussing strategies to circumvent potential failed experiments, limitations and data validation.

Cell culture – Camperdown

Cell culture is a core laboratory technique in biomedical research, cellular and molecular biology, drug discovery and biotechnology laboratories. This module will include practical and workshop components and provide students with the necessary technical and critical reasoning skills to successfully perform cell culture. It is intended as an introduction to cell culture basics, covering topics such as getting familiar with the requirements of a laboratory dedicated to cell culture experiments, laboratory safety, aseptic techniques, microbial contamination of cell cultures, as well as teaching basic methods for passaging, freezing, and thawing cultured cells.

Mass Spec – Camperdown

This module aims to introduce the key concepts that underpin liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). In lectures (2 x 2h) and workshops (3 x 2h), you will learn about the key components of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and the mass spectrometer (MS) components, how to design studies, prepare your samples, develop your LC-MS methods, and achieve reliable high-quality data. In a laboratory practical (1h), you will visit Sydney MS and use equipment in this state-of-the-art facility offering world-class performance. In the analysis session (2h), you will learn how to analyse, interpret, present LCMS data and will discuss applications, their limitations and data validation. The tutorial (2h) will enable you to work on a report. Overall, the course is built around small molecule metabolomics, while proteomic-specific content is not covered in detail.

Qualitative Research Methods – Camperdown

This module will focus on introducing qualitative research methods. We will cover theoretical foundations, study design, sampling and recruitment, data collection methods (interviews, focus groups, observation), analysis and quality. Examples will be drawn from a range of health-related topics. Teaching includes interactive workshop activities where you will learn how to apply these concepts to your own research. You will learn how to design qualitative research studies and evaluate published research.

Molecular and Chemical Probes in Research – Camperdown

Molecular and chemical probes are important tools widely used to modify - usually to inhibit - the activity of individual proteins in cells or organisms and hence to determine their function. However, none of the probes are perfectly specific and sufficient on their own. Combined use of molecular (siRNA, shRNA, sgRNA) and (inhibitors) probes is required to reach conclusions regarding the function of an investigated protein. Through a series of interactive workshops, this module will introduce students to the field of molecular and chemical probes, and teach them how to use online resources in order to make a fully informed choice on probes and how to identify incorrect data in the published literature.

Advanced immunostaining - Labelling Specific Components of Cells and Tissues – Camperdown

In this module, you will learn how specific proteins, organelles, and other components of cells and tissues can be selectively labelled and then visualized using optical and fluorescence microscopy. You will gain a broad theoretical knowledge of the diverse ways that fixed and live cells can be probed and imaged. Workshops will include important aspects of experiment design, controls as well as fluorophore and antibody selection. In the practical component of the module, you will design and perform an immunolabelling experiment on frozen tissue sections, including appropriate controls. You will use fluorescence microscopes to take images of your stained sections and will discuss interpretation, analysis and publishing of immunofluorescent imaging.

Western Blotting/Proteomics – Westmead

This module will introduce Western blotting, a common technique for protein analysis. In workshops (4h), you will learn about different types of antibodies, design an experiment using fluorescent antibodies and compare it to other detection methods, discuss whether western blot data support the conclusions drawn in published papers and whether it failed to meet the required reporting and image integrity standards. In practical classes (4h), you will execute the designed experiment. During analysis (2h), you will critically interpret and generate a figure using best practice reporting, learn how to present the data in a written report covering the experimental design, results, figures, discuss strategies to circumvent failed experiments, limitations and data validation.

Work Health and Safety – Westmead

This module aims to define why WHS is important and will introduce you to your responsibilities in the workplace. There will be a 2-hour interactive group workshop, where you will identify hazards via inspection of the workplace, consultation on health and safety issues and review of available information. You will also use a risk matrix to assess risk by considering how hazards may cause harm, the likelihood of harm occurring and how severe the harm could be. You will also identify the hierarchy of risk controls from elimination to substitution, isolation, usage of engineering/administrative controls and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Research Integrity – Camperdown

This module will introduce you to the research integrity considerations you will face as a new researcher. You will participate in an introductory 2-hour workshop, where you will learn about the Research Code of Conduct and consider case studies in small groups, focusing on common issues such as authorship, collaborative research, data management, conflicts of interest and plagiarism. Through group discussion, you will learn the best practices and solutions for navigating all facets of research integrity and be equipped to complete the University’s Responsible Research Module.

Introduction to Biostatistics – Camperdown

This module will demonstrate a set of common tools in biostatistics, including comparing distributions and performing linear and logistic regression. Focusing on the presentation of results in research reports, you will learn how to report statistical analyses in research reports, including summarising data using descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, and calculating relative risks, odds ratios, and confidence intervals. Teaching includes two 2-hour workshops working through practical examples from medical science with optional scripts available in R.

Ethics – Westmead

This module aims to introduce the basic concepts of ethics and governance and outline the code of ethics and code of conduct. Teaching will include 3-hour interactive workshop discussions, where you will work through different scenarios to acquire the required principles in animal and human research and the frameworks, guidelines and government authorities they fall under. Through class discussion, you will also identify your key accountabilities for conducting research and evaluate your understanding of how to conduct research responsibly according to the institutional requirements and as set by legislation at both the state and federal levels.

Where can I undertake my honours project?

Camperdown campus

The Camperdown campus is centrally located in Sydney near several major hospitals, including Royal Prince Alfred and many world-leading research centres.

  • Brain and Mind Centre
  • Charles Perkins Centre
  • Centenary Institute
  • Heart Research Institute
  • Medical Foundation Building
  • Molecular Bioscience Building (G08)

Westmead campus:

The Westmead Health Precinct is the largest health precinct in the Sothern Hemisphere and consists of:

  • Children’s Hospital at Westmead
  • Children’s Medical Research Institute
  • City West Specialist Day Hospital
  • Cumberland Psychiatric Hospital
  • Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research / Pathology West (the largest pathology and diagnostics service in NSW)
  • Kids Research (part of Sydney Children's Hospital Network)
  • Westmead Centre for Oral Health and its associated Institute of Dental Research
  • Westmead Institute for Medical Research
  • Westmead Hospital
  • Westmead Private Hospital

Other locations:

  • ANZAC Research Institute, located at Concord General Repatriation Hospital
  • Kolling Research Institute, located at The Royal North Shore Hospital
  • Save Sight Institute, located at Sydney Eye Hospital

SoMS Honours Contacts

Dr Grant Parnell

SoMS Honours Lead

Dr Rachel North

Dr Ashleigh Paparella

SOMS4101 Coordinators

Associate Professor Elizabeth Clarke

Applied Medical Sciences (AMED)
Anatomy and Histology (ANAT)
Physiology (PHSI)
Dr Carol Dobson-Stone Cell and Developmental Biology (CELL)
Medicinal Chemistry (MCHM)
Neuroscience (NEUR)
Pharmacology (PCOL)
Dr Mark Larance Immunology (IMMU)
Infectious Diseases (INFD)
Pathology (PATH)
General Honours queries