Pathology - SOMSDH3593

Stream Summary

Faculty: MED - Faculty of Medicine

School: School of Medical Sciences


Program: 3593 - Commerce/Adv Science (Hons)


Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours)

View stream information for previous years

Stream Outline

The Pathology Honours stream introduces undergraduate students to medical research. Students undertake a supervised research project that places emphasis on scientific research methods, the use of relevant specialised techniques, critical thinking and scientific communication via written submissions and oral presentations. The learning and teaching philosophy underpinning this course is centred on Honours students taking on their ‘role as a researcher’ to develop these skills and the relevant advanced disciplinary knowledge. The stream, run over two semesters, includes a substantial and partly-independent research project complemented by Research Skills Learning Activities, as well as Departmental/Institute/Centre/School seminars.

Student research projects relate to the discipline of Pathology and may be undertaken in a wide range of laboratories within the School of Medical Sciences (SoMS), affiliated Hospitals and Research Institutes/Centres or other Schools within the Faculty of Medicine. SoMS also offers honours projects under a number of other streams including Physiology, Anatomy, Pharmacology, Exercise Physiology and Medical Science.

Further information on the Honours program is available on the SOMS Honours webpage.

Honours in Pathology can be completed full-time or part-time. Most students commence their enrolment in semester one (S1) but mid-year entry (S2) is available. Students are to commence work on their project in February (S1 enrolments) or in July (S2 enrolments). The course runs until November (S1 commencement) or June (S2 commencement). Students should check the SoMS Honours webpages for current enrolment deadlines, and assessment and completion dates.

Stream Structure

The Pathology Honours stream involves undertaking a research project that, although conducted under supervision, contains substantial independent research and self-direction. The research project is described in a submitted project manuscript that forms the majority of the assessment. The research project is complemented by a written introductory literature review, an introductory oral presentation, a final oral presentation of the research project, and an analysis of the research performance and seminar engagement by the project supervisor(s). The course also includes compulsory Research Skills Learning Activities, and Departmental/Institute/Centre/School seminars. Students also undertake relevant compulsory Health and Safety training.

Students must enrol in either SOMS4001 School of Medical Science Honours Full-time (24 UOC) for two semesters, or SOMS4002 School of Medical Science Honours Part-time (12 UOC) for four semesters.

Assessment Items:

Literature Review
A 3000 word written proposal providing a detailed account of published scientific investigations relevant to the project being undertaken. The literature review furthermore defines the aims and hypothesis of the project and provides a brief overview of the methodology that will be used. Students are graded by their assigned examiners.

Introductory Seminar
A 10 minute presentation with 5 minutes of question time covering the background and methods of the project and strengths and limitations of relevant literature. A written abstract is also required in association with the presentation. The students' presentations are graded by their assigned examiners and the academics in the audience.

Project Manuscript
A written manuscript summarising the research and results of a maximum of 5000 words marked by the two assigned examiners. The manuscript includes a 1-page reflection of the student on the research and professional skills that they acquired during their honours year.

Final Seminar
A 12-minute presentation with 8 minutes of question time covering the results of the research. The students' presentations are graded by their assigned examiners and the academics in the audience.

Research Performance and Seminar Engagement

Research Performance: Assessment of a student’s research performance throughout the year including motivation, organisational skills, research (laboratory) skills, note-keeping, critical analysis and communication skills.

Seminar Engagement: Students are required to attend relevant seminars, which include those of their Research Institute/Centre/Department, as well as the monthly SoMS seminars. Students must keep a seminar notebook that records details about at least 12 seminars attended throughout the year.

Other compulsory activities that do not contribute to a grade but are required for successful completion of the program:
  • Attendance at Research Skills Learning Activities including seminars and workshops.
  • Attendance at School and Departmental or Institute/Centre seminars.
  • Completion of the online Health & Safety Awareness course and Laboratory Safety course.
  • Completion of additional H&S requirements depending on research project.

Honours Grade Calculation

  • Literature Review (12.5%)
  • Introductory Seminar (10%)
  • Project Manuscript (50%)
  • Final Seminar (15%)
  • Research Performance and Seminar Engagement (12.5%)
A guide to allocation of Honours classes and what is expected of students within the School of Medical Science is as follows:

Final Mark >85 (Honours Class 1)
Work of superior quality in all aspects of research, scientific writing, and oral presentation, demonstrating the ability to organise information in a clear and concise manner, the integration of information from a wide range of sources and containing clear examples of excellent critical evaluation.

Final Mark 75-84 (Honours Class 2.1)
Work of very good quality in all aspects of research, scientific writing, and oral presentation, but showing lesser ability to organise information in a clear and concise manner, integrate information from range of sources and critically evaluate the literature and research data.

Final Mark 65-74 (Honours Class 2.2)
Good quality in all aspects of research, scientific writing, and oral presentation but with inadequacies in understanding, critical skills, organisation and presentation.

Final Mark 50-64 (Honours Class 3)
Adequate quality work with significant deficiencies in understanding, critical skills, organisation and presentation.

Admission Requirements and Process

Admission Requirements

The Pathology Honours stream is available to all students who have met the entry requirements outlined below and is typically offered to Medical Science (3991), Science (3970) and Advanced Science (3962) students at UNSW who have completed a Pathology major or equivalent program of study. Students selected for the Graduate Entry stream into UNSW Medicine are permitted to enrol in Pathology Honours with only 12 units of level III courses from Pathology. Exceptions to these requirements may be permitted with the consent of the Honours Coordinator. External students should provide evidence of equivalent study and require approval of the Honours Coordinator.

Other entry requirements for students prior to entry into Honours are as shown below. There are no exceptions to these requirements.
  • A Bachelor degree in Science, Advanced Science or Medical Science
  • A credit average (≥65% weight average mark; WAM) for all undergraduate degree courses.
  • A credit average for all Level III courses relevant to Medical Science/Science/Advanced Science
  • An applicant with an overall WAM of 60 to 64 will only be considered if the weighted average for their Level III courses is ≥65%. For combined degree students, only Science courses will be used in this calculation.
Admission Process

Potential students must first apply for acceptance into the honours program and stream, and following receipt of an offer of acceptance, students can proceed with enrolment. Application and Enrolment procedures are described on the SoMS Honours webpage.

Supervisors and potential projects can also be found on the SoMS Honours webpage. Students may also identify potential supervisors and projects via UNSW Research.

Students who meet the entry requirements should make contact with potential supervisors whose projects align with their interests and discuss undertaking Honours with them. Students should check the step-by-step application process on the SoMS Honours webpages


Students who successfully complete Pathology Honours are qualified to continue further in their research careers by undertaking postgraduate studies by research (Masters or PhD level). Students with successful honours are qualified to enrol in a PhD program at UNSW. Students achieving a high Honours Grade (Class 1 or 2.1) may apply for an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship to support such studies. Further information can be obtained from the Postgraduate Studies Webpage.

Honours graduates may also consider undertaking further study in a graduate Medical Program or in a postgraduate Allied Health Program.

Graduates of the Pathology Honours plan are well qualified to work in a Medical Science or Biomedical Sciences research laboratory as a Research Assistant or Research Technician. Graduates may also find employment in medical diagnostics, health technicians and forensic science; in lifestyle and health-industry positions; in occupational health and rehabilitation, or in government regulatory bodies. Relevant careers in the private sector may be in specialized biotechnology companies, health-care and scientific instrument companies and/or pharmaceutical companies undertaking a range of different jobs such as researching the mechanisms or effectiveness of new and existing products; marketing, sales and/or providing client support; and ultimately management and company development. Other potential industries include intellectual property, science journalism, forensic science, advertising and management. Potential careers are very broad as the generic skills acquired during an Honours year are widely applicable and highly sought.