Are you thinking about studying a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) at USYD?
Look no further — everything you need to know is here.
Let’s do this!
What is Medical Science at USYD?
A Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) at USYD is the study of the function and structure of the human body, varying from the molecular level all the way to whole bodily systems. This degree at USYD is the starting point to becoming a doctor, dentist or a career in science research within the healthcare industry.
Upon graduating from the three-years of USYD Medical Science, you can move straight into the University of Sydney’s elite graduate dentistry or medicine programs, or jump straight into grad research in medical science. You’ll be taught by scientific experts from the Australian Academy of Science and Australian Research Council Fellows, and you’ll also study in multimillion-dollar facilities like the world-class Sydney Nanoscience Hub.
Honours can be undertaken by med science graduates as an extra year of study, particularly those who are wanting to pursue a career in biomedical science research.
Honours is available for high-achieving (distinction average — those with a weighted average mark of 75 or more) Medical Science students. The Medical Science honours program is difficult, but it will generate opportunities for students who want to enrich their understanding of med science research, followed by a PhD program (the highest university degree you can complete).
Graduates from a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) can choose to follow either of these career paths:
- Medical researcher
- Biomedical device designer
Studying Medical Science at Other Universities
USYD isn’t the only institution that offers Medical Science as an undergraduate degree! If you’re keen on pursuing tertiary studies in Medical Science, you can have a look at what it’s like to study it at UNSW, UTS or WSU.
Core Units and Majors
What are the core units?
In your first year, the core units you’ll undertake will explore the basics of chemistry, biology and mathematics:
- Fundamentals of Chemistry 1A: In this subject, you’ll learn all about atomic theory, structure and bonding, equilibrium, processes occurring in solutions, and the functional groups of molecules.
- Chemistry 1A: In this subject, you’ll deepen your chemistry knowledge by learning about nuclear and radiation chemistry, wave theory, atomic orbitals, spectroscopy and many other carbon-related aspects of chemistry.
- From Molecules to Ecosystems: In this subject, you’ll learn about human life from cells, biomolecule ecosystems, to complex natural and human ecosystems
- Human Biology: In this subject, you’ll learn the key features of health from nutritional balance, aerobic health, defence mechanisms and human diversity. You’ll also gain in-depth knowledge of the cells and organs within the human body.
These units will provide you with the necessary knowledge you’ll need for the more practical, clinical core units that you’ll pursue in your second and third years.
In second year, you’ll complete core units in physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, anatomy, immunobiology and pathology:
- Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Key Concepts in Physiology
- Key Concepts in Pharmacology
- Microbes, Infection and Immunity
- Human Anatomy and Histology
In third year, you will need to choose three core units to undertake. Some of the subjects you may choose from include:
- Interrogating Biomedical and Health Data
- Diagnostics and Biomarkers
- Cranial and Cervical Anatomy
- Gene, Genome and Regulation
- Biochemistry of Human Disease
- Immunology in Human Disease
- Infectious Diseases
- Cellular and Developmental Neuroscience
- Neural Information Processing
- Drug Design and Development
- Reproduction, Development and Disease
- Physiology of Disease
- Medical and Applied Virology
…and many others! If you’d like to see the full list of units to choose from, you can check it out here!
You will also complete a Medical Science interdisciplinary project in Semester 2, which involves working in groups with students from other disciplines to solve real-world problems for a company or organisation of your choice. For more info, visit the medical science handbook here!
Medical Science is the first major you’ll complete within this degree. You also have to complete a second major, which can be chosen either from the field of human health or the shared pool of majors offered by the Faculty of Science.
The beauty of med science is that you can select from eight schools of science, including:
- School of Chemistry
- School of Geosciences (including Geography and Geology and Geophysics)
- School of History and Philosophy of Science
- School of Life and Environmental Science (including Animal Science, Biology, Ecology, Environment and Food Science)
- School of Mathematics and Statistics (including Data Science)
- School of Physics
- School of Psychology
- School of Veterinary Science
There are no built-in internships for this degree. If you’re looking for medical science industry experience, you can keep an eye out on the University of Sydney CareerHub (USYD’s own job and career seeking website, which is only accessed by current students and graduates).
There are numerous job/internship/work experience opportunities for all USYD students, particularly for science students!
How to Get into Medical Science at USYD
The ATAR cut off for a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) at USYD is 90. You can find other admission pathways here.
If you don’t receive a 90 ATAR, you can enrol in a normal Bachelor of Science which has a minimum ATAR of 80. After a year’s worth of study, and depending on how well you have worked in that year, you can apply to transfer into Medical Science.
Usually, you need a credit average (weighted average mark of 65 or more), which is pretty achievable within a Bachelor of Science at USYD.
Prerequisites and Assumed knowledge
The prerequisites for entry into USYD Medical Science is at least a Band 4 in HSC Mathematics Standard or Mathematics Advanced.
If you don’t have this prerequisite, you can complete the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for mathematics and the post-MOOC exam. For more info visit Mathematics course prerequisites.
It’s also recommended that you have completed Chemistry and either Physics or Biology in Year 12 as well, or at least have some knowledge of them. This will give you a big advantage in the classroom!
Scholarships for med science students will depend on your major. The Faculty of Science offers over 20 scholarships for science students, some of which are:
- James Strong – Rip Curl Undergraduate Scholarship: Eligible for full-time students within the undergraduate Science Faculty.
- Dean’s Entry Scholarship: Eligible for high academic achieving students (those on a distinction average).
- Faculty of Science Dean’s Access Scholarship: Eligible for domestic undergraduate science students who have financial hardship.
What’s the Teaching Format?
A Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) at USYD is taught in two semesters per year and classes consist of labs, lectures and tutorials!
Labs will involve 30 to 40 people, where you’ll have a lab partner and follow scientific methods and procedures given to you by the teacher. You’ll then combine the entire cohort’s results, which are later used to write a lab report.
Tutes have about 20 people, and the workload is based around the labs. You’ll usually have a tute just before a lab to prepare and learn about the background of the experiments that you’ll perform in the lab.
Lectures can have 100 to 200 people, but this can vary as it’ll depend on the specific subject you’re studying (e.g. cardiology could be less people if less people are undertaking that subject). While these classes aren’t as interactive as tutes and labs, it’s still essential to pay attention as concepts taught can be assessed in exams!
How much time will you spend on campus?
The contact hours per week vary between 12-16 hours. You typically have 6 x 1 hour lectures, 1-2 tutorials which are one hour, and 3-4 hour labs a week (sometimes twice!).
Assessments for USYD Medical Science students are usually lab reports from the experiments and workloads learnt in labs. You’ll also have quizzes, which are on what you are learning at that specific point in time.
Each med science unit will also have at least one group assignment, which could be a report or presentation. You’ll also have exams during the end of semester exam period, which involve multiple choice and short answer questions.
Skills That You Refine and Learn
The skills that you’ll develop will expand across areas of anatomy, histology, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and microbiology. You’ll also learn practical science skills, such as how to use a microscope, how to follow basic laboratory protocols and how to identify structures on macroscopic models and cadavers.
With the long contact hours and learning different subjects across units, you’ll refine your time management skills, how to productively study, scientific-analysis and problem solving.
What’s the Faculty and Culture Like?
As the Science Faculty is very large with numerous professors from different scientific backgrounds, it can be perceived as a little unorganised and not well coordinated. However, there will always be one coordinator in charge of overlooking all med science units, who always make themselves available for questions and emails.
Every professor teaches at a different pace, but as university students you’ll learn to adapt!
The culture within Medical Science at USYD is very amicable. However, as everyone there has the same objective to study medicine and become a doctor, it can sometimes be competitive.
The heavy workload, on the other hand, brings you all together for some extra academic support and to form study groups.
The Sydney University Medical Science Society (SUMSS) is for all students undertaking a Bachelor of Science (Medical Science) at USYD to heighten their university experience. SUMSS has over 500 members, and hosts a range of academic, career development and fun social events for members.
Med Science unit coordinators at USYD are known for always reaching out if you’re ever struggling academically, or with your mental health. If you have to apply for special considerations for any assessments, they are also very efficient at approving and executing them.
Isabelle Plasto is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and in her third year of a Media and Communications degree at the University of Sydney, majoring in Digital Cultures. You can find her work published in Dementia Australia’s August 2020 eNewsletter, an organisation very close to her heart. Apart from writing, Issy loves to travel, cook and boogie to 70s disco music.