From MBBS to MD: changing the UNSW degree

UNSW Medicine – an award-winning program

UNSW Medicine is the only Australian medical school which primarily offers undergraduate-entry to the integrated Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine (BMed/MD) program.

The BMed/MD program combines the benefits of a higher level qualification and a globally-recognised degree. The program is designed to educate students for lifelong career success based on adult learning principles, and to realise the many possibilities offered by new medical treatments and technologies to meet the evolving and growing demands of chronic disease and the ageing population.

The UNSW Medicine program was awarded a prestigious Australian Government Award for Programs that Enhance Learning for Innovation in Curricula, Learning and Teaching in 2014.

UNSW Australia was the first University in Australia to graduate students with a MD in December 2013.

Why offer a BMed/MD program instead of the traditional MBBS?

The UNSW Medicine program is a six year integrated program which leads to the awarding of two degrees concurrently – a Bachelor of Medical Studies (BMed) and a Doctor of Medicine (MD).  The awarding of the MD recognises the high level of knowledge, skills, critical thinking, independent learning and clinical experience attained by UNSW Medicine graduates. The MD is a Masters degree and not a research degree.

UNSW Medicine students benefit from a range of learning approaches and the integration of the scientific foundation of medicine and real world clinical experiences. Interacting with patients during hospital visits begins in the first semester in Year 1 and continues through the 6 years.

UNSW Medicine students will become proficient in scenario-based learning (on campus and medical simulations), practice-based learning (patient contact in real health care settings) and independent reflective learning (self-directed research and learning).

Students will study human health across the life span encompassing the core biomedical sciences, the social and psychological aspects of health and illness, and the practice of medicine.

The Bachelor of Medical Studies (BMed) degree is conducted over Years 1-3 and the Doctor of Medicine (MD) over Years 4-6. Please note that this is an integrated program and that these qualifications are not awarded separately1. Both degrees are awarded at the end of Year 6.

Further information:

1Every year UNSW may offer a small number of its very high achieving Bachelor of Medical Science graduates the opportunity to transfer into the MD in Year 4.

What is unique about the UNSW MD?

UNSW Medicine is the only Australian medical school which primarily offers an undergraduate-entry medical education program over six years to obtain an integrated Bachelor/MD qualification. Students who complete a Bachelor degree before enrolling in a graduate-entry medical school offering a MD qualification must complete at least seven years of study.

At UNSW, medical students undertake a substantial Independent Learning Project (ILP) in Year 4 to develop their skills in independently researching and critically analysing complex issues - skills essential for the practice of modern medicine.

The ILP allows students to investigate a discipline or area of personal interest in depth. Students complete a research project which may be in any area of medicine and may be based in a laboratory, hospital, clinical or community setting. The ILP equips students to question current scientific thinking, to retrieve and review literature, to source and analyse information using medical databases, to evaluate and critically appraise current knowledge and to appreciate and understand related issues in medical ethics. In doing so, students gain the skills they will need to critically evaluate emerging knowledge in medicine for the benefit of their patients. The ILP plays a critical role in preparing UNSW Medicine graduates for lifelong learning in a dynamic and constantly changing profession.

Further information:

Tuition Fees

As an integrated undergraduate entry program, the BMed/MD is treated as an undergraduate program for the purpose of funding. Accordingly student contribution payments for domestic students and tuition fees for international students are consistent with other Australian medical schools. UNSW does not offer fee-paying places for domestic students.

Students accepting a bonded Commonwealth student place will be required to work for a minimum of six years in an area of workforce shortage for their chosen specialty.

Will the MD become the standard medical qualification in Australia?

Some other Australian medical schools are now moving towards awarding a MD. Others are retaining the MBBS for undergraduate and postgraduate entry. As both the MD and MBBS are recognised by the Medical Board of Australia, graduates with either degree will be equally qualified to practice in Australia.

What about international recognition of the MD?

Recognition of Australian medical qualifications by overseas medical councils is guided by the Medical Board of Australia’s list of approved programs of study. The Board’s recognition of the BMed/MD gives it the same status as the MBBS. 

Domestic and international students should also note that most countries require overseas trained doctors to complete local licensing exams to ensure they are adequately trained for the local circumstances.

For more information contact the Medicine Education Student Office
T +61 (2) 9385 8765  |  E  |  Submit an online enquiry

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