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Global Destination Australia - Studying Biomedical Science

Australia is an ideal country in which international students can study Biomedical Science.  It provides a safe and stable environment combined with the opportunity to visit and learn in a beautiful country with unique scenery, flora and fauna.  Australian research in the area of Medicine and Biomedical Science has a very strong international standing.

 Biomedical research in Australia is conducted in universities and numerous Research Institutes most of which are affiliated to a university.  The first University in Australia was established in 1850, with medicine in 1856, and the first Medical Research Institute in 1915.  Currently five Australian universities are in the Times Higher Education top 100 ranking overall, and seven are in the top 100 in the fields of Clinical/Preclinical/Health and of Life Sciences.

Most of the 40 universities in Australia offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes designed to equip students with relevant Biomedical Science qualifications recognised throughout the world.  Some of these universities have dedicated Biomedical Schools, while others offer Biomedical Science programmes as a joint offering between the Faculties of Science and Medicine.

The aim of biomedical science programmes in Australia is to prepare students for careers in the rapidly evolving fields of human health and disease, to instruct future clinical practitioners in the biological basis of medicine, and to train future researchers in medical research.  These programmes provide a solid foundation for those wishing to pursue postgraduate study in medicine and other health-related courses.

Undergraduate Programmes

Courses offered at the undergraduate level typically lead to a BSc (Biomedical Science), BMedSci or BBiomedSc degree.  These may be three or four years depending on whether an Honours year is included in the overall programme. 

There is also the possibility to undertake a three-year BSc (Biomedical Science) with the option to undertake a further Honours year.  In an Honours year, students conduct a research project to learn how to conduct research and gain qualification for entry to a postgraduate Masters by Research or PhD programme.

Programmes vary between universities, but all focus on human biology at the molecular, cellular and whole body levels.  There is usually choice for specialisation within the disciplines of Molecular Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Genetics, Developmental Biology, Immunology and Neuroscience. Courses are designed to develop the critical thinking, communication, analytical and practical skills needed for a career in research but are equally applicable to a wide range of careers in science and beyond.  In some universities high-performing students may have the opportunity to gain entry into a Medicine programme.

Entry requirements for international students typically include upper secondary studies and English proficiency to required standards. Fees for international undergraduate students in the Biomedical Sciences are A$30,000 or more per annum. The cost of living varies between cities, but can be as high as A$17,000 – 20,000 in major cities. Students should also have a minimum of A$2,000 when they arrive to cover the initial cost of books and establishment expenses.

Postgraduate Programmes

Most universities have masters and doctoral programmes leading to the award of an MSc by Research or PhD in Biomedical Science; these involve original research and the submission of a thesis in two years for the Masters by Research, and three or four years for the PhD.  The research can be in any of the areas of specialisation listed above.  Entry requirements to PhD programmes typically include either an undergraduate degree with Honours (at least upper second class) from an Australian university or equivalent qualification, including Masters degrees.  Some universities offer either a one-year Graduate Diploma or three semester Masters course (e.g. MPhil) as an alternative for Honours, and these can be available to international graduates lacking the research component of their undergraduate degree.  The Graduate Diploma is often articulated with a Masters qualification enabling students to enrol in the Graduate Diploma and progress to obtain the Masters degree with a further year of study.

For those wishing to specialise or upgrade their education in areas of Medical Science without focusing specifically on research, there are a very large number of coursework Masters programmes offered across the spectrum of Australian universities.  These vary in duration from one and a half years to two years, and include most of the areas listed below under health-related programmes. Many of these courses include formal course work and a dissertation. These programmes in some cases include studies in related disciplines such as financial, legal and human resource management. 

Health-related Programmes

Most universities offer a wide range of health-related programmes, which can include undergraduate or graduate level courses in:  Medical Science, Applied Public Health, Dental Science, Pharmacy, Drug Development, Reproductive Medicine, Paramedic Science, Psychology, Nursing, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Pathology, Podiatry, Physical Education, Dietetics, Optometry, Clinical Psychology, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Laboratory Medicine, Medical Radiations, Exercise and Sports Science, Health Science Sport Psychology, Counselling and Public Health.  A number of universities also offer programmes in the area of alternative medicine.

Emeritus Professor Ian W. Dawes FAA
Former Chair, National Committee for Biomedical Sciences
School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences