Human Pathology

A major in Human Pathology is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Medical Science program.

Pathology is a scientific discipline which involves the study of diseases, such as infections and cancers, at the genetic, molecular, cellular, and organ levels. Pathology examines:

  • How and why diseases develop;
  • The disease process - what happens to our bodies when we are ill; and
  • The effects of diseases, including their symptoms and complications.
It has been estimated that pathology plays a critical role in more than 70 percent of clinical diagnoses and many of the decisions around the optimal treatment for patients. For example, the diagnostic skills of pathologists allow patients to know if they are pregnant, anaemic, diabetic, at risk of heart disease, or if their lump is cancerous.

Undergraduate study in Pathology involves examination of various disease processes such as inflammation (including infections), wound healing and cancer. Students become familiar with examining both macroscopic specimens and the microscopic differences between normal and abnormal cells, tissues and organs. In modern teaching facilities, much of the study of microscopic abnormalities is undertaken using computer-based “virtual” microscopy. Courses offered in Pathology allow in-depth study of many fascinating and important disorders such as meningitis, tuberculosis, auto-immune diseases, congenital diseases, a variety of cancers, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, asthma, musculoskeletal diseases and the human version of 'mad cow disease'.

For more details on this major, please visit the Human Pathology UNSW Handbook Entry.