Phase 1

Phase 1 refers to the initial two years of the UNSW Medical program.

MedSoc runs several events to engage and enrich the lives of Phase 1 students, not limited to:

  • MedCamp: not to be missed, there is only one opportunity to go and people will be talking about it past graduation. Held on one of the first few weekends of Foundations, this is a great opportunity to meet your peers and have lots of fun whilst doing it.
  • Mentoring: first year medical students are paired up with older medical students to guide their way through the transition from high school to university, providing useful hints and tips on surviving. Individual Phase 1 mentoring is also available.


Scientific Disciplines

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Physiology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology

Clinical Skills

  • Basic history-taking
  • Examination skills

The emphasis is not on diagnosing or treating problems but on practicing the skills necessary to do so by recognising the normal and the abnormal

Typical Timetable

First 7 weeks of each course consist of:

  • 6 – 8 hours of lectures
  • 4 – 6 hours of practicals
  • 2 – 3 hours of clinical/communication tutorials
  • 4 hours of scenario group sessions
  • 1 – 2 hours of tutorials (anything from ethics to pathology)

The 8th week consists only of the exam, leaving 2 – 3 days of exam preparation


Each 8 – week term is based around 3 – 4 ‘scenarios’- each scenario examines one of the course themes and teases apart various aspects of it based on an introductory story which is developed in tutorial classes (scenario groups).


A scenario on heart disease may be about a middle-aged male smoker with chest pain and a suspected heart attack.

To understand what has happened, you will learn about:

  • The cardiovascular system
    • Anatomy
    • Histology
    • Physiology
  • Heart disease
    • Prevalence
    • Risk factors
    • Pathology
    • Clinical complications
  • Examination
    • Heart sounds
  • Heart transplant ethical issues

These will be taught over a series of:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Clinical tutorials
  • Practical classes

and in scenario group sessions  will be integrated with the following:

  • Discussion
  • Homework tasks
  • Learning activities




An introduction into concepts in medicine and easing the transition of high school students into teaching and learning at university.

Health Maintenance A & B

  • Homeostasis, sustenance, and equilibrium
  • Education, health promotion, and disease prevention
  • Host defence
  • Lifestyle factors that risk health

Society and Health

  • Society, culture and genes
  • Socioeconomic determinants of health
  • Health delivery systems
  • Health and human rights

Beginnings, Growth and Development A & B

  • Conception, pregnancy and birth
  • Childhood growth and development
  • Puberty, adolescence, sexuality and relationships
  • Nutrition, growth, and body image

Ageings and Endings A & B

  • Menopause
  • The ageing process
  • Degenerative disease
  • Death, dying and palliative care


Foundations is the first course in first year, which is designed to ease new students into the structure and assessment style of the medical program.

  • Clinical tutorials commence in the first or second week to acclimatise you to the hospital environment, while the on-campus theory is focused on providing a broad introduction into each of the main medical and clinical science disciplines.
  • Foundations represents a good opportunity for students who didn’t do chemistry or biology in the HSC to catch up the necessary information- this isn’t to say that you would be able to catch up everything, or that most of Foundations is a repetition of those subjects.
  • Many students also find Foundations as a good opportunity to meet fellow students who you’ll be spending the next 6 years with, and to generally settle into university life.

In addition, Foundations, is assessed using a pass-fail examination. Assessments are the same kinds of tasks are completed but the marks will not be counted towards passing or failing Phase 1 (as opposed to the subsequent 7 courses) – it must still be satisfactorily completed to move onto the next course.



Each term or course in Phase 1 is assessed in the following:

Individual Assignment (due Week 5) & Group Project (due Week 7)
End of Course Exam (usually Week 8 Thursday)

Each assesses:

  • 2 Focus capabilities
  • 3 Generic capabilities


  • Fail
  • P- (Low Pass)
  • P (Credit or Distinction)
  • P+ (High Distinction)


  • 40 MCQs (1 mark each)
  • 3 SAQs (20 marks each)

Failure of two or more exams within a year requires:

  • Repeating that year
  • Sitting supplementary exams


At the end of Phase 1, there are 4 barrier assessments in which you must achieve at least a P- in order to proceed to Phase 2:

End of Phase Exam

A large multiple choice theory exam covering material from all 8 courses. Material from Foundations is not directly examined but most of it appears in the other courses, from where it can be examined.

Phase 1 Portfolio

By the end of Phase 1, each capability should have at least 1 result, preferably 2 results. At the beginning of Year 3, a 3500 word reflective essay about your learning and development in each of the 8 capabilities over Phase 1 must be completed.


The OSCE or Objective Structured Clinical Examination  is a clinical skills exam covering history taking and basic examination skills on actors, covering material from all 8 courses.

Progressive Practical Exam

The practical exams consist of three components, held at the end of Year 1 and the end of each semester in Year 2. An overall pass (75/150) is required in each of the following discipline areas:

  • Anatomy and neuroanatomy
  • Microbiology, biochemistry and genetics
  • Histology, histopathology and embryology
  • Physiology and pharmacology