What is the discipline of Surgery?

We can define surgery as “the branch of medical practice that treats injuries, diseases, and deformities by the physical removal, repair, or readjustment of organs and tissues, often involving cutting into the body.” 

Like many other aspects of medical practice, surgeons often work closely other subspecialty physicians: paediatric surgeons with paediatricians, orthopaedic surgeons with rheumatologists, cancer surgeons with medical oncologists and so on. 

The newly established discipline of Surgery within the School of Clinical Medicine brings together academic staff and conjoint academics with an interest in surgery from across the UNSW Clinical Campuses and affiliated Medical Research Institutes.  

Initial activities for the discipline include:

  • establishment of a Foundation Steering Committee to set priorities for the discipline; initially in the area of undergraduate surgical education

  • engagement with conjoint academics, surgical and medical, and other health professionals, within, or associated with the discipline at the various clinical campuses

  • auditing teaching activities within the discipline and engagement with the Medicine Program Redesign project

  • development of communications strategies to foster research collaboration. 

The discipline will engage with clinicians and research groups working in the following areas:   

  • General surgery

    • Upper gastrointestinal surgery
    • Colorectal surgery
    • Surgical oncology, including breast surgery
  • Orthopaedic surgery

  • Ear nose and throat surgery 

  • Urology

  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery

  • Vascular surgery

  • Neurosurgery

  • Cardiothoracic surgery

  • Transplantation surgery

  • Trauma surgery

  • Surgical and Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

  • Head and Neck Cancer Research Group

  • Vascular Research Group.

UNSW Medicine & Health offers a range of research programs led by academic staff and affiliates centred in UNSW teaching hospitals. These are principally Prince of Wales, St George & Sutherland, Liverpool, St Vincent’s and rural hospitals.


  • One of the main strengths of the discipline of surgery is the strong culture of supporting education of undergraduate students and trainee surgeons. Many of the undergraduate teaching awards have been won by surgeons across our different campuses. 

  • Students will find opportunities to undertake research across many of the surgical sub-specialties, either as ILP or Honours projects. 

  • Opportunities for higher degree research are also available within many of our sub-specialty research groups. This research can involve the design and trialling of implantable devices, as well as finding ways to enable patients to recover more rapidly from surgical interventions.  

  • Higher degree research scholarships will be available from 2023.