Scientist looking down microscope

Explore the science behind diseases

Pathology is a scientific discipline which involves the study of diseases, such as infections and cancers, at the genetic, molecular, cellular and organ levels. It's also a medical specialty that focuses on making diagnoses, but contrary to popular belief, it's not all about blood tests. Pathology examines:

  • how and why diseases develop
  • the disease process - what happens to our bodies when we're ill
  • the effects of diseases, including their symptoms and complications

An understanding of pathological process is also essential to guide the development of new diagnostic tests and novel treatments for a range of diseases including cancer and COVID-19.

Studying pathology at UNSW

Undergraduate study in pathology involves the examination of various disease processes such as inflammation (including infections), wound healing and cancer. You'll become familiar with examining both macroscopic specimens and the microscopic differences between normal and abnormal cells, tissues and organs.

In our 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 COVID-19. 

Students may gain advanced training by undertaking a postgraduate research program within a pathology research unit. These units are involved in basic and applied research vital to our understanding of common disorders such as infectious diseases, atherosclerosis, asthma, colorectal cancer and arthritis, as well as the educational effectiveness of innovations in teaching. 

Explore a range of career opportunities

You could pursue a career as a medical researcher (including in government, industry or university laboratories), laboratory technician, pharmaceutical sales representative, medical-scientific liaison or regulatory affairs officer. Please note that graduates with a major in pathology are not pathologists. A pathologist is a medical doctor with specialist training in pathology. However, a major in pathology will provide a strong foundation for students interested in applying for postgraduate medical programs. 

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