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Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test (fully MCQ): 20%

Laboratory Component: 14%

Online Review Assignment: 16%

Exam: 50%

Course Information


Prescribed textbook:

No prescribed textbook. It is recommended that you do not rely solely on lecture slides, but consider the course guide and journal articles too. A recommendation is provided for those that prefer textbooks: Basic Pathology: An Introduction To The Mechanisms Of Disease 5th Ed., Lakhani et al. 

Official UoA Website: link

Basic Information

People are going to put you off this paper by talking about the truckloads of content this paper has. This is not a paper where you can cram and still expect to do well, you’ll need to work consistently throughout the semester. The concepts are not difficult but the amount of content and detail taught can be quite disheartening when you’re studying at 2am two nights before the exam. Don’t let that put you off! It is a great paper with fantastic lecturers and fantastic content. Some of the content overlaps with other courses, so you’ll get a better understanding and a head start when the topic is covered in other courses.


The course guide is BRILLIANT. It contains everything you need to know for the course (no extra reading!). The MST and exam are not tricky, as long as you know the entire course guide, you will surely do well. Because there is so much written content in the course guide, highlighters are very useful. I also found it very useful to annotate during the lecture to add in extra detail that the lecturers mentioned.


​A tip on how to prepare for this paper: try and see the big picture before focusing on the fine details. By doing so, you won’t get lost in the mass of detail and jargon thrown at you and lose track of what is relevant.


Laboratory Component

There are only three labs, each 2 hours long. They are based around viewing microscope slides and drawing what you see. After the lab, you are also required to read a journal article related to the lab and answer questions. This can be tedious because you have to read through pages to find the required information. Sometimes it is also quite ambiguous as to what information the question requires. It is probably not a good idea to spend excessive amounts of time worrying about the lab reports because they are not worth as much as the test and the amount of effort spent on the labs may not be reciprocated in your marks. 


Lecture Content

The Scope of Pathology

This block is five lectures long. The first two are basic introduction lectures which introduce you to pathology and explain some basic definitions, these usually constitute a couple of easy multichoice questions and are not worth stressing over. The remainder of the block is taught by Dr Lynsey Cree who teaches you about genetics. Everything you need to know is in the slides but she will explain some of the more confusing points so listen carefully. You will have covered most of the content before and her sections usually aren’t hard but she sometimes asks very specific multichoice questions so know all the weird miniscule details.


Injury, Inflammation and Repair

An eight lecture block by Dr Graeme Finlay who you will come to love. He is an extremely passionate lecture who draws fantastic diagrams and is very clear in his content. Attend all his lectures if you can because they are fabulous. In saying that however he does have a huge amount of content. And to re-emphasise, he does have a huge amount of content. It is well summarised in his diagrams though and he provides practice questions after each lecture which end up being his exam essays so do these and you’ll be fine. Even though he has a lot of content it is highly interesting and you will enjoy learning it. Again be familiar with even the most insignificant of details because he likes to ask anything in multichoice.


Microbes, Infection and Inflammation

A block of six lectures taught by lots of different lecturers. It feels quite disjointed at the time and each lecture offers a completely new topic, most content is easy to understand and only has a moderate amount to learn, especially if you do Medsci 202. Multichoice can be difficult with this section because there are so many different lecturers and study all of them for the final exam because an essay could pop up from any one even though they are only single lectures.


Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease

A six lecture block split into four lectures on Cardiovascular disease with Associate Professor Cris Print, one lecture on obesity with Associate Professor Kathy Mountjoy and one lecture on diabetes and with Associate Professor Nuala Helsby. Cardiovascular disease is a hard topic because there is a large amount of content and you have to piece most of it together yourself as Associate Professor Print does not spoon feed you. You do, however, have a lab on it which helps a lot. In the exam his questions are pretty much flowcharts and the multichoice questions are just quotes from the course guide with minor details changed. He tests everything so study hard for his section which is a huge chunk of your exam. Learning about atherosclerosis and thrombosis is one of the most useful things that came out of MEDSCI203 as it links in with a lot of other topics taught in other papers. Obesity is only one lecture but there is still a lot of content that is quite rushed. It doesn’t feature much in exams though so don’t stress about it. Diabetes is quite easy because you will have done it so many times, Associate Professor Helsby tests nicely as well.


Characterisation of Tumours

A seven lecture block taught by Associate Professor Helsby and Dr Finlay. Associate Professor Helsby introduces cell growth and differentiation in a very easy two lectures with not much content but just definitions. The final five lectures are by Dr Finlay in his characteristic style. As above, HUGE amounts of content but well summarised by his diagrams and his questions at the end of each lecture end up as exam questions. This is another huge chunk of your exam but basically just lots of memorisation like the rest of the course. If you are also doing BIOSCI 201, this is incredibly useful because you also do a cancer topic. MEDSCI 203 has goes more in depth which means you don’t have to sweat it in BIOSCI 201 (one bird, two stones!)

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