Education Programs in Immunology

The Department of Immunology and Pathology currently conducts a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in immunology and pathology and is one of the top ten academic units at Monash University. It has a long history of undergraduate teaching at Monash University since 1972, when it offered its first BSc Honours course in Immunology.  Through its transition it has been instrumental in establishing many key areas of learning including immunology, human pathology and cell biology. With a focus on Immunology, the department offers the most extensive immunology course of all Australian universities, with a structure of basic to advanced immunology and supported by practical and research components.

Evolving from a single third year BSc subject first introduced in 1976, the department now teaches immunology across a varied range of degrees including Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Bachelor of Biotechnology and MBBS.  The interest in immunology as a discipline is clearly reflected by the number of students undertaking immunology as part of their specific degrees.  Over the past decade, student numbers undertaking dedicated immunology subjects have steadily increased, with major expansions in program in 2006 and 2012 with the introduction of immunology teaching at the second year level.  In 2001, the Department joined with the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology to offer Human Pathology as third year BSc/BMS units in response to restructuring of the Science course and popular demand from students.  These units remain attractive options for many biomedical science students.

Initially the large ‘multi-purpose’ laboratory on level 1 of the Monash Medical School, Alfred campus, was the venue for undergraduate practical class teaching.  Immunology students packaged lectures and tutorials with their laboratory classes over one and a half days.  However as the immunology teaching expanded into 2nd year and other courses, the logistics of timetabling required delivery of these programs on the Clayton campus.  Students still enjoy the experience of visiting the Alfred campus research laboratories for their undergraduate research projects.

The commitment of staff to providing students with a strong foundation in immunology is reflected by the excellent feedback from our students and the desire for many to pursue further studies into the honours and post-graduate programs.  As the sole department within the Central Clinical School teaching into the Bachelor of Science, the department has also been instrumental in developing and delivering not only the immunology honours program, but in administering the broader honours programs across the School and institutes within the AMREP site.  The ability to offer basic and clinically related projects provides a unique mix of experiences and attracts many students to this campus.

Undergraduate academic awards

The department celebrates academic excellence with a number of annual awards for the top performing students in the fields of Immunology or Human Pathology. The Nairn Prize in Immunology, named after our founding chairman, is given to the top Immunology honours student completing their project within the Central Clinical School. The Mark Barnett Memorial award for human pathology is given to the top human pathology student and named in memory of a dedicated pathology lecturer in the department, Dr Mark Barnett.  In 2010, the Jared Purton Prize in Immunology was established in memory of a talented former PhD graduate from the department who was tragically killed while completing his post-doctoral training overseas.  This award is offered to the top undergraduate BSc or BMS student undertaking immunology as their major field of study.

Post-graduate studies

The Department has a long and proud history in the training and mentoring of postgraduate students.  Since its first PhD student, Dr Edward Potworowski, completed in 1967, hundreds of students have successfully completed their post-graduate studies, with many going on to establish their own research directions and becoming world leaders in their field of Immunology.  Equally, many students have taken their stills to become successful leaders in other areas such as education, law and industry.  The Department’s commitment to students is taken very seriously and it was recently ranked second across the university for HDR coordination and training.