Course Title: Advanced Cytopathology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Advanced Cytopathology

Credit Points: 24.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


160H Medical Sciences


Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


Bundoora Campus


173H School of Health and Biomed


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018

Course Coordinator: Dr Daniel Sze

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 6524

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 201.09.003

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment or email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

System Enforced Pre-requisites (Enforced by SAMS)


Course Description

Cytopathology is a key discipline within Anatomical Pathology.  This course combines aspects of cell biology, cell morphology, histology, histopathology, pathology, and practical techniques in immunochemistry to be able to detect and diagnose disease in individuals.

This course focuses on developing advanced theoretical knowledge and practical skills required for cytological interpretation and diagnosis in a variety of specimens. 

You will be introduced to various gynaecological and non-gynaecological specimens in a series of lectures, tutorials and multithreaded microscope sessions.  You will complete a series of small projects designed to develop your practical microscopy skills and challenge your critical thinking abilities.  These projects are simulations of cases seen in practise.

The key topics covered in this course are:

Gynaecological Cytopathology screening cytology covering the pathology and cytology of normal, benign, premalignant and malignant conditions of the cervix and endometrium. Advanced topics of screening programs and molecular testing will be covered in a series of seminars discussions.

Non-gynaecological Cytopathology diagnostic cytology, covering the cytology of normal and malignant processes Respiratory, Effusion, Urinary and several aspects of  FNA cytology including  Breast, Lymph node, Thyroid and Salivary gland. These topics will also cover collection and preparation of cytological specimens as well as ancillary testing and laboratory safety. Current advanced topics in the practice of non-gynaecological cytopathology will be covered in a series of seminar discussions.; these may include reporting guidelines and developments in the use of FNAC

There are some opportunities to undertake case study investigations with external laboratories.



Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes for MC158 Master of Laboratory Medicine:

  • Knowledge capability Have a comprehensive understanding of key scientific principles underpinning laboratory medicine and have developed a systemic knowledge of core cellular and molecular processes underlying health and disease.  
  • Technical capability Ability to develop and perform a range of diagnostic techniques relevant to the field of laboratory medicine. 
  • Professional work practices Have a critical awareness of principles relating to scientific integrity, ethical issues and legal framework that underpins the field of laboratory medicine. 
  • Communication skills Ability to communicate effectively with individuals and groups within the diagnostic laboratory environment. .
  • Reflective capability Ability to reflect and integrate based upon experiences in relation to theory and work practices to demonstrate creativity in the identification of problems and their solutions. 

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate advanced knowledge in the discipline of cytology and its practice in screening and diagnostic applications, as well as in the aetiology, pathogenesis and histology of common benign and malignant diseases.
  2. Screen, detect, evaluate and interpret the morphological features of the cells observed in cytological specimens.
  3. Communicate and support your diagnostic conclusions effectively using cytological terms
  4. Problem solve using a creative approach, as it relates to the practice of cytology, as well as being responsible in the way you present your solutions in a logical and professional way.
  5. Critically analyse cases, conclusions and results you produce.

Overview of Learning Activities

The syllabus is covered in a program of lectures, tutorials, screening projects and exercises designed to facilitate the acquisition and understanding of knowledge, which extends to leading practice in the discipline of cytopathology. The practical program is structured to provide learning experiences, which complement the theory syllabus and allow you to gain skills in the interpretation of cytology specimens. Throughout the subject you will be encouraged to demonstrate a responsible and mature attitude and be aware of the consequences of suboptimal performance.  Critical thinking and communication skills are encouraged in class discussion, presentations, and screening projects. These skills form key graduate attributes for employability in the field of laboratory medicine

Seminar tutorials on current advanced topics in the practice of cytopathology require you to actively participate in intense discussion on broad themes, show critical thinking and ability to synthesise opinions supported by current literature.

The course is supported by RMIT's online Learning Management System (LMS). 

The primary learning mode for this course is face to face. You will undertake the equivalent of seven hours per week in lecture and laboratory time and are expected to spend a minimum of eight hours in independent study. You are required to be diligent in keeping up with your studies outside of class time and spend significant time on campus in the Pathology Museum completing their screening projects.


Overview of Learning Resources

There are numerous resources available online on myRMIT, including comprehensive lecture notes, a detailed study program, relevant journal articles and external links to useful cytology websites. You will have access to teaching slide sets for topics covered in the practical morphology as well as unknown practice slide sets.  Laboratory manuals will be available through the course coordinator.

Overview of Assessment

All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching).

The assessment is divided equally between the two modules of Gynaecological and Non-gynaecological Cytopathology.

HURDLE: You must pass both the theory and practical components of this course to achieve an overall pass.  

Continuous assessment will be adopted in both the theoretical and practical components of the course.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Screening projects consisting of gynaecological and non-gynaecological slides

Weighting 20%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3 &  5

Assessment Task 2: Written and oral presentation of case studies

Weighting 10%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 3, 4 & 5

Assessment Task 3: Group projects

Weighting 10% 

This assessment task supports CLOs 1 & 3

Assessment Task 4: Practical tests

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Assessment Task 5: Final theory examination

Weighting 30%

This assessment task supports CLOs 1, 3 & 4