The Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology delivers graduate education and research studies into the area of human hearing loss, balance, communication and feeding disorders. The Department has a close relationship with many external clinical and research partners, including Melbourne Teaching Health Clinics (MTHC), Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH) HearNET Clinical Trials and The Bionics Institute.

The Department has an intake of up to 90 audiology and 90 speech pathology students per annum, who complete a two-year graduate professional program at the Master degree level. The Department has an international reputation for its pioneering research.


The Department has developed to be a leading international player in hearing research, largely due to its role in the development and improvement of cochlear implants and their application. The cochlear implant now provides hearing to over 100,000 completely or profoundly deaf people in over 60 countries around the world.

There is also an increasing role in clinical audiology research in other fields such as vestibular pathologies and paediatric management.

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The Department runs the only training course for the audiology profession in Victoria. The Master of Clinical Audiology has grown by a factor of three over the last 12 years in terms of students and staff, largely due to the growth and increasing demand for audiological services in the community. This demand is likely to increase in the medium term and the need to accommodate additional audiology students in years to come has led to the relocation of the teaching component of the department to new facilities in Swanston St.

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The department is associated with Melbourne Hearing Care Clinic and Melbourne Speech Pathology Clinic.

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Students in the department undertake their clinical placements within a broad range of placement settings across Victoria, Australia and internationally. The department is associated with Melbourne Hearing Care Clinic and Melbourne Speech Pathology Clinic, separate clinics within the University-owned Melbourne Teaching Health Clinics.

Melbourne Teaching Health Clinics


The Department of Otolaryngology was created in 1969 when Professor Graeme Clark was appointed to the inaugural William Gibson Chair in Otolaryngology. At the time Professor Clark was the youngest appointment to a full Chair at the University of Melbourne.

Graeme Clark had already looked into the feasibility of an implanted electronic device (a cochlear implant) to provide deaf people with hearing in his PhD work in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he set about assembling the team to make this dream into a reality. He was able to see the importance of computer technology and a multidisciplinary approach to the problem.

Along with Field Rickards (later to become the Dean of Education at the University of Melbourne) he started the first University training course for audiology in Australia in 1973. This also proved to be crucial to the later success of the cochlear implant. By 1978, the Melbourne team was able to implant their first prototype implant into a deaf person.

The relative success of this first implant and Professor Clark's persistence lead to interest from the Nucleus group of companies (later to become Cochlear Ltd) and Federal Government funding for commercial development of the cochlear implant. By 1985, the Australian multichannel cochlear implant became the first to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA for use in adults, and in 1990 for children.

The clinical research and development of audiological procedures for cochlear implants during this time was coordinated by Richard Dowell, later to become Professor of Audiology and Head of Department. As cochlear implant application spread rapidly around the world, audiology as a profession was also developing and new courses started up around the country to meet the growing need for hearing care.

The one year postgraduate diploma course in audiology was converted to a two year Master degree in 1998. The demand for audiologists has continued to grow, with student intake numbers increasing year on year to meet community demand.

In 2011 the Master of Speech Pathology (2-year course) was offered for the first time within the Department. In 2012 The Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology was formed. Prior to this, Audiology was taught within the Department of Otolaryngology. In 2013, the Department joined the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, a school within the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

The Department remains focused on the improvement of hearing and communication disorders through efforts in both research and developing the future leaders of our health workforce. .  Research continues within the Department, including neurodegenerative disorders, cognitive decline, clinical trials, neuroimaging, tinnitus, biological and stem cell research and clinical education innovation.

Meet the team

Meet our Audiology and Speech Pathology staff.

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