Master of Surgery

The Master of Surgery (Latin: Magister Chirurgiae) is an advanced qualification in surgery. Depending upon the degree, it may be abbreviated Ch.M., M.Ch., M.Chir. or M.S. At a typical medical school the program lasts between two and three years. The possession of a medical degree is a prerequisite. The Ch.M. can be awarded on both clinical and academic competency or on academic competency. The regulations[1] may ask for surgical experience and a thesis topic that is not purely medical, but otherwise there is little to distinguish the ChM from the MD.


The Masters of Surgery, or Ch.M. is an advanced qualification in surgical medicine, established in Great Britain in the middle of the 19th century. The qualification was designed to be awarded as a higher degree to the Bachelor of Surgery degree (usually Ch.B.).

Many universities have stopped holding written and clinical examinations for the Ch.M., and focused solely on the thesis and oral examination. Only Oxford and Cambridge still have a ("Part One") examination before submission of the thesis and oral examination on the same for the degrees which they abbreviate as M.Ch. and M.Chir. respectively.

Many universities stopped offering the Ch.M. award when it became common for trainee surgeons to take the F.R.C.S. examination of one or other Royal College of Surgeons in basic sciences and clinical subjects.

Ch.M. Today

Following the success of its MSc in Surgical Sciences, the University of Edinburgh Medical School re-established the Ch.M. award in 2011, as an online distance learning degree, in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh.[2] The focus of the Ch.M. was to prepare advanced surgical trainees for their F.R.C.S. examination, thereby reinstating the purpose of the Ch.M. degree and aligning it with the I.S.C.P. curriculum. The Ch.M. therefore combines the academic and professional development of the surgeon approaching independent consultancy. The Ch.M. consolidates the application of specialist surgical knowledge in any clinical setting and is of relevance to independent surgical practice anywhere in the world. The online distance learning Ch.M. uses case and problem-based learning and combines both academic and research components.[2] Each Ch.M. degree programme carries 120 credits which are taught at postgraduate SCQF level 12.[2] The University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh currently offer Ch.M. degrees in 5 specialities (General Surgery, Vascular & Endovascular Surgery, Urology, Clinical Ophthalmology and Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery).[2]


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