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Unit of study_

BIOL1908: Human Biology (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

What will it mean to be human in 2100? How will we be able to control our complex bodily mechanisms to maintain health and fight disease? Advances in the human biology suggest we will age more slowly and new technologies will enhance many bodily structures and functions. This unit of study will explore maintenance of health through nutritional balance, aerobic health, defence mechanisms and human diversity. You will learn key structural features from the subcellular level to the whole organ and body, and learn about essential functional pathways that determine how the body regulates its internal environment and responds to external stimuli and disease. Together we will investigate nutrition, digestion and absorption, cardiovascular and lung function, reproduction, development, epigenetics, and regulation of function through various interventions. You will receive lectures from experts in the field of human biology and medical sciences, supported by practical classes, workshops and on-line resources that leverage off state-of-the-art technologies to develop your practical, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, digital literacy, problem solving, and enquiry-based skills in human biology. This unit of study will provide you with the breadth and depth of knowledge and skills for further studies in majors in medical sciences. The advanced unit has the same overall concepts as the mainstream unit but material is discussed in a manner that offers a greater level of challenge and academic rigour. Students enrolled in the advanced stream will participate in alternative components which may for example include guest lecturers from medical science industries. The nature of these components may vary from year to year.

Unit details and rules

Unit code BIOL1908
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
BIOL1003 or BIOL1903 or BIOL1993 or MEDS1001 or MEDS1901 or BIOL1008 or BIOL1998
Assumed knowledge

85 or above in HSC Biology or equivalent

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Timothy Lee,
Lecturer(s) Melissa Cameron,
Andrew Holmes,
Zoe Patterson Ross,
Timothy Lee,
Hong Dao Nguyen,
Peter Thorn (Physiology),
Scott Byrne,
Philip Poronnik,
Peter Knight,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Take-home short release) Type D final exam Final Exam
Online, open-book
40% Formal exam period 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Tutorial quiz Post-module Quiz 1
Online quiz
2.5% Week 03
Due date: 11 Mar 2022 at 23:59
10 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO2
Assignment Social Biology 1
Written task
10% Week 05
Due date: 24 Mar 2022 at 23:59
500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Tutorial quiz Post-module Quiz 2
Online quiz
2.5% Week 06
Due date: 01 Apr 2022 at 23:59
10 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO2
Assignment group assignment Charter
Written task
5% Week 08
Due date: 17 Apr 2022 at 23:59
200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO5 LO6 LO11 LO12
Assignment Scientific report
Written task
20% Week 08
Due date: 14 Apr 2022 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Tutorial quiz Post-module Quiz 3
Online quiz
2.5% Week 09
Due date: 29 Apr 2022 at 23:59
10 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO2
Assignment group assignment Social Biology 2
Written task
15% Week 11
Due date: 12 May 2022 at 23:59
750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4
Tutorial quiz Post-module Quiz 4
Online quiz
2.5% Week 12
Due date: 20 May 2022 at 23:59
10 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type D final exam = Type D final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Post-module quizzes: There will be 4 online quizzes throughout the semester, due in weeks 3, 6, 9 and 12. The quizzes consist of 8 multiple-choice questions, 10 min time limit and 1 attempt. Each quiz covers the content from a few weeks of lecture content (please see Canvas for more details).
  • Social Biology 1: Scientists and the public alike have long been fascinated by where humans have come from, and contemporary science continues to uncover new information about the human story. This 500 word written task involves reflecting on our current understanding of human evolution.
  • Scientific Report: Most scientific research is communicated through scientific papers, which are formal, peer-reviewed reports describing the results of research. Scientists increasingly analyse ‘big data’- large datasets that require special analytical techniques to process. This 1000 word written task is in the style of a scientific paper, communicating findings from your analysis of ‘big data’ collected from yourself and your peers.
  • Social Biology 2 (group work): Scientists don’t just communicate to other scientists; research findings are also communicated to a general audience to help inform the public about their work. Building on Social Biology 1, this task involves appropriately communicating to a non-scientific audience our current understanding of an aspect of human evolution, based on cutting-edge research.
  • Charter (group work): Group work is fundamentally important to modern science; in the lab, working as a group requires good communication and clear goal setting. In this assessment you will make a plan for how to approach working as a group in the Social Biology 2 assignment.
  • Final exam: The exam will cover material from the lectures. This assessment is compulsory and failure to attend, attempt, or submit will result in the award of an AF grade. If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to students who demonstrate the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the units material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the units material and can solve routine problems and/ or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory adequately referencing the original source of the work.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Organisation and complexity Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Introduction to Human Biology Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 02 Cells Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Human Cells and Working in a lab Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO11 LO12
Week 03 Ion regulation and feedback systems Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Social Biology 1 Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 04 Glucose homeostasis and endocrine regulation Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Lab Skills Simulation laboratory (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8 LO11 LO12
Week 05 Kidney and liver Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Scientific Report Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 06 Nervous system Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Dialysis Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO11 LO12
Week 07 Bone and muscle Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Social Biology 2 + Charter (Online class for RE cohort) Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 08 Circulation and respiration Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Gut Microbiome Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO11 LO12
Week 09 Digestive system Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 10 Fuels and gut microbiome Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Dissections (Online class for RE cohort) Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 11 Immunity Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 12 Reproduction and development Lecture and tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Immunity (Online class for RE cohort) Science laboratory (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO10 LO11 LO12
Week 13 Genetics Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12
Exam Preparation (Online class for RE cohort) Workshop (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online classes have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

There is no recommended textbook for this unit; any undergradute Human Anatomy and Physiology text may be a useful supplement if you would like alternative explanations of concepts that appear in this unit of study.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe the structure and function of body systems that interrelate for normal human activity
  • LO2. explain how the integration of complex cellular and whole body mechanisms underpin homeostasis
  • LO3. explain the current challenges and emerging solutions facing human biology research
  • LO4. communicate key concepts in human biology to diverse audiences through a variety of media
  • LO5. work independently and in groups to analyse and evaluate important questions in human biology
  • LO6. work collaboratively with academic integrity with others in the processes of learning, experimentation, problem solving and assessment
  • LO7. demonstrate competence in core laboratory and related skills
  • LO8. collect and analyse data related to human biology/medical sciences
  • LO9. appreciate the role that the science of human biology plays in contributing to the betterment of society as a whole
  • LO10. apply knowledge and skills to real world problems and articulate the relevance of human biology investigations and their findings to the local and global community
  • LO11. develop the skills for self-managing and successful learning at university
  • LO12. work ethically, responsibly, autonomously and reflectively as a learner and as a scientist.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Given the impacts on social isolation due to COVID-19, a number of activities have also been designed to foster learning with your peers. More opportunities are offered to help connect you with teaching staff and your colleagues. Content specific to the BIOL1908 cohort is presented in partnership with an on-campus museum. Dedicated support from instructors will also be available online throughout the semester via our online messageboard and through consultation and feedback sessions.

Additional costs

Face-to face practical classes require closed footwear, safety glasses and lab coat. It is also highly recommended that you bring a mask to in-person classes.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat, safety goggles and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.