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Unit of study_

MEDS2001: Key Concepts in Physiology

Physiology plays a central role in the medical sciences, integrating from the molecular and cellular levels through to the whole tissue and organs to understand whole body function. The study of physiology involves learning core concepts and principles that are applied to the various organ systems. You will be able to apply these fundamentals as you learn about other organs systems and how their homeostatic interactions govern human body function. To support your learning, you will undertake laboratory activities that involve experiments on humans as well as isolated tissues, with an emphasis on hypothesis generation and data analysis. These sessions will consolidate your conceptual understanding with practical application of core physiological principles in an experimental context. Additional workshops and tutorials will develop critical thinking, the integrative nature of physiology, and generic skills in scientific writing and presentation. The practicals and tutorials also emphasise group learning and team work. Completion of this unit will provide you with a strong foundational understanding of the homeostatic principles that underpin whole-body physiology.


Academic unit
Unit code MEDS2001
Unit name Key Concepts in Physiology
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

PHSI2907 or PHSI2007
6cp from [(BIOL1XX7 or MBLG1XX1) or (MEDS1X01 or BIOL1XX8 or BIOL1XX3) or CHEM1XX1 or CHEM1903]
Assumed knowledge

Human biology (BIOL1XX8 or BIOL1XX3 or MEDS1X01)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Melissa Cameron,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Tutorial quiz Practical Quiz 3 (Muscle)
5% - 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Online task Reproduction quiz
5% - 15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Final exam Final online exam
Online exam
40% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO8 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Practical report
Written practical report
10% Multiple weeks 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Tutorial quiz Practical quiz 1 (Endocrine)
5% Week 03 15 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Assignment Integrated assessment
Written task
10% Week 05 800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
In-semester test Mid-semester exam
Multiple choice
20% Week 09 60 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO10 LO8 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Tutorial quiz Practical quiz 2 (Respiration)
5% Week 11 15 min
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10

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.



Explanation / Interpretation

High distinction (85-100)

Work of exceptional standard


Mastery of topics showing extensive integration and ability to transfer knowledge to novel contexts; treatment of tasks shows an advanced synthesis of ideas; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is very well presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an outstanding level



Work of superior standard

Excellent achievement, consistent evidence of deep understanding and application of knowledge in medical science; treatment of tasks shows advanced understanding of topics; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is well-presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a superior level



Competent work demonstrating potential for higher study


Confident in explaining medical science processes, with evidence of solid understanding and achievement; occasional lapses indicative of unresolved issues; treatment of tasks shows a good understanding of topic; work is well-presented with a minimum of errors; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a high level



Work of acceptable standard


Satisfactory level of engagement with and understanding of topic; some inconsistencies in understanding and knowledge of medical science; work is adequately presented, with some errors or omissions, most criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an adequate level



Work not of acceptable standard

Unsatisfactory achievement and engagement with the medical science discipline; inadequate understanding or fundamental misunderstanding of topics; most criteria and learning outcomes not clearly or adequately addressed or achieved; lack of effort/involvement in the unit

For more information see

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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

All assignments must be submitted by the due date and quizzes and exams attended when they are scheduled. Students are expected to manage their time and to prioritise tasks to meet deadlines. Assessment items submitted after the due date without an approved extension using a special consideration or special arrangement form or request will incur penalties. Failure to meet assessment deadlines will incur mark deductions of 5% of the maximum awardable mark available for every day past the due date (for electronic submissions, days late includes Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays). These deductions will continue for 10 calendar days, until the solutions for the assignment are released, or marked assignments are returned to other students. At that point the mark awarded will be zero. For example, on an assignment given a mark of 70/100, the penalty would be 5 marks if submitted up to 24 hours late, resulting in a final mark of 65/100. If the assignment is submitted 6 days late, the penalty would be 30 marks and the final mark would be 40/100. If the assignment is more than 10 days late, submitted after the solutions for the assignment are released, or marked assignments are returned to other students, the final mark will be 0/100.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 1. Introduction to MEDS2001; 2. Skin; 3. Bone structure and function Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Week 02 1. Introduction to the endocrine system (bone); 2. HPA axis; 3. Stress and the adrenal gland Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Week 03 1. Control of blood glucose; 2. Metabolism and the thyroid gland; 3. Endocrine revision Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Endocrine Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10
Week 04 1. Nerves and action potentials; 2. Synaptic transmission; 3. Cutaneous sensation Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Sensory and Motor Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO10
Week 05 1. The motor system; 2. The autonomic nervous system; 3. Muscle contraction Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO10
Sensory and motor Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 06 1. Energetics of muscle; 2. 3 muscle types; 3. Nerve and muscle review Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Skeletal Muscle Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 07 1. Blood cell production; 2. Cell metabolism/Gas transport Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Week 08 1. Circulation and Heart; 2. Heart as a pump; 3. Resistance and exchange Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Skeletal Muscle Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 09 1. Mechanics of breathing; 2. Control of breathing; 3. Review of cardiovascular and respiration Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Cardiovascular Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 10 1.Kidney as a filter; 2. Control of blood pressure; 3. Gastrointestinal tract structure and function Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Respiration Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 11 1. Digestive control; 2. Transport of organics; 3. Kidney and GIT review Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Respiration Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO10
Week 12 1. Male reproduction; 2. Female reproduction; 3. Reproduction review Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10
Week 13 1. Exam preparation; 2. Revision; 3. Revision Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO7 LO10

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 tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. However, penalties will not be applied if technical issues etc prevent attendance.



The University of Sydney Coursework Policy 2014 states: 
55 (2) A student enrolled in a unit of study must comply with the requirements set out in the faculty resolutions, award course resolutions or unit of study outline about undertaking the unit of study, including on matters such as: (a) attendance at and participation in lectures, seminars and tutorials; and (b) participation in practical work.
The Faculty of Science resolutions states:
9(1). Students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Associate Dean.

NOTE in view of COVID-19 impact: Attendance will be recorded from students' arrival date on campus or from March 31st, whichever is the earliest. From February 24 (week 1), students enrolled in this unit should engage with and study all online content, as directed in the Canvas site, including the submission of any required formative tasks and completion of any asynchronous activities.

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

Textbook: Silverthorn D.U., Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach

Online: Introduction to cell biology lessons (

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. explain the role and basic workings of the major systems of the human body
  • LO2. articulate the methods used in the physiological sciences and be able to explain why current scientific knowledge is both contestable and testable by further inquiry
  • LO3. explain the role and relevance of physiology research findings to society including the translation to clinical and medical outcomes
  • LO4. integrate physiological knowledge with knowledge in other disciplinary areas of the biomedical sciences
  • LO5. collect, synthesise, analyse and critically evaluate physiological data and information from a range of sources.
  • LO6. define a physiological problem, formulate a hypotheses and plan an investigation and, in the process, understand the ethical and regulatory frameworks relevant to Physiological science and academic integrity
  • LO7. select and apply practical and/or theoretical techniques or tools in order to conduct an investigation in physiology
  • LO8. demonstrate creative and innovative approaches to problem solving in the field of physiological research and work effectively, responsibly and safely in individual and collaborative contexts
  • LO9. communicate observations and experimental findings in physiology and their implications through a broad variety of media to diverse audiences
  • LO10. apply tools and practices that will help you in your life-long learning.

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
Alterations to lecture order and assessment content based on previous student feedback.

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 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.