Skip to main content
Unit of study_

PHSI2907: Key Concepts in Physiology (Advanced)

Semester 1, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Physiology plays a central role in the medical sciences, integrating 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 explore these concepts in four modules: compartmentalisation, cell specialisation, communication between cells and responding to the environment. 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. Furthermore, specialised activities in physiological research will allow small group learning and interaction with staff. Workshops and tutorials will develop critical thinking, understanding of 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.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PHSI2907
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6
PHSI2007 or MEDS2001
A mark of 70 or above in {6cp from [(MEDS1X01 or BIOL1XX8 or BIOL1XX3) or (BIOL1XX7 or MBLG1XX1) or CHEM1XX1 or CHEM1903]}
Assumed knowledge

Human biology (BIOL1XX8 or BIOL1XX3 or MEDS1X01)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jeremy Pinyon,
Laboratory supervisor(s) Richard Tan,
Anna Waterhouse,
Lecturer(s) Khoon Lim,
Jeremy Pinyon,
Tara Christie,
Melkam Kebede,
Michelle Mcdonald,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Final exam
MCQs and SAQs
30% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Small continuous assessment Advanced project report
Written commentary - 2 x 1,000 word commentaries each worth 10%
20% Multiple weeks 2 x 1,000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9
Small continuous assessment Practical submission
Submission of prac lessons from kuracloud - 5 in total
15% Multiple weeks Variable
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Small continuous assessment Prac participation
Submission of completed Kuracloud exercises
5% Multiple weeks variable
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Small test Endocrine and neural Quiz
10% Week 06 40 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2
Small test Muscle CV and respiration quiz
10% Week 09 40 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2
Small test Renal, GIT and reproduction quiz
10% Week 13 40 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO2

Assessment summary

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 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.

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.

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 1. Introduction to PHSI2X07; 2. Overview of the endocrine system; 3. HPA axis Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 02 1. Adrenal Control in the Body; 2. Thyroid function and control; 3. Regulation of blood glucose Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 03 1. Body structure - bone; 2. Nerves and action potentials; 3. Synaptic transmission Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Endocrine practical Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 04 1. Cutaneous sensation; 2. Motor system; 3. Autonomic nervous system Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Sensory and Motor Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 05 1. Three muscle types; 2. Muscle contraction; 3. Muscle energetics Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Muscle practical Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 06 1. Endocrine and nerve revision; 2. Blood cell production Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 07 1. Haemostasis; 2. Circulation and heart; 3. Heart as a pump Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 08 1. Resistance and exchange; 2. Mechanics of breathing; 3. Control of breathing Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 09 1. muscle, cardiovascular and respiratory revision; 2. Kidney as a filter Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 10 Cardiovascular practical Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
1. Renal control and function; 2. Control of blood pressure; 3. GIT structure and function Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 11 Respiration practical Practical (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
1. Control of digestion; 2. Transport of organics; 3. Male reproduction Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 12 1. Non-pregnant female reproduction; 3. Pregnancy and lactation; 3. Renal, GIT and reproduction review Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

The current standard workload for a 6 credit point unit of study is up to 6 hours per week of teaching contact hours and an additional approximately one hour out of class time independent study for each timetabled hour. This means for every face-to-face hour you are expected to undertake independent student effort of 1 hour for each unit of study.

In PHSI2X07 all lectures will be delivered live in person. It is encouraged that you attend the live lectures lectures during their scheduled time. It is important to note that although lectures will be recorded, we cannot guarantee that every lecture will be recorded successfully. Lecture notes and recordings are intended to support, not replace, your attendance at lectures.  Remember, you are in control of your own study strategy and it is up to you to devise a study plan that best suits you.

Attendance is essential for successful completion of this course. Practical classes are COMPULSORY and any missed class without approved special consideration will be marked absent and deemed not to have met the threshold learning outcomes for this unit of study.  Faculty guidelines stipulate a minimum 80% attendance to ALL scheduled classes must be maintained.  Failure to attend may lead to an Absent Fail being awarded.

The assessments, as outlined on canvas, are COMPULSORY, and failure to attend/complete an assessment may result in a grade of Absent Fail (AF) for the Unit of Study. Each assessment task has marking criteria established and the marks generated should comply with University assessment policy. It is important to note that raw marks for individual assessments may be moderated in accordance with University Academic Board guidelines. Where this occurs, moderated results will be indicated as such with postings and notification provided on Canvas.

For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Advance Research Seminars

Attendance is compulsory at all of the Thursday seminars to be eligible to pass the unit of study.

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 Intergrated 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. select and apply practical and/or theoretical techniques or tools in order to conduct an investigation in physiology
  • LO7. 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
  • LO8. communicate observations and experimental findings in physiology and their implications through a broad variety of media to diverse audiences
  • LO9. 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

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

The assessment has changed from 2022 in light of online learning and with the return of supervised final exams.

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.