Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit, Body Defences, provides a foundation in microbiology and immunology for health professionals. You will explore basic defences against common infections including the structure and function of the immune system; sterilisation and disinfection; basic diagnostic microbiology and immunology; plus an introduction to anti-microbial treatments. The unit finishes with an exploration of what can go wrong when the immune system fails.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Integrated Medical Sciences and Clinical Practice; Integrated Dental Sciences; Podiatric Health and Medical Sciences major sequences

Students are able to (1) describe and discuss common human bacterial infections; (2) describe and discuss common antibiotic treatments; (3) describe and discuss common human viral infections; (4) describe and discuss common human fungal infections; (5) describe and discuss common human parasitic infections; (6) define and discuss the processes and need for proper sterilisation and disinfection; (7) describe the structure and organisation of the immune system; (8) describe the early defences against infection including barriers, inflammation, complement, cytokines, and antiviral responses; (9) describe the process of antigen capture, antigen presentation, and antigen recognition by the adaptive immune system; (10) describe activation of T cells and the effector mechanisms of T cell mediated immunity; (11) describe activation of B cells, production of antibody and the effector mechanisms of humoral immunity; (12) describe immunological memory and apply to vaccination; (13) apply foundational immunology principles to infer the outcome of immune deficiency, hypersensitivity or autoimmunity; and (14) apply the basics of diagnostic microbiology and immunology to solve simple clinical cases.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) final examination; (2) mid semester tests; and (3) practical and tutorial assessments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Erika Bosio
Unit rules
IMED1003 Cell Survival and Communication
and IMED1004 Understanding Health and Disease in People and Populations
IMED2002 Blood and Drugs
Approved quota: 400—a place in the unit is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. Selection is based on time of enrolment with first places given to students enrolled in this major as a degree-specific and second to students enrolled as a second major. Any remaining places are given to those students according to when they enrol until all places are filled.
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week
Laboratories: 4 hours per semester
Face-to-face tutorials: 10 hours per semester
Online tutorials: 2 hours per semester
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.