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Unit Overview


Human Physiology examines how the human body works, from the molecular level to organ, system and the whole human level. It also explores how the body responds to physical activities (e.g., exercise) and to the environment around it (e.g., changes in temperature). Finally, it investigates how disease affects bodily function.Human Physiology is a core component of many biomedical sciences including Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy and Sports Science.

PHYL1001 introduces students to the main physiological systems in the human body. Starting with an examination of how the brain coordinates much of our physiology, PHYL1001 focuses on the main physiological systems of the human body including; the cardiovascular system (heart and the circulation), the respiratory system (lungs and associated tissues), the renal system (kidneys and associated tissues), the reproductive system (male and female) and finally the gastrointestinal system (stomach, intestines and associate structures).

Four practical classes are designed to reinforce the understanding of the body systems gained in the lectures. The practical component ALSO provides students with important insights into experimental design, as well and experience and skills in making clinically relevant physiological measurements such as blood pressure, the electrocardiograph (ECG), the ability of the lungs to inhale and forcibly exhale air, and the ability of the kidneys to alter urine output in response to different hydration conditions. Six tutorial classes enable students to consolidate understanding of the unit content, using review material and problem based learning tasks.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Physiology; Exercise and Health; Sport Science; Sport Science, Exercise and Health; Human Sciences (Anatomy and Physiology); Biochemistry of Nutrition major sequences
  • Level 1 core unit in the Physiology specialisation in the Medical Science major sequence
  • Level 1 elective

Students are able to (1) recall and integrate key knowledge about the concepts, mechanisms and pathways responsible for the normal function of the physiological systems examined in the unit (i.e. the physiological control, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, reproductive and gastrointestinal systems); (2) understand how human diseases affect the normal function of the human body; (3) undertake data analysis and correctly interpret results.; (4) make clinically relevant physiological measurements using classical physiology techniques.; and (5) use computer-based digital data acquisition and analysis systems..


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) laboratory quizzes and (2) a final theory examination. 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)
Associate Professor Tony Bakker and Associate Professor Peter Noble
Unit rules
PHYL2001 Physiology of Human Body Systems
Advisable prior study
Students without any high-school physics are encouraged to consider taking a suitable Level 1 physics unit.
Contact hours
lectures: up to 2 hours per week
labs: up to 3 hours per week (for 4 weeks)
tutorials: up to 1.5 hours per week (for up to 6 weeks)

Sherwood, L. Human Physiology from Cells to Systems, 8th edn: Brooks/Cole 2012

  • 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.