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 introduces students to the main physiological systems in the human body. There is an emphasis on the physiological mechanisms utilised by the cells, tissues and organs of these systems to maintain the internal environment and allow the human body to function.

The unit starts with an examination of how the brain coordinates the overall activity of body tissues, organs and systems, using specialised nerve and hormonal signalling pathways. Students are then provided with an in-depth look at how the cardiovascular system (heart and the circulation) works to provide the tissues with nutrients and oxygen as well as the removal waste material. This is followed by an examination of how the respiratory system (lungs and associated tissues), functions to ensure adequate uptake of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide by the body. Students will then be introduced to the renal system (kidneys and associated tissues) and shown how this system regulates the fluid and salt composition of the body and helps rid the body of waste materials and toxins such as pesticides. The reproductive system will also be covered, with a focus on the hormonal control mechanisms governing spermatogenesis (sperm production) and the ovarian cycle (preparation of the ova). Finally, students will examine the gastrointestinal system (stomach, intestines and associate structures) and learn how this system undertakes the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

In addition to examining the normal functions of the human body, this unit also provides many examples outlining how disease can severely disrupt the function of the physiological systems described above.

Four practical classes are provided in this unit. These classes are designed to reinforce the theoretical content presented in the physiological control, cardiovascular, respiratory and renal system components of the course. The practical component will also provide students with important insights into experimental design, as well and experience and skills in making clinically relevant physiological measurements such as blood pressure (heart disease), the electrocardiograph (ECG) (heart disease), the ability of the lungs to inhale and forcibly exhale air (asthma), and urine volume, sodium concentration, and specific gravity, which provide information about bodily salt and water balance.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Physiology; Sport Science; Sport Science, Exercise and Health; Biochemistry of Nutrition major sequences
  • 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) obtain skills in the design of simple scientific experiments.; (4) make accurate measurements of experimental variables.; (5) undertake data analysis and correctly interpret results.; (6) make clinically relevant physiological measurements using classical physiology techniques.; (7) use computer-based digital data acquisition and analysis systems.; and (8) communicate in writing the results of laboratory work..


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
Unit rules
Enrolment in
Major(s) MJD-PHYGY Physiology
or MJD-SPTSC Sport Science
or MJD-SEHDM Sport Science, Exercise and Health
or MJD-HSANP Human Sciences (Anatomy and Physiology)
or MJD-BCNDM Biochemistry of Nutrition
or MJD-NEURS Neuroscience
or MJD-HSNEM Human Science and Neuroscience
or MJD-ANHBY Anatomy and Human Biology Minor(s) MNR-ORGPH Human Systems Physiology
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 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.