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Unit Overview


This unit provides an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of hearing, hearing impairment and tinnitus. It covers normal peripheral and central processing of sound, including acoustics of the external ear, middle-ear function, cochlear mechanics, hair cell physiology, neural signalling, strial function and fluid and salt balance in the inner ear, peripheral and central lesions, conductive losses, sensori-neural losses, cochlear and retro-cochlear problems, and some issues in vestibular physiology. Causes of hearing problems are covered including otitis externa, acute otitis media, glue ear, cholesteotoma, ossicular discontinuity and fixation, barotrauma, fistula, facial nerve disorders, cerebrovascular disorders, Meniere's disease, dizziness, acoustic neuroma, intracranial tumours, noise-induced hearing loss, ototoxicity, presbyacusis, sudden hearing loss, auditory neuropathology, and systemic diseases affecting hearing and auditory syndromes. The unit explains the physiological basis and diagnosis of peripheral and central processing of sound, and the deficits that result from different hearing impairments.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face

Students are able to explain the physiological basis of normal hearing, including mechanical, hair cell and neural aspects of auditory transduction, and how malfunction of this normal physiology produces pathological responses within the inner ear and central auditory nervous system.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) continuous assessment and (2) an end-of-semester 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 Helmy Mulders
Unit rules
Enrolment in
90540 Master of Clinical Audiology
or 00840 Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Clinical Audiology
or 71520 Master of Biomedical Science
or 71540 Master of Health Science
or 73560 Master of Audiological Sciences
Enrolment in
90540 Master of Clinical Audiology
And Successful completion of
Or Enrolment in
Three Unit(s) PHYL5501 Audiological Instrumentation
And Unit(s) PHYL5502 Basic Clinical Audiology Part 1
And Unit(s) PHYL5515 Hearing Devices and Adult Aural Rehabilitation
Or Enrolment in
73560 Master of Audiological Sciences
And Successful completion of
Or Enrolment in
Three Unit(s) PHYL5501 Audiological Instrumentation
And Unit(s) PHYL5503 Professional and Scientific Communication
And Unit(s) PHYL5504 Basic Adult Hearing Assessment
Advisable prior study
some biology
or physiology is recommended
Contact hours
equivalent to 2 hours of lectures per week, but delivered in an intensive 5-week course, followed by two weeks of workshops in February to May

Pickles, J. O. An Introduction to the Physiology of Hearing, 4th edn: Brill 2013


Gelfund, S. A. Hearing: an Introduction to Psychological and Physiological Acoustics, 2nd edn: Marcel Dekker Press 1998

  • 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.