PHYL5510 Physiology of the Auditory System

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
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.
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.

To pass this unit, a student must: (a) achieve an overall mark of 50 per cent or higher for the unit; and (b) achieve the requisite requirements(s) or a mark of 50 per cent or greater, whichever is higher and specified in the unit outline, for the continuous assessment and an end-of-semester theory examination components.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Helmy Mulders
Unit rules
enrolment in the Master of Clinical Audiology (90540) or the combined Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Clinical Audiology (00840) or the Master of Biomedical Science (71520) or the Master of Health Science (71540) or the Master of Audiological Sciences (73560)
for students enrolled in the Master of Clinical Audiology (90540) only: PHYL5501 Audiological Instrumentation and PHYL5502 Basic Clinical Audiology Part 1 and PHYL5515 Hearing Devices and Adult Aural Rehabilitation,for students enrolled in the Master of Audiological Sciences (73560) only: PHYL5501 Audiological Instrumentation and PHYL5503 Professional and scientific communication and 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.