Studies in this discipline are available in both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Biomedicine.

The Human Structure and Function major will provide you with a deep understanding of the relationship between the structure of the body (anatomy) and how the different parts of the body work together (physiology). This will be complemented by relevant studies in pathology, pharmacology and zoology, the studies of diseases, drugs and animal life.


This major will open up career opportunities in areas including:

  • Consultancies
  • Health media liaison
  • Medical and health-related sciences
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Research work in applied anatomy and physiology
  • Scientific journalism
  • Teaching and research in University departments and in hospitals.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • An individual program of supervised research in which the student, in consultation with the supervisor, designs, conducts and reports on the outcomes of a specific project. Detailed requirements are negotiated with the supervisor.

  • This subject focuses on the physiology of cardiovascular health with an emphasis on cardiac, vascular, renal and endocrine homeostasis. Students should develop an understanding of how genes and environment interact in early development and at maturity to shape cardiovascular health in populations and individuals. Studies will follow the programmed development of the cardiovascular system from gene to cell and organ.

    Three themes of study are presented. The Theme ‘Blood Pressure – Causes And Consequences’ examines the mechanisms involved in the homeostatic control of whole body bloody pressure and considers how dysfunctional components of this system can contribute to hypertension. The ‘Perspectives on the Heart’ Theme is concerned with whole heart and heart muscle cell mechanical and electrical responses to circulatory demand and to changing hormonal influence. The Theme of ‘Programming and Reprogramming’ deals with the relationship between early cardiovascular modeling influences (maternal and environmental) and adult cardiovascular functional outcomes. Students will be introduced to experimental approaches and models in physiology and current controversies in cardiovascular research. Disturbances in physiological function will be studied to gain insight into the molecular and cellular bases of disease processes.

    In this subject the lectures are supplemented with group discussions where assignment tasks are explored. Students will be introduced to the primary research literature and will consider articles of current interest to analyze for their assignments.

  • In this subject students will gain a detailed understanding of the molecular, biochemical and cellular events that regulate the development of specialised cells, tissues and organs during embryonic development. In particular, cell signalling pathways that regulate embryonic induction, tissue interactions and pattern formation, and expression of regulatory genes. A particular focus is the experimental strategies and techniques that are used to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms of development.

  • The human brain is, arguably, the most complex structure on earth. This subject examines how a simple sheet of cells in the early embryo is fashioned into a functioning brain -. You will learn how cells within the primordial nervous system are assigned different fates, how neural stem cells are stimulated to divide to produce the billions of cells that comprise the nervous system and how these cells differentiate into mature neurons. The subject will examine how neural circuits are established as newly-born neurons send out axons,making functional synaptic connections with specific target cells.

  • The subject will provide a detailed understanding of some of the most recent advances in select areas of physiology presented as key note lectures attended by all students in this subject.

    Students then select, as guided by their interest, from a number of areas of study that reflect the dynamic nature of physiology and research focuses of the department. These currently encompass i) Cardiovascular Health, ii) Muscle and Exercise Physiology and iii) Neurophysiology.

    Students develop theoretical background in part using graduate skills in planning, qualitative and quantitative critical analysis, and communication of molecular, biological, biochemical and physiological approaches to investigate physiological processes.

    Students will be introduced to new technologies that enable the understanding of selected areas of study. A research-focused assignment will bring together elements of both theoretical and practical Physiology and is designed to extend teamwork experiences, the ability to read critically, and to evaluate and communicate physiological information.

  • This subject provides an overview of human locomotor anatomy. The terminology of human topographic anatomy as it relates to the back, neck and limbs; the functional anatomy of the back, neck, upper and lower limbs; the principles underlying human gait and locomotion; the evolutionary changes leading from primate to human locomotion; the neural control of gait and locomotion; and the design of artificial joints and limbs will be covered. Didactic lectures on anatomy will be supplemented by specialist lectures by practitioners to demonstrate the disciplinary breadth achievable with anatomical knowledge. Cadaveric dissection will be used to complement learning, by exposing the boundaries and contents of important regions of the back, neck and limbs; and anatomical models, computer programs, prosected specimens and modern imaging techniques will be used to appreciate anatomical structures.

  • This subject extends the concepts and examination of disease commenced in second year Pathology (PATH20001, BIOM20001) with a focus on the following areas: cellular and molecular aspects underlying fundamental pathogenic mechanisms in organ specific pathologies.

    This subject is available to both B.Science and B.Biomedicine students.

    Science and Biomedicine students intending to take a major in Pathology are required to enroll in PATH30001 (this subject), PATH30002 and PATH30003.

    Biomedicine students intending to take the Defence & Disease major MUST consult the Major Information Booklet.

  • This subject enables students to comprehend aspects of normal muscle development and growth, neuromuscular transmission, the control of human movement as well as the adaptation of skeletal muscle to interventions such as acute and long-term endurance and resistance training. Students will study exercise metabolism, cardiovascular and respiratory responses to exercise, intracellular signalling, and the underlying bases of muscle fatigue. Students will study how ageing affects muscle structure and function, the underlying cellular mechanisms involved in disuse atrophy, muscle damage and repair, as well as how muscle responds to different pharmacological interventions, including anabolic steroids. Students will learn about current research and research practices in muscle and exercise.

  • The subject aims to provide students with an overview of how neurons function, individually and in ensembles, to produce complex behaviours. We consider how the special properties of nerve cells enable information to be encoded and transmitted.

    We will explore how nerve cells communicate with other nerves and cells. Finally we will explore how these properties lead to activity patterns that change the function of other tissues in response to physiological challenges, thus contributing to homeostasis.

  • This subject explores the fundamental organisational features and functional principles of the nervous system: from the biology of nerve cells and neural circuits to complex behaviours. We consider simple reflex and pattern generating circuits through to sensory and motor systems, and examine the brain regions and processes involved in higher functions such as social cognition and reasoning. The multidisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience is emphasised; students should gain an appreciation of how life science disciplines (such as Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Psychobiology) have increased our understanding of nervous system function, and how Neuroscience overlaps with other areas of related study (such as Cognitive Science, Information Science, Linguistics, and Experimental and Clinical Psychology).

  • Techniques for Investigation of Disease aims to develop a sound practical and theoretical understanding of the scientific investigation of disease by the examination of key experimental techniques in the context of particular diseases. Students will undertake macroscopic and microscopic examination of diseased tissue to consolidate their understanding of disease processes developed in PATH30001. Students will use protein, nucleic acid and morphological analysis methods to aid in their diagnosis of disease. This will be complemented by critical analysis of published research papers and computer assisted learning practicals.

    Diseases to be examined include major conditions affecting society.

    This course will introduce students to basic principles of laboratory based analytical methods that are currently used in Pathology Research, Diagnostic Pathology and Forensic Pathology.

  • We expect that a student who completes this subject will comprehend the terminology of human topographic anatomy as it relates to the head and neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis; the principles of viscera and visceral systems; the use of dissecting instruments to expose the detailed regional anatomy of each area including the walls and contents of the thorax, abdomen and pelvis; applied and clinical anatomy; the appearance of normal anatomical structures via modern imaging techniques.

  • The subject builds on students’ understanding of the basic principles behind the functioning of the nervous system, developed in the prerequisite neuroscience subject/s. It develops students’ understanding of the structure, function and development underlying the processing of visual information from the eyes to the further reaches of the brain. The subject provides a thorough understanding of the various levels of the visual pathway and the neural mechanisms that enable visual functions such as perceiving form, colour, depth and movement and how visually-guided action is executed. It will also explore the basis of higher brain functions, such as visual attention and reading and also how eye movements are controlled and vision is related to other senses such as balance, hearing and touch. The subject will provide a number of examples of how disorders of the neural processing lead to specific clinical syndromes.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the

Bachelor of Biomedicine&Bachelor of Science&Bachelor of Science Extended