Back to: Physiology major Physiology major

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

Discoveries in physiology have a broad impact upon health and medicine, environmental science, industry, nutrition, exercise, and reproductive biology. Many of the discoveries from the human genome rely on physiology to understand their impact on the human body.

In this major you will discover how the body works, and how cells and organs function with the body as a whole. You will also develop an understanding of normal physiological function, which provides the basis for investigating disturbances of whole body systems, in particular those relating to the endocrine, cardiovascular, musculo-skeletal, developmental and nervous control systems.

Careers

Your physiology knowledge can be applied to careers within many areas in the health profession and biomedical research including biomedical research, universities, specialist institutes, industry, teaching, government or hospitals.

Physiology is also an ideal undergraduate area of study for students wanting to enter graduate schools in medicine and allied health.

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.

  • This subject is designed for students interested in becoming career researchers. Students will work in groups of 10-12 individuals. Each group will select one project from a list of available research questions, research appropriate background information, formulate hypotheses/aims, design an experiment to test those hypotheses/aims, carry out the experiment over a 4 week experimental period, and ultimately write up their findings in the format of a peer-reviewed journal article. This subject will allow more independence in conceptualisation and execution of the research questions than the second-year subject Research-Based Physiology (PHYS20009).

  • 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 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).

  • Topics will include structure, function, and development of the reproductive organs; endocrine and neuroendocrine and environmental control of reproduction, fertilisation, pregnancy, parturition and lactation in humans and other animals; reproductive diseases and disorders; assisted reproductive technologies; and reproduction in a community and global perspective.

  • The subject focuses on examples of major sensory systems, the control of movement, and on complex brain functions such as memory, language and consciousness. These complex functional capacities are considered from the perspective of normal brain operation and from an examination of the abnormalities underlying neurological disorders.

  • 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.

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 pages.