Credit points




Unit rationale, description and aim

Physiotherapists work with people presenting with neuromusculoskeletal disorders of the lower limb. An in depth understanding of lower limb anatomy and functional anatomy is essential for safe and effective physiotherapy assessment and intervention. In this unit students will develop and be required to demonstrate knowledge about anatomy of the lower limb musculoskeletal system that is relevant to clinical presentations and to the practice of physiotherapy. The unit addresses concepts pertaining to osteology, arthrology and myology. A comprehensive study of the structure, function, nerve and blood supply of the pelvis and lower limb, necessary for physiotherapists, will be undertaken. The overall aim for the unit is to prepare students for future clinical units and professional practice in the area of lower limb musculoskeletal physiotherapy.

Learning outcomes

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Identify, classify and describe the musculoskeletal structures of the pelvis, hip, knee, leg and foot
LO2Identify and describe the formation, branches and relations of the lumbosacral plexus and the course and distribution of peripheral nerves of the gluteal region and lower limb
LO3Identify and describe the structure and function of the vascular and lymphatic systems in the lower limb
LO4Analyse the muscle actions and joint movements that occur in functional activities involving the pelvis and lower limb
LO5Analyse the musculoskeletal system of the lower limb in terms of how an individual with an impairment may present clinically in a physiotherapy practice setting
LO6Reflect on the value and importance to their learning of the human cadaveric materials utilised in this unit


Topics will include:

Classification of joints

Classification of skeletal muscles

  • terminology for describing muscle contraction – isometric, isokinetic, concentric, eccentric
  • terminology for describing muscle functions – action, agonist, antagonist, fixator, synergist

Structure, function and movements of the joints of the lower limb

  • Hip joint
  • Tibiofemoral and patellofemoral joints
  • Tibiofibular joints
  • Talocrural joint
  • Joints of the foot

Form, attachments, actions and functions, and innervation of the muscles that move the hip, knee, ankle, foot and toes

Nerve supply to the lower limb

  • Lumbosacral plexus
  • Motor and sensory distribution of nerves in the lower limb
  • Peripheral and spinal nerve lesions in the lower limb

Blood supply of the lower limb, lymphatic drainage of the lower limb

Surface anatomy of the lower limb

  • palpation of lower limb anatomical structures of relevance to physiotherapy practice

Functional activity

  • Anatomical analysis of gait
  • Anatomical analysis of the soccer kick

Physiotherapy laboratory practices

  • Ethical and responsible handling of human remains
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Safety
  • Team work
  • Respect of peers

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. It includes a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes. Early and additional feedback on learning, and tailored support, are provided to facilitate students’ transition to university. Lectures allow teachers to convey necessary information so that students can gain an overall understanding and make connections between different components. Small group tutorials also provide opportunities for students to check their understanding and ask questions. Practical classes will consolidate student learning in a supported environment using anatomical resources including cadavers. In practical classes students will work collaboratively and engage in activities such problem solving to promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation of class content. Online activities at the end of each week will provide students with feedback regarding their understanding of the relevant topic. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities, demonstrating respect for the individual as an independent learner

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge of lower limb musculoskeletal anatomy.  The first two assessment tasks primarily focus on knowledge acquisition and assimilation and provide early low stakes feedback to these transition students. 

Assessment tasks 1 and 3 (written examinations) enable students to demonstrate acquisition, understanding and application of content presented throughout the semester. The first written examinations will assesses work covered in the first half of semester and the second exam that covered in the second half of semester.  Assessment tasks 2 and 4 enable the students to demonstrate their ability to specifically identify anatomical structures on human cadavers, models, x-rays and surface anatomy photos aligning with the use of this content in clinical practice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment task 1: Mid-semester written exam

Enables students to demonstrate acquisition, understanding and application of content delivered in the first half of semester.


LO1, LO4, LO5

Assessment 2: Mid-semester spot test 

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to identify structures on human cadavers (including images of human cadavers), models, x-rays and surface anatomy photos in the first half of semester.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

Assessment 3: End semester written exam

Enables students to demonstrate acquisition and understanding of content delivered in the second half of semester.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Assessment 4: End semester spot test 

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to identify structures on human cadavers (including images of human cadavers), models, x-rays and surface anatomy photos in the second half of semester.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

Representative texts and references

Abrahams, P.H. (2019) McMinn’s Clinical Atlas of Human Anatomy, (8th ed), Elsevier. ISBN- 9780702073328.

Cael, C. (2011) Functional Anatomy: musculoskeletal anatomy, kinesiology and palpation for manual therapists. Cengage. ISBN 9781451127911.

Drake, R., Vogl, W., & Mitchell, A. (2019). Grays anatomy for students (4th ed.). Elsevier. ISBN: 9780323393041.

Kapit, W and Elson, L.M. (2014) The Anatomy Colouring Book (4th ed.). Pearson. ISBN: 9780321832016.

Levangie, P. K., & Norkin, C.C. (2011) Joint structure and function: A comprehensive analysis (5th ed.). FA Davis Co. ISBN:9780803626348.

Lumley, J. (2008). Surface anatomy: The anatomical basis of clinical examination (4th ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 9780443067945. 

Moore, K. L. (2017). Clinically oriented anatomy (8th ed.).  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN: 9781496347213. 

Soames, R. and Palastanga, N. (2019) Anatomy and Human Movement, (7th ed), Elsevier. ISBN- 9780702072260.

Whitaker, R. H., & Borley, N. R. (2016). Instant anatomy (5th ed.). Wiley. ISBN: 978-1-119-15938-4.

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