Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

6 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

To be competent in their chosen profession, biomedical science graduates need to demonstrate thorough understanding of the morphology and function of cells and tissues and acquire core microscopy skills. This unit explores cells and tissues as the building blocks of the human body. Students examine the structure of human cells and tissues and develop an understanding of how structure fulfills function. Key topics include the plasma membrane and its role in the various mechanisms of cellular transport, structure and function of cellular organelles with a focus on cellular metabolism, and the role of the cell nucleus in protein synthesis and cell division. Students investigate the four basic types of tissue, and how they contribute to physiological processes.This unit aims to form the foundation for other disciplines including biochemistry and pharmacology and is a pre-requisite for later units; namely BIOL124, BIOL204, BIOL206, and BMSC207.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Compare the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. (GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Explain the structure and function of the main eukaryotic cell organelles. (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Describe specialisation of cells and discuss how these specialisations contribute to the organization and function of the four elementary types of animal tissues (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Discuss the significance and mechanism of cell division and cell cycle. (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO5 - Make and report accurate observations at cellular and tissue levels, correlate them with information obtained from the literature, and communicate the conclusions that reflect an understanding of the main concepts of the unit. (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10)

LO6 - Use biomedical laboratory techniques and demonstrate awareness and correct use of relevant and appropriate workplace health and safety practices in a laboratory setting. (GA5, GA10)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • Structure and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • Chemical components of the cell
  • Cell nucleus and chromosomes
  • Membrane structure and function including transport and permeability
  • Cell metabolism
  • Cell growth, cell division and programmed cell death
  • Cell specialisation/differentiation
  • The four main tissue types and their characteristics
  • Body organisation: from cells to organ systems and homeostasis
  • Principles of microscopy
  • Histological and laboratory techniques

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a specified unit in the Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Nutrition Science courses,

delivered in attendance mode. BIOL123 lectures provide the content framework for active learning in small group tutorials through discussions that reinforce and extend the theoretical concepts. Practical classes help students acquire essential biomedical laboratory skills and cultivate scientific thinking and safe laboratory practices. The practical activities include investigative research, experimental ‘wet’ labs, computer simulations, data collection and interpretation, and developing essential scientific communication skills. Regular practical attendance and completion of associated lab reports to demonstrate satisfactory mastery of the foundation laboratory skills (e.g. use of microscope, staining techniques, micropipetting, and academic writing) are expected. With less than 80% attendance in the practicals, students will be at risk of not achieving these inherent requirements of a biomedical science graduate.

This unit is supported by a LEO site with Echo recording of lectures to improve student engagement in a flexible manner.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to confirm that the unit learning outcomes have been attained, and all graduate attributes consistent with the University’s assessment requirements are met.

The module quizzes help to assess the discipline knowledge and the critical thinking skills achieved in 3 different modules and provide timely feedback on progress for individual students. The frequent, low-stakes assessments are important to build confidence in this complex unit to increase motivation, enhance long-term retention of the acquired knowledge, and increase metacognition. In spite of the 3 assessment items policy of the university, this item will be maintained with close monitoring of student outcomes.

The practical assessment involves a practical test including elements of report writing. The assessment of practical skills (microscopy, micropipetting, slide preparation, staining and identification and drawing of histological preparations etc.) will be carried out in the laboratory towards the end of the semester. The report writing elements are scaffolded into the weekly lab activities. Checking and signing off on weekly lab worksheets will provide opportunities for continuous feedback to improve scientific writing. The practical exam targets all LOs (in particular, LOs 5 and 6) and graduate attributes as it assesses:

  • achievement of essential laboratory skills;  use of microscopes, staining and slide preparation, micropipetting, data collection, presentation and interpretation;
  • written communication skills for formal scientific reports;
  • critical thinking skills and reflective practices for deep learning; and
  • the ability to use technology for accessing and evaluating information as evidence without plagiarising.

The final examination assessesLOs 1–6 and all relevant graduate attributes of the unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Module quizzes (3) online to assess the discipline knowledge and the critical thinking skills and provide timely feedback on student progress


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Practical Exam to demonstrate laboratory skills and assess written scientific communication, critical observation, and data presentation/interpretation skills


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Final examination (2 hours) to assess knowledge, understanding and application of cell and tissue concepts important for continued study of biosciences


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

  1. Alberts B, Bray D, Hopkin K, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P Essential cell biology (5th ed.); New York: Garland Science; 2018.
  2. Tortora GJ, Derrickson B, Burkett B, Peoples G, Dye D, Cooke J, Diversi T, McKean M, Samalia L, Mellifont, R. Principles of Anatomy & Physiology (2nd Asia-Pacific edition); Milton QLD: Wiley; 2019
  3. OvalleWK, NahirneyPC. Netter's Essential Histology. 2nd ed; Canada: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2013.
  4. ReeceJB, MeyersN, Urry AL, CainML, Wesserman SA, MinorskyPV, JacksonRB and Cooke BN. Campbell Biology, 11th edition (Australian version), Melbourne: Pearson Education Australia; 2017.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs