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Campus offering

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EXSC224 Mechanical Bases of Exercise or EXSC120 Mechanical Bases of Exercise Science


EXSC220 Biomechanics

Unit rationale, description and aim

An understanding of the mechanical principles underlying human movement, and the ability to apply this knowledge to the analysis and interpretation of human movement, is required to meet the specific health, fitness and/or performance goals of clients. This unit aims to develop the students' theoretical knowledge of the biomechanics of musculoskeletal tissues, structures and joints, and extend their understanding of kinematics and kinetics of rigid and biological systems. This includes developing skills in data collection, analysis and interpretation of human movement, including normal gait and common sports skills such as jumping and kicking, using best practice field and laboratory–based biomechanics technology. These knowledge, understanding and skills are consistent with the professional standards of several accreditation bodies, including those for Exercise Science.

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 - Describe the neuromuscular and material properties of the human body (GA5)  

LO2 - Explain the relationship between forces acting upon and within the body and the resulting motion (GA5)  

LO3 - Describe the biomechanical mechanisms of common sport injuries, and the effects of injury, disease and disability on movement (GA5)  

LO4 - Apply biomechanical principles to assess human movement in the context of health, sport and activities of daily living (GA5, GA8, GA10)  

LO5 - Conduct and interpret biomechanical measurements, and effectively communicate the results (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10)  

Graduate attributes

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

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:  

  • Movement analysis methods  
  • Movement description methods (phases, deterministic models, free body diagrams)  
  • Problem solving models (research, applied) including consideration of effective communication of findings  
  • Applied biomechanics  
  • Human gait (basic patterns of normal and pathological gait)  
  • Fundamental movements and/or sport techniques  
  • Sport performance  
  • Biomechanics of tissues and structures of the musculoskeletal system  
  • Introduction to biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system  
  • Bone (composition; structure; bone formation and remodelling; biomechanical properties; health and injury case studies)  
  • Cartilage, ligament and tendon (collagen; composition and microarchitecture; mechanical properties and response to load; normal and abnormal/injury case studies)  
  • Muscle (classification and function; structure and architecture; force generation; strengthening muscle)  
  • Neuromuscular mechanics  
  • Purpose of electromyography in human movement  
  • Neurophysiology  
  • Signal sampling and processing  
  • Relationship with muscle force  
  • Biomechanics of joints  
  • Spine and the head (structure and function, loads on the spine, spine and legs during gait; spine case studies; head impact and injury)  
  • Upper extremity (joint range of motion and mechanics, loads during everyday activities; case studies)  
  • Lower extremity (joint range of motion and mechanics; loads during everyday activities; case studies)  
  • Injury mechanisms  
  • Definitions, injury categories and specific biomechanical mechanism 
  • Injury causation models  
  • Injury case studies  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, cooperative learning, enquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities, delivered over 12 weeks. This range of strategies will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and how to apply this knowledge to address client’s needs, as well as opportunities to develop practical skills in biomechanical analysis. These strategies will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit, as well as professional practice standards. The range of learning and teaching strategies incorporated into the unit will foster both independent and collaborative learning. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively within group activities. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to best enable students to achieve unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. A range of assessment strategies are used including: an early-semester written exam to assess understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin the unit (mechanics of biological materials); a skill analysis protocol and client report to assess students’ ability to plan and conduct biomechanical analyses, and interpret and communicate the resulting data; and an end-of-semester exam to assess student learning of unit content and the ability to apply this knowledge to a range of different client goals (e.g. performance improvement, injury prevention and injury rehabilitation). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written examination 1 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of the fundamental principles that underpin the unit (mechanics of biological materials). 


LO1, LO2, LO4  

GA7, GA8, GA9  

Written examination 2 

Enables students to demonstrate their understanding of unit content and their ability to apply this knowledge to a range of different client goals (e.g. performance improvement, injury prevention and injury rehabilitation). 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4  

GA7, GA8, GA9  

Skill Analysis Protocol and Client Report

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to plan and conduct biomechanical analyses; and interpret and communicate the resulting data. 


LO4, LO5  

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Hall, S.J. (2014). Basic Biomechanics (7th Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.  

Griffiths, I.W. (2006). Principles of biomechanics and motion analysis. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.  

Hamilton, N., Weimar, W., Luttgens, K. (2012). Kinesiology. Scientific basis of human motion (12th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.  

McGinnis, P.M. (2013). Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.  

Neumann, D.A. (2002). Kinesiology of the musculoskeletal system. Foundations for physical rehabilitation. St. Louis: Mosby.  

Nigg, B. M. and Herzog, W. (2006). Biomechanics of the musculo-skeletal system (3rd ed.). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.  

Nordin, M. and Frankel, V.H. (2012). Basic biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins. 

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