Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

A knowledge and understanding of human biology and biological processes is important for future studies in the areas of biological and/or health sciences. This unit provides a relevant knowledge base and, in the context of the science/biology discipline, assists students in understanding how the human body interacts with, and adapts to, an ever-changing environment. The unit builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in the Introduction to Science unit, and assists students in the development of skills required to communicate concepts and processes.

This unit deals with aspects of molecular, cellular and systems organisation in humans with particular emphasis on genetic and homeostatic systems. The focus will be on the interconnections between structure and function in these systems, their continuity, and how they change over time in response to external and internal factors. Current applications of scientific knowledge in biotechnology and gene technologies will also be explored.

The unit aims to develop and consolidate students' understanding of human biological processes and their implications for society and the environment. Students will receive instruction and support in the academic, communication, and critical thinking skills required for undergraduate studies in the biology discipline.

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 basic cell structure and function, cell division, genes and DNA structure (GA5) 

LO2 - Explain basic biological processes by which humans use homeostasis to control their internal environment in a changing external environment (GA5, GA9) 

LO3 - Explain how biological knowledge and understanding have developed over time, and the ways in which biological knowledge interacts with a variety of contexts (GA4, GA5) 

LO4 - Investigate and evaluate scientific information and processes to draw conclusions and express positions that are scientifically and technically informed (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO5 - Communicate biological and scientific information using appropriate language, terminology, genre and mode (GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10). 

Graduate attributes

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

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: 


  • Cell division, chromosomes, DNA and genes 
  • Patterns of genetic inheritance, and causes of mutations and their consequences 
  • The history of biological knowledge and understanding 
  • The modern theory of evolution by natural selection 
  • Regulation of human body temperature  
  • The structure and function of the immune system  
  • Types of human infectious, non-infectious, genetic and environmental diseases and changes in our understanding of their causes over time 
  • The role of biotechnology and gene technology 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode for International Students: Attendance on campus: 5 hours per week 

Mode for Domestic Students: Multi-mode: attendance on campus: 3 hours per week plus 2 hours online learning.  


Duration: 10 weeks 

This unit utilises an active learning and inquiry-based approach to develop scientific skills, and to build biological knowledge, understanding and communication skills required for entry into related undergraduate study. Tutorials will incorporate tutor-led input (similar to a mini-lecture) on content designed for students to practise listening and note-taking skills in the context of the discipline content. The remainder of the class session will involve interactive and student-focused tasks involving a range of cooperative teaching and learning activities based on set textual and video materials. Students will be expected to read or view the required activities prior to class attendance. There will be a one-hour laboratory tutorial once a week. 

Scientific inquiry skill development will include support for students in refining research-based investigation skills. Students will be expected to collate materials throughout the sessions to complete investigations, to evaluate collected information, and to complete written exercises to improve their scientific literacy skills. Class activities will include both individual and small group tasks with tutor input. Collaborative and cooperative learning supports the inquiry-based approach, exposes students to a variety of opinions and learning styles, and supports the development of communication, problem solving and critical thinking skills. 

Students will have been supported throughout the unit’s duration with weekly class input, online presentations and a range of questions to be answered at the end of each content section. This will include questions about laboratory sessions and content. Structured small group activities, questions and discussion will also allow students to consolidate their own understanding of each section of the course.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

Three individual assessment tasks are designed to enable students to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes in this biology unit. Tasks are reinforced with classroom learning activities and practice in order to support understanding of content, and to develop the knowledge and skills required to meet the learning outcomes. The criteria for each assessment task are based around the unit learning outcomes and students will have access to the specific criteria for each task in the extended unit outline. 


Assessment 1: The Oral Poster Presentation is designed to assess students’ ability to conduct research, to summarise information, and to communicate scientific ideas in an oral presentation using a poster as a cue. Presentations will be assessed based on the quality of a student’s research, their ability to clearly communicate ideas, their presentation skills and ability to manage questions from the audience. As this is the first task, students will be supported in their preparation with small group activities in class time as well as implementation of a number of check points in the preparatory period. The task is of a lower weighting. 


Assessment 2: The Report Task builds on the skill development in Assessment Task 1 (Oral Poster Presentation) and is designed to assess a students’ ability to plan and conduct research in response to a specific research question. The accuracy of biological information, analysis of information, conclusions drawn, evaluation of possible impacts, and communication in a scientific form appropriate for purpose and audience will also be assessed. 


Assessment 3: The Examination is designed to measure students’ knowledge and understanding of the theoretical content covered, written communication skills and the use of scientific inquiry to select, analyse and use information in stimulus material.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Task 

Fortnightly quizzes on LEO to review unit content. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5 

GA4, GA5 

Oral Poster Presentation (individual) 

Students will be required to demonstrate their ability to research, summarise, organise and present information orally in a manner appropriate to their audience and in the nominated poster presentation format.  


LO1, LO4, LO5   

GA5, GA8, GA9 


Students will be assessed on their ability to research, extract key information related to a task and topic, evaluate, organise and present information from academic sources in a written scientific report. 


LO2 LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10 


Multiple choice, short- and long-answer questions, and the use of texts will assess students’ understanding and application of the content and skills developed in this biology unit. 


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO5   

GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Humphreys, K. (2016). National biology unit 4: Maintaining the internal environment (surfing). Marrickville, NSW: Science Press 

Humphreys, K. (2016). VCE biology unit 3 (surfing). Marrickville, NSW: Science Press 

Humphreys, K. (2017). Dot point biology VCE units 3 and 4. Marrickville, NSW: Science Press 

Humphreys, K. (2019). QCE biology units 1 and 2. Marrickville: Science Press 

Siwinski, S., Armstrong, Z., Deeker, W., Madden, A., & Maginn, H. (2018). Pearson biology 12: New South Wales eBook IBN 9781488663482 

Jones, S., Borger, P., Chiovitti, T., & Duncan, J. (2016). Nelson biology VCE - Units 3 and 4 (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia. 

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