Credit points


Campus offering

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BIOL125 Human Biology 1 AND BIOL126 Human Biology 2

Unit rationale, description and aim

Physiotherapists work with people whose function is impacted by the consequences of injury or disease. An understanding of disease processes and presentation, including the body's response to stress or injury, and medical investigations and pharmacological management is essential for safe and effective physiotherapy assessment and intervention. In this unit students will build on their knowledge of anatomy, biology and physiology relevant to pathologies of the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems in particular, and of factors that contribute to the development of disease. Students will also be introduced the use of heat and cold as physiotherapeutic interventions. The aim of this unit is to prepare students for the application of this knowledge to physiotherapy assessment and interventions in subsequent physiotherapy practice units.

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 - Apply principles of normal physiological function to explain the body’s response to stress or injury (GA4; GA5)

LO2 - Discuss determinants and patterns of health, illness and disability, and the social, cultural and global factors that influence these (GA4; GA5; GA8)

LO3 - Describe the pathological processes and presentation of common diseases of the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice (GA4; GA5; GA8)

LO4 - Discuss medical investigations and pharmacological management for common diseases of the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice (GA5)

LO5 - Discuss and demonstrate the safe application of heat and cold as physiotherapy interventions (GA1, GA5)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

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 


Topics will include: 

Medical Terminology 

The body’s response to stress/injury 


Healing and destruction 

Immunity and auto-immunity 

Effects of age on wound healing 


Musculoskeletal system 

Selected pathologies of the musculoskeletal system 

Investigations relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice 


Respiratory system 

Advanced anatomy and physiology of the lungs, airways and muscles of the respiratory system 

Pathology of the airways 

Ventilation/perfusion and impaired gas exchange  

Acute respiratory conditions, e.g. pneumonia, pneumothorax 

Chronic respiratory disease, e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema 

Medications for the management of respiratory disease 

Investigations relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice 


Cardiovascular system 

Advanced anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular system 

Pathology of the vascular system, e.g. atherosclerosis, aneurysm, obstruction 

Acute cardiac disease: subacute bacterial endocarditis, sudden death 

Haemodynamic derangements such as oedema 

Chronic cardiac disease 

Medications for the management of cardiovascular disease 

Investigations relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice 


Endocrine system 

Pathology of the endocrine system, e.g. diabetes, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease 

Obesity and eating disorders 

Investigations relevant to physiotherapy clinical practice  


Electrophysical agents (EPA) in physiotherapy practice 


Heat therapy 



Characteristics of benign and malignant tumours 

Aetiology of common cancers 

Clinical manifestations of common cancers 


Determinants and patterns of health and illness 

Personal, social, environmental and structural factors  

Health of marginalized populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with a combination of face-to-face, online and other directed independent learning activities.   


Theoretical knowledge will be delivered via lectures and online modules. Practical classes provide students with the opportunity to assimilate and apply this knowledge through simulation learning activities including case scenarios.   


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

Assessment task 1 (practical examination) requires students demonstrate understanding of the theoretical knowledge for the use of (rationale), and to safely and effectively apply, hot and cold therapy to demonstrate their emerging professional competence.  Assessment tasks 2 and 3 (written examinations) require students to demonstrate acquisition and understanding of content presented in this unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment task 1: Mid-semester practical examination: 

Enables students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour and the ability to safely apply hot or cold treatment on a peer and an understanding of the rational for the use of these techniques. 

10 min 



GA1, GA5

Assessment task 2: Mid-semester written examination:  

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

1.5 hr 


LO1 – LO4 

GA4, GA,5, GA8 

Assessment task 3: End-semester written examination:  

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

2 hr


LO1 – LO4

GA4, GA,5, GA8 

Representative texts and references

Bullock, S., & Hales, M. (2013). Principles of pathophysiology (1st ed.). New South Wales: Pearson. 

Bullock, S., Manias, E., & Galbraith, A. (2007).Fundamentals of pharmacology (5th ed.)SydneyPearson. 

Goodman, C. (2009). Pathology. Implications for the physical therapist (3rd ed.). St Louis: Elsevier Saunders. 

Gould, B. (2006). Pathophysiology for the health professionals (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier. 

Huether, S.E., & McCance, K.L. (2007).Understanding pathophysiology (4th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby. 

Kumar, V., Abbas, A., Fausto, N., & Aster, J.C. (2010). Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic basis of disease. Philadelphia: Elsevier. 

Porth, C.M. (2009). Pathophysiology. Concepts of altered health states (8th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott. 

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