Credit points


Campus offering

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BIOL123 Cells and Tissues - the Fabric of Life AND BIOL124 Human Body in Health and Disease 1 AND BIOL204 Human Body in Health and Disease 2 AND BIOL205 Pharmacology 1 AND BIOL206 Human Genetics AND (CHEM201 Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry OR CHEM204 Biochemistry ) AND BMSC206 Introduction to Neuroscience AND BMSC207 Microbiology and Immunology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Globally, there are multiple health challenges: in developing countries the prevalence of communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS continues apace, and in Western countries lifestyle changes and the ageing population are leading to increased incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and neurological disorders. In addition, the increased life expectancy and betterment of treatment methods expose a number of moral and ethical issues that are relevant in medical research and/or to health-care professionals. Biomedical science graduates are required to help address these issues in an ethical manner as they will play key roles in understanding the mechanisms of varied and complex disease processes and in the development of potential drugs to help treat and manage such conditions. This requires our graduates to have enhanced knowledge, analysis and problem-solving capabilities as well as adequate understanding of the most pressing biomedical science-related ethical problems. This unit aims to apply and further advance knowledge, health literacy, critical thinking skills, and ethical principles that students have developed throughout their degree program.


The aim of this unit is to utilise problem-based learning as the central tenet to promote group work, communication skills and active and self-directed learning where students will be required to think and integrate across disciplines (e.g. anatomy, physiology, cell biology, human genetics, biochemistry, pharmacology, immunology, pathophysiology and microbiology) in order to fully explain each disease mechanism.

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 - Review normal structure and function of body systems that maintain homeostasis (GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Discuss the causes, mechanisms, clinical manifestations, diagnostic procedures and treatment/management of specific human diseases (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Critically evaluate, generate and communicate potential solutions to human pathological conditions, working independently, and in both synchronous and asynchronous teams. (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Apply ethical principles to moral dilemmas encountered in biomedical science and construct an argument to defend their position when faced with an ethical dilemma in the field of biomedical research. (GA3)

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 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

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 


Topics will include:

  • Integration and interaction between selected biomedical science disciplines such as human genetics, anatomy, cell biology, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, pathophysiology and pharmacology and discussion of relevant ethical dilemmas
  • Structure and function of body systems and how they maintain homeostasis in the face of adverse problems and diseases
  • Complex interactions between microbiological and immunological issues and their effects on body systems
  • Genetic disorders and their complex effects on body structure and function
  • Anatomical defects/problems and their effect on body function
  • In-born errors of metabolism and their consequences on human wellbeing
  • Pharmacological principles in treatment and management of diseases/conditions
  • Moral issues associated with the start and ending of life (genetics and medication).
  • Is telling the truth always the right thing? — Genetic cloning and screening
  • Ethics and public health: how should responsibility to the individual patient be weighed against the collective public interest in advancing medical knowledge?
  • Who pays for medical treatment and research? Is universal care a necessity?

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Problem-based learning (PBL) is the central approach of this unit. The process of discussing, exploring and contributing to these cases in small groups will assist students in integrating knowledge from the different sub-disciplines of the Biomedical Sciences. Six cases presented fortnightly will explore complex human health problems and diseases and the interactions between physiology, anatomy, microbiology, cell biology, immunology, human genetics, biochemistry, pathophysiology and pharmacology. Scenarios will systematically be released, and at each stage students will be required to work as teams to come up with hypotheses, aims and issues that need to be addressed. Issues will be addressed in teams for subsequent sessions where they will be analysed and reviewed, and core content will be backed up with lectures. Students will need to effectively work as teams to solve complex problems and manage their time effectively to deliver their content to other team members during scheduled PBL sessions. Students who do not attend the PBL sessions are at risk of not developing these essential skills; therefore, attendance at all sessions is expected. Attendance at a minimum of 80% of PBL sessions is required for passing the unit. The unit will integrate key issues together enabling students to gain higher order thinking and analysis skills, whilst requiring effective communication within and between groups.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. The problem-based learning sessions are used because they encourage team work, effective communication, and deep high level analytical and problem-solving skills, and this is reflected in the assessments.

The student performance during the PBL sessions allows students to display their ability to communicate and work in teams spontaneously, as problems are progressively revealed. This will allow them to display advanced higher order analytical and problem-solving skills in a multi-disciplinary approach.  

Group work on a presentation will enable students to demonstrate the effective oral communication that is expected of students graduating from their degree. In addition, it encourages them to work with a small group of peers on a topic of particular interest to them, and to display this specialist understanding to their peers.

The research article will take the form of a review article in the style of a peer-reviewed journal. This will allow students to demonstrate the enhanced written skills and integrative knowledge that has been gained during the course of their degree. 

 The final exam provides the students with an opportunity to showcase the problem-solving skills they have been building through semester, in addition to requiring them to display their ability to communicate in written form clearly and concisely.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group work / presentation

Students work with colleagues on a topic they chose, and communicate their findings to their peers




Disease review article

Provides students with an authentic opportunity to write a review article that addresses a specific disease process at an advanced level




End of Semester Exam

Provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate their integrated knowledge of the Biomedical Science sub-disciplines 




Representative texts and references


Bryant B, Knights K, Rowland A, Darroch S. Pharmacology for health professionals (5th edition); Chatswood: Elsevier Australia; 2018. Available from:

Bullock S and Hales M. Principles of pathophysiology (2nd edition); Melbourne: Pearson Australia; 2019. Available from:

Cummings M R. Human Heredity. Principles and Issues (11th edition); Boston: CENGAGE Learning; 2016. Available from

Hall JE. Guyton and Hall textbook of medical physiology (13th edition); Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2015. Available from:

Kumar V, Abbas A, Aster J. Robbins and Cotran pathologic basis of disease (9th edition); Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2014. Available from:

Levinson WE, Chin-Hong P, Joyce E, Nussbaum J, Schwartz B. Review of medical microbiology and immunology: A guide to clinical infectious diseases (15th edition); New York City: McGraw-Hill Education; 2018. Available from:

Walker B, Colledge NR, Ralston S, Penman I. Davidson's principles and practice of medicine (22nd edition); London: Churchill Livingstone; 2014. Available from:

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