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BIOD123 Cells and Tissues - The Fabric of Life

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 fulfils 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 animal tissue, and how they contribute to the physiological processes of the human body. This unit aims to form the foundation for other disciplines including biochemistry and pharmacology and is a pre-requisite for several later units, including Human Genetics and Microbiology and Immunology.

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

LO2 - Compare and contrast the structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells (GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Describe specialisation of cells and their contribution to the organisation and function of the four elementary types of animal tissue (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

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

LO5 - Demonstrate correct biomedical laboratory techniques and awareness of appropriate workplace health and safety practices (GA5, GA10)

LO6 - Evaluate observations at cellular and tissue levels using evidence obtained from the literature (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, 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 of the human body and their characteristics
  • Principles of microscopy
  • Histological and laboratory techniques

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This is a specified unit in the Bachelor of Biomedical Science course. BIOL123 lectures provide the content framework for active learning in small group tutorials through discussions that reinforce and extend the theoretical concepts. Practical classes provide experiential learning opportunities to help students acquire essential biomedical laboratory skills and cultivate scientific thinking and safe laboratory practices. The practical and tutorial activities include investigative research, experimental ‘wet’ labs, computer simulations, data collection and interpretation, and developing essential scientific communication skills. Regular practical and tutorial attendance are expected to ensure competency in foundational laboratory skills (e.g., use of microscope, staining techniques, micropipetting) and application of theoretical content.

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 quizzes help to assess discipline knowledge and provide an opportunity for students to use their critical thinking skills. These quizzes aim to build confidence, increase motivation, enhance long-term retention of the acquired knowledge, and increase student reflection on the learning material. 

The laboratory report assesses students’ development of critical thinking, practical laboratory, data collection, presentation and interpretation, and written communication skills and their ability to use technology for accessing and critically evaluating information. Report writing elements are scaffolded into small group teaching activities to allow opportunities for continuous feedback and skill development.

The practical exam assesses all learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. This exam allows students to demonstrate:

  • competency in essential laboratory skills (e.g., microscopy, micropipetting, staining and slide preparation, and identification and drawing of tissue samples);
  • critical thinking skills, problem solving; and
  • evaluation of associated theoretical knowledge.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes


Quiz A

Early, low-weighted quiz requiring students to demonstrate their understanding of foundational concepts


Quiz B

Enables students to further demonstrate their content knowledge



(45% total)

LO1, LO2

LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Laboratory report

Requires students to evaluate data within the context of current scientific literature and demonstrate their written communication skills in a formal scientific report. 


LO3, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Practical Exam

Enables students to demonstrate (i) competence in essential laboratory skills and (ii) an understanding of associated theoretical knowledge


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Alberts B, Hopkin K, Johnson AD, Morgan D, Raff M, Roberts K, et al. Essential cell biology. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company; 2019.

Ovalle W, Nahirney P. Netter’s essential histology: with correlated histopathology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier; 2020.

Tortora GT, Derrickson B, Burkett B, Cooke J, DiPietro F, Diversi T, et al. Principles of anatomy and physiology. 3rd Asia-Pacific ed. Milton (Australia): John Wiley & Sons Australia; 2022.

Urry LA, Meyers N, Cain ML, Wasserman SA, Minorsky PV, Reece JB, et al. Campbell biology. 11th ed, Australian and New Zealand version. Melbourne (Australia): Pearson; 2018.

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