Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


(BIOL126 Human Biology 2 AND NUTR101 Introduction to Nutrition ) OR (BIOL125 Human Biology 1 AND EXSC118 Nutrition and Exercise )


BMSC306 Advanced Physiology

Unit rationale, description and aim

Knowledge and understanding of the human gastrointestinal tract and its interaction with other physiological systems provide the foundation upon which clinical and preventative nutrition practices are based. Building on prior learning of physiological systems in health and disease, this unit will present in-depth and current research related to nutrition-specific physiology. Through analysis of scientific and pseudoscientific literature, students will gain an understanding of current issues relating to nutritional physiology; for example, appetite and thirst regulation, the effects of alcohol consumption on physiological function, and metabolic syndrome. The aim of this unit is to support students to develop contemporary knowledge and practical understanding of the relationships between endocrine and neural regulation of gastrointestinal and related physiological functions, appetite, and metabolism. 

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 - Articulate the nature of and interactions between endocrine and neural regulation of gastrointestinal functions and explain their significance in maintaining physiological metabolism (GA5, GA8);

LO2 - Apply fundamental concepts related to gastrointestinal function and metabolism to discuss the aetiology and pathogenesis of selected pathological conditions (GA4, GA5, GA8);

LO3 - Discuss the physiological basis of selected topics in nutritional physiology (GA4, GA5, GA8);

LO4 - Critique information available in popular and scientific literature, and effectively and professionally communicate their conclusions (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8).

Graduate attributes

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

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 


Topics will include:

  • Gastrointestinal function, metabolism and metabolic balance
  • Structure and function of the enteric nervous system
  • Cell-to-cell communication pathways
  • Neuronal and endocrine control of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Motor, secretory, and absorptive functions of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Endocrine control of metabolism; factors contributing to metabolic syndrome and diabetes mellitus
  • Regulation of energy intake and utilisation, and appetite
  • Osmo- and volume regulation, acid-base balance, and pH disturbances
  • Metabolism-related aspects of renal function
  • Physiological and pathophysiological processes
  • Significance of gut microbiome in gastrointestinal physiology
  • Aetiology and pathophysiology of selected conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract and/or metabolism
  • Current issues in nutritional physiology

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In keeping with the sequence of learning outcomes in this unit, the learning and teaching strategy adopted comprises three phases that are designed to provide students with a developmental learning experience. The unit begins with approaches designed to support acquisition of the advanced knowledge needed understand the relationships between endocrine and neural regulation of gastrointestinal and related physiological functions, appetite, and metabolism. It builds on this by progressing to activities that support the development of a theoretical understanding of concepts and principles needed to inform skills development. The final stage involves approaches that support students in the application of their understanding in the development of skills needed. Thus, overall, the approaches used in this unit have a constructively aligned developmental sequence designed to progressively and logically support students learning in ways that maximise the perceived (and actual) relevance and value of each stage. As an overarching strategy, this is known to engender higher levels of engagement, efficiency and effectiveness in students’ study behaviours, and to maximise their learning achievements. 

Learning and teaching approaches include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, cooperative learning, online learning, and reflective/critical thinking activities. This range of approaches will provide students with appropriate access to required knowledge and understanding of unit content, and opportunities for development of essential practical skills.  Specific learning and teaching approaches include: lectures where students will develop the theoretical knowledge related to advanced physiology and tutorials, workshops and/or practicals where students will apply theoretical learnings. This strategy and approaches will allow students to meet the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively in learning 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 in ways that support the developmental sequence of the learning and teaching strategy. Thus, the three phases of the strategy are reflected by integration of three appropriate assessment tasks. What follows are examples that have the requisite purpose: 

  • A written task early in semester will provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate techniques for critical analysis as well as written communication skills for the lay person.
  • The second assessment task requires students to present newly acquired knowledge and demonstrate their ability to communicate reasoning and understanding. 
  • The final assessment provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate critical analysis, critical thinking skills, and knowledge of the unit content.

The assessment tasks will allow unit coordinators to assess students’ demonstration of the learning outcomes and attainment of graduate attributes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1

Written Assessment

Enables students to critically analyse an issue in nutritional physiology, apply key unit learning, and demonstrate written communication skills.


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Assessment 2

Written Assessment

Enables students to demonstrate application of knowledge, understanding and critical thinking skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Assessment 3

Written Assessment

Enables students to demonstrate critical analysis, application of knowledge, and critical thinking skills


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references


Sherwood, L. (2015). Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, 9th Ed., Cengage Learning. 

Silverthorn, Unglaub, D. (2013). Human Physiology: Pearson New International Edition: An Integrated Approach, 6th Ed., Benjamin-Cummings Publishing Company.

Tortora, G.J., Derrickson, B., Burkett, B., Peoples, G., Dye, D., Cooke, J., …Mellifont, R. (2019). Principles of Anatomy & Physiology, 2nd Asia-Pacific Ed., Wiley. 

Whitney, E.N., Crowe, T., S., Rady Rolfes, S. and Walsh, A.D. (2019) Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition (4th Ed.). South

Melbourne, Australia: Cengage Learning Australia.



Crujeiras, A. B., Carreira, M. C. Cabia, B. C. et al. 2015. Leptin resistance in obesity: An epigenetic landscape. Life Sciences. 140, 57-63, retrieved on 31 March 2021 from:

Hopkins, M. Blundell, J. Halford, J. et al. 2016. The Regulation of Food Intake in Humans. [Updated 2016 Mar 30]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000, retrieved on 31 March 2021 from: .

Li, S. & Li, X. 2016. Leptin in normal physiology and leptin resistance. Science Bulletin. 61 (19), 1480-88 retrieved on 31 March 2021 from: http:/

Lv, Y., Liang, T., Wang, G., & Li, Z. 2018. Ghrelin, a gastrointestinal hormone, regulates energy balance and lipid metabolism. Bioscience Reports. 38 (5). doi: 10.1042/BSR20181061   

Patel, H. & Bhardwaj, A. 2018. Physiology, Respiratory Quotient. [Updated 2018 Oct27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, retrieved on 31 March 2021 from: .

Puija, A. Gazzaruso, C. Ferro, Y. et al. 2016. Individuals with Metabolically Healthy Overweight/Obesity Have Higher Fat Utilization than Metabolically Unhealthy Individuals. Nutrients. 8: 2. doi:10.3390/nu8010002.

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