Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The health care setting, including acute, sub-acute and community based care, is becoming more complex. Registered nurses are expected to be able to respond and care for clients with higher acuity and complex care needs while ensuring person centred care is being provided. The complexity of health care is reflected in the number of specialist care areas which have arisen in the health care setting. These specialist areas require registered nurses to have specialist nursing knowledge and skills which are underpinned by scientific knowledge and evidence based practice.

This unit is required by students to support their development of the foundational scientific knowledge that underpins selected areas of specialist practice. Specific knowledge in the areas of bioscience, epidemiology and growth and development relevant to the student's selected specialist area, will be explored in relation to its application to clinical practice and in the context of typical clinical scenarios.

The aim of this unit is to provide students with scientific knowledge that is relevant to their specialist clinical setting in order to enable them to supports their specialist nursing practice.

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 - Analyse epidemiological concepts and the impact of health determinants on the development of disease (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Differentiate anatomical, physiological, developmental and pathophysiological concepts related to common health problems in their area of specialist practice (GA4)

LO3 - Determine pathophysiological factors or altered development that underpin the diagnosis, treatment and management of common health problems experienced by healthcare consumers in their area of specialist practice (GA4, GA5, GA8)

LO4 - Reflect on the experience of illness in relation to the person, group, family and community (GA1, GA7)

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 

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:

  • Epidemiology
  • influences on population health
  • environmental factors
  • lifestyle factors
  • community factors
  •  Common health problems:
  • anatomy and physiology
  • pathophysiology
  •   Bioscience concepts underlying common health problems:
  • diagnosis
  • treatment
  • management
  • The experience of illness in relation to the person, group, family and community

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies utilised in this unit will support students in meeting the aim and achieving the learning outcomes relevant to this unit as well as to the broader course learning outcomes.

This unit is offered in online mode and uses an active and collaborative learning approach to support students in the exploration of the scientific knowledge that underpin their specialist nursing practice. Students have the opportunity to actively engage with the content through readings, discussion forums and collaboration with their peers to enhance their learning. Students are required to complete online modules and assessments to demonstrate the application of knowledge. The learning and teaching strategy used in this unit allows flexibility for students while ensuring they have expert support. These modes of delivery assist students in linking scientific knowledge to specialty clinical nursing practice and develop shared meanings through online experiential reflections and discussions.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, a minimum combined total grade of all assessment tasks of 50% is required to pass this unit.

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome. Students will be awarded a final grade result.

The assessment strategy used in this unit encourages the progressive development of students’ scientific knowledge and skills to enable them to meet the unit learning outcomes. In order to develop the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students first demonstrate knowledge through participation in an online quiz that assesses specialist immunology knowledge. This understanding is further developed through participation in a team investigation of health determinants and the cellular level pathophysiological changes resulting from various negative health behaviours. The final assessment enables the student to utilise scientific knowledge in the presentation and scientific analysis of a healthcare consumer case study. The final assessment also includes a self-reflection on the learnings gained from the unit. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple Choice Quiz

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to understand complex scientific concepts which are supported by evidence.




Digital Presentation Assessment

Enables students to analyse epidemiological concepts and the impact of health determinants on the development of disease and differentiate scientific knowledge related to their specialist clinical setting. 


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Case study

Enables the student to utilise scientific knowledge in the presentation and scientific analysis of a healthcare consumer case study and reflect on the experience of illness in relation to person centred care.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Within each learning module, students will find links to various chapters from the following texts. Most of these books are available as eBooks accessible through the ACU library.

Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. U. (2019). Interpersonal relationships: professional communication skills for nurses (8th ed.). Saunders.

Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2019). Principles of biomedical ethics (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2019). Pharmacology for health professionals (5th ed.). Elsevier.

Bullock, S., & Hales, M. (2019). Principles of pathophysiology (2nd ed.). Pearson.

Estes, M. E. Z., Calleja, P., Theobald, K., & Harvey, T. (2016). Health assessment and physical examination (Australian and New Zealand 2nd ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

Greenhalgh, T. M., Bidwell, J., Crisp, E., Lambros, A., & Warland, J. (2019). Understanding research methods for evidence-based practice in health (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Hoffmann, T., Bennett, S., & Del Mar, C. (2017). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (3rd ed.). Elsevier.

McCance, K. L., Huether, S.E., Brashers, V. L., & Rote, N. S. (Eds.), (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (7th ed.). Elsevier. 

Patton, K., & Thibodeau, G. (2019). Anatomy & physiology (10th ed.). Elsevier/Mosby.

Taylor, K. (2019). Health care and Indigenous Australians: cultural safety in practice (3rd ed.). Macmillan International Higher Education: Red Globe Press.

Recommended specialty textbooks will be listed in LEO.

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