Credit points


Campus offering

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ANAT101 Physiotherapy Anatomy 1 AND PHTY102 Foundations of Physiotherapy Practice 1

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Physiotherapists are skilled in the analysis of gait and other activities and use movement analysis to identify impairments of range of motion, muscle strength, posture and balance. Movement analysis is also used to develop, implement, evaluate and progress physiotherapy interventions. In this unit students will build on the knowledge and clinical reasoning skills acquired in previous units (specifically anatomy and foundational physiotherapy practice skills). Students will gain new knowledge in the science of movement including biomechanical concepts, kinetics and kinematics of movement and will apply this knowledge to the skills of assessment of range of motion, strength, gait and posture, and in the prescription of exercise and walking aids. The need for, and use of, research to inform evidenced-based physiotherapy practice will be introduced. Students’ understanding of the scope of physiotherapy practice and professional behaviours will be extended through undertaking a clinical placement. The overall aim for the unit is to further develop students’ foundational skills for physiotherapy 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 - Explain and apply basic biomechanical concepts for the assessment of human movement (GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Discuss the principles of, and demonstrate safe and effective, assessment of joint range and muscle strength and prescription of exercise (GA1, GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Describe and analyse gait and static and dynamic posture, and identify deviations from typical (GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Document and reflect on professional behaviour in clinical settings (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO5 - Demonstrate an understanding of the importance, policies and strategies, for building safe and supportive environments when working with children, young people and vulnerable adults (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;  

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media.  


Topics will include: 

Application of biomechanical concepts to human motion and physiotherapy practice including:

  • Force, mass and acceleration 
  • Impulse and momentum 
  • Work and energy 
  • Levers, torque 
  • Centre of gravity 
  • Applied biomechanics
  • Composition and resolution of forces

Analysis of Movement and exercises including: 

  • Kinematic analysis of functional movements 

Assessment of joint range of motion and muscle length including:

  • Identification of typical joint range of motion of the joints of the upper and lower limbs, the cervical and thoracolumbar spine
  • Measurement of joint range of motion of the upper and lower limbs, cervial and thoracolumbar spine with a goniometers, inclinometer or other tools
  • Identification of typical muscle length in the upper and lower limbs, cervical and thoraculumbar spine.

Manual muscle testing of strength including

  • Performance of manual muscle testing for the upper limb, lower limb and trunk muscles.
  • Grading of muscle strength 


  • Identification of bony landmarks
  • Observational analysis of alignment and symmetry
  • Typical sitting and standing postures
  • The role of trunk stability during movement


  • Analysis of the spatiotemporal components of typical gait
  • Analysis of kinematics of typical gait
  • Prescription of a walking aids

Analysis and prescription of therapeutic exercise 

  • Principles of exercise prescription
  • Selecting and teaching an exercise
  • Safe and effective use of equipment for therapeutic exercise
  • Evaluate performance and provide feedback 

Introduction to research and the relevance for physiotherapy practice 

  • The research process
  • Databases relevant for physiotherapy literature searches
  • The structure of a research paper
  • Appraising a research paper
  • Writing a clinical question using the PICO format

 Building safe and supportive environments for working with children, young people and vulnerable adults including:

  • The importance of ensuring the safety, wellbeing and dignity of children and vulnerable adults
  • Relevant policies and procedures

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. The theoretical knowledge underpinning professional practice will be delivered via lectures, tutorial activities and online modules. Practical classes provide students with the opportunity to develop their communication and professional behaviours, clinical assessment, therapeutic exercise and gait aid prescription skills through the use of simulation learning activities. Case scenarios will be used in practical and tutorial classes to provide students with an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge and integrate concepts from different content areas to problem solve issues triggered by these scenarios.

The clinical observation placement provides students with the opportunity to observe how physiotherapists apply movement science skills to maintain or restore patient’s movement and maximize their function. The placement will extend students’ understanding of the scope of physiotherapy clinical practice, professional behaviours and effective communication skills, and inter-professional teamwork.

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 (hurdle) requires student to complete the online module, ACU Child-Safe Organisations, which is a University requirement for all undergraduate students.

Assessment task 2 (hurdle) the Clinical Practice Portfolio (hurdle), is designed for students to apply the learnings from this unit to a clinical setting. In addition, portfolio tasks require critical reflection on professional communication, behaviour and inter-professional team work in a clinical setting and analysis of the purpose and application of observed physiotherapy treatments.

Assessment Tasks 3-5 align with the presentation of the content in this unit of study. This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency for clinically relevant scenarios and students should learn while, as well from, undertaking these tasks. Assessment task 3 (written examination) requires students to demonstrate the application of acquired theoretical knowledge of biomechanics to support their explanation or resolution of clinically relevant problems. Assessment task 4 (written examination) requires students to demonstrate acquired theoretical knowledge from across the semester (excluding biomechanics) and apply this knowledge to address short answer questions and clinically relevant case scenarios. Assessment task 5 (practical examination) requires students to assimilate and apply theoretical knowledge and perform clinical practice skills in order to demonstrate their emerging professional competence in the areas of assessment of muscle length and strength, joint range of motion, and prescription of therapeutic exercise (demonstration on a peer). 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment task 1: ACU Child-Safe Organisations online module

Students are required to successfully complete the online module including the assessment.



GA1, GA5

Assessment task 2: Clinical Practice Portfolio

Requires students to complete up to 30 hours of clinical experience, submit a portfolio documenting and reflecting on their experiences during the clinical observation placement and participate in an on campus debriefing session (tutorial) related to the clinical experience.



GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9

Assessment task 3: Mid-semester written examination

Requires students to demonstrate understanding and application of biomechanical principles to resolve clinical problems.



GA4, GA5

Assessment task 4: End-semester written examination

Requires students to demonstrate their acquisition and understanding of content from across the semester and application to clinically relevant case scenarios, excluding biomechanics.


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5

Assessment task 5: End-semester practical examination

Requires students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour, communications skills, and safe and effective assessment of muscle length and strength, joint range of motion, and prescription of therapeutic exercise on a peer.



GA1, GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references

Fox, J. (2009). A physiotherapist’s guide to clinical measurement. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 

Hamill, J., & Knutsen, K. M. & Derrick, T (2015). Biomechanical basis of human movement (4th ed) Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Herbert, R., Jamtvedt, G., & Hagen, K.B. (2011). Practical evidence-based physiotherapy (2nd ed). Edinburgh: Dhurchill LIvinstone / Elsevier.

Hislop, H., Avers, D, Brown, M. & Daniels L. (2014). Daniel’s and Wothingham’s muscle testing : Techniques of manual examination (9th ed). St Louis, Missouri: Saunders. 

Nordin, M. & Frankel, V.H. (2001).Basic biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 

Oatis C.A. (2017). Kinesiology: The mechanics and pathomechanics of human movement (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer. 

Palmer, M.L. & Epler, M.E. (1998). Fundamentals of musculoskeletal assessment techniques (2nd ed.). Philadelphia; New York: Lippincott. 

Perry, J. (2010). Gait analysis: Normal and pathological function (2nd ed.). Thorefare, New Jersey: Slack. 

Rees, N. & Bandy, W. (2017). Joint range of motion and muscle length testing (3rd ed.). St Louise Missouri: Elseivier. 

Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians (2013). Submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Issues Paper 3 – Child Safe Institutions Principles for Child Safety in Organisations.

Wortley, R., & Smallbone, S. (2006). Applying Situational Principles to Sexual Offenses Against Children. In R. Wortley, & S. Smallbone (Eds.). Situational prevention of child sexual abuse. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press. 

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