Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

Physics is the study of matter and the fundamental laws that help us to understand the world we live in. Health professionals and scientists require knowledge of physics to understand the ever growing and changing technologies in medicine, sport and scientific advancement. In this unit, students will develop skills in using the language, logic and laws of physics to describe and explain physical phenomena in nature. They will gain a conceptual understanding of the key themes of motion, forces, energy and waves, which will then be applied to the topics of sound, electricity, electromagnetism, heat, fluids, solids, light, atomic and nuclear processes. Students will be given opportunities to develop analytical, critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, in particular, undertaking assignments that will require the application of physics principles to real life applications and the use of software to analyse data.  As the unit takes a conceptual approach to learning, any senior high school mathematics is sufficient background for the unit. This unit will also help students prepare for the physics component of the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). The aim of this unit is to provide students with a strong foundation of physics knowledge for future study in any health-related sciences. 

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 - State the fundamental facts that are the basis of the discipline of physics (GA5)

LO2 - Analyse simple situations in terms of physics principles to simplify, quantify and model (GA4, GA6)

LO3 - Solve real-world problems using physics and clearly communicate findings (GA4, GA5, GA6)

LO4 - Apply the principles of physics to appropriate health science contexts (GA4, GA5, 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:


  • 1-D kinematics (equations of motion for uniformly accelerated motion), scalars and vectors


  • Newton’s laws, 1-D and simple 2-D cases (parabolic and circular motion), conservation of momentum


  • Energy types and transformations, conservation of energy, work, efficiency, power


  • Wave behaviour, wave mathematics


  • Speed of sound, intensity, frequency, resonance, standing waves


  • Coulomb’s law, resistance, Ohm’s law, series and parallel circuits, electrical power


  • Magnetic fields, forces on charges, motor effect, electromagnetic induction, electromagnetic waves


  • Temperature, internal energy, conduction, convection, radiation, specific heat capacity, latent heat and change of state

Fluid and Solids

  • Density, specific gravity, buoyancy, viscosity, surface tension and fluids in motion 


  • Light as a wave, light as a particle

Atomic and Nuclear processes

  • Atomic structure, emission/absorption spectra, nuclear stability, nuclear decay, nuclear fission and fusion

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is delivered online and will enable students to actively engage in learning tasks and to gauge their own progress towards learning the fundamentals of physics. Weekly interactive workbook modules provide an opportunity to learn key physics concepts and to regularly undertake critical thinking and problem-solving activities. Tutorial classes will be provided to help cement understanding of concepts taught in modules and provide opportunities for pairwise or small group activities and discussion. Practical classes will be “at home” experimental work that may use computer software, mobile apps and basic household items. Lectures in this unit are pre-recorded and contained within each module and are made available via ACU's online Learning Management System (LMS). Online support via synchronous and asynchronous sessions, discussion forums and other resources are also available via the LMS. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks have been designed to assess student knowledge and understanding of theory and application relating to physics. They require students to demonstrate an ability to analyse and solve physics problems that are commonly encountered in nature. The first assessment task is designed to ensure a full understanding of the weekly content taught in content modules. Students will engage with a variety of test questions that will assess their knowledge and understanding of physics principles and theory. The second assessment task will help students develop skills in writing up experiments and will require them to learn physics software to track motion, generate sound waves and design simple circuits. The final assessment task will enable students to make a direct connection of physics principles to their professional practice and communicate these clearly.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Quizzes will be used to help cement student understanding of concepts taught in lecture modules. 


LO1, LO2, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Assessment Task 2

Write up of mini-lab reports of experimental work done at home. 


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA6

Assessment Task 3

Written assignment based on communicating physics principles in real-world contexts. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8

Representative texts and references

Giancoli, D. C. (2016). Physics: principles with applications (Global ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson. 

Hewitt, P. G. (2015). Conceptual physics (12th ed. Global ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education. 

Kirkpatrick, L. D., & Francis, G. E. (2004). Physics: A world view (5th ed.). Brooks Cole. 

Walker, J., Halliday, D., & Resnick, R. (2014). Fundamentals of physics (10th ed.). Hoboken: Wiley. 

Young, H. D., & Freedman, R. A. (2016). University Physics with Modern Physics (14th ed.). New Jersey, US: Pearson Education. 

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