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

This unit provides students with foundational knowledge of the anatomy and physiology relating to structures of the head, neck and thorax. Such knowledge is required by speech pathologists to provide effective assessment and intervention services for communication and swallowing disorders across the lifespan. The unit addresses aspects of the nervous system and hearing, and the normal processes of respiration, phonation, articulation and swallowing. This unit's exploration of how disease or dysfunction affects anatomical structure and related functions is imperative to the development of clinical competencies related to Speech Pathology Australia Range of Practice Areas.

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 - Identify and describe the anatomical structures related to the processes of respiration, speech, hearing and swallowing  using appropriate discipline specific terminology (GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO2 - Describe the physiological processes of respiration, speech, hearing and swallowing (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Discuss normal cranial nerve function and explain basic outcomes of their impairment related to speech, hearing and swallowing processes (GA8, GA10)

Graduate attributes

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 

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

Relevant anatomical terminology

Overview of the Nervous System:

  • Peripheral Nervous System & the Autonomic Nervous System

Embryology of the head and neck

  • General embryonic development
  • Development of the structures for speech, hearing and swallowing
  • Introduction to atypical embryonic development (e.g. cleft lip and palate)

Musculoskeletal anatomy of the head and neck

  • Anatomy of the skull
  • Muscles of mastication and muscles of facial expression
  • Muscles of the tongue, infra and suprahyoids
  • Larynx: framework, muscles, membranes and ligaments
  • Muscles of the pharynx and soft palate
  • Nerve and blood supply of the head, neck, and thorax

Nervous System related to speech pathology practice

  • Overview of the nervous system
  • The brain
  • The spinal cord
  • Cranial nerves and their importance to speech, swallowing and hearing


  • Anatomy of breathing: skeletal and muscular
  • Mechanics of breathing
  • Physiology of breathing (pressure, resistance, flow)

Application to Speech Pathology

  • Phonation
  • Articulation
  • Swallowing
  • Hearing

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of blended learning with a combination of lectures, flipped classroom, and interactive tutorials. Tutorials incorporate collaborative group learning with students engaging in activities utilizing anatomical models, body painting, digital learning and surface anatomy.

The learning and teaching approaches employed in this unit enable the development of communication, problem-solving skills, team-work, and lifelong learning that are beneficial for successful professional practice. Students are 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

This unit aims to develop students’ foundational knowledge of the structures and processes relating to respiration, speech, hearing and swallowing; knowledge that underpins many of Speech Pathology Australia’s Range of Practice Areas. In addition, the unit aims to allow students to effectively communicate their understanding of these processes. The first assessment task allows students to demonstrate their factual and conceptual understanding of foundational anatomical knowledge and their understanding of the mechanical processes related to respiration, phonation, and hearing (LO1, LO2). In Assessment 2, students work collaboratively to develop a presentation on an assigned case. This task helps them build on their foundational knowledge and requires them to apply their understanding of both normal and impaired function to a speech pathology case (LO2, LO3). The third assessment task is a final exam with both multiple choice and extended response questions. This final task allows students to demonstrate their understanding of both the foundational functional anatomy and physiology (LO1, LO2, LO3).

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1 - Mid-semester test.

Students will demonstrate their understanding of key terms, structures and concepts, with some application to scenarios.


LO1, LO2

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Assessment 2- Group verbal presentation: 

Students will work together to demonstrate understanding of speech, hearing or swallowing processes and explain basic outcomes of impairment. 


LO2, LO3

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment 3 - Examination

Students will demonstrate their understanding of the processes of respiration, speech, hearing and swallowing and outcomes of impairment to these processes.


LO1, LO3

GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Culbertson, W., Cotton, S., &Tanner, D. (2006). Anatomy and physiology study guide for speech and hearing. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.

Fuller, D., Pimentel, J. & Peregory, B. (2011). Applied Anatomy and Physiology for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Hansen, J. (2019). Netter’s Anatomy Colouring Book (2nd Ed.). Elsevier

Hoit, J. & Weismer, G. (2018). Foundations of speech and hearing. Plural Publishing.

Hixon, T., Weismer, G., & Hoit, J. (2008). Preclinical speech science: Anatomy, physiology, acoustics, perception. San Diego, CA: Plural Publishing.

Kapit, W. & Elson, L.M. (2014). The Anatomy Colouring Book (4th Ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings Publishing Company.

Marieb, E.N., & Hoehn, K. (2010). Human anatomy and physiology (8th ed). San

Francisco: Pearson Education.

Martini, F., Nath, J. & Bartholomew (2012). Fundamentals of anatomy and physiology (9th Ed). San Francisco: Benjamin/ Cummings.

Seikel, J.A., King, D.W., & Drumwright, D.G. (2010). Anatomy and physiology for speech, language and hearing (4th ed.). Clifton Park, N.Y.: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Zemlin, W.R. (2010). Speech and hearing science: Anatomy and physiology (4th ed.).

Pearson Education Ltd.

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