University of Sydney Handbooks - 2018 Archive

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Study in the Discipline of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, is offered by Sydney Medical School and is the focus of teaching and research in the physiological sciences at the University of Sydney. Units of study in this major are available at standard and advanced level.

About the major

Physiology is the study of how the human body works and is a core discipline area in medical and life sciences. Physiology plays the central role in the medical sciences, integrating from the molecular and cellular levels through to the whole tissue and organs to understand whole body function. The study of physiology combines the use of examples of common body dysfunctions to enable a broader understanding of both the normal and abnormal functioning of the human body. A major in physiology will give students a thorough understanding of how the body works and the generic skills of data analysis, interpretation and communication they need. These skills may enable physiology graduates to pursue a range of careers in, for example, medicine, allied health, research, biomedical engineering.

Requirements for completion

A major in Physiology requires 48 credit points, consisting of:

(i) 6 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 6 credit points of 1000-level selective units
(iii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units according to the following rules:

  • 6 credit points of Physiology core unit and 6 credit points of selective MEDS coded units, or
  • 12 credit points of PHSI coded core units

(iv) 12 credit points of 3000-level breadth units
(v) 12 credit points of 3000-level specialisation units

A minor in Physiology is available and articulates to this major.

Pathway through the major

The requirements for a major in Physiology are spread out over three years of the degree (possibly four years if students are completing a combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degree).

A sample pathway for the Physiology major (over three years of a degree) is listed below.

Sample pathway: Physiology major (48 credit points)



Units of study


Semester 1 or 2

Selective: BIOL1XX8 Human Biology

(MEDS1X01 only available to students in the medical science stream)

BIOL1XX7 From Molecules to Ecosystems

Semester 1 or 2

Core: CHEM1XX1 Chemistry 1A


Semester 1

Core: PHSI2X05 Integrated Physiology A

(MEDS2XXX units only available to students in the medical science stream)

Semester 2

Core: PHSI2X06 Integrated Physiology B

(MEDS2XXX units only available to students in the medical science stream)


Semester 1

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major

Semester 2

Selective: 3000-level units listed for major


Please Note. This sample progression is meant as an example only. Depending on unit prerequisites, students may be able to complete these units in a different sequence from that displayed in the table above.

For details of the core and selective units of study required for the major or minor please refer to the Physiology section of the unit of study table, Table S, in this handbook.

Fourth year

The fourth year is only offered within the combined Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Advanced Studies course.

Advanced Coursework
The Bachelor of Advanced Studies advanced coursework option consists of 48 credit points, which must include a minimum of 24 credit points in a single subject area at 4000-level, including a project unit of study worth at least 12 credit points. Space is provided for 12 credit points towards the second major (if not already completed). 24 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2020.

Requirements for Honours in the area of Neuroscience: completion of 36 credit points of project work and 12 credit points of coursework.

Honours units of study will be available in 2020.

Contact and further information

Sydney Medical School
Edward Ford Building A27
University of Sydney NSW 2006

School of Medical Sciences
Anderson Stuart Building F13
University of Sydney NSW 2006


T +61 2 9351 2841

Physiology Administration
T +61 2 9351 3478

Professor Rebecca Mason
T +61 2 9351 2561
Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from Physiology will be able to:

  1. Explain the role and basic workings of the major systems of the human body (to be covered in 2nd year)
  2. Articulate the methods used in the physiological sciences and be able to explain why current
    scientific knowledge is both contestable and testable by further inquiry.
  3. Explain the role and relevance of physiology research findings to society
    including the translation to clinical and medical outcomes.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to integrate physiological knowledge to
    knowledge in other disciplinary areas of the biomedical sciences.
  5. Collect, synthesise, analyse and critically evaluate physiological data
    and information from a range of sources.
  6. Define a physiological problem, formulate a hypotheses and plan an investigation and, in the process, understand the ethical and regulatory frameworks relevant to Physiological science and academic integrity.
  7. Select and apply practical and/or theoretical techniques or tools in order to conduct an investigation in Physiology.
  8. Demonstrate creative and innovative approaches to problem solving in the field of physiological research and work effectively, responsibly and safely in individual and collaborative contexts.
  9. Communicate observations and experimental findings in Physiology and their implications through a broad variety of media to diverse audiences.
  10. Apply tools and practices that will help you in your life-long learning.