Skip to content | Change text size

BMS1031 - Medical biophysics

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Leader: Dr David Mills (Physics) and Associate Professor Ross Young (Physiology)


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


The behaviour of human and biomedical systems are understood in terms of underlying physical principles. Forces involved in human movement and body systems including muscles and joints. Energy and heat flow and metabolism, pressure, osmosis, diffusion and respiration, fluid flow in the cardiovascular system. Electrical charges, current, potential and capacitance in simple circuits, EEG, ECG, cells and nerve conduction. Sound and ultrasound, human hearing, refraction and lenses, the human eye, optical and electron microscopes. X-rays and radiation, biological effects and damage, radiation therapy and medical imaging.


Upon successful completion of this unit students will understand and be able to apply concepts of physics and introductory physiology as they relate to biomedical sciences in the following areas

  1. The laws of motion and the concepts of work, energy and power as they relate to human movement and biomechanics
  2. Heat transfer and thermal properties, the behaviour of gases and fluids applied to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
  3. Principles of electricity, potential difference, current, resistance and capacitance; the basis of Nerst potential and the biological membrane potential, nerve conduction, ECG
  4. Wave motion, the physics of sound and the properties of light and their relationship to auditory and visual phenomena, the function of the human eye and ear
  5. Radiation physics underlying the medical use of x-rays and radiation in medicine and biomedical sciences including the effect of ionising radiation on living matter.
Students will develop basic practical skills in problem solving, experimental methods and uncertainties, analysis of data and written scientific communication.


Written examination: 60%
Practical work: 20%
Assignments 20%

Contact hours

3 lectures and 3 hours laboratory and problem solving per week


Must be enrolled in course code 2230; 2341; 3356; 3404; 3445; 3528; 3804; 3855; or 3879.


ENG1080; PHS1031; PHS1080 or PHS1617