Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitSouth Africa School of Health Sciences
OfferedSouth Africa First semester 2015 (Day)
South Africa Summer Semester A 2015
Coordinator(s)Dr Richard Chawana


The unit examines the biological determinants of the major non-communicable diseases that are common global causes of death and disability. Students will be encouraged to integrate knowledge of physiological factors, genetic factors and lifestyle choices to explain health and disease; and to appreciate that knowledge of the biological determinants of disease can be applied to the prevention and control of disease. Case studies will provide the opportunity to develop critical reasoning skills, self-learning and literacy skills necessary for understanding the biological bases of health and disease.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Discuss ways in which under-nutrition and over-nutrition contribute to the global burden of disease;
  2. Explain the basics of human genetics with reference to examples of human diseases that are caused by chromosomal, single gene or polygenic defects;
  3. Describe the structure of human cells and their functions in adaptive and non-adaptive responses to harmful environmental stimuli;
  4. Explain the biological basis of cardiovascular disease and its important risk factors that contribute to the high global prevalence of heart attack and stroke;
  5. Apply knowledge of the digestive tract, genetics, and dietary factors to explain the nature and occurrence of colorectal cancer;
  6. Explain how the function of gas exchange can be disrupted in obstructive respiratory disease and the health consequences in chronic conditions; and
  7. Explain the biological bases of selected global health problems and discuss possible approaches towards their prevention and control.


Online quizzes x 2 (25 minutes each) (10%)
Mid-semester test (50 minutes) (15%)
Oral case presentation x 4 (group work) (10 minutes each) (30%)
Written examination (2 hours) (45%)

Hurdle: 80% attendance at tutorials.

Workload requirements

3 contact hours per week (1 lecture hour and 2 tutorial/workshop hours) PLUS 9 hours of private study hours per week.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Peter Nyasulu

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study