PHS1031 - Physics for the living world - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Kristian Helmerson


Professor Kristian Helmerson

Unit guides



  • First semester 2018 (On-campus)


BMS1031, PHS1001, PHS1011, PHS1080


Principles of force and movement applied to skeletal structures, human movement and sport, centrifugation, oscillations, effects on living systems. Bio-electricity including nerve conduction, membrane potential, defibrillation, ECG, electrical measurements in bio-systems. Energy production and transport, pressure, diffusion and osmosis. Fluid flow and the cardiovascular system and heat flow in the body. Optical properties of biological and useful materials, refraction, reflection, polarisation, with particular reference to human vision and the microscope. X-rays and nuclear radiations: effects on living matter, diagnostic and therapeutic uses.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain and apply relevant physics principles to human, biomedical and biosphere contexts;
  2. Describe and model situations involving body systems, forces and materials for support and movement, heat and energy transport, electrical behaviour, basic electrical measurements, optical systems and instruments;
  3. Develop simple physical models and apply these to problem solving;
  4. Carry out reliable measurements, analyse data, estimate uncertainties, interpret physical phenomena and present scientific information in written reports.


Examination (3 hours): 50%

Practical work: 28% (Hurdle)

Tests/assignments 22%

Hurdle requirement: Students must achieve a pass mark

in the practical work to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (roughly 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor directed, peer directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

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