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Course Breakdown


Mid-Semester Test: 20%

End-Semester Test: 20%

Laboratory Component: 10%

Online Activities: 20%

Exam: 30%

Course Information


Prescribed textbook: There are no prescribed textbooks, but a 'highly recommended' textbooks is:

  • Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (Asia-Pacific 2nd ed.) - Tortora & Derrickson

Official UoA link.

Basic Information

MEDSCI142 in the wise words of Taylor Swift would be “Darling you’re a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”; an absolute stunner of a subject, with jam packed lectures, fascinating content and labs. A nightmare if you ever fall behind. With that being said, please don’t click away yet!  Hear me out…  


MEDSCI142 is your introduction to the fascinating subject of MEDSCI and it is probably the most rewarding 1st year paper you are going to do. The course gives an introduction to the body’s organ systems and their anatomy and physiology. It's got a great set of lecturers, fascinating content and extremely efficient organisation. We have the dream team; Angela Tsai along with Roger Booth and Peter Riordan as the course coordinators. Bless they are so good at their job. To make the course’s heavy content load more manageable, the coordinates assist you by providing an abundance of resources. From daily online lecture summaries, to weekly quizzes which review the week’s content, to mock tests to keep you on your feet, they ensure that you have everything you need to succeed. Special mention to Piazza, this course uses Piazza religiously, it is your go to place if you ever need anything. The tutors are as active on it as your usual teenager is on Facebook so you will usually get your question answered within a couple of hours.


With that being said, this paper is notoriously difficult and has earned itself a reputation as one of the hardest Stage I papers. Rightfully so, as it covers a wide range of content in the tri-weekly lectures, providing a great foundation to further studies in any medical context.


The mid semester test (MST) and end of semester test (EST) are purely multi choice questions. Each lecture is allocated around 2 questions in the test. The MST tests content in the first half of semester whereas the EST tests content in the second half of semester. Both the MST and EST also contain questions regarding the lab content, with 6 questions for each lab. However, the exam covers the entire courses' content via short written-answer questions, while labs will not be directly examined. The organisation of this paper is very, very well done - with test results of over 1000 students being released in just a couple of days and lecturers being incredibly responsive to students' questions. The labs are also extremely engaging, with most of the lab content tying into the lecture content thus being incredibly relevant.


NEXT, COURSE GUIDES!  I know that course guides can sometimes be a joke as some course guides are literally the powerpoint but printed out in black and white. But fear not! The MEDSCI142 course guide will be one of the most useful bodies of text and diagrams that you will ever encounter. The course guide is used extensively throughout the lecture series and it ultimately should become your bible. Every page is structured according to the lecture with space for you to make notes, diagrams for you to label and important information for you to highlight. It is very extensive and should form the basis of your notes. The course guide is included in the course fee and therefore you will be required to go pick one up during the mid year break. 


The Tortora textbook is a beast of its own. It is one of those hefty encyclopaedia-like books that can be quite pricey when bought new. However, it can be easily accessed through the University's short loan thus purchasing it isn't a necessity. It is very helpful for learning how to navigate through a massive resource and identifying the usual information. If you must buy a textbook, however, buying an older edition second hand should be fine, the course guide should have the correct page references for those editions as well. 


Kuracloud is this online post class activity assignment that is often overlooked by fellow first years who are struggling to get through lectures, much less to spend time revising them. But listen, hunny, trust me, Kuracloud is your subject saviour. It not only tests you on the lecture so that you are able to pinpoint all the areas that you need more work in, instead of having to go revise every single part, but because most of the questions on Kuracloud are directly from past exams, it is actually also an efficient way for you to work on your major end of course assessment.

Laboratory Component

Labs are, for many, the highlight of this paper. There are 6 labs: 1 lab per fortnight. In order, there is a rat dissection (digestion) lab, brain lab, sheep heart dissection (cardiovascular) lab, reproduction lab, respiratory lab, and chicken leg dissection (musculoskeletal) lab, the order of which roughly corresponds with the progress of the lecture content. These labs supplement what is taught in lectures, offering additional knowledge while consolidating your understanding of the lecture content.


At the end of each lab there is a 10 question MCQ test, of which the difficulty varies between labs but is generally straightforward provided attention is paid during the lab itself. The labs also contribute to the mid-semester and end-of-semester MCQ tests, with 6 questions per lab. The questions here require more thinking/conceptualising than those at the end of labs and often involve the application (not recall) of what was taught in labs. 


In 2023, each lab contributed 2% to your final grade and your best 5/6 labs were weighted, amounting to a total of 10% for the lab component for MEDSCI142. So, please don’t be too gutted if you did not do as well in one of the labs as you had anticipated. In order to get the most out of labs, we strongly encourage reading the lab itself as many times as possible before the lab, familiarising yourself with the tasks and any new terminology or concepts. Try to test yourself with the smaller details that may be more difficult to set in, as it usually links well to the lecture content (and may fill in some gaps missed during lectures!). For most labs there will also be required pre-readings, which cover some of the lab content – be sure to read these as they may be tested in the MCQ test at the end of each lab. Also, during the lab, do not hesitate to raise your hand if you’re lost or have any questions as Medsci demonstrators are all very kind and helpful!


​In the MST and EST, each lab contributes 6 questions each i.e. MST has 18 questions (6 each of the first 3 labs) and the EST has 18 questions (6 each of the last 3 labs). These lab questions are not piss takes, they are known to be notoriously difficult – so be sure to know the labs very well and clarify any concepts you are unsure of on Piazza to ensure you obtain those coveted marks in the MST and EST!


Lecture Content


Nervous System

This section was 4 lectures long and was taught by Prof Maurice Curtis in 2023. Prof Maurice Curtis is an absolute legend and with his expertise, he is bound to make most, if not, everyone in the lecture theatre fall in love with the piece of tissue behind the eyes. Professor Curtis is a world-class neuroscientist whose research group was amongst the first to discover a linkage between the function of the olfactory system to brain degeneration diseases such as Alzheimer’s.


In these lectures, you will need lots of coloured highlighters, pencils and coloured pens. This section can be a little bit confusing as it introduces a relatively new topic which many are unlikely to have learnt before and can be conceptually tricky at places but ultimately you should be okay with it after doing past papers, consulting Piazza and working through the lab component. Dr Curtis often asks questions about this topic in the exam calling for diagrammatic recall, so make sure you understand and know the many diagrams in this section and are able to recall them if needed. 

Autonomic & Endocrine System

This section was 2 lectures long and was taught by the amazingly talented Associate Professor Roger Booth. Roger Booth is the Beyonce of MEDSCI142, charismatic, talented, musically inclined. You do not want to miss his lectures. And for re-emphasis: YOU REALLY DO NOT WANT TO MISS HIS LECTURES. His lectures provide a fantastic basis to our human stress responses and are extremely applicable to many of us on a daily basis. His section is not too heavy in terms of content and is not too conceptually difficult. Provided you understand the sequential nature of the stress responses and know the characteristics of various aspects of the autonomic and endocrine systems, you should be well prepared for the test and the exam.

Cardiovascular System

This section was 7 lectures long with 3 lectures taught by Mr Peter Riordan and 4 lectures taught by Dr Fiona McBryde.


Peter is an awesome lecturer. This section focuses on the anatomy of the heart. He teaches by annotating his section of the course guide so make sure you bring your highlighters and writing equipment! He's incredibly easy to approach and is very responsive to students. However, that said, his questions are a serious killer! The quality of his teachings in terms of clarity and detail mirror his demand for conceptually precise answers in his assessments. Be sure to actually understand his section rather than simply rote learning it; but this shouldn't be much of a problem as long as you attend his lectures!


Whilst Dr. McBryde likes to teach in a light/casual manner but do not let this fool you into thinking the topic is easy! ​Cardiovascular physiology is notoriously difficult in terms of understanding the physiology of the heart. It is relatively content light but is conceptually taxing. It would help immensely to learn the flow diagrams Dr. McBryde emphasises in class and also supplement that with the relevant textbook readings to identify possible gaps, whilst being able to test your understanding. Past students have also suggested that working on the past paper questions, and drawing flowcharts for different scenarios to do with blood pressure were also helpful to gain a better understanding for how all these processes work together.


In addition, participate either in Piazza discussion or with your fellow classmates to ensure your understanding is sound; many also found the lecture recordings to be particularly helpful in instilling the concepts Prof Malpas teaches since it can take a few times to really grasp them.

Reproductive System

This section was 4 lectures long with 2 lectures about Male Reproduction taught by Professor Larry Chamley and 2 lectures about Female Reproduction taught by Professor Andrew Shelling. These two sections were filled with fantastic entertainment with many thanks to the two lecturers' affable personalities. Needless to say, you'll want to come to these lectures! There is a decent amount of content, so be ready to memorise a lot but there's also quite a bit of conceptual understanding required in the many diagrams to figure out. Professor Chamley's section in the course guide usually consists of many pictures but most of the information you are required to know are on his lecture slides. Also, he loves to test his numbers so be sure to learn those!

Respiratory System

This section was 6 lectures long with the first 2 lectures on Respiratory anatomy taught by Dr Sue McGlashan and 4 lectures on Respiratory physiology taught by Professor Julian Paton. The anatomy part of this section is very well covered by Dr McGlashan and is relatively straightforward. There's a decent amount of content, but as it is anatomy, it should not be too difficult to grasp conceptually.


However, the Respiratory Physiology section of this course delivered by Professor Julian Paton is often considered a nightmare of a section. It is notoriously difficult to grasp conceptually along with having to understand a lot of terms thereby being quite content heavy. This section is difficult; so allow yourself plenty of time to go through his material before and after class and consult both Piazza and your classmates if you're having trouble. This section can be slightly hard to follow in the course guide, so make use of the lecture slides during class and then consolidate with the course guide afterwards. 

Renal System

This section was 4 lectures long with one lecture about renal anatomy taught by Ms Angela Tsai (also the course coordinator of 142) and 3 lectures on renal physiology taught by Dr Carolyn Barrett. Renal anatomy is covered in a very detailed manner by Angela and should be quite straightforward due to her excellent, easy-to-understand teaching style. 


Dr Barrett's section can be conceptually difficult for many, thus consulting Piazza would be a great idea along with consulting the textbook and other classmates. She, like Simon Malpas, uses flow diagrams so make sure you learn and understand the scenarios she gives as they may be tested in the final exam! This section can be quite tricky, however if you had a substantial grasp on the cardiovascular topic earlier then this topic would be much easier for you to wrap your head around it.  With that being said, you'll want to stay on top of it so as to not fall behind and consequently not understand the subsequent lectures since each lecture builds on top of each other.

Musculoskeletal System

This section was 5 lectures long and was taught entirely by Mr Peter Riordan. This section is simply put, another treat to learn and another nightmare to prepare for in the assessments! This is a delightful introduction to our musculoskeletal section paralleled by Peter's fantastic teaching but similar to his teaching in the cardiovascular system, demands you to know his content in depth to be able to answer conceptually difficult questions. Moreover, Mr Riordan often asks questions about this topic in the exam calling for your integration abilities, so make sure you understand and know the many diagrams in this section and are able to recall the primary concepts if needed. Be sure to consult Piazza or your classmates if you're not feeling too confident with any concepts. 

Digestive System

An absolutely great finish to a great paper, Associate Professor Angela Tsai is back to deliver the final three lectures on the Digestive System. Conceptually, this part is fairly straightforward but can be content heavy. Ms Angela Tsai’s teachings are very clear as well and the exam questions are very fair in terms of what they test. In 2023, digestive system topic was taught around the same time as the EST, so only 2/3 lectures were examinable in the test. However, in compensation for that, it had a heavier weight in the final examination.


Lab Content

The first lab is the Rat lab. This lab is a wet lab, is very hands-on and has quite an odour to it. Be sure to not pop the caecum... you have been warned. If you are not a squeamish person then this lab will for sure be your favourite. Though the lab does not have any pre-readings, the time can pass by quite quickly so pre-reading the entire lab manual beforehand would be a very wise idea. This lab corresponds in terms of content to the Digestive module and is purposely not matched up (i.e. Rat Lab is in the beginning of the semester whereas Digestive lectures are at the end of the semester) because the Rat Lab is a great introduction to many organ systems of the body; not just the digestive system.


The second lab is the brain lab. This lab is quite chill and laid-back. Make sure you revise the lecture content before coming to this lab as well as pre-reading the textbook. This lab really consolidates the information from lectures and the in-lab questions aren't too tricky here either; but the MST questions can potentially be. Be sure to get the anatomy of the brain clear in your mind, you will need a strong understanding of the relative orientation of structures in the brain in order to succeed in the test.


​The third lab is the Cardiovascular lab (sheep heart dissection). This lab is great fun, but there is a lot of stuff to learn during the lab. Be sure to revise both the lecture content and pre-read the lab notes many times. This lab is quite tricky with the wording; do not get mixed up! Also, the last part of the lab may sometimes get rushed due to the hands-on part of the lab going only slightly over time; so again to re-emphasise be sure to learn the lab manual before going to the lab. The actual dissection in this lab is very tricky, but insanely cool. A handy thing to learn and understand well is the orientations of the heart, as you will be required to conceptualise the different views and angles during tests and possibly the exams, which made this lab tricky for some! 


The fourth lab is the reproduction lab. This lab is pretty chill and has multiple stations at which you complete small activities. Be sure to do the pre-readings for this lab and pre-read the actual lab as it can contain quite a bit of fill-in-the-gaps and short answer types questions.


​The fifth lab is the respiratory lab. The respiratory section is considered conceptually difficult for many so getting your head around respiration concepts taught in lectures is a must. Fortunately, this lab helps consolidate the lecture content. This lab, simply being a respiratory lab, will be slightly hard for some and it's much more conceptually based - so understanding is critical. This lab has multiple stations so you'll be learning in smaller groups with your fellow classmates - be sure to ask the demonstrators any questions you may have!


The sixth lab is the musculoskeletal lab. You are going to feel a bit silly or hungry (if you are not vegan or vegetarian) as you will be slowly and carefully dissecting the precursor to KFC (a chicken thigh). It is a good time. However, as an introduction to the musculoskeletal system, you will have to be learning lots of names of structures. So the following is HIGHLY recommended: 

  • be sure to pre-read the lab many times so you can keep up in the lab. 

  • Give the chicken as much priority as human parts, as they do like to test the bits that are ONLY applicable to the chicken


The in-lab test won't be easy either as you will need to use the visual hints to figure out what side or view you're looking at - so definitely pay attention in this lab!


Final Tips

  • Reach out for help if you need it! 142 can get very overwhelming at times but it’s important to remember everyone is in the same boat. Studying with friends and teaching each other is one of the most beneficial, and fun, ways to learn.

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