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MEDSCI205

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF HUMAN ORGAN SYSTEMS

Course Breakdown

 

Test 1: 15%
Test 2: 10%
Laboratory reports: 20%
​Exam: 55%

Course Information

 

Recommended textbooks:
Textbook of Medical Physiology - Guyton & Hall
Medical Physiology - Boron & Boulpaep
Official UoA Website: link.
 

Basic Information

MEDSCI 205 is a step up from MEDSCI 142 that builds onto the knowledge acquired from Stage I. It is a very concept orientated paper with topics including Homeostasis (Kidney Physiology and Energetics), the Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems, and Fetal Physiology. Thought a majority of the content will be familiar with MEDSCI 142, be warned this may make you feel complacent about your understanding and recall of the content (guilty)! Lecturers have the general stance that you must incorporate "something we haven't taught you, that you've found from extra readings" into your essays for you to do well in the end of year exam.

Main frustration was the course manual, while normally very helpful, in some topics varied significantly from the slides in front of us. Therefore, the recommended textbook is extremely helpful at times when help solidify complex concepts.

In 2017, the exam format for MEDSCI 205 was revamped.         

 

Laboratory Component

This paper is infamous for its lab reports! Laboratory content strongly supported what was going on in the lectures, and the high demonstrator to student ratio was very beneficial. The Lab Reports were time consuming to produce (done after lab), but writing the discussion part is good practice for the End of Year exam. Multiple lab report templates were provided and the tutorials given also assisted in understanding and presenting the contents. A majority of the laboratory sessions required student participation where one student from each group were the test subjects, making the labs particularly engaging. 

There were 4 lab reports and 1 worksheet to complete; the topics include Dive Reflex Physiology, ECGs, Osmosis, Energy Expenditure and Respiratory Physiology. These labs were held in the Physiology labs on the 2nd floor directly above the Ground floor MDLs. For MEDSCI 205, you don't actually need to write the Introduction and the Methods, you only had to write up the Results, Discussion and Conclusion sections because they provided a template of the Introduction and Methods - which you could Copy + Paste from the MEDSCI 205 website. But do actually read the introduction they provide - because it really helps guide how you want to write up the rest of the report.

Labs are once every 2 weeks. On the other weeks, you have tutorials which go through a bit of theory and help you with the labs - if you had a draft of your lab report done, you could ask the tutor to check through it to help guide you on how to writing it better. Labs will be tested in the final exam usually by 3-4 MCQs and usually a SAQ worth 5 marks.  

Special mention to referencing: yes, you do have to learn how to reference properly. It does take a while to get used to and once you're done with 205, you'll be great at using APA Style referencing. Try this link if you're having trouble with a certain reference. Try to avoid referencing Wikipedia directly as well. 

 

Lecture Content

Homeostasis and Fluid Regulation

The first three lectures were by the wonderful course coordinator Dr Anuj Bhargava. I would recommend really understanding the first 3 lectures well by using the Boron textbook because it builds up the fundamentals for the kidney lectures, first lab, and the first tutorial. Although the depth can be HUGE at first especially coming into stage 2 just by his first few lectures. You’ll find that a lot of this detail is not required for his section. For the test in 2018, you were required to identify the specific places, basic functions, descriptions and where each transporter (sodium, chloride, and potassium) could be found in the gut (i.e. "the Na+ epithelial transporter is found in the colon"). Also, amongst studying the fine details, remember to make sure you know the basics for this section such as the basic organisation levels (i.e. organelles, cells, tissues, organs).

 

Fluid Balance & Kidneys

Guyton and Hall’s textbook is a wonderful resource for this section of the course, however, based on my own opinion, don’t fret if you can’t access it. Dr Rohit Ramchandra doesn’t really go into detail of concepts taught in his section, but, they felt pretty much the same as the MEDSCI 142 renal physiology section. In 2018, Dr Ramchandra told us to research aldosterone, ANP and the effects of ADH ourselves for an A+ in his section which did not show up in the exam, so be careful! Regardless, he did provide hints for his exam section but that usually required well-structured answers to achieve the top mark. TIP: Try including a diagram and a solid 1-page essay with good detail into different receptors and mechanisms of hormones. Lectures were quite straightforward and he usually ended off early with a little music video break in between. Focus on the main key players that control water balance – ADH, ANG2, Aldosterone, Renin, different areas of a nephron and you’ve pretty much grasped his section.

 

Cardiovascular Function

This was arguably the hardest topic in MEDSCI205 and was taught by Dr Ian LeGrice. Be sure to pre-read the lectures as it might help you understand what he's explaining. This section is full of diagrams and graphs. You must understand the concepts behind it and be able to recall them as this will be important for the exam. The section on Einthoven's Triangle is covered very well in the MEDSCI 205 lab and the ECG graphs were well covered in the tutorial. Note that in PHARM205 you will not have to do ECG analysis. Find a way to link the ECG diagram with the action potential graph, cardiac cycle, and heart sounds etc.; it’s hard, but it’s the only way to ace his section in the test. I did this by studying the wrigglers diagram properly (he loves this diagram so much) and testing myself on it using past MCQs. Learn all the equations and understand that this factor will change this or that (ie increase or decrease something). It’s not difficult to ace his section; it just simply takes time and patience. 

 

Blood Pressure Control

These were 3 lectures presented by Professor Simon Malpas. Be warned that he didn't record his lectures so either bring your own device or just pay attention in the lectures. I didn’t find that extra reading was necessary for his section and a lot of what he talked about in the lectures were about his or someone else’s research. Again, he loves his flow diagrams and the arterial baroreflex pathway will eventually appear in the essay in some form or another. You should be able to understand each step of the Valsalva maneuver, the flow diagram that he draws showing sympathetic nervous activity and parasympathetic nervous activity. The many factors that are responsible for controlling vessel diameter and pretty much everything involved in the arterial baroreflex pathway.

 

Energetics

Beginning the 2nd half of this course (after the test) was 5 lectures taught by Dr Kim Mellor. She tested on really straightforward things (check the past exam papers from 2014) which is nice. This topic is relatively straightforward in comparison to the other ones in this course. For this section I would advise using the lecture slides that she will upload on cecil on the day of the lecture as it’s a lot easier to follow and make notes during the actual lecture itself than using the notes in the course guide. I would say energetics is superficially physics and biochemistry mixed together with a bit of thermo-physics. The only lecture I found a bit harder to understand was the fatigue lecture because of the many processes that controlled muscular fatigue, but everything else was relatively straightforward. I also remember a few respiratory equations being linked to this topic with our energetics lab and would definitely recommend understanding these equations.

 

Respiratory

This section was 6 lectures long and taught by Dr Marie Ward in 2018. She reads off her slides but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all as that means the majority of what she can and will test on is on her slides! Again, I only used the lecture slides because the course guide didn’t follow the slides much and felt too confusing. It’s important to make sure that you do know all the jargon and symbols that she uses on her slides because it can be confusing if you don’t for the sake of your lab report/worksheet and exam. John B West video material (which she does talk about in the first lecture) is pretty much the exact same as her lectures (if you have the time go through it). If not, then just focus on her lecture recordings. This topic I would say was the 2nd hardest in the course especially the first 4 lectures. The last 2 were also a bit hard but really interesting and usually that makes up for the difficulty so don’t think respiratory systems is just a hard topic about graphs. 

Useful links:
John B. West: link
Khan Academy: link

 

Fetal

The last 4 enjoyable lectures were by Dr Laura Bennet. This topic can be quite interesting and Laura Bennet is an engaging lecturer. She does not allow people to record her lectures and recordings will not be uploaded. She will post up slides with pretty much everything you need to know, but, remember to go to her lectures because that is when she’ll give out all the exam hints (including a great big hint about the essay on her section in 2018). It is difficult to score well in her essay but if you know how to integrate concepts concisely, then by all means, surprise her!