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Course Breakdown


Test 1: 15%
Test 2: 15%
Laboratory reports + Pre-lab quizzes : 40%
​Exam: 30%

Course Information


Recommended textbooks:

  • Medical Physiology (3rd ed.) – Walter Boron & Emile Boulpaep

  • Textbook of Medical Physiology (12th ed.) – Arthur Guyton & John Hall

Official UoA Website: link.

Basic Information

Course Director: Assoc. Prof. Rohit Ramchandra

Course Coordinator: Dr. Sally Rutherford


MEDSCI 205 presents a concept-oriented continuation of the foundational knowledge acquired in MEDSCI 142 and BIOSCI 107. This course expands the understanding of physiological processes and anatomy by employing an integrative approach that dives into various organ systems. Its primary objective is to illustrate the intricate interactions among organ systems within a healthy body, emphasizing the concept of Homeostasis - defined as the “maintenance of nearly constant condition in the internal environment” 


Structured to introduce fundamental homeostatic mechanisms (Homeostasis and Fluid Balance), MEDSCI 205 integrates these principles into more advanced concepts, including: 

  • Renal Physiology 

  • Cardiovascular Physiology 

  • Respiratory Physiology 

  • Energetics 

  • Fetal Physiology 


Although notorious for its challenging nature, the course proves immensely rewarding. It encourages a learning approach centered on analysis, evaluation and synthesis, enabling the development of thoughtful, coherent, credible and convincing narratives. Furthermore, MEDSCI 205 introduces students to scientific report writing, a crucial skill for effectively communicating data and findings. This skill becomes particularly valuable for future academic endeavors and postgraduate studies. 


Students should not be discouraged by the course’s reputation and reviews. Resources are available to support your success, while staff and past students are always here to provide further help, remember the lecturers want you to succeed!


The key to this course lies in approaching the content with a commitment to understanding concepts deeply, steering clear of reliance on rote memorization. Embrace a problem-solving mindset by applying learned concepts to real life situations to further grasp the broader significance of the subject matter. In doing so, you’ll not only conquer the challenges of the volume and difficulty of the content but also develop a comprehensive understanding of physiological principles setting you for success in future courses or clinical programs. 

Lecture Content:


Lecturer/s: Dr. Anuj Bhargava


The first three lectures were taught by the wonderful Dr. Anuj Bhargava. This series introduces the concept of Homeostasis and the maintenance of the volume and composition of body fluids. The content is related to cell volume regulation, which heavily emphasizes the water and solute movement and highlights concepts such as osmosis, isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic solutions and pumps such as Na+/K+ ATPases.  Furthermore Anuj, discusses the processes of electrolyte absorption and secretion and the clinical scenario of nutrient malabsorption. 


The final lecture covers Acid Base Physiology, which provides more insight on acid-base disturbances in the body (e.g acidosis, alkalosis and its different sub-categories) and how various pH systems within the body help to regulate and prevent the body from suffering acidic/alkali states. Most of the content covered in this particular section have been briefly covered in previous first year courses, so past year notes should be able to provide some foundation. Boron’s “Medical Physiology” builds on the knowledge taught in lectures, however is also an extremely useful resource to consult if you are unsure about the material overall.


Whilst the premises of these lectures appear to be straightforward, it is the depth of the content covered that students struggle with. However, the material covered in 3 hours’ worth of lectures is optimal, and would be extremely helpful knowledge to retain prior to kidney lectures, and for the first lab and tutorial. Nailing this section of the course is vital for the success for the rest of the content, as most of the explanations of SAQs and essays of problems will be based on the idea of homeostasis, cell volume regulation and movement of solutes/solvents. 


Key Concepts 

  • Homeostasis 

  • Movement of solutes and solvents 

  • Osmolarity/Tonicity (Isotonic, Hypotonic, Hypertonic) 

  • Na+ and Cl- Absorption 

  • Nutrient Malabsorption

  • Acid Base Balance

  • Mechanisms of pH regulation


Optional Content Review – These topics would be very helpful if you would like to refresh yourself by reviewing concepts:

  • BIOSCI107 – Paul Donaldson – Cellular Processes

  • BIOSCI107 – Anthony Phillips – Cells & Tissues (Lecture 2 – exclusively the components of a cell, not the histology aspect)

  • CHEM110 – Duncan McGillivray – Acids & Bases (Lectures 1-3)

  • MEDSCI142 – Angela Tsai and Carolyn Barrett – Renal Anatomy + Physiology



Lecturer/s: Dr. Rohit Ramchandra


In this lecture series covered by Dr. Rohit Ramchandra, the concepts and knowledge covered in MEDSCI142 (Renal Anatomy & Physiology) is expanded, but to a brief extent. 


Rohit provides us with a trip through the nephron highlighting the important areas and processes that occur in our kidney. Similar to MEDSCI142, the lectures begin with briefly discussing the anatomy of a kidney and then moving on to physiological processes of the kidney, and the factors affecting them. 


The first two lectures, Rohit focuses on Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) and how its modulated. He then moves on further into the nephron highlighting the counter current system and the in/extrinsic mechanisms that can disturb it. These concepts are integrated with a lecture outlining the renal response to salt and water absorption. 


For an A+ in his section, Rohit suggests further learning into the hormonal components of the renal system; that being aldosterone, ANP, and ADH. Further knowledge and successful integration of how these hormones respond and affect urine concentration, diabetes, and dehydration will be highly advantageous.  Rohit did also provide hints for his exam section and how to achieve a top mark (HINT: diagrams, clear and succinct discussion regarding hormonal mechanism etc)


To ensure proper understanding of this section, expanding your learning through the recommended textbook and drawing mind-maps in response to a homeostatic disturbance provides the opportunity to achieve higher understanding in the concepts covered in class. 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.


This section is where you will be introduced (briefly) to the Dive Reflex, and how components of the heart respond to prolonged immersion into water. This lecture will be extremely helpful for Lab 2, where theory is tested by voluntary immersion into cold, cold water. This topic will be further elaborated when covering Respiratory Physiology with Dr. Marie Ward.


Key Concepts 

  • Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)  

  • Regulation of GFR 

  • Counter Current System 

  • ADH Section and Action 

  • Mechanisms of control of fluid and sodium balance 

  • Physiological response to change in plasma osmolarity and plasma volume. 

  • Mechanism of the Dive Reflex 


 Optional Content Review – These topics would be very helpful if you would like to refresh yourself by reviewing concepts:

  • MEDSCI142 – Angela Tsai and Carolyn Barrett – Renal Anatomy + Physiology



Lecturer/s: Dr. Fiona McBryde, Dr. Carolyn Barrett, 


Arguably one of the more difficult topics in MEDSCI205, this section was a significant expansion to the cardiac physiology topics taught also by Fiona McBryde MEDSCI142. Whilst some concepts seemed to be familiar (e.g action potential ionic currents, cardiac excitability, stroke volume and factors affecting it, cardiac output), some concepts caused students to struggle significantly, with the ECG lecture being the most notable example.


The ECG lecture is mentioned exclusively as many physics concepts are strongly integrated into this lecture (primarily electricity concepts) in a way that felt like a second language. You will also be introduced to Einthoven’s Triangle, which is an imaginary formation of three limb leads to calculate the mean axis of the ventricles. Unfortunately, since there is no extensive coverage about this topic in Boron or Guyton & Hall, various YouTube videos, Khanacademy, and ECG interpretation books are recommended for further assistance. There will be plenty of opportunities to learn the Einthoven’s triangle and apply your knowledge in the ECG Lab, so take the time and ask your lab demonstrators all the questions that you can to make sure you have the basics covered!


The second half of this lecture series primarily focuses on the vascular system and its involvement in various physiological mechanisms which ultimately regulates determinants such as stroke volume, blood pressure and cardiac output. There is a particular lecture that focuses on vascular mechanics, which is also similar to electricity concepts covered in physics. It may be a little difficult to grasp these concepts at first, but Carolyn Barrett covers the lecture quite slowly, so with some revision, the concepts become a little more….. bearable. Similar to most lecture series covered in this topic, Cardio Physiology is concluded by integrating the lecture content with some real life scenarios (e.g exercise, stress and para/sympathetic nervous activity, heart failure)


You should be able to understand the many factors that are responsible for controlling vessel diameter and pretty much everything involved in the arterial baroreflex pathway/chemoreceptor reflexes. 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 these concepts. Learn all the equations and understand what factors change these relationships, and how. Whilst a lengthy topic, it’s incredibly rewarding once you realize you’ve understood.


Key Concepts 

  • Cardiac Excitability, Conductivity and Automaticity 

  • Einthoven's Triangle and QRS Axis 

  • Length- Tension Relationship 

  • Calcium and Excitation Contraction Coupling 

  • Ventricular Pressure- Volume Relationship 

  • Blood Pressure 

  • Bernoulli's Principle 


Optional Content Review – These topics would be very helpful if you would like to refresh yourself by reviewing concepts:

  • MEDSCI142 – Peter Riordan & Fiona McBryde – Cardiovascular System (Anatomy & Physiology)

  • PHYSICS160 – Mark Conway – Electricity 

  • PHYSICS160 – Beau Pontre & Alistair Young – Medical Physics 



Lecturer/s: Dr. Fiona McBryde, Prof. Julian Paton 


This two part mini lecture series wraps up the content of Module A and sets you up for the Mid Semester Test. Fiona highlights the topics of Module A and emphasizes the importance of integration of the body systems by providing examples such as Cardiac Glycoside, Dehydration and the effects of prolonged lying to the heart. This lecture makes you appreciate how intricate the human body is and enables you to think how multiple concepts that you learnt can be related and integrated. 


Julian Paton’s lecture was one of the most interesting and valuable I have ever experienced, and further ignited my passion for Physiology. Julian highlights the integrative problem of High Blood Pressure, covering the origin of blood pressure methods and revises concepts such as Poiseuille’s Law and the role of resistance. Julian also dives into many interventions that are happening in the scientific world to tackle the issue of hypertension and highlights pharmacological treatments, renal treatments and carotid body resection. 


Key Concepts 

  • Cardiac Glycoside and the Physiological Response 

  • Skeletal Muscle Pump 

  • Dehydration Physiological Response Loop

  • Hypertension 

  • Resistance and Blood Flow 

  • Sympathetic Overdrive 

  • Clinical Treatment Strategies for Hypertension



Lecturer/s: Dr. Marie Ward


This lecture series was taught by Dr Marie Ward. Marie emphasizes the importance of learning the jargon and symbols as this section heavily involves formulas that explain many of the respiratory physiology concepts. She also recommends John B West video material, which aligns with her lecture series and is a great tool if you want to solidify your understanding of the content. 


The first few lectures continue from MEDSCI 142 lectures that highlight concepts such as Functional Residual Capacity and Compliance, however start to introduce many other concepts that may be unfamiliar. The series also starts to dive into the Mechanics of Breathing giving an overview of the Work of Breathing and also the Control of Breathing and then follows by highlighting the Oxygen Cascade. 


Having a basic understanding of the concepts and equations involved in this section will be advantageous, however as previously mentioned; do not fret if the material seems foreign to you. The last lecture is another application-based lecture, where she discusses respiratory responses when subjected to diving, altitude changes, and voluntary water immersion (sound familiar? Think back to ‘Dive Reflex’ discussed by Rohit Ramchandra in Renal Physiology). Make a cheat sheet to get used to the symbols and abbreviations if necessary, as it can be easy to fall behind! This is a heavy content lecture series so do make sure to focus on the concepts and apply those concepts to different scenarios. 


Key Concepts 

  • Compliance and Functional Residual Capacity 

  • Maximal Inspiratory and Expiratory Pressures 

  • Flow Volume Curves 

  • Obstructive vs Restrictive Disease 

  • Oxygen Cascade 

  • Hyperbaric and Hypobaric Exposure


Optional Content Review – These topics would be very helpful if you would like to refresh yourself by reviewing concepts:

  • MEDSCI142 – Sue McGlashan – Respiratory Anatomy

  • MEDSCI142 – Julian Paton – Respiratory Physiology



Lecturer/s: Dr. David Crossman


In contrast to Cardiac and Respiratory Physiology, this may have been one of the easier topics taught due to constant exposure to some of the concepts covered in the lectures (e.g aerobic/anaerobic respiration, thermodynamics). The main points to pay attention to are the graphs that he shows (as there is a chance you may be required to draw and understand the components of the graph), and some of the processes involved in the various types of anaerobic and aerobic respiration.  


This topic is relatively straightforward in comparison to the other ones in this course. If you find yourself struggling to understand the concepts, it would be recommended to revise the thermodynamics topic covered in PHYSICS160, as energetics is basically an application of t thermodynamics. Brief revision in various biochemistry concepts (e.g Aerobic/Anaerobic respiration processes, ATP concepts). In the last lecture for this topic, energetic concepts are further examined in muscle fatigue and training, so knowing the anatomy of a myocyte (BIOSCI107) would be useful, but not essential.


Key Concepts 

  • Heat Gain vs Heat Loss 

  • Thermoregulatory Control Feedback Systems 

  • Fever Hyperthermia, Therapeutic Hypothermia 

  • Energy Sinks (Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical work) 

  • The Cross Bridge Cycle 

  • Process of Energy Supply (Anaerobic, Aerobic)

  • Creatine Phosphate Shuttle

  • Muscle Fatigue (pHi) 


Optional Content Review – These topics would be very helpful if you would like to refresh yourself by reviewing concepts:​

  • BIOSCI106 – Relevant lectures covering topics in description

  • BIOSCI107 – Carolyn Barrett – ET:M Lecture 1-2: Skeletal Muscle

  • PHYSICS160 – Mark Conway – Thermodynamics



Lecturer/s: Prof. Laura Bennet


The last 4 enjoyable lectures were by Dr Laura Bennet, which looks at the intrauterine environment & fetal behavior, fetal oxygenation and cardiovascular physiology and fetal hypoxia. Laura begins with introducing the structure of the mature placenta and the components involved in efficient gas, nutrient transport and waste removal. She also dives into different sleep states of the mature fetus. The series moves onto how the fetus receives oxygen and the different cardiovascular structures that facilitate this process. Lastly she highlights the physiological response to hypoxia and the negative effects on the fetus. 


This lecture series was very interesting and the concepts were not too difficult to understand with many concepts overlapping from many lectures throughout the course. However it is still recommended to do additional reading and watch YouTube videos on specific concepts such as the Fetal Circulation, I highly recommend Armando Hasudungan video on this. Do not count these lectures out because its nearing the end of the semester, ensure that you understand the concepts and apply them to different scenarios provided by Laura. 


Key Concepts 

  • Placenta 

  • Amniotic Fluid 

  • Basis of Fetal Behavior

  • Oxygen-Dissociation Curve

  • Double Bohr and Haldane Effects

  • Fetal Circulation 

  • Hypoxia and the Cardiovascular Response 


Laboratory Component:


The laboratory component is worth 40% of the overall course grade which is made up of pre-lab quizzes and the renowned lab report writing component. Bi-weekly tutorials complement the course content, that help bridge concepts with practical applications in real-life scenarios. 


Recognizing that lab report writing may be a new experience for many students, MEDSCI 205 introduces this skill gradually. A structured lab report template is provided, guiding students through the construction of the Introduction, Results, Discussion and Conclusion sections (with methods outlined). This supportive approach aims to ease students into scientific report writing. 


The interactive nature of the laboratory sessions enhances student engagement, with active participation often required, including taking on the role of a test subject. Students are required to complete 4 lab reports and 1 worksheet, which covered topics such as: 


  • Membrane Transport Properties 

  • Human Dive Reflex 

  • Human ECG and Heart Sounds 

  • Respiratory Mechanics 

  • Energetics 


Attending tutorials is strongly recommended, as it reinforces lecture content, facilitates the application of concepts to clinical scenarios, and provides assistance with lab report structure and content. Students are encouraged to seek guidance from tutors, even presenting draft lab reports for feedback, fostering improvement in report-writing skills. For additional support, attending the SAMS Lab Report Workshop is advised, which offers further insights into effective lab report writing. 


A crucial aspect of the laboratory component is mastering proper referencing, particularly in APA Style. While initially challenging, this skill becomes second nature with practice.

If you enjoyed this paper, MEDSCI 311 is recommended for you.

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