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Unit information: Health sciences: Physiology in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Health sciences: Physiology
Unit code ORDS10009
Credit points 40
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Goodhead
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Dental School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This Unit is taught in year 1 and spans the whole year. Taught by staff in the School of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Covers the Physiology and histology of: nerve membranes, muscle, body communication, endocrine system, cardiovascular system, stress, respiratory system, thermoregulation, gastrointestinal physiology, somatic sensation and pain, body defence, renal system, whole body pH, human reproduction and movement control.

Covers: introductions to IT skills, data handling and statistics General aims of unit: To provide dental students with a knowledge of general physiology and histology

Intended learning outcomes

Students should obtain a knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • How cells maintain their resting potential and how specialized cells general propagating signals
  • The basic physiology and histology of mammalian skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscle
  • The main ways in which communication in the body is effected via neural and endocrine signals
  • How normal body function is controlled by hormones
  • The structure, function and regulation of the cardiovascular system
  • The physiological responses of the body to stress
  • The structure, function and regulation of the respiratory system
  • How mammalian temperature regulation is controlled
  • The structure and function of the gastrointestinal tract and its normal functioning during digestion and absorption
  • The structure and function of the skin and bone
  • The different classes, roles and properties of primary afferent neurones and the central projections and pathways taken
  • The concepts of acute and chronic pain
  • The physiological mechanisms that contribute to body defence in man
  • The role of the kidney in homeostasis
  • The importance of the regulation of body fluid pH
  • The human reproductive system with emphasis on the female system
  • The processes involved in the generation and control of movements in man
  • How disturbances in any of the above physiological systems can result in conditions that may have relevance to dental practice and patient management
  • Basic statistical tests and data handling

The student should acquire the skills and attributes necessary for:

  • Developing academic potential, critical faculties and skills in reasoning, problem solving, teamwork, interpretation of data and project planning
  • Basic computer operation including Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Applying a knowledge of physiology and histology to subsequent courses in medicine, surgery and pathology
  • Applying a knowledge of physiology and histology to the practice of dentistry and to keep apace with developments in science that may be applied to dental practice

Teaching details

  • Lectures (approx 3/week across 24 weeks of teaching blocks 1 & 2)
  • Tutorials (approx 7 hours)
  • DSE (approx 30 hours)

Laboratory sessions – physiology (approx 35 hours)

  • Laboratory sessions – histology (approx 16 hours)
  • eBiolabs (approx 2 hours per physiology practical)

Assessment Details

Formative assessments:

Test of basic computer skills – must pass.

Summative assessments:

  • Midsessional exam (1.5hrs, data interpretation, extended matching, Best of Five) – 10%.
  • Statistics assessment (1hr, true/false paper) – 5%.
  • Research project (team research project, data collection and analysis, summative assessment by poster presentation) – 5%.
  • Assessment of scientific writing skills (30min, essay) – 5%.
  • eBiolabs (continuous throughout the year) – 5%
  • Summer exam (3hrs, data interpretation, extended matching, Best of Five) – 70%.

Reading and References

  • Levy MN, Koeppen BM, Stanton BA. Berne and Levy principles of physiology. 4th rev ed. Elsevier Mosby; 2005. ISBN 9780323031950.
  • Pocock G, Richards CD, Richards DA. Human physiology. 4th rev ed. Oxford University Press; 2013. ISBN 9780199574933.
  • Petersen OH. Lecture notes: human physiology. Wiley Blackwell Publishing; 2006. ISBN 97814051365518.
  • Hall JJ, Guyton AC. Textbook of medical physiology. 12th ed. Elsevier Saunders; 2011. ISBN 9781416043748.
  • Young B, O’Dowd G, Woodford P. Wheater’s functional histology. 6th ed. Churchill Livingstone; 2013. ISBN 9780702047473.