University of Technology Sydney

91174 Human Health and Homeostasis

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks


This is a bespoke subject only available to inbound students from approved campuses.


This is a bespoke subject only available to inbound students from approved campuses.

Central to the work of all health professionals is knowledge of the different parts of the body (anatomy) and an understanding of the processes essential to the health of a person (physiology). This knowledge and understanding underpins insight into the processes underlying human diseases (pathophysiology) and the use and actions of drugs (pharmacology). This subject provides essential anatomy and physiology for nursing students building on the anatomy and physiology learned already. Through the guiding principle of homeostasis, the contribution the specific organ systems (haematological, cardiovascular, lymphatic, immune, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and reproductive) make to maintain a state of wellness is learned. The subject provides points of reference with regard to the activity and structure of individual human organs judged as well and healthy (e.g. heart rate, lung volume and capacity, and organ architecture).

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1: Blood and Hemostasis. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Describe the general characteristics of blood (viscosity, color, blood volume). 2. Describe the components of blood. 3. Understand the overall function(s) of blood. 4. Describe the constituents of plasma including the functions of the plasma proteins. 5. Discuss the importance of homeostasis. 6. Describe the production of the formed element (hematopoiesis). 7. Explain the differentiation of blood cells from the hemocytoblasts (blood cell development). 8. Discuss the characteristics, concentration and function of the erythrocytes. 9. Understand the chemical structure of the hemoglobin molecule and relate it to erythrocyte function. 10. Explain the survival and destruction of erythrocytes (including iron metabolism). 11. Discuss the characteristics, concentration, and classification of leukocytes. 12. Discuss the structure and function of platelets. 13. Describe the detailed mechanisms of hemostasis and blood clotting mechanisms. 14. Identify the basis for ABO & Rh blood typing.
2: The Heart. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Describe the gross anatomy of the heart (size, shape, coverings, pericardial cavity & layers of the wall). 2. Identify the heart chambers and valves. 3. Determine the location and function of the fibrous skeleton. 4. Trace the pathway of blood flow through the heart and the role of the valves in ensuring the proper direction. 5. Distinguish the pulmonary circulation from the systemic circulation. 6. Discuss the blood supply and perfusion of the myocardium (coronary circulation). 7. Explain the structure, function and metabolism of cardiac muscle cells and compare these characteristics to skeletal muscle. 8. Identify the location and function of the conducting system in the heart and explain the mechanism and structures involved in impulse propagation. How does this result in the coordination of contraction? 9. Describe the cardiac rhythm and physiology of the sinoatrial node. Compare and contrast the action potential of a SA nodal cell with the action potential of a ventricular muscle cell. 10. Discuss the role of the ECG and its interpretation. 11. Describe the mechanical events of the cardiac cycle. Describe the pattern of blood flow through the heart, actions of the valves, heart sounds, volume and pressure changes in relation to the phases of the cardiac cycle. 12. Discuss heart rate and stroke volume and relate them to cardiac output. Define cardiac output. 13. Identify and describe changes in cardiac output using the equation CO = HR x SV, factors affecting cardiac output and the methods controlling these changes. 14. Describe the Frank-Starling Law of the Heart, preload and contractility. 15. Define venous return. 16. Discuss the effects of exercise on the heart. 17. Describe the embryological development of the heart
3. CVS: Blood Vessels and Hemodynamice. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the structure, function and location of the blood vessels (arteries, capillaries and veins). Distinguish the functional anatomy of the different types of capillaries. 2. Identify the distribution of blood in the cardiovascular system. 3. Discuss the movement of materials into and out of the capillaries (capillary exchange). 4. Discuss the mechanisms of capillary exchange with a focus on pressure gradients and the control of filtration through the capillaries. 5. Define blood pressure. 6. Discuss the relationship between blood flow, pressure and resistance. Determine what factors affect pressure and resistance and therefore influence blood flow. 7. Identify the mechanisms that aid in the return of the blood back to the heart (venous return). 8. Compare and contrast the neural, chemical, hormonal and local regulation of blood pressure. Include the local, neural and hormonal control of vasoconstriction/vasodilation of blood vessels in your discussion
4. The Lymphatic System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Define the lymphatic system. 2. Discuss the structure and function of the lymphatic system. 3. Identify the mechanisms that contribute to lymph flow and the role of the lymph nodes in this process. 4. Describe the location and function of lymphatic organs and tissues.
5. The Immune System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Differentiate between nonspecific defenses and specific resistance. 2. Discuss the various mechanisms of nonspecific defense mechanisms that provide general protection against many different agents. Include physical, chemical and mechanical barriers, phagocytic cells (leukocytes and macrophages), natural killer cells, complement system and nonspecific antiviral and antibacterial substances in your response. 3. Explain the types of leukocyte movement. 4. Describe the inflammatory response. 5. Define the specific defense mechanism (the immune system/immunity). 6. Explain the characteristics of specificity, immunological memory and amplification and recognition of self and non-self with reference to the immune system. 7. Compare and contrast antigens and antibodies (Immunoglobulins). 8. Define antigenic determinant (epitope) and hapten. Compare a hapten with a complete antigen. 9. Draw and label the general structure of an antibody. What are the classes of antibodies? 10. Define immunogenicity. 11. Describe the types of antibody-antigen interaction. 12. Discuss the role of major histocompatability complexes and cytokines relative to cellular immunity. 13. Compare and contract Cell-Mediated Immunity and Humoral Immunity. 14. Describe the role of antigen presenting cells. 15. Differentiate between the cell types involved in the immune response (B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and macrophages). 16. Explain the specific pathway of cellular immunity including: antigen presentation; T lymphocyte activation; subtypes of T cells (helper T, suppressor T, cytotoxic T, memory T) and their functions in the immune response. 17. Explain the specific pathway of humoral immunity including: the activation, proliferation and differentiation of B cells; memory B cells; the clonal selection theory; and antibody actions. 18. Distinguish between active and passive immunity (naturally vs. artificially acquired). 19. Discuss the mechanisms of the allergic response and fundamental causes of autoimmune and immune deficiency disorders.
6. The Respiratory System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Describe the functional anatomy of the respiratory system. Identify the location, structure and function of each anatomical region. 2. Describe the mechanics of breathing (pulmonary ventilation). 3. Identify the factors that contribute to the inflation and deflation of the lungs including intra-pleural pressure, elastic tissue of the lungs, surfactant, compliance etc. 4. Distinguish the importance of the pleurae in efficient ventilation and the differential pressures which result in successful ventilation. 5. Explain the different principles of ventilation using Boyle’s Law. 6. Discuss factors that affect airway resistance, the maintenance of surface tension in the alveoli and dead space. 7. Define lung volumes (TV, IRV, ERV, RV) and capacities (IC, FRC, VC, TLC) and relate them to a spirogram. 8. Distinguish minute ventilation and alveolar ventilation both qualitatively and quantitatively. 9. Explain the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen utilizing the laws of Dalton and Henry. 10. Discuss the transport of gases by the blood. 11. Identify the relationship between hemoglobin and the partial pressure of oxygen as described by the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve at normal temperature, pH and temperature. 12. Examine the effects of a change in temperature, pH (Bohr effect), partial pressure of carbon dioxide, 2,3,-BPG on oxygen affinity and the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve. 13. Explain the importance of carbonic anhydrase. 14. Discuss the chemical reactions that take place in the transport of carbon dioxide. 15. Define the chloride shift and its role in carbon dioxide transport. 16. Explain the control of respiration: nervous control (pons and medulla) and voluntary. 17. Discuss the role of carbon dioxide concentrations on ventilation rate and pH. 18. Identify the role of peripheral and central chemoreceptors and baroreceptors (Hering-Breuer reflex). 19. Discuss the impact of exercise on the respiratory system.
7. The Urinary System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Discuss the general functions of the urinary system and its components. 2. Identify the gross morphology, microstructure and circulation of the kidneys. 3. Describe the structure of a nephron, renal corpuscle and their relation to the general anatomy of the kidney. 4. Define the three basic functions of the nephron that lead to the production of urine: glomerular filtration, tubular reabsorption and tubular secretion. 5. Discuss glomerular filtration including the role of the filtration membrane, filtration pressures, factors affecting glomerular filtration rate, and the composition of the glomerular filtrate. 6. Discuss the mechanisms that control GFR including the juxtaglomerular apparatus, sympathetic nerves and the renin-angiotensin pathway. 7. Identify the principles of tubular reabsorption and tubular secretion. Be certain to include a discussion of the active and passive transport mechanisms in the proximal convoluted tubule, loop of Henle, distal convoluted tubule and collecting duct that result in the final composition of urine. 8. Discuss the hormonal regulation of tubular reabsorption and secretion with reference to rennin-angiotensin, ADH, aldosterone and ANP. 9. Describe the process of tubular secretion of wastes as a means of controlling pH. 10. Differentiate between the mechanisms that result in the formation of a concentrated and dilute urine. 11. Discuss transportation, storage and elimination (micturation) of urine and the importance of urinalysis as a diagnostic tool. 12. Define renal clearance and its application to kidney function. 13. Describe other body systems that contribute to waste management. 14. Distinguish the distribution of water among the fluid compartments. 15. Identify the importance of the maintenance and means of regulation of specific electrolyte concentrations (ex. sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphate). 16. Explain the causes and effects of alkalosis and acidosis including a brief discussion on compensation mechanisms.
8. The Gastrointestinal System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. Identify the functions and processes of the digestive system. 2. Discuss the general structure of the digestive system including the wall of the tract. 3. Explain the nervous control of the digestive tract. 4. Describe the structures and functions of the oral cavity, the pharynx and esophagus. 5. Identify the source, functions and composition of saliva. 6. Describe the chemical and mechanical digestion that occurs in the mouth. 7. Explain the process of swallowing (deglutition). 8. Discuss the gross and microscopic anatomy of the stomach, its innervation and circulation. 9. Identify the types and functions of gastric secretions. Why is gastric motility important? 10. Discuss the histology, morphology and functions of the pancreas, liver and gallbladder. 11. Identify the major pancreatic enzymes, their substrates and the control of the pancreatic secretions. 12. Identify the gross and microscopic anatomy and functions of the small and large intestine. 13. Describe the function of intestinal motility. 14. Explain the chemical digestion of polysaccharides, proteins and lipids including the specific enzymes, source, substrate and products of the digestive processes. 15. Describe the absorptive mechanisms in the small intestine. 16. Discuss mechanical digestion, chemical digestion, absorption and feces formation relative to the large intestine. 17. Identify and describe the phases of digestion (cephalic, gastric, and intestinal).
9. The Reproductive System. Study of this material should allow you to: 1. List the similarities between female and male reproductive systems. 2. Identify the hormones responsible for initiating puberty in females and males. 3. Compare the components of the perineum in females and males. 4. Describe the gross and microscopic anatomy of the ovary; compare the different types of follicles that form in the ovary. 5. List the hormones responsible for oogenesis and explain each hormone’s effect on oogenesis. 6. Describe the three phases of the ovarian cycle. 7. Describe the anatomy and function of the uterine tubes. 8. List the functions of the uterus, and compare its three tunics. 9. Compare the three phases of the uterine cycle. 10. Explain the gross anatomy of the vagina. 11. Explain the hormones that influence the events in each part of the ovarian cycle. 12. Explain how the ovarian cycle and the uterine cycle are interrelated. 13. Describe the components of the female external genitalia. 14. Explain the gross anatomy of the mammary glands; compare the hormones responsible for milk production and milk ejection. 15. Describe the gross anatomy and function of the scrotum. 16. Describe the gross and microscopic anatomy of the testes. 17. Explain the process of spermatogenesis. 18. Trace the pathway that sperm travel through the testes and duct system. 19. Explain the function of each component of the ducts associated with the male reproductive system. 20. Describe the anatomy and function of the accessory glands; list the major components of semen and which accessory gland produces each component. 21. Describe the structure and function of the penis. 22. Compare and contrast the processes of erection and ejaculation. 23. Compare and contrast genetic vs. phenotypic sex. Name the gene responsible for producing a phenotypic male. 24. Give the common definition and symptoms for menopause. 25. Describe the events of the male climacteric. 26. Define the prenatal period. 27. Explain the physiologic processes that initiate labor and distinguish between false and true labor. Describe positive feedback mechanism of true labor. 28. Discuss clinical application of reproductive-related topics as a mechanism of linking concepts and facts to practice.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject involves four weeks of classes comprising 18 contact hours (9 hours of lectures and 6 hours of practicals with three hours of link) per week for four weeks.

Subject content is learned mainly in face-to-face lectures. There are supporting notes lodged online and you are expected to bring a copy of these notes to the lectures. The supporting notes will be available at least three weekdays before the lecture. As you listen to the lecturer, you are encouraged to annotate your notes and undertake any in-class labelling exercises. On a weekly basis, the content of these lectures will be assessed s in the online quiz. As well as contributing to your marks and grade for the subject the weekly quizzes provide you with immediate feedback on your mastery and understanding of (and capacity to apply) the content. This is because when you have completed the quiz you can see which answers you got correct and which ones you did not get correct. This material from the face-to-face lectures will assessed summatively in the final exam.

Face-to-face lectures offer you the ability to ask questions of the lecturer. In Human Health and Homeostasis, a discussion board is available (“Ask the Lecturer”) where you can create a discussion thread (and even do it anonymously; that is, no one will know who you are) about:

  • subject content
  • other aspects of human anatomy and physiology
  • the assessment tasks
  • any questions you did not get correct in the weekly quizzes.

Your lecturers will then answer the threads and in this this way, the discussion board gives you both flexible access to your lecturers but also feedback on your mastery and understanding of the content.

There are three two-hour long practicals each teaching week. You are required to attend and a roll is taken. Practicals will provide an opportunity for small group investigations of:

  • the anatomy of the different organ systems and specific organs amenable to dissection;
  • the histology of specific organs
  • how some physiological functions are monitored;

You will be working from a manual in which there are diagrams to label, space allocated for drawings, and questions to answer. Casual staff members will lead the class. The practicals take place in the Faculty of Science teaching laboratories on the Broadway campus. As with the face-to-face lectures, your mastery and understanding of (and capacity to apply) the content is in the weekly quizzes and the final exam.

A breakout session accompanies each practical. These will be opportunities to work in groups to complete tasks linked to the practical session or apply your knowledge to case studies or data sets

The assignment aids and assesses your capacity to find your own resources that will assist with your learning. In addition to finding a web-based resource, that you found useful you will be required to provide a review of the website comprising: a clear description of what the site is about; the method of delivery of the information; and a an evaluation of its usefulness to your peers. You will be undertaking this as an individual assignment and you submit it online.

Content (topics)

The functions, organisation, principal tissues and organs of the following systems

  • haematological
  • cardiovascular
  • respiratory
  • immune
  • lymphatic
  • urinary
  • gastrointestinal
  • reproductive


Assessment task 1: Online Quizzes


To give you the opportunity to test your mastery (i.e. knowledge, understanding and application) of the preceding week’s content. A high quiz score equates to a high level of mastery. It will also provide a means by which you can see if there are particular parts of the subject where you may need to review the resources further or seek advice via the Ask the Lecturer discussion board or your class teachers.

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Depending on which topics are included, 40 to 80 min.


You receive a mark for every correct answer and there is no penalty if you chose the wrong answer. You will complete four quizzes but only highest three marks are considered when calculating your pooled quiz mark.

Assessment task 2: Final Exam


The score in the exam reflects the depth and extent of your knowledge of the total content

Type: Examination
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

The exam will run for two hours plus 10 minutes reading time


The exam comprises of 4 Short answer questions (maximum answers of 250 words) and 60 individual either multiple choice, true/false or labelling questions; examining both the lecture and practical material. The format of the MCQ and True/False questions is the same as for the online quizzes. You will receive a mark for every correct answer but you will not be penalised for any incorrect answers.

Assessment task 3: Online Research Assignment


To encourage you to develop their skills with regard to sourcing suitable and credible online resources.

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

The whole assignment should be on a single A4 sized sheet


You receive full marks when you have:

  1. provided details of your problem in clear understandable English.
  2. Provided the details of a website correctly.
  3. Demonstrated you understand what the resource is and how useful it could be.

You can use the marking rubric, posted on UTS online, in preparing your assignment.

Minimum requirements

Students must obtain a total mark of 50 or more to pass the subject.

Recommended texts

McKinley MP and colleagues. Anatomy & Physiology: an integrative approach. McGraw Hill, second edition

Other resources

You will get a licence to Mastering Anatomy and Physiology in order for you to perform the simulations in your practicals