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The University of Southampton

BIOL1011 Systems Physiology

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the basic principles and concepts of physiology and how these principles operate in mammalian systems.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Explain homeostatic processes with reference to cellular physiology
  • Describe how optimal blood flow distribution around the body is ensured by a combination of cardiac function and peripheral blood flow regulatory mechanisms.
  • Describe the principles of digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Describe the structure and function of the mammalian kidney.
  • Draw annotated diagrams of cells and organelles, neurones and synapses
  • Describe the structure of a typical biological membrane and explain the ways in which polar and non-polar substances cross this barrier.
  • Explain and describe evidence for the ionic bases of the resting potential, action potential and excitatory synaptic potential. Calculate equilibrium and membrane potentials using the Nernst and Goldman equations.
  • Describe the autonomic nervous system and its role in co-ordinating behaviours.
  • Describe the control, structure and function of skeletal muscle and smooth muscle.
  • Describe the structure and function of the mammalian cardiovascular system.
  • Describe the structure and function of the mammalian respiratory system
  • Explain how appropriate amounts of oxygen are delivered to the tissues using haemoglobin and how carbon dioxide is transported to the lungs to be excreted.


• Physiological Principles and Cellular Physiology • Neurophysiology/Electrophysiology - Nerve, Muscle, Synapse • Skeletal and Smooth Muscle • Cardiovascular • Respiratory • Digestion • Kidney

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, laboratory practicals and independent study

Practical classes and workshops12
Independent Study114
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Silverthorn, Dee Unglaub (2007). Human physiology : an integrated approach. 

Guyton & Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 


Assessment Strategy

Examination: comprising one 2-hour computer-based exam containing approximately 25 multiple choice or extended matching items questions. Students will submit a write-up after every Laboratory Practical session. The write-ups are marked and returned to the students with feedback. Three of the four submitted works will be counted as part of the continual assessment.


MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory practicals 30%
Written exam  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Laboratory practicals 30%
Written exam  (2 hours) 70%
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