Human Physiology

Purpose of Course  showclose

Human physiology is the study of the body’s processes, also known as functions. You already have experience with this subject, because you are a human and perform numerous functions each day to maintain your body’s balance or homeostasis. For example, gas exchange in your lungs provides the body’s cells with adequate oxygen supply needed to survive and carry out metabolic processes. Digestion of food components in your mouth, stomach, and small intestines breaks larger substances into molecules that can be absorbed in the small intestines and used for energy. White blood cells attack foreign bodies, such as bacteria and cells containing viruses to keep you free from infection.

As you might expect, an understanding of physiology is paramount if you wish to pursue studies in health care, development, or even behavior. A doctor needs to understand how to relate a urine sample to kidney function. A nurse needs to know the importance of electrocardiogram results and heart activity. A medical laboratory scientist needs to relate blood enzymes to disease states, such as anemia or diabetes mellitus. No matter what your role is in medicine, you must know how the body works and what happens when it does not function appropriately.

In this course, we will look at each organ system in detail and then discuss the ways in which these systems interact in order to maintain overall body functioning. Metabolism and homeostasis – or the maintenance of the body at a set, optimal level – will be important themes found throughout the units. We will accordingly discuss metabolic processes at length from the cellular to the organismal level. Although this course will focus on the function (physiology) of the human body, it is necessary to have a good grasp of anatomy in order to fully understand function. We will briefly review the anatomy of each organ system before studying the systems themselves. If you would like to get more information or review the anatomy of each system, please refer to BIO302: Human Anatomy.

As we work through this course, the importance of the structure-function relationship between anatomy and physiology will become apparent. Keep thinking about how anatomy (structure) is important to physiology (function). Why are the valves of the heart only one way? Why are muscle cells long rather than round? These kinds of questions should be asked and answered as you move through this course.

This is an advanced course and therefore mastery of lower level pre-requisites is imperative. You should have a good understanding of material covered in BIO101A: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology or BIO101B: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology and BIO302: Human Anatomy as this course builds on what you have already learned in those courses. It is also recommended that CHEM101: General Chemistry I is taken prior to this course as an understanding of molecules is important in physiology. Finally, in order to practice what you learn in this course in a more hands on manner, the BIO304L: Human Physiology Lab is a co-requisite and must be taken at the same time as this course.

Course Information  showclose

Welcome to BIO304! General information about the course and its requirements can be found below.

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:
Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials in the order they are presented. Pay special attention to Units 1 and 2 as these lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units. You will also need to complete assessments for each unit as well as the Final Exam.

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the assessments and resources in each unit.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 115.5 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take 4.5 hours to complete. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 1.5 hours) on Monday night; subunit (a total of 3 hours) on Tuesday night; etc.

Tips/Suggestions: As you read and view lectures, make sure to take comprehensive notes. Mark down any important terms, definitions, and concepts that stand out to you. Please also note that some instructions for resources recommend that you create a chart to help you remember the material. These notes and charts will be useful as a study guide as you prepare to take the Final Exam.

Khan Academy  
This course features a number of Khan Academy™ videos. Khan Academy™ has a library of over 3,000 videos covering a range of topics (math, physics, chemistry, finance, history and more), plus over 300 practice exercises. All Khan Academy™ materials are available for free at www.khanacademy.org.

Learning Outcomes  showclose

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • describe the relationship between structure and function at the cellular level, and relate dysfunctional states of health to problems at the cellular level when appropriate;
  • given relevant physiological information, explain the physiological mechanisms involved;
  • describe the concepts of homeostasis and feedback control in relationship to each organ system;
  • use vocabulary of physiological terms, and demonstrate an ability to communicate efficiently in a medical environment; and
  • describe techniques currently in use that measure the function of organ systems.

Course Requirements  showclose

In order to take this course you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt,.xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language;

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook;

√    have completed the following courses from “The Core Program” and “Electives” sections of the Biology major: BIO101A: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology or BIO101B: Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology and BIO302: Human Anatomy.  The following course is recommended: CHEM101: General Chemistry I; and

√    be taking the lab associated with this course concurrently: BIO304L: Human Physiology Lab.

Unit Outline show close


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