MEDSCI 201 : Human Structure and Function

Medical and Health Sciences

2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Presents the structure of biological systems with special reference to human biology, from the levels of histology through to gross anatomy. Specific examples of the correlation between structure and function will be considered. An introduction to current techniques for the visualisation of biological structure will be presented.

Course Overview

The 35 lectures in this course explore a range of themes, including (sequence of delivery may vary from year to year):
  • Alimentary system
  • Axial skeleton & the musculoskeletal system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Endocrine system
  • Histology
  • Nervous system
  • Renal system
  • Reproductive systems
  • Respiratory system
  • Tissues under load
A programme of five, fortnightly 2.5-hour laboratory sessions complements the lectures (order may vary depending on lecture sequence):
  • Joint (dissection of a bovine knee)
  • Reproduction (dissection of bovine ovaries, histology, models and plastinated human tissue)
  • Renal & Alimentary (demonstration models; plastinated specimens; latexed kidneys; x-rays; histology)
  • Musculoskeletal system (plastinated human tissue with a focus on the upper limb)
  • Cardio-respiratory (dissection of a sheep lung; histology of airways and blood supply; histology of blood vessels)
Some feedback from former students
  • “I, and a number of my colleagues, thoroughly enjoyed the course (due to a combination of great content and clear and interesting lectures) and thought that the organization and administration of the course was exceptional (which is universally appreciated by us students).”
  • “I thought all the lecturers were brilliant and I really enjoyed the labs with the stations.”
  • “Overall we had great lectures and labs. Our lecture notes were always clear and easy to understand. The topics were interesting. I found the practice lab tests very helpful. I enjoyed the course, thank you.”
  • “The labs strongly correlated to the lecture material to help reinforce the material covered in the lectures. Having practical and theory tests throughout the semester meant that revision had to be done throughout and made it easier to keep up with the course and study for the exam. Receiving information on which questions were answered correctly or incorrectly by you, and the rest of the class, also helped by highlighting problem areas where more study needed to be done or areas that were done well.”
  • “Anatomy was presented in a very clear way with many diagrams that made it easier to study the particular section at hand. As well as this, the lecturers made the presentation of the material interesting as well.”
  • “MEDSCI 201 should be a core course for stage II studies as it underpins many stage III studies (and also helps with MEDSCI 205 and 203 and 206).”

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 107, MEDSCI 142

Course Contacts

Please contact Angela Tsai in the first instance for any general queries relating to the course.
Miss Angela Tsai
Professional Teaching Fellow, Course Coordinator 
DDI: +64 9 923 1552 

Dr. Simon O’Carroll
Senior Lecturer (Neuroanatomy), Course Director 
DDI: +64 9 923 9664

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: People and Place
Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Capability 7: Collaboration
Capability 8: Ethics and Professionalism
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a holistic understanding of the complex interdependence of separate organ systems that together ensure reliable functioning of the human body. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Explain how any imbalance can affect health and lead to disease. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Describe in-depth the importance of a particular organ system. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Integrate their practical skills to enhance their learning/understanding of particular organ systems. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Use and develop their intellectual and cognitive skills to complete any associated 'on-task' activities. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 8)
  6. Communicate their knowledge and understanding with fellow students and the academic faculty, in writing and verbally. (Capability 4, 6 and 7)
  7. Plan and evaluate their own progress toward achieving their academic, personal and professional goals. (Capability 1, 7 and 8)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Test 40% Individual Test
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Class discussions (formative) Group & Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Final Exam
Class discussions (formative)
The requirement to pass the laboratory component separately
It is a requirement to pass the laboratory component (i.e. 15/30), in addition to achieving an overall pass mark for the course (i.e. 50%), in order to pass the course as a whole.

Late submission of work/penalties
To apply for an extension, students need to contact the Course Coordinator and supply appropriate documentation (e.g. doctor’s certificate/collaborating note from a counsellor) before the due date. Please note that your application is a request only, and it should not be assumed that an extension will be granted.
Retrospective approval for an extension will be given only in exceptional circumstances.
Except where the Course Coordinator has authorised an extension of time for the submission of student work, work handed in after the deadline will incur a late penalty of 10% (of the total available marks) for each 24-hour period (or part thereof) that the assessment is overdue. This applies to all written work, including but not limited to lab reports, essays, seminar papers/presentations, assignments, posters, etc. Submission of written work is only complete when an electronic copy has been submitted through the appropriate platform (e.g. Turnitin or Canvas). Please retain your submission confirmation e-receipt/take a timestamped screenshot as evidence of timely submission.

Adjustments to assessment weightings and processes for online learning
In the event that assessments are moved online by the university, the course reserves the right to make adjustments to the assessment weightings and related processes. Please refer to the Course Guide for details.

Timetable clash with Gen Ed courses not permitted
Your General Education course should not conflict with your lecture or lab classes in MEDSCI 201. In the event that your clashing General Education course holds an assessment at the same time as a compulsory element in MEDSCI 201, it is possible that restreaming may not be possible. Therefore, you should choose your General Education course carefully to ensure there is no clash.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. Please note that this 150-hour guideline does not consider:

  • diverse student ability/differences in processing and learning speeds;
  • the extent of prior disciplinary knowledge/solidity of foundation pre-knowledge;
  • differences between cognitively passive or active learning approaches;
  • the level of attainment likely to be achieved  with this level of time investment (C- pass vs A-range grades)

For this course, you can expect 35 hours of lecture and ~15 hours of laboratory contact time, with the remaining 100 hours (minimum) invested in reading and thinking actively about the content, working on assignments and/or test and exam preparations.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

(in-person, face-to-face)

  • The lecture and practical activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. Attendance is expected at scheduled activities. Students need to engage fully in labs in order to complete/do well in the laboratory assessment tasks.
  • Technology permitting, lecture recordings will be available. Other learning activities, including labs, will not be available as recordings.
  • The course will not include live online events (e.g. live group discussions/tutorials).
  • Assessments: Attendance on campus is required for all tests and the final exam.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Self-directed learning is an important aspect of this course. Students are expected to prepare for classes by reading specified sections from the recommended textbook or other sources, and self-manage time so that activities are completed in a timely fashion.

The recommended text is Human Anatomy, by Martini, Tallitsch, and Nath, 9th ed. Earlier versions, or other anatomy textbooks, are also suitable.
ISBN: 9780134424873
Publisher: Pearson Higher Ed USA
The e-Text is available online at 
You can borrow earlier editions of this textbook from the Philson Library (Grafton Campus) or the General Library (City Campus).

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

In previous feedback, students have said they found the following aspects of the course helpful for their learning: the abundance of resources/practice tests and exams available, Piazza discussion forum, KuraCloud activities, Canvas organisation, and the enthusiasm of the lecturers.  
Students have also offered ideas on how they thought the course could be improved. We have considered these suggestions carefully, balancing our knowledge of what the educational research literature has shown to be effective teaching and learning practices, logistical and resourcing constraints, as well as ensuring we maintain the academic integrity and quality of the course.

Things that we have addressed as a consequence of  students' feedback on what can be improved:
  1. Where possible, we will avoid holding assessments on Friday evenings.
  2. In case of university timetabling changes (e.g. 5 weeks + 7 weeks instead of 6 weeks + 6 weeks), we will investigate whether the lecture and lab sequence may be modified to ensure the topics flow well. 
  3. We will look at ways of improving students' access to materials during the musculoskeletal lab. 
Suggestions from previous cohorts that we have considered but will not be changing:
  1. Timetabling is beyond the control of the course. Sometimes, inter-campus commute cannot be avoided. In this case, lecturers for both courses will be notified and coordinate start/end times to allow maximal travel time.
  2. Peer Tutoring (as offered in MEDSCI 205): Anatomy and Physiology are different disciplines and require different ways of thinking. Peer Tutoring is appropriate for a conceptual subject such as Physiology, but less so for Anatomy. Peer Tutoring sessions for MEDSCI 201 are currently not possible owing to resourcing, timetabling, and space constraints. We remind future students to maximise their interactions with Lab Demonstrators and lecturers during labs, and that students can set up their own study groups.
  3. Request for more revision resources: students already have a lot of resources available to them. ‘More’ does not mean ‘better’. Learn to value and use meaningfully and maximally what you do have access to, instead of wishing you had ‘more’.
    e.g. realise that every MCQ can be turned into multiple true/false statements. Practise articulating and justifying each statement.
    e.g. challenge yourself to create your own revision resources and have these critiqued by peers / Piazza Tutors.
    e.g. make use of all the past exams available - early.
  4. Some students prefer more online assignments/activities and fewer tests: These are open-book and open to collaboration and thus are not necessarily a true reflection of individual students’ knowledge/ability.

Other Information

MEDSCI 201 (anatomy) labs are different from 202 (microbiology), 203 (pathology) and 205 (physiology) labs. Anatomy labs are an extension of the lectures. Students should not expect to be developing the same skills as in other courses (e.g. experimentally driven, comprehensive written lab reports, or ‘take-home’ worksheets).
The overall workload, however, should be comparable across different courses. Students should be spending as much time and effort on their MEDSCI 201 labs (on integrating and applying knowledge), as they do researching and writing lab reports for other courses. 
Some of the lab-related assessments are due after the semester has officially ended. This is beyond the control of the course since the final lab topic is scheduled in week 12. Students are advised to manage their time accordingly to accommodate these requirements.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Confirmed breaches of academic integrity and academic misconduct incidents are recorded on the University’s Register of Academic Misconduct. Furthermore, the course will also directly report the investigation outcomes to the Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and the FMHS Clinical Admissions Subcommittee.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

We will use your performance in other comparable pieces of assessment, conducted under similar conditions, to evaluate your likely attainment in the affected assessment. Please note that ‘performance’ does not simply mean the mark achieved. The evaluation will involve correlational and other analyses, taking into account the relative difficulties of the assessments, nature of tasks/skills assessed, etc. 
Please note that in order for examiners to recommend aegrotat or compassionate consideration adjustments for the final exam, you must establish a record for other comparable assessments, conducted under similar conditions, that are well above the minimum pass standard (normally C+ or above). 
In line with the spirit of the Calendar regulation 13 I (i), no more than one major in-course assessment may be awarded an aegrotat or compassionate assessment (see the course guide for further information).

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.