PHYSICS 160 : Physics for the Life Sciences


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Designed for students intending to advance in the biomedical and life sciences, this course is focused on physical principles relevant to biological systems. Key topics are motion, waves, thermal physics, electricity and instrumentation. The course is primarily algebra-based and includes lectures, laboratories and tutorials. Recommended preparation is NCEA Level 2 Physics and Mathematics, or equivalent.

Course Overview

This course is intended for students who wish to advance their studies in the Life Sciences, including Medicine - Five subject areas (Mechanics, Thermal Physics and Fluids, Optics and Waves, Electricity, Medical Physics) are covered. - There are 4 lectures per week. - The Medical Physics topics include Biomechanics, Fluid Mechanics, Audiology, Vision Correction and Medical Imaging. - The course has a laboratory (workshop) component, but also makes use of in-class demonstrations and experiments distributed through the lectures.

Course Requirements

Restriction: PHYSICS 120

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Have a sound knowledge of basic physics in areas of particular relevance to Life Sciences, including Mechanics, Wave motion and Optics, Thermal physics, Fluids, and Electricity (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Be familiar with the definition and units of all relevant physical quantities (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the important principles of physics in these areas, including applications to biological systems (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Formulate solutions to quantitative problems involving these principles (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Use mathematical skills in algebra, geometry and trigonometry in the solution of such problems (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Have acquired skills in experimental physics, including facility with the use of apparatus, analysis of results, and estimation of experimental error (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Final Exam 55% Individual Examination
Assignments 10% Group & Individual Coursework
Tests 15% Individual Test
Laboratories 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam

Learning Resources

Physics Coursebook (available from University Book shop)
Prescribed Text (Physics by Cutnell and Johnson. 11th edition Wiley)
WileyPlus website for their assignments (

Special Requirements

The laboratory component of this course must be passed in order for you to be eligible to pass this course.

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.

For this course, you can expect [48] hours of lectures,  [16] hours of laboratory work, [32] hours of reviewing lecture and lab content and doing the suggested problems and [24] hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital 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.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

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 against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

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 at

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.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course 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.

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

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 you may be asked to submit your 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. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 12/12/2019 09:32 a.m.