PHYSICS 160 : Physics for the Life Sciences


2021 Semester Two (1215) (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  for students who wish to advance their studies in the Life Sciences including Medicine or for any student interested in the underlying Physics behind Biological processes.  The course covers five subject areas: Mechanics, Thermal Physics and Fluids, Optics and Waves, Electricity, Medical Physics
There are 4 lectures per week.
The Medical Physics topics (lectured by staff from the School of Medicine) include Biomechanics, Fluid Mechanics, Audiology, Vision Correction and Medical Imaging.
The course has a laboratory 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
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain the Physics behind many Biological systems using physical concepts from Mechanics, Optics and Waves, Thermal Physics and Electricity. (Capability 4)
  2. Apply specific skills and methods used in Physics to solve problems. (Capability 1)
  3. Apply the laws of Physics taught in this course to algebra based problems (Capability 3)
  4. Contribute to group-based problem solving and experimental work (Capability 2 and 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Test 1 5% Individual Test
Test 2 5% Individual Test
Laboratories 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Test 1
Test 2
Final Exam


Weekly Tuākana sessions take place throughout the semester to support our Māori and Pacific students. These spaces offer small-group learning, whakawhanaungatanga, wānanga, fonotaga, face-to-face meetings and workshops. They are supported by dedicated staff and meeting spaces.

See Canvas for Details.

Special Requirements

The lab is compulsory and you must pass the lab component of this course in order to be eligible to pass the course.

There are two evening tests in this course. These tests run from 6:30pm till 7:30pm.

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, 12 hours of labs,  30 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 30 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and tests to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events including tutorials.
Attendance on campus is required for tests and the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Physics (11th edition) by Cutnell and Johnson.
Physics 160 Coursebook.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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 your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1:  Delivered normally on campus.
Level 2: Lectures will only be given online (as we have more than 300 students in a lecture theatre so social distancing will not be possible here).  All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.  The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option: Labs, Office hours.
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely.

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 22/12/2020 05:06 p.m.