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Physics for Biomedicine (PHYC10007)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codePHYC10007
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject will develop students' appreciation of the importance of physical principles to biomedicine as well as their understanding of the principles underpinning human structure and function, medical diagnostics and therapeutics. Lectures for this subject contain an extensive range of live in-lecture demonstrations where many of the topics are demonstrated with experiments using apparatus from the School of Physics collection.

The subject provides an introduction to:

Mechanics: in the context of human and animal movement (introduction to Newton's laws of motion, energy transfer and transformation);

Waves: the basis of modern physics including lasers;

Fluids: blood flow, respiration (pressure in fluids, fluid flow, viscosity);

Thermal physics: energy balance of living organisms (thermal energy, temperature, heating processes, first law of thermodynamics);

Electricity and magnetism: bioelectricity, nerve conduction, electrical safety (forces between electric charges, electric circuits, resistance, capacitance, magnetic forces);

Atomic physics and lasers: fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy (structure of the atom, photons, spectroscopy, interaction of light with matter);

Radiation: radiation safety, therapeutic uses of radiation (the atomic nucleus, isotopes, nuclear decay and radiation, physical and biological half-life, ionising radiation); and

Imaging: modern biomedical imaging (X-rays, CT-scans and angiography, ultrasound imaging, positron emission tomography).

Intended learning outcomes

To enable students to understand the importance of physical principles to biological and environmental sciences, and develop their capacity to:

  • understand and explain the physics principles of fluids, thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, atomic, radiation and imaging physics;
  • apply these principles using logical reasoning, together with appropriate mathematical reasoning, to a variety of familiar and novel situations and problems in the biological and environmental sciences; and
  • acquire experimental data using a range of measurement instruments and interpret these data.

Generic skills

A student who completes this subject should be able to:

  • explain their understanding of physics principles and applications lucidly, both in writing and orally;
  • acquire and interpret experimental data and design experimental investigations;
  • participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions, laboratory and study groups;
  • think independently and analytically, and direct his or her own learning;
  • manage time effectively in order to be prepared for regular practical and tutorial classes, tests and the examination.

Last updated: 3 April 2019