BIOL250-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Principles of Animal Physiology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


An introduction to the mechanisms of how the body works, concentrating on osmoregulation and excretion, digestion, nerves and muscles.

This is a broad-based, elementary course in animal physiology providing an introduction to the principal physiological systems in animals, how they operate and how they are regulated.

Topics include membrane transport, osmoregulation and excretion, nervous and muscle systems, respiration and cardiovascular physiology.

The treatment is comparative although human and mammalian physiology receives greatest emphasis. Selected examples from lower vertebrates and invertebrates are used to illustrate physiological principles.

The course is intended to provide a foundation for students following a range of biological interests, including ecology, behaviour, biochemistry, genetics and sports and health sciences. BIOL250 leads on to third year courses in advanced physiology (BIOL351 Cell Biology, BIOL354 Animal Ecophysiology, BIOL355 Neurons, Hormones and Behaviour).

Goals of Course

The aim of the course is to introduce students to the comparative physiology of selected systems, giving students an appreciation of how the parts of the body work, but in particular, how the individual parts fit together into a working animal.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop knowledge about the functions of organs and tissues in animals, including humans
  • Have an appreciation of how the parts of the body are linked into a functioning whole
  • Understand the principle of homeostasis and the methods used by the body to maintain this
  • Have practical knowledge of physiological techniques
  • Be able to write about physiological topics
  • Develop understanding on real-world applications of animal physiology to other sciences and knowledge systems

    Principles are presented in lectures and developed in laboratories. These learning outcomes will be assessed via the tests and laboratory exercises.

    Transferable Skills / Pūkenga Ngaio

  • Practical operation of a physiological data recording system. The PowerLab system, or the equivalent, is a critical tool in almost all real world scenarios that involve the recording of physiological data (e.g. exercise, research, and hospital laboratories).
  • Analysing data. Condensing raw data into meaningful values and then assessing the resulting trends is a key skill in a number of vocations, both within science and in other areas.  
  • Synthesising information. Assimilating presented knowledge, integrating this with your own research, then communicating it effectively in your own words is a valuable skill applicable across almost a range of fields.
  • Applying fundamental knowledge to applied settings. The lab test in this course will test your fundamental understanding of processes and ask you to apply this to various scenarios, encouraging you to learn principles, rather than memorise information.  
  • Working as a team. Many labs will require you to work in teams, a task that will involve effective organization, problem-solving, communication, co-ordination, and interpersonal attributes.


Timetable 2023

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 14:00 - 15:00 Jack Erskine 031 Lecture Theatre (23/2-23/3, 4/5-11/5)
Rehua 103 Project Workshop (30/3-1/6)
Rehua 102 (27/4, 18/5-25/5)
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 13:00 - 14:00 Rata 222 & 223 Drawing Office
20 Feb - 2 Apr
24 Apr - 4 Jun
Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 10:00 - 14:00 West 519
20 Feb - 26 Feb
6 Mar - 12 Mar
20 Mar - 26 Mar
24 Apr - 30 Apr
8 May - 14 May
22 May - 28 May
02 Wednesday 13:00 - 17:00 West 543
20 Feb - 26 Feb
6 Mar - 12 Mar
20 Mar - 26 Mar
24 Apr - 30 Apr
8 May - 14 May
22 May - 28 May
03 Monday 14:00 - 18:00 West 519
20 Feb - 26 Feb
6 Mar - 12 Mar
20 Mar - 26 Mar
24 Apr - 30 Apr
8 May - 14 May
22 May - 28 May

Timetable Note

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat and safety glasses in the laboratory.

To purchase approved safety glasses, lab or coats go to

The collection point for purchases is inside the southern entry to the Ernest Rutherford Building.
Ernest Rutherford, Chemistry Stores, 130A
Note: Covered shoes must be worn in the stores areas.

Disposable gloves are available in the laboratory for those who might need them.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Elissa Cameron


Ximena Nelson

Guest Lecturer

Deirdre Merry (University of Tasmania)


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Final exam 50%
Laboratory handout completion 10%
Laboratory Reports 15%
Mid-course test 25%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Sherwood, Lauralee. , Klandorf, Hillar, Yancey, Paul H; Animal physiology : from genes to organisms ; 2nd ed., International ed; Brooks/Cole ;Cengage Learning [distributor], 2013 (This is the main recommended text. The following books are also useful for some topics "Biology" by Campbell, French and Mitchell; "Human Biology" by Silverthorne (3rd edition); "Eckert Animal Physiology" by Randall, Burggren and French ( 5th edition).


It is compulsory to wear a lab coat in the laboratory.

Additional Course Outline Information

Assessment and grading system

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL250 Occurrences

  • BIOL250-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023