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Human Physiology

Course Code: BIOL 2103
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 4.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course examines human physiological systems to prepare students for upper level courses in the biomedical sciences. The physiology of the integumentary, nervous, skeletal, endocrine, reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, digestive and excretory systems are examined in detail along with additional study of muscle physiology and disease resistance and immunity.

Course Content

1. Tissue structure, Integumentary System, and early stages of embryology

  • The organization of the human body beyond the cellular level:  The structure and function of the four tissue types

  • The integumentary system:  The identification and description of the components  of the epidermis and the dermis; specialized cells, structures, and glands

  • Early stages of human embryonic development


2. The Nervous System

  • The structure and function of the major parts of the brain and spinal cord

  • The structure and function of the major nerves

  • Components and functions of reflex arcs

  • Sensory organs

  • Sensory receptors and associated neural pathways in the skin, muscles, and ligaments

  • Sensory receptors and associated neural pathways in the nose, eye, and ear

3. Muscle Physiology

  • The location, structure, and functions of major muscles and muscle groups of the human body

  • The gross anatomy of muscles and microscopic anatomy of muscle tissue

  • The physiology of skeletal muscle contraction

4. The Skeletal System

  • The basic structure, histology, and components of the human skeleton

  • The changes in skeletal structure during growth and development (ossification)

  • The basic mechanical principles of movement as they relate to joints (biomechanics)

5.  Homeostasis / The Endocrine System

  • The definition of the term homeostasis, its importance, and the conditions required to fulfill homeostasis

  • The definitions of the terms internal environment, stress, positive feedback system and negative feedback system, and their roles in homeostasis

  • Examples of homeostatic mechanisms, including negative and positive feedback systems

  • The hormones of the endocrine glands will be identified, and the effects of each hormone will be studied

6.  The Reproductive System

  • The male and female reproductive structures will be identified and the function of the reproductive system will be described

  • Gametogenesis of both sexes

  • Placental development

7.  The Circulatory System

  • The human circulatory and lymphatic systems

  • The composition and properties of blood

  • The types, characteristics and functions of white blood cells

  • The ABO blood groups and the Rh factor

  • The tissues related to the heart

  • The heart conduction system

  • Major arteries and veins

  • Blood pressure and pulse

  • Major blood reservoirs in the body

  • The mechanism of blood clotting

8.  Resistance and Immunity

  • Non-specific versus specific resistance

  • The nature and roles of cellular and humoral specific immunity

9.  The Respiratory System

  • The major components of the human respiratory system and their functions

  • The mechanism and types of ventilation

  • How oxygen and carbon dioxide are transported in the blood

  • The nervous control of breathing

  • Respiratory alkalosis and acidosis

10.  The Digestive System

  • The digestion and absorption of macromolecules (carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids)

11. The Excretory System

  • Osmoregulation and fluid balance in humans

  • Fluid compartments and regulation of their electrolyte composition in humans

  • The major components of the human urinary system and their functions

  • Hormonal regulation of nephron function

  • Urinalysis: typical values of various components of human urine, and the health implications of selected abnormal values


12. Buffers

  • The function and chemical characteristics of major buffer systems used in the various fluid compartments of the human body

Methods of Instruction

This course involves four hours per week of classroom instruction and two hours per week of laboratory activity.  Classroom work will consist of lectures, tutorials, and work in small groups.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Class Tests and Assignments  15-25
Laboratory assignments and quizzes 5-15
Laboratory Examination - final 10-15
Comprehensive Examination - midterm 25-35
Comprehensive Examination - final 25-35



1. Laboratory Experiments and Activities

Laboratory work will be assigned each week.  The laboratory work must be completed in the week it is assigned. Laboratory experiments and assignments are a compulsory component of this course.  A minimum of 50% of the laboratory experiments and assignments must be completed to receive a P or better in the course.  

2. Examinations

There will be one midterm and one final examination.  The final examination will cover the entire course.  If the student achieves a better grade on the final exam than on the midterm examination, the midterm grade will be raised to equal that of the final examination.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of BIOL 2103, the student will be able to describe:

  1. The structure and function of the four tissue types of the body.
  2. The components and functions of the integumentary system.
  3. The basic principles of homeostasis and negative feedback systems, and provide at least one example of a homeostatic mechanism.
  4. The glands of the endocrine system and name and specify the function of all major hormones.
  5. The structure and functions of the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems.
  6. The origin, composition, and functions of blood.
  7. The basis of the ABO blood groups and explain the significance of this to blood transfusions.
  8. The mechanism of blood clotting.
  9. The basic organization of the immune system, and distinguish between non-specific and specific resistance, and distinguish between cellular and humoral specific immunity.
  10. The structure and function of the respiratory system and describe the transport of gases in the blood.
  11. The early stages of human embryonic development.
  12. The structure and functioning of the male and female reproductive systems.
  13. Gametogenesis as it takes place in both sexes.
  14. Early placental development.
  15. The components of the nervous system and identify the roles of the major components of the nervous system and associated sensory organs
  16. The location, structure, and functions of the major muscles of the body.
  17. The gross anatomy of muscles and the microanatomy of muscle tissue.
  18. The physiology of muscle contraction.
  19. The absorption, transport, storage and metabolic importance of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.
  20. The gross anatomy of the digestive system and describe the digestion of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.
  21. The components of the urinary system and explain the process by which the kidney manufactures urine.
  22. The considerations included in a typical urinalysis.

course prerequisites

BIOL 1110 AND BIOL 1210 or permission of the instructor



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.