Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences


Physics underpins most aspects of modern technology and medicine. Two examples include the development of electromagnetic wave theory, which led to electric power, radio and television; and atomic physics, which resulted in electronics, microchips and computers, nuclear medicine and radiation treatment of cancers. This course provides an overview of topics in physics that are of particular importance to the life and medical sciences. The course is non-calculus based and covers mechanics (units, motion, biomechanics, energy), electricity and magnetism, heat, nuclear physics, fluids, and waves.



  • Semester 1 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate their understanding of the basic principles and concepts underlying a broad range of fundamental areas of physics

2. Apply their knowledge of physics to everyday situations

3. Demonstrate analytic and problem solving skills

4. Demonstrate their knowledge of physics in a laboratory environment

5. Communicate their scientific knowledge logically and effectively


A non-calculus based course aimed at providing students with a basic understanding of the main principles and concepts in the following areas:

  • Basic Mechanics - Units of measurement and Unit conversions. Concentrations and Volumes. Laws of Motion. Mechanical equilibrium and biomechanics. Rotational Dynamics. Work & Energy. Human energy use and efficiency.


  • Electricity - Electric charges, forces and fields. Voltage: cell membranes and Separation of DNA. Capacitance. Electric current and electrical power. Electric Circuits.


  • Magnetism. Forces on electric charge and current in magnetic fields, Transformers. Applications to Life Sciences. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance


  • Thermal Physics - Temperature. Thermal Expansion. Ideal Gas Law. Heat, Specific Heat. Calorimetry, Human activity and Heat. Heat Transfer.


  • Nuclear Physics - Nuclear Structure, Radioactivity, Radiocarbon dating, Biology and ionising radiation. Isotopes and DNA.


  • Fluid Mechanics - Density, Pressure and Viscosity. Archimedes Principle. Flow rate and Diffusion. Equation of Continuity. Bernoulli's Principle. Laminar and Turbulant Flow. Poiseuille's Equation. Surface Tension.
  • Waves - SHM and Resonance. Types of Wave Motion. Reflection, Transmission, Superposition and Interference. EM Spectrum, Optical Instruments. Fluorescence and biology.


This course has similarities to PHYS1150, PHYS1210, or PHYS1205. If you have successfully completed any of these courses you cannot enrol in this course.

Assumed Knowledge

HSC Mathematics with a result in Bands 5 or 6, or a pass in MATH1002 or equivalent.

Assessment Items

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory Exercises

In Term Test: Mid-semester test

Formal Examination: Final examination

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course students must complete a compulsory safety induction.

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for 6 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term