The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2019

Course handbook


This course covers the foundational aspects of the vertical themes that run throughout the medical program and inform medical practice; Science & Scholarship; Clinical Practice, Health Societies & Environment; and Professional Development.

The course presents students with a series of problem-based learning (PBL) scenarios, or working problems, which aim to trigger and develop the student's knowledge and skills in all themes as applicable to clinical practice. PBL scenarios are used to drive student learning and integrate basic science knowledge with medical practice, and to provide clinical context to other learning activities. PBL content is presented using the organising framework of the extended family and their experience of health, illness, health care and medicine. Content is organised by presenting PBL cases where the patient, family and community experience developmental or other changes in one or more body systems. Students investigate the scientific foundations underlying medical conditions and patient responses to these conditions, and explore the principles of prevention and management as they apply to the specific medical conditions. Students will learn about the principles and core concepts of biomedical science, research and evidence-based medicine, clinical assessment, health promotion and population health.

The course provides an introduction to a range of research and epidemiological concepts which will highlight the importance of research to inform clinical practice, decision-making, and the allocation of resources; and preparing students to be informed consumers of research and evidence. The course also provides an opportunity to explore the socio-cultural-environmental influences on, and determinants of health locally, nationally, and globally, through a lens of public health, health promotion, and patient-focused care. The course also introduces students to opportunities for inter-professional learning and the principles of team work and its importance to safe and effective patient care.

Clinical skills fundamental to clinical practice are taught and assessed throughout via structured clinical teaching workshops using a mix of simulated learning environments and interactions with patients. A broad overview of the body and its functions is presented. Specific content related to cardiorespiratory, alimentary tract, genitourinary and reproductive health is covered. Students apply basic knowledge of pharmacotherapeutics to the management of patients with conditions related to the above. Students are introduced to clinical sciences (anatomy, physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, pathology, immunology, genetics, pharmacology and the clinical behavioural sciences), history taking, physical examination and the rational use of appropriate, readily available diagnostic tests.

This course also introduces students to the legal, ethical and governance frameworks that underpin medical practice in Australia. Content related to registration as a medical student and the associated fitness to practice regime, and requirements for continuing professional development and reflective practice.

Students will also develop a more in depth understanding of healthcare in Australia and of future career pathways and the need for doctors to remain current in their approaches to health care delivery.

Availability2019 Course Timetables


  • Semester 2 - 2019

Multi-term sequence

This course is part of a multi-term sequence. Both Part A and Part B must be completed to meet the requirements of the sequence. Part A and Part B must be completed in consecutive terms. Students must complete Part A before completing Part B. Students must complete the sequence within a twelve month period. If students complete Part A but are unable to complete Part B within the timeframe, they must re-enrol in Part A.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of the normal human development through life stages, with a particular focus on biomedical concepts of structure and function relevant to control systems, circulation, respiration, energy, and excretion.

2. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of human anatomy, histology, physiology, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, genetics, pathology, and pharmacology relevant to the practice of medicine, with a particular focus on the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, gastrointestinal, renal, and neurological systems.

3. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of the social, behavioural, educational and clinical sciences relevant to the practice of medicine.

4. Describe the core concepts and rationale for evidence-based healthcare, including the roles of research and epidemiology in informing healthcare at an individual and population level.

5. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of the processes of research including study designs, principles of statistical interpretation and critical appraisal.

6. Locate, manage and evaluate appropriate scholarly resources to inform current and lifelong learning, academic writing, and decision-making, whilst maintaining academic integrity in learning processes and submitted work.

7. Demonstrate core skills of effective patient-centred communication and teamwork in healthcare settings.

8. Demonstrate an understanding of the core principles of cultural competence and the skills for sensitively identifying patients of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.

9. Demonstrate the appropriate, patient-centred gathering of a system based medical history, followed by a concise and ordered communication of findings.

10. Demonstrate introductory skills relating to personal and patient safety, infection control, and basic life support.

11. Perform basic physical examination techniques of major regions and body systems, followed by a concise and ordered communication of findings.

12. Describe, select and justify basic consultation oriented diagnostic investigations and procedures.

13. Demonstrate basic clinical reasoning skills of integrating information from all forms of patient assessment to reach justifiable differential diagnoses.

14. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the core concepts of health promotion and population health, with a particular focus on promoting health and wellbeing, preventing disease and injury, and identifying and modifying biological and behavioural risk factors.

15. Demonstrate an understanding of the socio-cultural-environmental determinants of health and their impact on the health of individuals and populations including sub-groups based on geographical location, age, gender, culture, spirituality, and social setting.

16. Apply fundamental tools and principles of epidemiology to identify and measure the burden of illness of major health challenges facing Australia and other countries, including the gaps in health status and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

17. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the factors contributing to an epidemic, and the public health strategies available as part of prevention, and response.

18. Describe the important elements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, cultural identity and beliefs and the potential impact these have on the health of unique communities.

19. Demonstrate an understanding of the development of programs and policies to promote and protect health, as well as prevent disease, and their application through a diverse range of organisations and communities.

20. Demonstrate an introductory level of knowledge on equity of access to health care, and approaches to quality and safety in health care.

21. Demonstrate appropriately respectful behaviour to staff, students, and members of the public in the role of a medical student.

22. Demonstrate an understanding of the broad roles of a doctor; in particular understanding the expectations of individual patients and the community; understanding and respecting the roles of other health professionals; and understanding the need to work in interdisciplinary teams.

23. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of moral thinking and the implications for medical practice.

24. Demonstrate a foundational understanding of the Australian legal framework for medical practice, with specific reference to the laws in NSW.

25. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance to medical practice of personal qualities, including truthfulness, commitment to confidentiality, fidelity, compassion and an ability to self-reflect.

26. Demonstrate knowledge of, and commitment to, the policies and procedures governing medical student conduct.

27. Demonstrate awareness of the factors that are likely to impact on the health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students, particularly with regard to mental health.

28. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of patient-centred decision-making, including the importance of communicating risks and benefits to a competent patient; and an understanding of the ethical and legal basis for decision-making in an emergency or when a patient is not competent.


  • The policies and procedures in relation to student learning, engagement and conduct
  • Processes to ensure Academic integrity in learning and assessment, library skills and info skills
  • The teaching, learning and assessment environment students will engage in at university, including recognition of the services available to support their transition to university and their academic and personal development
  • Overview of normal gross and cellular anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology
  • Pathogenesis and psychosocial aspects of disease including applied clinical pathology, psychology and sociology
  • Pathophysiology of selected body systems including cardiorespiratory, alimentary tract and genitourinary system 
  • Patient assessment and management
  • Foundation clinical procedural and diagnostic skills
  • History taking
  • Physical examination of the patient with a disorder of cardiorespiratory, alimentary tract or genitourinary system
  • Using and reading urinary-dipsticks
  • Taking temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiration measurements, ECG, height, weight/BMI calculation in adults and children; limitations of some of the measures; interpretation of growth curves for children for comparison of height/weight
  • Selecting, conducting and basic interpretation of the normal ECG and variants
  • Plain radiography; CT preparation and basic interpretation of chest and abdominal radiography using x-rays and CT scans
  • Basic life support
  • Wound management
  • Ethical considerations as a medical practitioner and the corresponding codes of conduct (eg AMC Good Medical Practice)
  • Scope of practice
  • Legal framework for the registration of practitioners
  • Legislation affecting the delivery of healthcare at a policy and implementation level
  • Informed consent; what is it, exceptions, and risks of criminal and/or civil liability
  • Burden of proof; civil versus criminal law; strict liability
  • Criminal law; assault, harm to patients, manslaughter
  • Negligence; case law defining principles of medical negligence; vicarious liability; contributory negligence
  • Management of complaints, grievance and disciplinary matters
  • Fitness to practice; role of AHPRA and AMC
  • Clinical supervision
  • Role of the Medical Board
  • Governance structures in acute and primary/community care in metropolitan, rural and regional settings
  • Court; coronial, civil and criminal actions
  • Types of risks in medical practice and the basis for defining mitigation strategies; the role of the practitioner
  • Tools for clinical governance including IMS and OH&S  reporting
  • Technology in health
  • Self care, mindfulness, and mental health first aid
  • Use of the internet and social media; the implications for medical practitioners eg social interaction with current and past patients

Review of Progress

This course is a compulsory program requirement for students in the following program(s):

In addition to meeting the University's overall requirements for academic progression, students enrolled in these program(s) must satisfactorily complete this course in order to progress in their program.


This course is only available to students in the Bachelor of Medical Science program

Assessment items

Formal Examination: MCQ 2 *

Formal Examination: Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) *

Written Assignment: Written Assignment: Evidence Based Medicine *

Participation: PBL Tutorial participation and contribution *

Participation: Clinical practical participation and contribution *

Participation: Community Placement Supervisor Report *

Participation: Aged Care Placement Supervisor Report *

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

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

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Participation: Attempt / Submission Requirement - Students must attempt/submit this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Participation: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Participation: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Participation: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Written Assignment: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Formal Examination: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Formal Examination: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course.

Pre-Placement Requirements:

  • NSW Health Verification Requirements - Mandatory NSW Health Verification Requirements must be met.
  • First Aid Certificate - students must complete a First Aid Certificate issued by an approved provider.
  • Working with Children - A national criminal history check and review of findings of misconduct involving children, required for any child-related work.

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 15 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1.5 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

Online Activity

Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


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

Self-Directed Learning

Online 16 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


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


Face to Face On Campus 6 hour(s) per Week for Full Term