• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Medical Science, Cell and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Biology, Biomedical Science
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Ben Corry
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 2 2021, however students are encouraged to attend on-campus activities if possible.

The molecular processes taking place inside cells underlie life itself. Understanding these cellular activities enables us to appreciate the normal functions of living cells, to explain the molecular basis of diseases and inspires the development of new treatments. 


This course deals with the basic physiology of cells and the origins of disease, with a particular emphasis on membrane transport processes.  The proteins that control entry and exit to the cell provide the fundamental interface between cells and their surroundings, controlling such things as the electrical excitability of nerves, the secretion of hormones and the uptake of drugs. This course will cover the following topics: cell and membrane structure and function; membrane channels and transporters and their roles in nutrient uptake, ion homeostasis, cell signalling and drug resistance; the electrical properties of membranes; the cellular and molecular basis of the excitability of the nervous system; excitation-contraction coupling in muscle; signal transduction; the molecular structure and function of membrane transport proteins; the molecular basis of the action of a number of drugs; diseases involving transporter and channel defects. Specific examples include explaining the molecular origins of epilepsy and designing novel treatments for malaria.


Students will comprehend how molecular processes give rise to cellular function, and gain the ability to apply this knowledge to explain the basis of a range of human diseases. The course is designed to provide skills to those wanting to apply their chemical knowledge as well as those anticipating a future career in medical sciences. Students will learn to analyse and synthesise data to produce testable hypotheses that they can communicate to others.

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but will be assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the cellular and molecular basis of the excitability of nerves and muscle;
  2. Define the differences between channels and transporters and discuss in detail the role of these proteins in the uptake of nutrients and neurotransmitters, and in ion homeostasis and signalling;
  3. Understand the molecular basis of a range of diseases and drug resistance mechanisms in which membrane transport proteins play a role;
  4. Interpret, synthesise and critically analyse published literature, at a graduate level, in the area of cellular physiology and discuss this with their peers;
  5. Apply knowledge and skills to explain new scenarios related to health and biology;
  6. Evaluate data, create scientific hypotheses and design approaches to test them.

Other Information

Please email rsb.studentadmin@anu.edu.au to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Five online quizzes (25) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  2. Tutorial assignments (10) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  3. Puzzle assignments (10) [LO 6]
  4. Written Assignment (15) [LO 4]
  5. Final exam (40) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 3 x 1 hour of lectures per week plus 10 x 2 hour of tutorials or workshops throughout the semester.
  • Approximately 74 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations, group work reports and other assessment tasks.

Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.

Inherent Requirements

Not yet determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with BIOL2174

You will need to contact the Biology Teaching and Learning Centre to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

No prescribed texts but the following is highly recommended:

Cellular Physiology and Neurophysiology 2nd Edition; Blaustein, Kao and Matteson. Mosby Press.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4920
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $6540
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6348 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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