Biophysics, Physiology and Metabolism

Module code: NT1004

In this module, you will research in depth the structure and function of some of the systems of the human body from biological, biochemical and physical perspectives.

The module will explore the fundamental metabolic processes that power the human body by considering: how nutrients are obtained, transported and stored around the body; which metabolic processes are used under different conditions; and where critical limiting factors may occur when supplying energy to the muscles.

Building upon these principles you will then explore how simple mathematical models of the body (including limb motion, blood flow and gaseous exchange in the lungs) can be constructed and used to help an athlete, or para-athlete, to optimise their training regime.

Topics covered

  • Physical constraints on the physiology of humans
  • Human regulatory systems
  • Structure, function and regulation of the circulatory system
  • Structure of skeletal muscle
  • Mechanism of muscle contraction
  • Nature and function of the three types of muscle fibre: S, FO and FOG
  • Respiratory function
  • O2 transport
  • CO2 transport and regulation of blood pH
  • Laws of thermodynamics, and their importance in relation to metabolism
  • Significance of enzymes in cellular biology
  • How enzyme activity is affected by inhibitors, changes in pH and temperature
  • Exergonic and endergonic reaction, anabolism and catabolism
  • How nutrients other than glucose are metabolised to provide energy
  • Principle metabolic pathways and their control mechanisms
  • Centre of mass of any object
  • Conditions for static equilibrium
  • Angular displacement, angular velocity, angular acceleration and tangential velocity
  • Torque and moments of inertia
  • Kinetic energy in non-rotating and rotating objects
  • Properties of elastic materials
  • Tensile and compressive forces; stress and strain; shear stress and shear strain
  • Effects of viscosity on fluid flow
  • Thermal energy transfer (convection, conduction and radiation)

Learning

  • 10 hours of lectures
  • 14 hours of seminars
  • 8 hours of tutorials
  • 118 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Exam, 1 ½ hours (40%)
  • Coursework (60%)