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ANAT131 Origins of Anatomical Language

An introduction to the study of anatomy throughout history and how anatomical terminology used to this day has roots in classical languages such as Greek and Latin.

In the field of anatomy and the medical sciences, there are countless examples of words, phrases and terminologies that have interesting roots and origins derived from the classical languages. This paper, titled ‘Origins of Anatomical Language’, uses a blended learning approach to studying the meaning of words that we use to describe the structures and functions of the organs and systems of our body.

Lectures will give rich and detailed histories of how anatomical and medical terminology has evolved from the classical languages such as Greek and Latin, and these will in turn be supplemented with laboratory based “seeing anatomy in action” practical classes, to be held in the fascinating W.D. Trotter Anatomy Museum and Histology Classroom. We will focus on major systems of the body - such as the brain, musculoskeletal system, heart and gut - and cherry-pick interesting structures and tease out the origins of the terminology used to describe these areas. This paper merges the intricate wonder of the form and function of the human body with the beauty of art and language.

Paper title Origins of Anatomical Language
Paper code ANAT131
Subject Anatomy
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
Students who intend to take Health Sciences First Year should only take ANAT131 after completing Health Sciences First Year.

Anatomy Office
Room 231, 2nd Floor
Lindo Ferguson Building (LFB)
Tel 479 7362

Teaching staff
  • Tim McLennan (Course Coordinator - Anatomy)
  • Dr Sean McConnell (Course Coordinator - Classics)
  • Dr Rebecca Bird (Anatomy)
  • Dr Dan Osland (Classics)
  • Dr Gwynaeth McIntyre (Classics)
Teaching Arrangements

On campus.

This paper will not be offered to distance students due to the nature of the laboratory work involved and the associated Terms requirements.


There will be no formal textbook for this paper. Students will be given access to selected peer-reviewed journal articles to supplement their learning.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Objectives - by completion of this paper students are expected to:

  1. Develop a vocabulary of appropriate terminology related to anatomy and the roots that embedded in classical languages such as Greek and Latin (Lifelong Learning; Interdisciplinary Perspective; Communication; Information Literacy)
  2. Develop an awareness of the history of the medical sciences, the practice of dissection and the study of the human body (Lifelong Learning; Interdisciplinary Perspective; Communication; Information Literacy; Cultural Understanding)
  3. Recognize key anatomical structures and explain the functions of human body systems, while concurrently relating them to the environment and objects that were derivatives for the terminology used to describe them today (Lifelong Learning; Critical Thinking)
  4. Demonstrate good laboratory practices that are used to examine anatomical structures and explore the functions of each organ system (Critical Thinking; Communication; Information Literacy; Teamwork)
  5. Identify/locate tissues and structures from surface anatomy, human cadaveric specimens, models, diagrams and micrographs (Lifelong Learning; Teamwork; Communication; Information Literacy)
  6. Actively work in team-based learning groups with the opportunity to engage in constructive discussions, collaborative workflow and completion of group-based assessments (Lifelong Learning; Teamwork; Communication; Information Literacy)

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Summer School

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 2-5, 7
Wednesday 11:00-11:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 2-7
Thursday 14:00-15:50 2-6