Structure of the degree
Bachelor of Science (BSc)
Physiology is offered as a major for the three-year Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree.
In first year, you will study human body systems and a mix of biochemistry, biology, and/or biological physics papers.
In second year you cover the brain and nervous system; the heart, blood circulation, lungs and breathing; and the movement of substances in and out of our bodies and cells through the digestive system and kidneys.
These build on the background provided in first year to provide a high level of knowledge across all body systems.
During third year you can choose from five papers that focus at an advanced level on the above topics. These will take you to the edge of current knowledge and the latest research related to both understanding the healthy body, and the changes that occur in disease.
Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc)
Instead of enrolling in a BSc majoring in Physiology, you could choose to undertake a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (BBiomedSc) majoring in Functional Human Biology, which includes many of the above papers.
Physiology papers are taught via lectures, labs, group tutorials, computer-assisted and self- directed study, and regular assessments.
The labs are very hands-on. They are organised into small groups, each with a personal tutor, offering a high level of support if needed.
Physiology research at Otago
Our staff undertake internationally-recognised Physiology research.
This research is focused on three thematic areas:
- Membrane and Ion Transport
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology
The types of medical and scientific problems that this research addresses include:
- Ageing and loss of muscle mass and strength
- Diabetes and obesity
- Fertility and neural control of hormones
- Heart and lung function and dysfunction, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, cardiac stem cells, arrhythmias, and hypertension
- Intestinal physiology and probiotics
- Ion channel physiology
- Kidney and blood vessel function
- Movement disorders such as ataxia, motor neurone disease, and Parkinson's disease
- Neurological disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and epilepsy
- Neurophysiology of smell
- Stress and the brain
There are no specific secondary school subject requirements. However Year 13 Biology, Chemistry, and Physics are strongly recommended because they underpin Physiology principles. Calculus and Statistics are also useful.
If you have not done Chemistry to Year 13, we strongly advise you consider first taking a bridging course such as the Summer School paper CHEM 150 Concepts in Chemistry.