In the Human Biology General course, students learn about themselves, relating the structure of the different body systems to their function and understanding the interdependence of these systems in maintaining life. Reproduction, growth and development of the unborn baby are studied to develop an understanding of the effects of lifestyle choices. Students will engage in activities exploring the coordination of the musculoskeletal, nervous and endocrine systems. They explore the various methods of transmission of diseases and the responses of the human immune system. Students research new discoveries that help increase our understanding of the causes and spread of disease in a modern world.
As a science, the subject matter of this course is founded on systematic inquiry; knowledge and understanding of human biology has been gained by scientific research. However, this knowledge is far from complete and is being modified and expanded as new discoveries and advancements are made. Students develop their understanding of the cumulative and evolving nature of scientific knowledge and the ways in which such knowledge is obtained through scientific investigations. They learn to think critically, to evaluate evidence, to solve problems, and to communicate understandings in scientific ways.
Responsible citizens need to be able to evaluate risks, ethical concerns and benefits to make informed decisions about matters relating to lifestyle and health. Issues, such as diet, medical treatments and the manipulation of fertility are examples in which personal choices have an impact on health and wellbeing. Other topics are often the subject of community debate: obesity, effects of drugs and alcohol use during pregnancy, infectious diseases and hygiene. With an understanding of human biology, students are more able to make better life decisions, and to be more effective contributors to the discussions related to health issues in the community.
An understanding of human biology is valuable for a variety of career paths. The course content deals directly and indirectly with many different occupations in areas, such as social work, medical and paramedical fields, food and hospitality, childcare, sport, science and health education. Appreciation of the range and scope of such professions broadens students’ horizons and enables them to make informed choices. This helps to prepare all students, regardless of their background or career aspirations, to take their place as responsible citizens in society.
Human Biological Science – Year 11
Students should have achieved at least a 60% average in Biology by the end of their Year 10 Science course. Students should also be competent in Science Investigation Skills.
Unit 1 The Functioning Human Body
In this unit, students will look at how human structure and function supports cellular metabolism and how lifestyle choices affect body functioning. They investigate cell biology, metabolism and the role of enzymes, and learn about the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and excretory systems and how they control the exchange and transport of materials in the body. They also study how the musculo-skeletal system provides for human movement and balance.
Unit 2 Human Reproduction and Inheritance
This unit provides opportunities to explore in more depth the mechanisms of transmission of genetic materials to the next generation, the role of males and females in reproduction and how interactions between genetics and the environment influence early development. Students learn how the transfer of genetic information from parents to offspring involves the replication of DNA, meiosis and fertilisation. They study how the reproductive systems of males and females are differentially specialised to support their roles in reproduction including gamete production, facilitation of fertilisation, pregnancy and birth. Students learn about the significant changes to the offspring from the time of fertilisation through to birth, and how cell division and cell differentiation play a role in these changes. Reproductive technologies can influence and control reproductive ability, and this unit covers such examples as contraceptive techniques, assisted reproductive technologies and genetic screening of embryos. Students learn how to use techniques such as Punnett squares and pedigrees to predict probable frequencies of genotype and phenotype of offspring, taking into consideration the effects of dominance, co-dominance, sex-linked alleles and multiple alleles.
Human Biological Science – Year 12
Prerequisites: Students should have achieved at least a ‘C’ grade in Human Biology Year 11 ATAR. It is possible for good science students to succeed at Year 12 ATAR without having taken the Year 11 course, although extra work is required.
Unit 3 Homeostasis and Disease
This unit explores the mechanisms that help maintain the systems of the body to function within normal range, and the body’s immune responses to invading pathogens. Students investigate how the complex interactions between body systems in response to changes in the internal and external environments facilitate the optimal functioning of cells. Feedback systems involving the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system and behavioural mechanisms maintain the internal environment within tolerance limits for body temperature, body fluid composition, blood sugar and gas concentrations. Students learn about the structure and function of the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system, and the roles each play in the homeostasis of the above internal environmental conditions. Students also learn about interventions to treat homeostatic dysfunction. The body has various mechanisms to protect itself against invasion by pathogens. Students study both non-specific and specific resistance mechanisms, as well as artificial means of protecting the body such as antibiotics, antiviral drugs and vaccinations.
Unit 4 Human Variation and Evolution
This unit explores the variations in humans in their changing environment and evolutionary trends in hominids. Students learn about the effects of polygenes and gene expression on human characteristics. They study how the changing environment can influence the survival of genetic variations through the survival of individuals with favourable traits, and how gene pools are affected by evolutionary mechanisms, including natural selection, migration and chance occurrences. Students develop an understanding of how barriers to gene flow between populations can ultimately result in speciation and evolution. They examine evidence for these changes such as the fossil record, comparative anatomy and comparative biochemical studies. Students learn about trends that appear in the evolution of hominids and how these may be traced using phylogenetic trees.