This unit examines in detail the mechanisms of nerve and muscle function, including behaviour of excitable cells; mechanisms of muscle contraction; muscle fibre types; metabolic processes in active muscle; neuromuscular fatigue; and muscle plasticity.  Students are also introduced to current research techniques in nerve and muscle physiology.

Unit details

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RBM2800 - Cardiorespiratory and Renal Physiology

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect on the experimental evidence describing ionic movement, the action potential and its synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction;  
  2. Interpret the basic chemical and mechanical steps of muscle contraction, including the concepts of twitch, recruitment and tetanus, and the force-velocity relationship;  
  3. Discriminate between the structural and functional properties of skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscles;  
  4. Interrogate the regulation of intracellular calcium and its effects on muscle fatigue and damage processes;  
  5. Investigate muscle fibre types, metabolism and fatigue with different exercise intensities;  
  6. Analyse the immense plasticity of skeletal muscle and produce a coherent scientific argument on a current topic of interest in skeletal muscle in health, disease and ageing; and  
  7. Experiment according to ethical protocols on both animal tissue and human subjects to illustrate basic properties of nerve/muscle function.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Laboratory Work Laboratory reports (Five (5) reports - 1000 words total) 24%
Assignment Question of current interest in neuromuscular physiology (2000 words) 15%
Other Pre-submission of a tutorial question each week for discussion (500 words in total) 16%
Examination End of Semester Examination (3 hours) 45%

Required reading

Nerve and muscle physiology sections of any basic physiology textbook.

Skeletal Muscle: Form and Function 2nd Editon,
MacIntosh, B.R., Gardiner, P.F., & McComas, A.J. (2006)
Human Kinetics

Skeletal Muscle: From Molecules to Movements 1st Edition,
Jones, D., Round, J.M., & De Haan, A. (2004)
Churchill Livingstone

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