Anatomy and Physiology Coursework Overview

Coursework in anatomy and physiology covers a broad spectrum of topics related to the composition, structure and function of living things. Classes can be found in programs ranging from undergraduate degrees through post-graduate studies.

Essential Information

Anatomy and physiology courses can be taken to meet general education science requirements for many undergraduate programs, and they're also a common component of health-related degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Some example degree programs include those in medicine, nursing, sonography, dentistry and laboratory technology. Students taking such courses for general education credit usually just study anatomy and physiology at an introductory level, while those in specialized degree programs also take advanced courses on anatomy and physiology topics related to their specific field of study.

The most basic courses in anatomy and physiology often come in a two course series and provide a broad overview of the human body systems, organs and cellular function. Advanced coursework in anatomy and physiology may cover neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, gross anatomy and the anatomy of the head and neck. While those in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy courses study the nervous system in depth, those in gross anatomy courses focus on the skeletal system and soft tissues. Anatomy and physiology courses often include laboratory experiments, such as dissections, reports and microscope observation.

Here is a list of concepts commonly explored in anatomy and physiology courses:

  • Cranial nerve
  • Membrane proteins
  • Neurons and receptors
  • Embryology
  • Tissues
  • Muscles
  • Ossification

List of Common Courses

Anatomy and Physiology I Course

During this foundational course, students learn about the makeup of the human body's systems. The function and structure of cells and tissues in mammals are explored. Students also gain a basic understanding of the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems in humans. The physiological subsystems that support movement are typically discussed as well.

Anatomy and Physiology II Course

Students develop more in-depth knowledge of the anatomical and physiological features of the human body through this class. The lymphatic, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, digestive, reproductive, urinary, special senses and nervous system are generally covered. Coursework may also include discussions of the concepts of metabolism, electrolyte and fluid balance, development and acid-base balance.

Neurophysiology and Neuroanatomy Course

This course focuses specifically on the structure of the nervous system. Students gain an understanding of all aspects of neurological functioning through studies of structural and biophysical concepts. Topics may include an examination of motor and sensory nerves, reflexive responses, synapses and nerve impulses. They may also learn to identify parts of the nervous system through dissection.

Gross Anatomy Course

Gross anatomy coursework is generally part of advanced studies in anatomy. One of the major goals of this course is to provide students with a thorough education in the function of soft tissues. This enables them to fully grasp the mechanisms of other anatomical features, such as the skeletal system, which interact with soft tissues in order to function properly. Students often engage in lab dissections for more effective studies of veins, arteries, muscles, nerves, ligaments and organs.

Head and Neck Anatomy Course

A detailed exploration of the anatomy of the human head and neck and its clinical relevance are the focus of this class. The superficial face, cranial fossae, nasal cavity, oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, orbits and eyes, osteology of the skull, posterolateral triangle of the neck and anterior triangle of the neck are generally among the anatomical features that are analyzed. Dissections of the human head and neck regions are a common requirement in this course.

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