Course Title: Physical and Quantitative Analysis in Biology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Physical and Quantitative Analysis in Biology

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


Bundoora Campus


145H Mathematical & Geospatial Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009

Course Coordinator: Dr Anthony Bedford

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 99256119

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 251.2.53

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

No formal prerequisite courses are required. Students are expected to have mathematical capabilities commensurate to a Year 12 standard.

Course Description

This course has two main aims:
The first is to introduce students to the principles and applications of instruments commonly employed in the life sciences. The major instruments covered include the optical microscope, confocal microscope, centrifuge and spectrometer. The physical principles behind these instruments are covered in detail. Also covered in this course is an introduction to radiation physics including radiation safety. The second main aim is to provide a base of knowledge in statistics for analysis of medical data using the statistical package SPSS. Areas to be covered include descriptive and inferential statistics, epidemiological measures, and quality control. This course provides the foundation for instrumentation and statistical analysis used throughout the program.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course is an introductory level course. The theory components of the course, which gives the theory of the principles behind instruments and process and basic statistical analysis in a medical context, will be used in other courses where experimental results are collected and are statistically analysed. Skills and knowledge acquired in this course will contribute significantly to the capabilities in the Medical Laboratory and Biomedical streams.

The course capabilities include being able to model industry problems using mathematical and statistical procedures. Further, students will learn to utilise SPSS in order to generate the appropriate statistical analysis output and interpret the trends in the data. Planning an experiment with a unique goal, analysing experimental results both computationally and critically, and using common instrumentation effectively form the majority of the course capabilities.

After successful completion of this course, students should become able to:
• Construct appropriate graphical displays of data and to understand the role of such displays in data analysis.
• Perform statistical descriptive and inference tasks using software and to understand the calculations involved in such tasks and to be aware of assumptions necessary for the validity of results.
• Use the SPSS software package to analyse medical data and interpret results of analysis
• To discuss intelligently the working principles of some important instruments used in the life sciences.
• Utilise commonly used instruments in the life sciences optimally.
• Understand the physical principles behind commonly used instruments.

Overview of Learning Activities

Through lectures (52 hours), laboratory exercises (13 hours), tutorials (13 hours) and associated assessments the students are encouraged to develop their critical thinking. The lectures and practical experiments will give the students a wide range of learning activities designed to cover all aspects of instrumentation and biostatistics.

Overview of Learning Resources

A Scientific Calculator is required

For the quantitative component, Mendenhall W., Beaver and Beaver, "Probability and Statistics", 12th edition, Thomson, 2006 (shrink-wrapped) is the prescribed text.

For the instrumentation component, notes are available from the Bookstore which covers the course material.

Students will be expected to make use of the course site on the Distributed Learning System, which includes announcements, course documents (include some lecture overheads, assignments), tests, past exams and a discussion board.

• Giancoli. D.C., "Physics: Principles with Applications" 5th Edition Prentice-Hall, 1998.
• Cutnell & Johnson, "Physics", 4th edition, Wiley, 1997.
• Rosner,B, "Fundamentals of Biostatistics", Thomson, 2006.

Any first year physics text book (available in the library) covers most of the instrumentation syllabus.

Overview of Assessment

The assessment of this course is based on the following tasks:
• Assignments and Exercises during the semester
• An examination at the end of the semester
• Tests during the semester