Module Overview

Physics for Health Science

The aim of this module is to provide the student with an understanding of the principles and the application of physics in health care sciences.  The student will develop an understanding of key Physics principles and concepts and apply this knowledge to biomedical and health aspects of the human body.  The student will understand Physics concepts, perform calculations, and solve numerical problems, which relate to the human body.  They will develop an understanding of the principles of operation of relevant equipment, instrumentation and technology routinely used in health care environments.

This is a broad module designed for health care science students in biomedical science, nutrition and dietetics, public health nutrition and optometry.  Students will develop an understanding of the application of Physics principles in several topics including mechanics, electricity, magnetism, sound, properties of matter, heat and temperature, and modern physics.  Emphasis is placed on the relationship between natural sciences and health sciences.  It is assumed that students have no prior learning in this subject.

Module Code

PHYS 1859

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Metrology: Accuracy, precision and uncertainty, SI units; dimensional analysis, scientific notation and significant figures; (weight/fat measurement/BMI).

Thermal physics: thermal energy, temperature, heating processes, first law of thermodynamics, diffusion (energy balance of living organisms, weight gain/loss, food energy and bomb calorimeter, ion movement across membranes).

Fluids: fluid pressure, fluid flow, viscosity, surface tension (blood flow, Sphygmomanometer/BP, Poiseuille’s Law, Reynold’s number and auscultation).

Gases: Boyle’s, Charles’s and Gay-Lussac’s laws (lung function and respiration).

Electricity and magnetism: forces between electric charges, electric circuits, resistance, capacitance, magnetic forces, electromagnetic waves (bioelectricity, nerve conduction, electrical safety, therapeutic uses of electromagnetic waves, ERGs and ECGs, AC resistance – body mass index, pace makers, AEDs).

Acoustics: properties of waves, the nature of sound, Doppler effect, interaction of sound with matter (hearing, speech, ultrasound imaging, therapeutic applications of sound).

Mechanics: Newton’s laws of motion, energy transfer and transformation, mechanical properties of materials; (gravity – cardiovascular system, forces generated by the heart and muscles, centrifuge).

Elasticity, compression and extension (human and animal movement, sport, injuries).

Radiation: the atomic nucleus, isotopes, nuclear decay and radiation, physical and biological half-life, ionising radiation (radiation safety, diagnostic/therapeutic uses of radiation).

Imaging: modern biomedical imaging (X-rays, CT-scans and angiography, MRI, positron emission tomography).

Medical instrumentation and technology: endoscopes, microscopes, spectroscopy, fluorescence imaging, laser surgery; (chemical and food analysis, pulse oximeter, AMD)

Lectures and classroom discussion, tutorials (worked problem solving) and laboratories, online learning activities,

screencasts of all lecture content, self-directed learning.  Laboratory skills training: formative feedback on laboratory performance.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Other Assessment(s)100