Subjects

Physiology

Overview

Physiology is concerned with explaining how living organisms work. Ultimately, understanding how living organisms work will allow us to understand what goes wrong in disease and provide a rational scientific basis for treatment of disease. Since the sequencing of the human genome has been completed, the importance of physiology as a discipline has increased dramatically. This is because the next task is to explain how the inanimate proteins produced by the genetic code are organised and work at the cell and tissue level to enable life to exist. Thus, physiology is an increasingly important field of study for students interested in any aspect of biology or biomedical sciences.

Areas of study

Physiology is an active and developing science which promises to remain one of the most exciting biological disciplines for the foreseeable future. It offers a broad training in scientific and technical skills that naturally feed into other disciplines. However, physiology is an important subject in its own right and (for example) neurophysiology and neuroscience (which study the brain and nervous system) are some of the fastest growing areas in biology.

You can study Physiology in the following programmes:

What you will learn

Physiology is, first and foremost, a science: it is concerned with how living organisms work. Ultimately, understanding how living organisms work will allow us to understand what goes wrong in disease and provide a rational scientific basis for the treatment of disease. As a science, physiology depends on the acquisition of knowledge by observation and experiment, and the interpretation of experimental observations. Of the biological sciences, physiology is highly quantitative in its approach and it also has close links with biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, mathematical modelling, pharmacology, and zoology.

Career opportunities

Career opportunities which utilise a background in physiology are as diverse as the discipline itself. Physiology is a foundation subject for the majority of programmes which offer training in the health sciences. A background in physiology is also useful for a career path associated with servicing New Zealand's rapidly growing healthcare sector. Finally, a research career in Physiology offers a range of exciting possibilities both here and overseas. The emphasis of the human genome project is now shifting from gene sequencing to understanding gene function. The resulting demand from the biomedical research community for scientists with a strong background in physiology will ensure future employment opportunities for those with physiology training. Physiology, as a rigorous experimental science, has always been important in medical research and drug development.

More information

For more information see Physiology.