Queen's University
PHGY 170 Human Cell Physiology

PHGY 170 Human Cell Physiology is an introductory level course on the structure and function of human cells for students interested in pursuing human health-related disciplines. Students will also learn the principles of energy metabolism, cell growth and proliferation, and how cells interact with their environment. There is also an overall focus to relate cellular processes to human function and disease, culminating in a presentation focused on one specific cell process and how it affects health. Students taking this course will be well-prepared for upper year molecular biology courses.

PHGY 170/3.0 May not be taken with or after KNPE 225/3.0.

After completing PHGY 170 Human Cell Physiology, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and describe basic cellular components to be able to characterize their roles in the structure and function of human cells (PLO 1, 3; Assessment 1–5)
  2. Integrate a basic understanding of cellular processes to articulate how human cells interact with their environment (PLO 1, 3; Assessment 1–5)
  3. Recognize key principles of human cell function in order to understand the cellular basis of health and disease (PLO 1, 3; Assessment 1–5)
  4. Understand how cells, tissues, organs and systems work together in order identify and explain the mechanisms through which the body maintains homeostasis (PLO 1, 3; Assessment 1–3, 5)


As Collaborators, health professionals work effectively with other health care professionals to provide safe, high-quality, patient-centred care.


As Communicators, health professionals form relationships with patients and their families* that facilitate the gathering and sharing of essential information for effective health care.


As Advocates, health professionals contribute their expertise and influence as they work with communities or patient populations to improve health. They work with those they serve to determine and understand needs, speak on behalf of others when required, and support the mobilization of resources to effect change.


As Leaders, health professionals engage with others to contribute to a vision of a high-quality health care system and take responsibility for the delivery of excellent patient care through their activities as clinicians, administrators, scholars, or teachers.


As Scholars, health professionals demonstrate a lifelong commitment to excellence in practice through continuous learning and by teaching others, evaluating evidence, and contributing to scholarship.


As Professionals, health professionals are committed to the health and well-being of individual patients and society through ethical practice, high personal standards of behaviour, accountability to the profession and society, physician-led regulation, and maintenance of personal health.

Assessment 1 – Learning Outcome Assignments (LO 1, 2, 3) (15%)

Students will submit short, weekly assignments answering short-answer questions based on Module Learning Outcomes. The purpose of this assignment is to help the student review for the midterm and final exam, while also checking their understanding of module content.

Assessment 2 –Discussion Forums (LO 1, 2, 3) (10%)

Students will participate in forums with guiding questions to promote discussions and develop new understanding of the course content. Each module will have a separate discussion topic which will provide the student with a chance to apply their knowledge and to interact with fellow students as they work together. Working in small groups, students will collaborate to create a discussion based on the assigned questions for grading by the instructor or TAs. Credit will be received based on 1) assessment of initial contribution to the discussion, and 2) quality and content of the discussion as a whole.

Assessment 3 – Disease presentation and evaluation (LO 1, 2, 3) (20%)

Students will work individually to develop a narrated Powerpoint presentation on an assigned topic in cellular physiology. This activity will require students to use information learned in the course modules, as well as some independently-researched literature, to address the role of a particular cellular structure or process in the context of a disease.

Each student within a group will be responsible for preparing a presentation and evaluating other group members. In this way, students will be graded based on cohesiveness of the presentation as a whole, the accuracy and content of their assigned topic, as well as ability to collaborate and communicate with their peers. Each student will also be required to pose questions, provide feedback, and evaluate other presentations to facilitate discussion and improvement of presentations skills.

Assessment 4 – Midterm Exam (LO 1, 2, 3) (15%)

The midterm exam will be short answer and/or multiple choice, and designed to test the student’s knowledge and comprehension of the content of the first half of the course, similar in format to the final exam. There will be practice quizzes available to students to assist in their preparation for the exams.

Assessment 5 – Final Exam (LO 1, 2, 3) (40%)

The final exam will cover total course content, with an emphasis on the second half of the course.  It will consist of multiple choice questions and some short answer questions, aimed at assimilating knowledge learned throughout the course.

Required Texts

PHGY 170 course notes via modules posted online and Principles of Cell Biology, 2nd Edition (eBook) by George Plopper.

Queen’s students, faculty, administrators and staff all have responsibilities for supporting and upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity. Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see http://www.academicintegrity.org) and by the quality of courage. These values and qualities are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to the regulations concerning academic integrity. General information on academic integrity is available at Integrity@Queen's University, along with Faculty or School specific information. Departures from academic integrity include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification. Actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning, to loss of grades on an assignment, to failure of a course, to requirement to withdraw from the university.

Specifically, for PHGY 170 Human Cell Physiology, students must express themselves in their own words, and cite sources when they use outside information. Verbatim copying of the module text or textbook is considered plagiarism and is a breach of academic integrity. Further, lying and misrepresentation are dishonest and violate the core values of academic integrity.

All components of this course will receive numerical percentage marks. The final grade received for the course will be derived by converting the student’s numerical course average to a letter grade according to Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale.