MDSA20180 Cardiac Biology

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module forms part of the core curriculum for students studying medicine. It focuses on the structures and functions of the human heart and provides an introduction to the effects of disease upon cardiac function. Topics covered include the anatomy of the heart including surfaces, chambers, valves, fibrous skeleton and conducting system, the coronary circulation, embryology of the heart, autonomic nervous system, as well as microscopic structure and function, energy generation and metabolism of cardiac cells. The module describes action potentials in ventricular muscle and pacemaker cells, the cardiac conducting system as well as electrocardiography in health and disease. Furthermore, mechanical events of the cardiac cycle such as ventricular pressures and volumes, atrial and venous pressures and heart sounds are reviewed. The module describes the regulation of cardiac output by preload, afterload and the autonomic nervous system and provides an introduction to myocardial infarction and heart failure.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Describe the embryology and structures and functions of the human heart.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the physiological principles underlying normal cardiac function.
3. Describe how cardiac output is controlled.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of some disease processes on cardiac function.
5. Apply knowledge of the phenomena and mechanisms occurring in the heart to interpret some basic recordings of cardiac activity.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours






Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Practicals and tutorials on ECG and Autonomic Nervous Control of the Heart.
Anatomy Dissections
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ANAT20070 - Anatomy of the Thorax, MDSA10220 - Structure of the Thorax, MDSA20150 - Cardiorespiratory Physiology, PHYS20030 - Organ and Systems Physiology, PHYS20150 - Cardiorespiratory Physiology, PHYS30010 - Cardiovascular Physiology, PHYS30290 - CV Physiology for Engineers, VET10110 - Vet Cardio & Resp Funct

Cardiac Biology (MDSA10080)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Examination: Anatomy assessment. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: Physiology assessment. 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be available at the request of the student following publication of final grades

Name Role
Dr Tom Flanagan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Julie Freeman Tutor
Professor James Jones Tutor
Assoc Professor Albert Smolenski Tutor