Course Information

If you’re anything like most undergraduate students, you’ve spent some time wondering about a particular course in which you’re thinking of enrolling.

How difficult is it? Is it interesting? What courses require it as a prereq? Do I need the textbook?

We were wondering the same things. The following are all student-written and will hopefully give you a bit more insight into what a course is really like than the online description will.

If you’re planning on contributing something about a course, please try to keep it about the course, and not necessarily about the professor, if it’s a course that’s frequently taught by multiple people. Not only will it then be more relevant for students who take the course as taught by someone else, but, also, we’d prefer this didn’t turn into a RateMyProf for BPK. We need the support of the faculty for many of our events, and would like to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes, if you know what I’m sayin.

Pre represents the prerequisites for a given course and post represents the courses for which a given course is a prerequisite. For example, BPK201 requires MATH154, MATH155 (which can be taken concurrently), PHYS101, and BP142. BPK110 is a prereq for BPK212, BPK311, BPK312, and BPK417.

Note: MATH 151 and 154 are considered to be equivalent. This is also the case for MATH 152/155, and MBB 201/231. These tables are intended for use by BPK majors, so if you are a BPK minor, biomedical engineering student, or member of some other group, your prereqs may be slightly different in certain cases – ie: BPK minors can often use 105 as a prereq instead of 205. Always check GoSFU to be absolutely sure.

If want to share your experiences, please send it to!

Pre Post Description
BPK110 N/A BPK212 BPK311 BPK312 BPK417 A lot of memorization in this course, especially when you reach the sections on vitamins and minerals and have to memorize functions, sources, signs of deficiencies and signs of toxicity for each one. There was a lot of information that’s also in BPK143 and BISC101, but the emphasis is on diet and its relation to particular chronic diseases like specific cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and type II diabetes. Depending on the professor the textbook may or may not be necessary.
BPK140 N/A Similar to BPK110, this class also requires a lot of memorization. However, it is not a challenging course if you keep up. This course looks at health from a more holistic point of view, including health at the social, psychological, and physical levels. The material also includes some information about how stress, physical activity, nutrition, obesity, drugs, alcohol etc. affects health. The textbook may or may not be necessary depending on the prof, but there is further detail in the textbook than what is given on the lecture notes. Keep in mind that some seemingly unimportant details in lecture or the textbook can and have been on exams before…so make sure you pay attention to everything!
BPK142 N/A  


BPK201 BPK207 BPK241 BPK303 BPK304 BPK326 BPK340 BPK343 BPK375 BPK382 BPK461

This is probably the first course you’ll take in BPK. It’s the introductory course for the degree programs and covers a wide breadth of material as a result. It requires a lot of memorization of anatomy, so don’t ignore that part. Lecture exams are straight from the notes. Do the study questions in the lab manual! There’s no textbook, just the lab manual, so it’s a nice break from dropping hundreds like math and bio.
BPK143 N/A BPK343  

Awesome 1st year BPK course. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually get marks for running; you get marks for attending labs where you may choose to run. The material would be great for those interested in fitness. At first it seems a bit dry and common sense but when you get into the strength sections it starts to pick up. Apparently Tony uses iClickers in this class now and he assigns questions which is different from how he used to do it. A great part of 143 is how you get a chance to exercise while being in class, which you might have trouble making time for otherwise. Also after taking this class, challenging the BCRPA fitness theory exam is a breeze. No textbook, but Tony’s written notes are very necessary.

BPK180 N/A BPK482  

This is the introduction to ergonomics class. You learn about the primary philosophies and models used in ergonomics, and about many hazards that exist at the person, task, environment levels. You’ll also learn skills and approaches to evaluate these risks, and will also get to do an office ergonomics assessment and report. You’ll likely find that there are a lot of lists to remember. Anne-Kristina doesn’t expect you to know everrrything on these lists, but make sure to ask questions is anything is unclear.

Pre Post Description
BPK201 MATH154 MATH1551 PHYS101 BPK142 BPK301 BPK304 BPK306 BPK308 BPK326 BPK382 BPK402 BPK446 The course has changed a bit since Max and James etc. have been teaching it more. Traditionally, the first half of the course is much more quantitative, requires a lot of calculations and free-body diagrams that revisit many concepts from in PHYS101; the calculations aren’t nearly as hard as what physics had, though. That being said, if physics isn’t your thing, make sure to go to office hours and clarify concepts early on.

The second half of the course is much more physiology and looks at the properties of different tissues and materials in both the body (e.g. comparing ligaments and scar tissue) and environment (e.g. training in water vs. air).

BPK205 BISC101 CHEM281 PHYS101 PHYS102 BPK304 BPK305 BPK306 BPK308 BPK310 BPK311 BPK312 BPK326 BPK343 BPK375 BPK382 BPK461 Whereas 142 was an intro to everything and had somewhat of a focus on anatomy, 205 has a focus on physiology. It’s taught by a lot of different people and their styles vary, but what is common is that it’s a very information-dense course. There is a lot to know in 205, so be ready to work hard and try your best not to fall behind in the material. It’s a prereq for a ton of stuff, so take it as early as you can so you don’t get stuck unable to enroll in anything.
BPK207 BPK142 BPK381 BPK446  

A lot of people count this as one of their favourite BPK courses. There are a lot of new and interesting concepts, and it kind of makes you look at movement in a completely new way: internal models. Dan and Kim are great and they don’t use textbooks, but attending lecture is definitely necessary. Because some of the material can be difficult to absorb at first, going to office hours could be really helpful. The tutorials aren’t really tutorials; they’re short one-hour labs. Marks are distributed across 2 midterms, 3 shorter lab assignments, and the final. Dan and Kim call it a 3rd midterm, but it’s twice as long as the other midterms.

BPK241 BPK142 Doc Hedges has a tendency to speak quickly and quietly, so sit in the first couple of rows if you want to actually hear what he’s saying. And you should; it’s important. The Arnheim textbook is great, but you can get away without buying the other one. Learn ankle sprains really well, as well as terrible triad, scaphoid fracture, and concussion. Those aren’t the only things you’ll be asked, but he likes those ones a lot.
Pre Post Description
BPK301 PHYS102 BPK201 This is the biomechanics Lab. The work load varies each week because every group is doing a different lab each week and we rotate. Labs includes EMG, COM stuff, LED screen capture for angle joint movement (super fun but lots of work)…etc…There are 9 Labs in total. Which means each group gets 1 day off (no lab for a week). There is also a group project component, with the group project you have to come up with a project proposal and you get to use the stuff in the lab and put it into cool projects. No midterm, just a final. Overall, you don’t get too many instructions so you need to ask the instructor if you don’t understand something. I found that the lab reports required a lot of effort and were quite challenging. However, the class is very rewarding and will give you your foundations to understanding movement and measurement of movement etc. Highly recommended if you want to focus more on biomechanics.
BPK303 BPK142 STAT201  

This course is all about kinanthropometry: the study of mass, size, proportion, body composition and their relation to function, growth, performance and maturation. You’ll quickly learn to not be shy about pinching your lab mates skin etc. because this course has a lab component where you do all the anthropometric measurements: skinfolds, bone breadths, girths, segment lengths. The course is pretty interesting when you look at the body composition lectures and methods but the stats stuff can get a tad dry. Luckily Richard is an amazing instructor and keeps everything entertaining. The marks are divided into a midterm, lab midterm where you’re evaluated on lab techniques, 2 lab reports, a collaborative paper and the final. The final is half open book and contains a lot of application questions.

BPK304W BPK142 BPK201 BPK205 STAT201 N/A  

This is essentially your BPK stats and scientific writing course. This course is usually taught by either Richard or Dawn and experiences vary depending on the instructor apparently. With Richard, the lab exams are open-notes, so make sure you prepare detailed ones ahead of time. Also, Richard’s .pdf “textbook” for the class is really important – exam stuff is right out of the notes. There is also a 50% designation of the final grade to a research writing paper. They’ll give you some kind of data, and you have to show that you can adequately present the results and interpret the data in the discussion. It’s probably the first time you’re going to write a scientific paper in BPK, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications on formatting, citations, etc. because the TMs tend to mark quite strict.

BPK305 BPK205 MBB231 MATH155 BPK4072 BPK412 BPK444 BPK 305 is challenging, time-consuming and required, but make no mistake – it is easily one of the best undergraduate courses offered by our faculty. With proper time management skills this course has the potential to be the most rewarding of your undergraduate career. With a focus on the regulatory mechanisms of the circulatory, cardiac and pulmonary systems, this course is regarded by most as highly interesting. Both professors who teach this course are highly knowledgeable and friendly, with questions being encouraged both in and outside of the lecture hall. Proper preparation is key for exams, as they are all long answer and essay questions. If you go to tutorial/office hours and make sure you can explain the mechanisms/ concepts to those around you, this course should be a breeze!
BPK306 BPK201 BPK205 MBB231 MATH155 BPK4072 BPK415 BPK416 BPK446 BPK448  

The course curriculum is changing starting Fall 2017, to focus more on the nervous system, skeletal muscle, and the connective tissues. In the past, this course in the past has been one of the toughest courses in the degree due to the high volume and depth of understanding required, but the material itself is very interesting. Like 305, make sure you dedicate a lot of time to study and clarify any questions if you want to do well.

BPK307 BPK 305

This is new course being introduced in Fall 2017 that is only mandatory for Biomedical Physiology majors, but can be electives for others. This course focuses on the GI, renal, endocrine, immune and reproductive systems.

BPK308 BPK201 BPK205 STAT201 N/A  

This class is taken alongside Biomedical Engineering students, and it’s like a computing science class with applications to physiology (read: lots of coding). The hour lecture covers the physiological concepts examined in lab that week and equates them to engineering principles.  The 3 hour lab section is spent collecting physiological data and analyzing it using MATLAB; while you don’t need to know the language going into the class, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of logic and programming as a lot of the time both in and outside of class is spent writing code to collect and analyze data for the assignment. A strong math background is helpful. Assignments have two parts: the group section, where 3 or 4 of you work together to write the code to analyze your data and answer relevant questions about it; the other is a smaller individual section.  Max Donelan is an amazing professor, and does an excellent job communicating the material and leading the lectures and labs.  There are no midterms or finals; your mark is simply based on assignments and participation. A great class to take if you plan on doing research (i.e. directed studies, USRA, honours etc.).

BPK310 BPK205 MBB231 N/A  

This course is taught online often, but sometimes offered in-class. It’s a requirement if you are a KIN major, and it can be deceivingly more work than you set out for. It’s the exercise/work physiology class, so there is actually quite a bit of MBB and other physiology foundations you should be familiar with. The exam questions tend to be quite vague and essay format to show that you know the major concepts. You should go through the key concepts first, then get into the details. There is also a group project throughout the semester that you have to do a sport/work analysis along with a midterm, and a final. The textbook looks like it’s from the 60s and can be really dry, but is also quite useful to clarify anything unclear from the lectures.

BPK311 BPK110 BPK205 BPK417  

As with any nutrition course, there’s a lot of memorization here. Some of the nutrition-related main topics covered were: Cancer, Aging, Lactation and Pregnancy, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease etc. The class mainly emphasizes on treatment and maintenance of diet with these topics. Depending on the semester, there may be a 10-13 minute oral presentation done in tutorials that features a nutrition-related topic that isn’t covered in depth in class. The textbook, while recommended and useful in that it goes into more detail, is not required.

BPK312 BPK110 BPK205 N/A Has a long-term group project, which can be really hit-or-miss in a distance class. Hope you get paired up with decent partners, or be prepared to do most of the work yourself. Like any nutrition course, the exams require a ton of memorization.
BPK326 BPK142 BPK201 BPK205 BPK336 BPK426 BPK481  

The only 4-credit course BPK has, which should tell you something about the time you should be prepared to put in. Doing really well on the lab exams absolutely requires time spent outside of lab sessions going over structures. You can use other anatomy atlases depending on your preference. The one recommended for the course uses photos of structures, and one like Netter’s is hand-drawn. Pick whichever you prefer. You can also get online 3D models, that will greatly help you visualize. Anatomy is a TON of memorization, and the reason it’s considered challenging is because of the volume and detail you need to remember. Make cue-cards, go to open-labs, and start reviewing right away and you’ll be fine.

BPK336 BPK326 N/A Like 326 but at a cellular level. Material has the potential to be interesting, but can be very dry.
BPK340 BPK142 STAT201 BPK3431 BPK417  

BPK 340 is basically the upper division extension of BPK 140. It again focuses on the holistic perspective of health and how you as an individual can help facilitate the health behaviour in others – quite refreshing compared to your other heavy physiology courses! It’s been taught by Stephen Brown or Jim Carter, and might be slightly different between the two.

With Stephen Brown, the class covers concepts regarding health promotion and intervention. Grading evolves over the semesters, but tends to include some take-home assignments, quizzes, in-class assignments and a final exam. You’re able to choose any health-related topic (such as strength training for older adults, packing healthy lunches for young children, road safety etc.). Overall, it is a lighter course for a 300 level and you take a lot of stretch breaks in between the hours.

If you’re taking the class with James Carter, you have 2 midterms that are straight from his notes. You also do a group presentation where you get to pick a group of people (bus drivers, office workers, etc) who’s health is at risk and design an intervention for them to improve their health, which you present to the class at the end of the semester. . There are also 2 assignments: the first is really easy where you just write a health information piece (i.e brochure, newspaper article) that’s 500 words for whatever group you’ve picked. The second is a 10-page paper written in review article format which is almost the same as your proposal for the group you’ve picked, but instead here you discuss which interventions you yourself would implement.

BPK343 BPK142 BPK143 BPK205 BPK3401 STAT201 N/A
BPK375 BPK142 BPK205 N/A Exam questions ask you to integrate a lot of information. There are quiz and tutorial marks, so it’s worth showing up. It’s worth showing up to listen to Richard’s hilarious stories anyway, though.
BPK381 BPK207 STAT2011 N/A This is the Psychology of Work class, which is required if you are doing the Occupational Ergonomics certificate. It’s a neat class because you learn about how organizational behaviour and structure can improve or deteriorate the individual worker, his/her task, and the others around them.
BPK382 BPK142 BPK201 BPK205 N/A
Course Pre Post Description
BPK401 BPK201
or just

Muscle Biomechanics. This class will make you reaaally think critically about conventional theories about muscle and function we are taught in textbooks in 200-level courses. James teaches the course with a lot enthusiasm, but don’t be worried if some of the material goes over your head at first – you’ll get it as the semester goes. His grad students from his lab will likely also be present for many of the lectures, so don’t be shy to ask them any questions as well. The class is split into lectures one of the days, and on the other day alternating “journal club” and labs every other week. You also have a final written exam as well as an oral exam, which can be super nerve wracking, but they’ll prepare you well from the start of the semester and James tends to be a generous marker in the end, so as long as you pay attention in class, and put in the effort, it should be a very rewarding class.

BPK402 BPK201 N/A
BPK407 BPK305 BPK3062 N/A  

407 is just a great class where you learn practical skills that help consolidate all of the theoretical knowledge you’ve gained! 305 and 306 are pre/co-reqs (305 overlaps with the first half of the course and 306 overlaps with the second) – some people like taking 305 first but if you do 306 first instead, taking 305 as a co-req just means you’re learning the same things at the same time and that can be nice too. Do ALL of the study questions as the exam questions are all from here. Since there are a lot of them I recommend you get a small group of 3-4 people and share the workload. Aside from that 407 isn’t consistently heavy – there’s 2 written assignments, both short, and the questions also come from the study questions. The practical exam isn’t too bad, just attend the extra practice session and know the procedures and you’ll do fine!

BPK412 BPK305 N/A  

A very rigorous course. Has a paper, midterm and final, and a partnered debate where you find out your side (pro/con) right before you present. Fairly MBB-heavy at times, and has a lot of research required for the assignments. You probably won’t be able to keep up taking notes with the way Glen lectures, so be prepared to listen to the recordings and make notes from those. It does require a lot of time, but the course is totally worth it if you’re willing to work. Just don’t ask dumb questions, ’cause Glen has a sharp wit.

BPK415 BPK306 N/A  

Interesting class if you’re into neuro. Has a couple of writing assignments, but neither is overly long. The integrative assignment has a hard 5-page limit, so use all the tricks you can to fit more words in. Times New Roman, make the line spacing as small as you can, the works.

BPK417 BPK110 BPK306 BPK311 BPK340 N/A There’s a writing assignment due every week, but no final exam so it kind of evens out. Lots of in-class group discussion, and some group projects: a wiki article and a presentation on a video you find (not create). Really important to go to class. Seriously. Fairly research heavy; the writing requires a lot of citing of peer-reviewed articles.
BPK426 BPK326 N/A  

Like 326 but only the nervous system (general organization, spinal cord, brain etc). Buy her book, as she doesn’t give out lecture slides (the book is her lecture slides in – book form). This course is memorization heavy, and like 326, very detail oriented. There are two assignments (done in the form of medical case studies), which are actually really fun to do but should be done as detailed as possible or you will lose marks all over the place. Other than that, just memorize everything and you’ll be fine.

BPK431 MBB231 N/A
BPK444 BPK305 N/A The lab part of the course involves practical knowledge of setting up and collecting ECG data. Pretty interesting, and potentially useful. If you take this class the ECG stuff in 407 is a joke. When Vic tells you to learn and understand why certain pathologies cause certain ECG aberrations, rather than trying to memorize them, she’s not kidding. It works way better.
BPK446 BPK306  

Charles’ notes can sometimes be a little bit difficult to follow, but the course is really interesting if you can keep up. The class has the standard midterm/final, as well as a lengthy paper and a presentation on a laboratory technique of your choice. Half the class always chooses some kind of MRI, so pick something else.

BPK448 BPK201 BPK207 BPK306 N/A  

Like many other 400-level classes, you’ll probably be awed with interest and at the same time struggle with the difficulty of the exams. This class is a blend of learning about complex neuro-physical disorders, and finding ways to help rehab them, namely via advanced technology and surgery. It’ll make you feel like a medical student and an engineer at the same time, and Andy will share a number of his own inventions as well. I recommend recording the lectures because you really need to understand the logic and concepts behind different pathologies and treatment methods – you’ll be asked to explain scenarios that you have never seen in lecture before, but if you do your homework, you’ll quickly realize that the concepts are the same. Basically, you can’t survive this class with just memorization. In terms of grading, you get a quiz (it’s actually a mini-midterm), two midterms, and a final. The great thing is that only the best of the 2/3 midterms (including the quiz) will be counted towards your final grade, so you’ll get one freebie!

BPK481 BPK201 BPK326 N/A This is the musculoskeletal disorders class taught by Steve Brown. We cover all types of MSDs from the fingers, to arms, shoulder, neck, back etc., and ways to identify the specific disorder through learning the differential signs and symptoms, as well as which interventions are most appropriate. Probably one of the more practical 400- level classes, especially if you interested in physical or athletic therapy. You’ll be graded on 5 quizzes, a few assignments, and a final exam. Not super difficult, but there is a lot of material so it’s good to be review them before each quiz. The nice thing about this class is that it’s Steve Brown’s class, which means you’re guaranteed a stretch break every 30min!
BPK482 BPK180W

This is the last course before you get your Occupational Ergonomics certificate. You get to learn more about the ways to quantify the various risk factors and assess and implement recommendations for change. The lectures are 3 hours long once a week, but often only half the time is for lectures and the rest is to do assignments and labs. You’ll get hands-on experience through practicums where you have to volunteer 30-hours at one of the sites you get to choose from, and you’ll also get a few field trips as well. The course itself isn’t challenging, but some the labs and assignments are really time consuming. Also, slides can sometimes be unclear, so make sure you focus on the bigger picture more than the little lists. Grades are primarily broken up into the labs, assignments, practicum journal, presentation, along with a midterm and final.

BPK496 BPK304W N/A  

This is one of the two varieties of Directed Studies courses available, and is the literature review-based course. It’s worth 3 credits, but that’s where the similarities with most other courses end. It requires permission to register in, and how this normally happens is you approach an instructor and ask if they’ll supervise you for a directed studies course. This could be because you took a class they taught and really enjoyed it and want another opportunity to learn from them, it could be because you’re really interested in their field of study, and so on. How this proceeds varies greatly depending on the instructor, but typically you’ll meet regularly to discuss recent scientific literature in a given field and prepare some kind of final paper or presentation on a given topic.

BPK497 STAT201 BPK499  

This is the first part of the Honours degree designation, the thesis proposal. It’s worth 3 credits, and is somewhat similar to 496 in that it involves a great deal of reading. Like the Directed Studies courses it requires permission for enrollment. Over the course of the semester you will, in concert with your supervisor and anyone else you might be working with in the lab, develop a proposal for a self-contained experiment. It’s like doing 496 one semester and then a much larger version of 498 the next semester.

BPK498 BPK304W N/A  

This is the other Directed Studies course, and is a lab-based offering. It also requires permission for enrollment, like 496. In this course, you will still naturally need a theoretical appreciation of the subject and thus be required to read relevant scientific literature, but this is more applied than 496 is. You work with your supervisor to develop a small research project (or get involved with a part of an ongoing project) and, with their guidance, carry it out. This may include experimental design, protocol troubleshooting, data collection, statistical analysis, and so on. If you want to see if you have an interest in research, this is probably the easiest way to test the waters, outside of volunteering in a lab setting.

BPK499 BPK497 N/A  

This is the actual thesis part of the Honours program. Based on the approved proposal from 497, you spend the next semester (pretty much in its entirety – 499 is a 12 credit course) working in the lab, performing experiments, gathering data, and reading a lot of scientific papers. The culmination of this is the writing of an undergraduate thesis, which is printed, bound and distributed to you, your supervisor, and the department. You also get your first taste of what a thesis defense is like, where you present your findings and are mercilessly grilled by your supervisor to tests the depths of your knowledge on the subject. For real, though: super interesting.

1: Can be a coreq.

2: One of 305 or 306 must be a prereq, the other can be a coreq.

3: Or permission of the instructor.

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