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The School of Anatomical Sciences offers a diverse array of short courses, reflecting the research interests of the staff members. The school is well known for its traditional strengths in palaeo-anthropology, human growth and development, biological anthropology, human ecology, comparative vertebrate anatomy, developmental biology and medical cell biology. Two separate courses are offered to train scientists in broad but distinct fields of human biology and medical cell biology.

Notes for the guidance of students:

1. Entrance to this second year course is restricted and applicants are selected on
the basis of merit.
2. The course is recommended for students proceeding to Human Biology III
and/or Medical Cell Biology III.

Admission requirements/prerequisite courses:
Human and Comparative Biology II: Chemistry I or Chemistry IB; Mathematics I or Mathematics IB (X) and Ancillary Statistics I, or Ancillary Mathematics and Statistics I or Physics I or Physics IB; Biological Sciences IB or Introductory Life Sciences I or equivalent



Compulsory Short courses:

ANAT 225A Basic Concepts of Evolution and Early Embryology (6 points)
An introduction to the basic principles of evolution, comparative anatomy and embryology as they apply to the study of human biology. Lectures will cover evolutionary theory, adaptation, morphological concepts, and the evolutionary history of the vertebrates. Embryology will be presented as a tool for discerning the unitary origin of life, and as a mechanism for evolutionary change. Topics will include early embryonic development and gametogenesis, and the development of selected organ systems in order to qualify the common statement that ?ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny? and illustrate how the definitive morphologies of the various organ-systems were established.

ANAT 225B The Cardiovascular and Lymphoid Systems (6 points)
A theoretical and practical short course on the structure and function of the heart and the great vessels of the heart in relation to their phylogenetic development. The course also includes the structure of the cardiovascular system at the histological and ultrastructural levels, the etiology of the haemopoietic cells and how blood cells interact in vivo to elicit an effective immune response. The structure and function of the organs and tissues of the lymphatic system are also investigated. Lastly, a look at the cell biology of the pathologies and how abnormalities of the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems lead to common diseases.

ANAT 225C The Digestive System (6 points)
The diversity in the design of the components of the gastrointestinal system will be studied including their structure and function in omnivores, carnivores and herbivores. The development, anatomy and histology of selected structures, along with associated glands will be examined in an attempt to find out how and why we are what we eat!

ANAT 225D Locomotor System (6 points)
This topic covers the elements of the locomotor system in vertebrates, including the comparative morphology, histology and cell biology of bone, cartilage, joints and muscle. The evolutionary changes that have occurred in the musculoskeletal system as vertebrates have moved from water to land and from quadrupedal to bipedal gait will be discussed, including some of the biomechanical implications.

ANAT 225E Primatology and Human Variation and Ecology (6 points)
A study of primates (including humans) from an ecological perspective. The course material will also consider the interactions between populations and the environment. Other topic material will include morphological and behavioural variation, biological and cultural adaptation, and life history. The focus will be on the manner in which such factors are part of the ecological and adaptive strategy by populations for survival.

ANAT 225F Reproduction, Regulation and design (6 points)
This topic will focus on the comparative and descriptive anatomy of the reproductive system in vertebrates. This will include demonstrations. Lectures will cover reproductive systems as part of the adaptive complex of different vertebrate classes. This topic also serves as an introduction to the regulation of reproduction by hormonal feedback systems.

ANAT 225G The Urinary and Respiratory Systems (6 points)
A theoretical and practical topic that includes: the anatomy, histology and specialized functions of the kidney in all classes of vertebrates. The structure of the respiratory organs will be considered and correlated with the respiratory media utilized and the metabolic demands and lifestyles pursued by different vertebrate taxa. Other important aspects will include cellular functions of exchange as well as pathological conditions and diseases.

ANAT 225H Vertebrate Neuroanatomy (6 points)
The structure of the vertebrate brain will be examined in an evolutionary context. The similarities and differences in the structure of the brain in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals will be examined. The different solutions to the central processing of sensory information and motor output and how this relates to the differences between innate behavior and cognition, intelligence and consciousness will be the unifying theme. The topic will cover the first 6 chapters in the book "Comparative Vertebrate Neuroanatomy" by Butler and Hodos, which is available in both the Wits Health Sciences and Biological Sciences libraries (reference collection).


Notes for the guidance of students:

  1. Entrance to this third year course is restricted and applicants are selected on the
    basis of merit.
  2. Human Biology is a broad short course complemented by other short courses in
    the Faculty of Science.
    It is recommended that students consider complementary or co-major courses according to their specific interests. The most desirable subjects include Zoology, Physiology, Archaeology and Palaeontology.
  3. Optional short courses are noted in the course descriptions.
  4. Assessment: The year mark will constitute 50% of the final mark, with the other
    50% based on exams.

Admission requirements/prerequisite courses:
Human Biology III: Human Biology II or Human and Comparative Biology II or Anatomy II or a second year course in Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences - (course credits from the Faculty of Health Sciences are valid only if the point value is approved by the School)

Possible fields of employment
Students who wish to pursue a career in the Human Biological Sciences are strongly advised to obtain at least an Honours degree. There is a wealth of research opportunities in South Africa, so students may find employment at academic institutions, although other options are available. Typical career opportunities include:
Academic ? University teaching and research. Higher degrees are essential.
Museums ? Research and public education.
Technical positions ? Laboratory or field work with scientific or medical
research institutes.
Scientific journalism

Compulsory Short courses:

ANAT313C Project (18 points)
Primary research in a subdiscipline of Human Biology, conducted by the student under the supervision of an active researcher in the School of Anatomical Sciences. Projects are reported in a standard format suitable for research publication, and are in fact aimed at producing a publishable report.

ANAT313J Human Biodiversity (9 points)
The topic presents basic concepts and methods as well as new developments in the study of human biological variation and human interrelations with their environment. The accent of the topic is on a bio-cultural approach. This method studies humans by means of the interaction between biology and culture in evolutionary adaptation. With its emphasis on the processes rather than classification, the course will not only enable students to understand human biological diversity but empower them to dismiss anachronistic notions of racial and biological superiority, on purely scientific grounds.

ANAT313F Human Evolution (18 points)
This course is a survey of the fossil evidence for human evolution, with a focus on the rich fossil heritage of Southern Africa. It also covers models of human evolution interpretation and bias in analysis of fossil evidence, and theoretical issues and controversies relation to human origins.

ANAT313H Neurobiology (9 points)
This short course will cover the history of the evolution and development of the brain in rodents, insectivores and primates in relation to their behaviour and ecology. The course includes the comparative study of brain and endocast morphology. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding the structural correlates on language function in humans.

ANAT313I Human Skeletal Biology (9 points)
This is an introduction to issues in human skeletal biology. Instruction will include the study of each bone considering the type, classification, growth and identification. The practical aspect includes craniology, craniometry, osteometry and skeletal identification. This topic also includes basic principles of forensic anthropology.

Optional Short courses:

ANAT313G Human Growth and Development (18 points)
Methods of assessing, analysing and predicting patterns of human growth, including basic nutritional and environmental requirements for normal development.

ANAT313E Research Methods (9 points)
A project-based short course focusing on hypothesis construction and testing by numerical methods. A strong emphasis is placed on statistical techniques commonly used in biological sciences. With the permission of the Head of School, this short course is optional for students.

Students who wish to take Human Biology III as a major must register for the ANAT313C (Project) short course.

Students who achieve at least a second class pass in at least one biological subject as a major subject and wish to pursue a career in Human Biology, are invited to apply. Honours students may follow their specific interests through a series of lecture courses, literature reviews, minor projects and a seminar presentation. Participation in the Palaeoanthropology Field School at Makapansgat. Major research projects are conducted under the supervision of an appropriate academic specialist. Fields of inquiry may include Palaeoanthropology, Human Growth and Development, Human Ecology, Human Genetics, Functional Anatomy, Primatology, Applied Osteology and Applied Statistics. Students are required to be involved in school activities including research seminars, special lectures and field trips. Students may be required by the Head of School to undertake an additional course concurrently with their Honours.

The course in Medical Cell Biology is intended for students who wish to pursue a career in medical, veterinary or pharmaceutical research.

Notes for guidance of students:

  1. Entrance to the third year course is restricted. Students should apply in October of the previous year, although late applications will be considered if vacancies exist.
  2. Recommended co-majors with Medical Cell Biology:
    Microbiology & Biotechnology
    Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences
    Human Biology

Admission requirements/prerequisite courses:
Medical Cell Biology III: Medical Cell Biology II or Human and Comparative Biology II or Anatomy II or a second year course in Molecular and Cell Biology - (course credits from the Faculty of Health Sciences are valid only if the point value is approved by the school)

If students have not had a course in Statistics, they will be required to attend an introductory course in statistics given within the School of Anatomical Sciences.

Compulsory Short courses:

ANAT314A Project (18 points)
A mini-project conducted under the supervision of a staff member. Each student will also be required to present a seminar to the class. This short course is restricted to students registered for Medical Cell Biology.

ANAT314B Basic Techniques (9 points)
A practically-orientated course designed to familiarise the student with histochemistry and advanced light microscopy techniques. The localisation of molecules/organelles/proteins in cells using immunohistochemistry will be included in the course.

ANAT314C Cell Structure (9 points)
This short course is a practical and theoretical course which investigates the ultrastructure of cells and organelles in mammalian tissues. The students will prepare tissue and cells for electron microscopy and other techniques used to investigate the subcellular components of mammalian tissue.

ANAT314H Basic Principles and Methods in Medical Cell Biology (9 points)
The objectives of this short course are to complement the research project component and empower the student with the skills necessary to carry out scientific research (that is, laboratory research methods and data analysis techniques), and for them to acquire the ability to critically review scientific papers in order to gain information relevant to medical science. The student will also gain experience in written and oral communication of literature reviews and research results.

ANAT314E Experimental Embryology (9 points)
This course investigates the embryonic development of tissues and organs which may include aspects of induction, epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and the effect of the extracellular matrix on development.

Optional Short courses:

ANAT314F Applied Cell Biology (9 points)
Approaches used to identify and silence genes involed in the pathogenesis of certain diseases (e.g. AIDS and cancer) will be covered and these include the following technologies: DNA microarrays, yeast two-hybrid, gene knockout, antisense (RNAi). Other methods of importance to cell biology like PCR, in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry will also be covered. General biochemical techniques to investigate abnormal cellular processes will be included in the course.

ANAT314G Cell Environment (9 points)
The objective of this course is to enable an understanding of how the molecular structure of the eukaryotic plasma membrane and its components interact with the extracellular matrix and other components of its environment. Factors in the environment that cause chemotaxis, growth and development, signal transduction. Cell Cycle, apoptosis and carcinogenesis will also be covered.

The following courses will be offered by the School of Anatomical Sciences in 2006:
ANAT225 Human and Comparative Biology II (48 points)
ANAT313 Human Biology III (72 points)
ANAT314 Medical Cell Biology III (72 points)

Students who achieve at least a second class pass in at least one biological subject as a major subject, and who wish to pursue a career in medical, veterinary or pharmaceutical research are invited to apply. The course consists of a techniques module followed by theory and practical components. Techniques used in this course cover basic laboratory skills together with a wide range of modern cell and molecular biology techniques that are currently used in research laboratories. These include basic immunocytochemistry, including fluorescent antibody tracing and immuno-histochemistry, photography, tissue and organ culture, in situ hybridisation, histology, gel electrophoresis, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, centrifugation and basic computer literacy. The theory section involves the reading of journal articles on selected reading short courses for weekly round-table discussions, essays and a seminar presentation. The practical component, which runs concurrently with the theory section, requires undertaking two research projects under the supervision of a member of staff. Students are required to be involved in activities including research seminars, special lectures and field trips. Students may be required by the Head of the School to undertake an additional course concurrently with their Honours.

Students who achieve at least a second class pass in a biological related major subject with
animal and/or plant development biology and who wish to further their studies in
developmental biology are invited to apply. The course consists of both a coursework and
research component. The coursework comprises two compulsory short courses in
Vertebrate Development and Human Organogenesis. The optional short courses include
Reproductive Biology and a Self Study topic. The research component is made up of a
major and a minor (methodology) research projects extending over a period of 18 weeks.
Students are required to be involved in activities including research seminars, special
lectures and field trips. Students may be required by the Head of the School to undertake an
additional course/duties concurrently with their honours.

This is an occasional course offered at the fourth year level designed for students whose qualification includes a strong background in biology, zoology, archaeology, anthropology and closely related disciplines. The course component covers lectures on hominid evolution, geology, plio-pleistocene fauna, zoo trip, tour of hominid sites, fieldwork at Makapansgat (faunal/bone identification, stratigraphy and mapping, reconnaissance, local ecology and habitats), mammal ecology (Kruger Park and Makapansgat), laboratory and library research. Students will be required to write up and complete a project report.

School of Anatomical Sciences Web site


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