Module code: VMS1005

Module Overview

This module will present the student with the structure and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems in the various veterinary species. Cases will underpin the presentation of this material to provide context and integration between the disciplines of anatomy, histology, and physiology. Students will use dissection and laboratory sessions to develop their technical competencies. The PBL cases will be used to underpin the anatomy and physiology and to enhance team learning and the development of independent learning skills. 

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

MCCARROLL Charlotte Sophia (Vet Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 83

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 6

Laboratory Hours: 28

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Cardiovascular and respiratory systems

Introduction to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

The basic gross structure of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and basic imaging. Cellular structure of the systems and comparative structures.

Primitive development of the cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.

Animal behaviours/ clinical signs observable in cardiovascular, and respiratory systems – stertor, stridor, wheezing, coughing, expectoration, collapse, cyanosis.

Structure of the avian, fish and reptilian cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Physiology: Cardiac muscle; resting membrane & action potentials; pacemaker tissue; autonomic nervous system; origin of the heart beat and electrical activity of the heart; heart as a pump

Blood vessels and flow; dynamics of blood and lymph flow; regulation of blood pressure; haemostasis

Cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms; autonomous nervous system control; circulation through special regions; cardiovascular homeostasis

Lung structure & function; ventilation; diffusion; ventilation diffusion relationships; gas transport by the blood; mechanics of breathing/respiration; control of ventilation

Respiratory system under stress (exercise, low/high pressures, at birth); tests of pulmonary function, role of the respiratory system in acid base balance

Foetal circulation, gas exchange across placenta, development of respiratory and circulatory system, branchial arches

Biochemistry of oxygen transport, haemoglobin biosynthesis; foetal haemoglobin; erythrocyte metabolism

Introduction to clinical examination of the CV-RES system.

Musculoskeletal system

Introduction to the musculoskeletal system: bone, articular, muscular and accessory structures; main blood and nerve supply

The skeleton: Classification of bones, mechanics of bones, functions (structural, protection of vital organs, locomotion, aid in respiration and mastication.

Axial skeleton: skull, vertebral column and thoracic cage

Appendicular skeleton: fore limb and hind limb

Joints: Elements of a joint (including menisci and discs), types of joints, classification of synovial joints, mechanics of synovial joints

Joints: axial and appendicular

Physiology: osteogenesis, function of bone cells, mineral storage, bone regulation (the role of thyroid and parathyroid hormones), function of synovia and other articular structures, muscle fibre types, mechanisms of contraction of skeletal muscle, regulation of muscle contraction.

Clinical signs observable in MSK system: degrees of lameness, postural compensations, pain on palpation of soft tissue and bony structures.

Muscular system: General anatomy of muscles and accessory structures (bursae, fascia, tendons, tendon sheets), origin and insertion concept

Axial muscles: skull and vertebral column, thorax, abdomen

Appendicular muscles: fore limb and hind limb

Comparative aspects of the head, forelimb and hind limb

Anatomy and physiology of the musculoskeletal system of birds, fish and reptiles


Dissection of the mammalian heart (cow hearts from abattoir or pathology)

Specimens of sinuses from different species; specimens larynx; endoscopy images of guttural pouches; imaging sinuses, lung specimens

Dissection of the muscles of respiration – diaphragm and thoracic muscles

ECG interpretation – using physiology AD systems for measuring cardiac cycle, difference between pulse and heart rate, measuring blood pressure

Assessment of the respiratory system, pulmonary function testing, blood gas analysis

Histology practical of cardiac muscle, blood vessels, tracheal structure and lung

Clinical examination of the cardiovascular system in live animals – dog, horse, cow

Identification of bones and joints in skeletons (bone collection) and imaging resources (radiography, CT, MRI, arthroscopy recordings)

Dissection of the lower limbs of various species – ruminant, dog, horse

Dissection of the muscles of the forelimb, hind limb and axial skeleton

Clinical Examination of the musculoskeletal system in live animals - Locomotion observation, recognition of superficial muscles in several species of live animals, palpation of superficial structures, normal joint range of motion, comparative conformation between individuals, species and breeds- dog, horse, cow

Prepared or fresh for dissection (birds), fish and reptiles

Microscopy: cancellous and cortical bone, growth plate structure, cartilage, synovia.

muscle, muscular fibre types and related connective tissue

PBL cases


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment PBL ASSESSMENT (20 minutes) 10
Examination WRITTEN EXAMINATION (2 hours) 50
Practical based assessment STEEPLECHASE (36 minutes) 40

Alternative Assessment

  PBL alternative assessment is an oral examination

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate understanding of the laboratory components, PBL, content knowledge and integration of the various components of practical materials.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

PBL assessment  (20 minutes) – 10%

Content knowledge written examination (2 hours) – 50%

Integration of the various practical components via Steeplechase (36 minutes) – 40%

Formative assessment and feedback

There will be a formative practical report.

Verbal feedback in practical sessions.

Module aims

  • In this module, students will acquire an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems. Students will conduct basic clinical examinations that enable them to recognise the range of normal structure and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems. They will be able to understand how the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems may impact on animal behaviour.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Combine interdisciplinary knowledge across all the basic scientific subjects to understand the structure, function and development of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems using didactic, Problem Based Learning (PBL) and practical dissection and microscopy.  RCVS KU 1, KU 3 KPT
2 Describe the anatomical and physiological differences of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems and the role of nutrients in the maintenance of the normal system.  RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU3 KPT
3 Apply functional and structural knowledge of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems to basic clinical examination and diagnostic imaging of veterinary species RCVS 17, 18, RCVS KU 3 KPT
4 Assess animal behaviour and welfare considering the effects of pain and/or dysfunction of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems RCVS 17, 18 KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Enhance the students technical skills using dissection practicals

Enhance the students technical skills by microscopy practicals

Initiate the students physical examination skills by introducing CE practicals

Introduce the problem based learning format and team learning


The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures, flipped classroom, small group discussions,

Practicals involving dissection, microscopy, review of radiographic and ultrasound images of the thorax and musculoskeletal system, clinical examination of various species, problem based learning cases 

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: VMS1005

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Medicine and Science BVMSci (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.