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 problem-based cases will be used to underpin anatomy and physiology, and to enhance team learning and the development of independent learning skills. 

Module provider

School of Veterinary Medicine

Module Leader

BASU Christopher (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

Workshop Hours: 3

Independent Learning Hours: 52

Lecture Hours: 29

Tutorial Hours: 4

Laboratory Hours: 4.5

Practical/Performance Hours: 18.5

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 29

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This module is designed to be an introduction for students to discover the normal structure and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.  Indicative content includes:

  • Introductions to the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.

  • The basic gross structure of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems including basic imaging, cellular structure, and the similarities and differences across common veterinary species.

  • Structure and function of the axial (head, vertebral column, and thorax) and appendicular (fore and hind limb) bones and muscles.

  • Embryological development of the cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.

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

  • Physiology of cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems including but not limited to: 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 in skeletal and cardiac muscle, resting membrane and action potentials, cardiac pacemaker tissue, the role of autonomic nervous system in cardiovascular function, origin of the heartbeat and electrical activity of the heart, and the heart as a pump.

  • Structure and function of blood vessels and flow, the dynamics of blood and lymph flow, and the regulation of blood pressure.

  • Physiology of cardiovascular regulatory mechanisms such as autonomous nervous system control, circulation through special regions, and cardiovascular homeostasis.

  • Lung structure & function in terms of the mechanics of ventilation, diffusion of gases into and from the blood, ventilation/perfusion relationships, gas transport by the blood and control of ventilation

  • The respiratory system under stress (exercise, low/high pressures, at birth), tests of pulmonary function, and the 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

  • Assessment and understanding of animal behaviours and/or clinical signs observable in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems e.g. stertor, stridor, wheezing, coughing, expectoration, collapse, cyanosis, degrees of lameness, postural compensations, pain on palpation of soft tissue and bony structures.

  • Introduction to clinical examination of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.

This module has a significant practical component to facilitate some hands-on learning for students to develop technical competence as well as to consolidate knowledge from the lecture and flipped classroom content.  Indicative content includes:

  • Handling and examination of bones, muscles, and connective tissue structures of the axial and appendicular anatomy in common veterinary species.

  • Handling and examination of specimens of the upper respiratory system such as the sinuses, pharynx, and larynx of different species. endoscopy images of guttural pouches in horses, and examples of head and neck imaging.

  • Examination and interpretation of animals using different clinical imaging methods such as radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

  • Handling and examination of specimens of the lower respiratory system such as the trachea and lung tissues of different species.

  • Handling and examination of the muscles of respiration – diaphragm and thoracic muscles

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

  • Lab-based practicals on electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation and assessment of lung function where students are the subjects.

  • Workshops to consolidate knowledge of blood pressure regulation, blood pressure measurement, and blood gas analysis and communicate to different audiences.

  • Histology of cardiac muscle, blood vessels, tracheal structure and lung.

  • Clinical examination of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems in live animals – e.g. 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, auscultation of heart and lungs, and palpation of pulses in common veterinary species; dog, horse, and cow.

  • Problem-based learning scenario based on module content in a clinical context.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Face-To-Face (Closed Book) Oral Group Presentation 15 Minutes 10
Examination PC Lab (Closed Book) MCQ and SAQ Exam Fixed Start Time (2 Hours) 90

Alternative Assessment

  Problem Based Learning - the alternative assessment to the group oral presentation is an individual oral presentation 

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  (15 minutes) 

Content knowledge written examination (2 hours) 

(Exam Units are onsite closed-booked invigilated fixed-time assessments. They are delivered through SurreyLearn using campus PC Labs)

Formative assessment and feedback

There will be a formative practical report.

Verbal feedback in practical sessions.

Module aims

  • 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 normal structure and function of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.
  • Students will acquire and understanding of how the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems can impact upon animal behaviour.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 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.  KPT RCVS 1, 12, 14, 19, KU 1, KU 3, KU 11
002 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.  KPT RCVS KU 1, RCVS KU3
003 Apply functional and structural knowledge of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems to basic clinical examination and diagnostic imaging of veterinary species KPT RCVS 27, 29, RCVS KU 3
004 Assess animal behaviour and welfare considering the effects of pain and/or dysfunction of the cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems KCPT RCVS 27, 29

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 students’ technical skills using dissection practicals and handling of prepared specimens.

  • Encourage students to integrate their knowledge across multiple body systems.

  • Initiate students’ physical examination skills by introducing clinical examination practicals by species in collaboration with the other structure and function modules.

  • Continue the problem-based learning format and team learning introduced in semester 1.

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

Other information

The Surrey Framework consists of the attributes: employability, global and cultural capabilities, digital capabilities, sustainability and resourcefulness and resilience. This module includes the following key topics which further develop one or more of the attributes as indicated. The problem-based learning activity provides students with the opportunity to work together in groups of approximately 10 to develop their digital capabilities and their resourcefulness and resilience in formulating learning objectives, searching databases for information, collating their information in a shared digital repository, and composing a clear way to communicate their solution to the clinical problem, usually in the format of a PowerPoint presentation.

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 2025/6 academic year.