The Basis of Life: Understanding Human Cells

Discover the building blocks of life and investigate the structures and functions of plant, human, and animal cells.


Key course information


Duration: 2 weeks

Weekly study: 2 hours

The Basis of Life: Understanding Human Cells | Course |  Whitireia and Te Pukenga | Study With New Zealand Online

Explore the cell anatomy of all living organisms

Cytology, or cellular biology, is the study of cells and gives us a fascinating insight into the basis of life itself. On this two-week course, you’ll delve into the cellular structures of plants, animals, and humans, learning about the processes all living organisms must do to survive. You’ll gain an overview of cell anatomy and function, equipping you for further study in the health sciences.

Examine multicellular and unicellular organisms

You’ll be introduced to key terminology including prokaryotes and eukaryotes, identifying their features with examples. You’ll also differentiate between plant and animal cells, exploring how growth in animals and plants occurs through different processes at a cellular level.

Discover the function of cell organelles and their impact on life processes

Organelles are specialised parts of a cell that perform unique jobs. You’ll learn about different organelle functions and how they help cells operate within the organism. Building on your knowledge of multicellular organisms, you’ll investigate their hierarchical structures. You’ll identify the functions of different cells on a micro-level, and more broadly within tissues, organs, organ systems, and the body as a whole.

Learn about cell survival and cell transport processes

Cells need nutrients to survive, as well as being able to remove waste. Using videos and quizzes, you’ll discover active and passive transport processes, including diffusion, osmosis, and exocytosis, learning how nutrients and waste are transferred across the cell membrane. You’ll finish this course able to identify the types of cells found in living organisms and their key functions and processes. Using this knowledge, you’ll be able to kickstart your studies in health sciences and further your knowledge in cytology.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify types of organisms and cells

  • Describe the relationship between cells, tissues, organs, organ systems and the organism

  • Explain the structure and function of cell organelles

  • Describe cell functions and processes

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for those planning to study the health sciences, as well as those already studying who wish to further their knowledge of cells, structures, and processes.

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