Functional anatomy, physiology and neurology of communication and swallowing systems

Develop the conceptual knowledge of functional anatomy, physiology, and neurology necessary for communication and swallowing that underpins speech pathology practice.

100 hours

About this short course

Students will examine functional anatomy of the head and neck with a focus on structures necessary for speech, swallowing, respiration and hearing and study the underlying neurological and physiological processes that enable humans to think, hear, speak and swallow.

The course provides students with foundational knowledge of the anatomy and physiology relating to structures of the head, neck and thorax. The content of this course is foundational for clinical speech pathology practice and underpins effective assessment and intervention for communication and swallowing disorders across the lifespan.

Who should do this course?

This course is designed for students who are interested in studying a Master of Speech Pathology but may not have prerequisite knowledge.

Course Structure

This short course is fully online and will consist of interactive online learning as well as the opportunity to engage in online interactions.  Successful completion of assessment tasks, such as online quizzes and interactive tasks will entitle participants to receive a Certificate of Completion.

As a general guide, we recommend allocating 10 hours per week, over the eight-week course duration in which to complete the course.

For those looking to commence studies within the Masters of Speech Pathology in Semester 2, it is recommended that you complete the course no later than June 2023.

What you will learn

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Understand the embryonic development of the nervous system and structures of speech, swallowing, hearing and respiration and describe the clinical consequences of in utero malformation.
  • Identify and describe the anatomical structures related to the processes of speech, swallowing, respiration and hearing.
  • Describe the physiological processes of typical speech, respiration, hearing and swallowing.
  • Identify cranial nerve innervation of relevant structures and analyse functional consequences of cranial nerve damage.
  • Describe gross neuroanatomy and understand the functional divisions of the nervous system.

Learn from experienced educators, with an extensive experience in teaching diverse groups and engage in curriculum development.

Learning pathway and pre-requisite into the Master of Speech Pathology available.

Engage in a participatory online learning experience.

Meet your instructor

Dr Jessica Becker

Jess Becker is a Senior Speech Pathologist joining the University of Tasmania from Monash Health Victoria where she worked as the clinical lead of the Head and Neck Oncology service.

Jess has a diverse clinical background, having worked with adults in a range of clinical settings and practice areas throughout Tasmania and Victoria. Clinical and research interests include: altered airway management, critical care, complex dysphagia, management of radiation toxicity, and acute neurosciences


Bruce Moyle

We wish to acknowledge the contribution of Bruce Moyle in the creation of this course.

Bruce is a multi-disciplinary media producer with over 20 years of technical production creation and management experience has seen him work with the likes of Paramount Pictures, Stan, Nickelodeon, Netflix, Disney, and many other world-leading companies.

He is also an award-winning photographer and video creator who has supported a number of outlets including Design Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Department of State Growth, Brand Tasmania, Tasdance, Mudlark, Regional Arts Australia, Sydney Opera House and MONA.