Note: This unit version is currently under review and is subject to change!

BMET5995: Advanced Bionics (2020 - Semester 1)

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Unit: BMET5995: Advanced Bionics (6 CP)
Mode: Normal-Day
On Offer: Yes
Level: Postgraduate
Faculty/School: School of Biomedical Engineering
Unit Coordinator/s: Mr Watkins, Greg
Session options: Semester 1
Versions for this Unit:
Site(s) for this Unit:
Campus: Camperdown/Darlington
Pre-Requisites: None.
Prohibitions: AMME5995 OR AMME5951.
Brief Handbook Description: The field of 'bionics' is one of the primary embodiments of biomedical engineering. In the context of this unit, bionics is defined as a collection of therapeutic devices implanted into the body to restore or enhance functions lost through disease, developmental anomaly, or injury. Most typically, bionic devices intervene with the nervous system and aim to control neural activity through the delivery of electrical impulses. An example of this is a cochlear implant which delivers electrical impulses to physiologically excite surviving neurons of the auditory system, providing the capacity to elicit the psychological perception of sound.

This unit primarily focuses upon the replacement of human senses or function, the nature and transduction of signals acquired, and how these ultimately effect neural activity.
Assumed Knowledge: AMME5921 OR BMET5921 OR MECH3921 OR BMET3921.
Lecturer/s: Mr Watkins, Greg
Prof Carter, Paul
Timetable: BMET5995 Timetable
Time Commitment:
# Activity Name Hours per Week Sessions per Week Weeks per Semester
1 Lecture 2.50 1 13
2 Laboratory 3.00 1 11
3 Independent Study 4.00 1 13
T&L Activities: The unit is structured around the major elements of implantable bionic devices and the underlying principles and technologies for therapeutic implants. Teaching delivery methods are a combination of lectures and complementary laboratories that support lecture material. Frequent quizzes aim to assist the student in maintaining up-to-date intake of unit material. Each student will also participate in an independent project relating to implantable bionics and a `design and build` project where a neuro-stimulator will be produced.

Attributes listed here represent the key course goals (see Course Map tab) designated for this unit. The list below describes how these attributes are developed through practice in the unit. See Learning Outcomes and Assessment tabs for details of how these attributes are assessed.

Attribute Development Method Attribute Developed
This unit focuses on practical implementation and hands-on assessment of implantable medical devices in a biomedical engineering context. The unit will build on the engineering and science fundamentals that the students already have (electronics, biology, chemistry, materials science, and engineering design) and apply them to implantable devices. (2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 3)
Students will be given problems to solve that will require critical thinking, drawing from background knowledge, and creativity to achieve learning outcomes that relate to the form and function of implantable medical devices. (3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 5)
Students will develop proficiency in the design cycle through an illustrative example of a power-supply circuit board for the supply of energy and data to an implantable device. This is a `design and build` project that the students begin from scratch and conclude with functional device. (4) Design (Level 4)
Students will work as a team to produce a video presentation of their results in a team exercise relating to sound or vision processing for neuroprostheses. (7) Project and Team Skills (Level 3)
The ethics of bionics is an interactive discussion that covers the issues that the biomedical engineer faces in decision making and design considerations relating to medical devices. (8) Professional Effectiveness and Ethical Conduct (Level 3)

For explanation of attributes and levels see Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018.

Learning outcomes are the key abilities and knowledge that will be assessed in this unit. They are listed according to the course goal supported by each. See Assessment Tab for details how each outcome is assessed.

(7) Project and Team Skills (Level 3)
1. Work together in small groups to carry out a prescribed task and present the outcomes in an oral, written or video format.
(8) Professional Effectiveness and Ethical Conduct (Level 3)
2. Participate in discussion and material relating to the ethics of bionics
(3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 5)
3. Create a printed circuit board with broad guidelines in the project definition thus allowing the student broad scope to include problem solving and inventiveness.
4. Produce functional software to serve a purpose in sensory or motor neuroprostheses
(4) Design (Level 4)
5. Design and construct a means of transferring energy across tissue without wires in the form of a printed circuit board and inductively-coupled circuitry to drive and assess a neurostimulation circuit.
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 3)
6. Apply engineering principles to answer questions relating to implantable bionics in a quiz format
7. Apply engineering principles to answer questions relating to implantable bionics in an examination format
Assessment Methods:
# Name Group Weight Due Week Outcomes
1 Quiz 1 - Must Pass No 0.00 Week 1 6,
2 Quiz 2-11 (best 9 of 10) No 20.00 Multiple Weeks 6,
3 Ass 1 - PCB layout (part of neuro stim project) No 0.00 Week 2 3,
4 Ass 2 - Cochlear Implant Sound Processing No 20.00 Week 8 1, 4,
5 Ass 3 - Poster Presentation Yes 15.00 Week 12 1,
6 Ass 4 - Neuro Stim Lab Project No 15.00 Week 13 5,
7 Final Examination No 30.00 Exam Period 7,
Assessment Description: Unless otherwise advised, all Assignments will be submitted online (method to be advised) and all written material is subject to scanning for appropriate referencing using, for example, Turnitin.


The unit has 11 quizzes. The first quiz is online and must be completed by the end of week one. It is a pass or fail assignment that must be completed in order to receive a mark in BMET5995. Its purpose is to align expectations. The other 10 quizzes may contain questions relating to any aspect of the unit up to and including the week prior to the quiz. Of the 10 quizzes, only the best 9 will be counted. This is to manage unexpected events that might otherwise require special consideration. Accordingly, no special considerations will be approved in relation to the quizzes.


There are weekly laboratories scheduled during the semester to support the lecture material. All of these are compulsory and are assessed via the quizzes, lab project, assignment and the final examination.


This course includes labs and assignments involving

1. Simple electronics construction and test and

2. MATLAB simulation of a cochlear implant sound processor

Online resources, lab support and detailed lab/assignment notes will be available for these activities.
Assessment Feedback: Assessment feedback is by way of written comments on a marking sheet and/or verbal comments in discussions with individual students.

General feedback will also be provided during the lecture and individual feedback as needed can be provided in scheduled meetings upon request.
Grade Type Description
Standards Based Assessment Final grades in this unit are awarded at levels of HD for High Distinction, DI (previously D) for Distinction, CR for Credit, PS (previously P) for Pass and FA (previously F) for Fail as defined by University of Sydney Assessment Policy. Details of the Assessment Policy are available on the Policies website at . Standards for grades in individual assessment tasks and the summative method for obtaining a final mark in the unit will be set out in a marking guide supplied by the unit coordinator.
Policies & Procedures: See the policies page of the faculty website at for information regarding university policies and local provisions and procedures within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
Online Course Content: Lecture Notes are provided via CANVAS

Note that the "Weeks" referred to in this Schedule are those of the official university semester calendar

Week Description
Week 1 Lecture: Introduction / Neuromodulation Basics
Assessment Due: Quiz 1 - Must Pass
Week 2 Lecture: Cochlear Implant Fundamentals/Electroneural theory
Lab: Power PCB design
Assessment Due: Ass 1 - PCB layout (part of neuro stim project)
Week 3 Lecture: Cochlear Implants – Signal Processing
Lab: Exploring inductive links
Week 4 Lecture: Cochlear Implants – case study and assignment brief
Lab: Cochlear Implant Sound Processing
Week 5 Lecture: Circuits for Implantable Stimulators
Lab: Solder safety
Week 6 Lecture: Implantable Power Sources/ RF Data and Power
Lab: No lab – time available for motherboard construction
Week 7 Lecture: Visual prostheses (Bionic Eye) / Lab project brief
Lab: Sound processing assignment support
Week 8 Lecture: Spinal Cord Stimulation
Lab: Bionic Vision Processing
Assessment Due: Ass 2 - Cochlear Implant Sound Processing
Week 9 Lecture: Functional Electrical Stimulation
Lab: Neuro stimulator - lab 1
Week 10 Lecture: Cardiac Pacemakers / Poster session tutorial**
Lab: Neuro stimulator - lab 2
Week 11 Lecture: Deep Brain Stimulation, Sacral Nerve stimulation
Lab: Neuro stimulator - lab 3
Week 12 Lecture: Poster Session @ Cochlear Limited
Lab: No lab – available for neuro stimulator project, if required
Assessment Due: Ass 3 - Poster Presentation
Week 13 Assessment Due: Ass 4 - Neuro Stim Lab Project
Exam Period Assessment Due: Final Examination

Course Relations

The following is a list of courses which have added this Unit to their structure.

Course Year(s) Offered
Biomedical Mid-Year 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical/ Project Management 2019, 2020
Biomedical 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical / Arts 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical / Commerce 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical / Medical Science 2016, 2017
Biomedical / Project Management 2016, 2017, 2018
Biomedical /Science 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical/Science (Health) 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical / Law 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
Biomedical/Science (Medical Science Stream) 2018, 2019, 2020
Master of Engineering 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Accelerated) (Biomedical) 2019, 2020
Master of Professional Engineering (Biomedical) 2019, 2020

Course Goals

This unit contributes to the achievement of the following course goals:

Attribute Practiced Assessed
(7) Project and Team Skills (Level 3) Yes 25%
(8) Professional Effectiveness and Ethical Conduct (Level 3) Yes 0%
(3) Problem Solving and Inventiveness (Level 5) Yes 10%
(4) Design (Level 4) Yes 15%
(2) Engineering/ IT Specialisation (Level 3) Yes 50%

These goals are selected from Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 which defines overall goals for courses where this unit is primarily offered. See Engineering & IT Graduate Outcomes Table 2018 for details of the attributes and levels to be developed in the course as a whole. Percentage figures alongside each course goal provide a rough indication of their relative weighting in assessment for this unit. Note that not all goals are necessarily part of assessment. Some may be more about practice activity. See Learning outcomes for details of what is assessed in relation to each goal and Assessment for details of how the outcome is assessed. See Attributes for details of practice provided for each goal.