What are my objectives while studying this topic?

By studying this topic you’ll learn about the structure of the lungs.

Why is this important?

You must be able to identify the main components of the lungs in order to analyse the ventilation process.

Can I get an introduction to this topic?

Yes, why not have a look at the following tutorial:

Tutorial sequences

So, let’s get to it: what is the respiratory system?

The main function of the respiratory system is to supply the blood with oxygen. The blood then delivers oxygen to all parts of the body. The respiratory system does this through breathing. When you breathe, you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This exchange of gases is the respiratory system's way of getting oxygen to the blood.

The respiratory system


A complete, schematic view of the human respiratory system.


What will I be expected to be able to do after studying this topic?

  • Know and be able to identify the major components of the respiratory system

  • Be able to describe the structure of key components eg trachea, alveoli etc

  • Be able to explain the function of the main components

What are the key words to learn and use?

  • Epiglottis

  • Trachea

  • Bronchi

  • Bronchioles

  • Alveoli

  • Pleural membranes

  • Ribs

  • Intercostal muscles

  • Diaphragm

How long will this topic take to study?

On average you’ll be looking at about three hours of study time.

What are the main activities on this topic?


Working in groups, read a variety of different text books about the structure of the respiratory system. Discuss how you will present your findings to the other groups.

Tutorial sequences


Working in pairs, dissect and examine a ‘pluck’ (lungs of an animal used for food). Taking it in turns, one person should dissect and the other should take a sequence of photos to be used for writing notes and presentations. It may help you to insert a piece of tubing down the trachea and into one of the bronchi to inflate the lung. If the lungs are fresh you will notice a colour change. Use a microscope to analyse the bronchi (to show support by cartilage) and lung tissue (to show close proximity of capillaries to alveoli).

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