COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Neuropharmacology

Module titleNeuropharmacology
Module codeCSC2019
Academic year2019/0
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Kate Ellacott (Convenor)

Dr Clare Anne Puddifoot (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

11

Number students taking module (anticipated)

80

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The nervous system is central to the regulation of all aspects of physiology and behaviour. In this module you will learn how altering nervous system signalling using drugs leads to changes in physiology and behaviour with beneficial or detrimental consequences for human health. You will investigate why some substances historically used as therapeutics have been co-opted for “recreational” use and will develop an understanding of the associated complexities. Consideration will be paid to possible side effects and the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of drug dependence and tolerance. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

Illustrated using examples of well-known neuroactive substances such as cannabis, nicotine, and amphetamine, you will learn about the complexities of drug-action in the CNS. Through a combination of lectures and workshops you will begin to understand the molecular basis underlying the modulation of CNS signalling by drugs, including the development of dependence and tolerance. You will also learn about how advances in basic research are driving the development of novel therapeutics for CNS disorders.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Identify the different pharmacological modes of action of ligands in the CNS
  • 2. Distinguish between the principal types of ligand-effector interactions that affect neural activity, providing examples of each.
  • 3. Identify the classes of receptors in the CNS, differentiating the different modes of downstream signalling and recognising the relative timescales of each
  • 4. Recognise the complexities of neural signalling in the CNS and give examples of how ligands may act on different neural pathways to regulate physiology and behaviour
  • 5. Distinguish between neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, demonstrating understanding of the functional difference between the two
  • 6. Compare the relative modes of action of different commonly used recreational drugs
  • 7. Explain the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of drug dependence and tolerance, illustrated by specific examples
  • 8. Explain the principal challenges associated with designing drugs that act in the CNS to modulate physiology and behaviour
  • 9. Evaluate the latest primary research in neuropharmacology, demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of the underlying research methodology.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Explain the principles of good experimental design and data communication
  • 11. Evaluate the specific challenges in data collection within the discipline of neuropharmacology research

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Evaluate primary sources of information.
  • 13. Produce clear scientific writing.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module’s precise content will vary from year to year, but the following information gives a description of the typical structure: 

The module begins with an introductory workshop in week 1 to outline the broad aims and structure of the module and introduce the assessments. In week 1, there will also be a session focused on skills for reading scientific literature and writing commentaries on research articles in a “News & Views” format. 

The next nine weeks are divided into three three-week blocks. Each week you will receive two one-hour lectures. At the beginning of each block you will receive a lecture focused on methods in neuropharmacology. For the remaining lectures in each block different drugs exemplifying key neuropharmacological concepts will be introduced; background material will be presented, molecular targets and associated physiological and behavioural effects discussed. Examples of drugs that may be covered include: 

  • Ketamine
  • Diazepam
  • Cocaine
  • Nitrous Oxide (Laughing gas)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Cannabis
  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine

At the end of each three-week block you will have a two-hour workshop in groups. These sessions will be focused on learning to interpret data from the primary scientific research literature and applying the knowledge learned from the lectures to answering formative questions, which will help you prepare for the exam. 

In the last two weeks of the module, you will receive lectures on cross-cutting aspects of neuropharmacology such as drug addiction and tolerance. In the final week of the module there is an exam information and preparation workshop. 

During the module you will write a “News & Views” style commentary article about a primary research paper selected from a list of available options. This article will form part of the module assessment. To help you prepare you will have a one-hour interactive group tutorial with the specialist academic who selected the paper that will be the focus of your “News & Views” style commentary.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
301200

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching2121 x 1-hour Lectres
Scheduled Learning & Teaching63 x 2-hour Workshops
Scheduled Learning & Teaching22 x 1-hour Module information and wrap sessions
Scheduled Learning & Teaching1“News and Views” assessment preparation tutorial
Guided Independent Study10Literature searches, reading and preparation for workshops.
Guided Independent Study20Preparation for assessed “News & views” style summary of a primary research paper
Guided Independent Study90Reading and preparation for lectures and exam

Assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in tutorial to discuss paper which is subject of the “News & views” assessment1 hour1-12Verbal
Practice MCQ, SAQ and data interpretation questions (in-class and online)2 hours1-13Verbal feedback (in-class) and online model answers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
40600

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer question and data interpretation exam602 hours1-12Written (on request)
“News and views” style summary of a primary research paper401000 words1-13Written

Re-assessment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short answer question and data interpretation exam (60%)Short answer question and data interpretation exam (2 hours)1-12Ref/def period
“News and views” style summary of a primary research paper (40%)“News and views” style summary of a primary research paper (1000 words)1-13Ref/def period

Resources

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

1. ‘From Neuron to Brain’ 5 th Edition (2012), Nicholls et al, ISBN: 978-0878936090 – For reference/ revision of material from Foundations in Neuroscience. Consult as needed 

2. ‘Pharmacology’ 8 th Edition (2015), Rang et al, ISBN: 978-0702053627, Section 4: The Nervous System, Chapters 36-38, 40, 46-48 

3. ‘Psychopharmacology: Drugs, the brain and behaviour’, 2nd Edition (2013), Meyer & Quenzer, ISBN:978-0878935109, Chapters 1-10, 11-16 

4. ‘Drugs, addiction and the brain’, 1st Edition (2014),  Koob, Arends & Le Moal, ISBN: 978-0123869371, Chapters 1-3, 9

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Brain, Pharmacology, Neuroscience, Addiction

Credit value15
Module ECTS

7.5

Module pre-requisites

The Foundations in Neuroscience module is recommended; students may have covered similar material elsewhere. Students who have not studied the preliminary content should be able to successfully complete this module by undertaking some additional study, but should discuss this further with their Academic Tutor and the Module Convener.

 

Module co-requisites

None

NQF level (module)

5

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

15/08/14

Last revision date

24/06/2019