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Module

Introduction to Neuroscience

Module titleIntroduction to Neuroscience
Module codeNEU1006
Academic year2022/3
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Juan Carlos Mendez Nunez ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

11

Number students taking module (anticipated)

200

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. Through its function, and that of the wider nervous system, we can respond to environmental stimuli and, through learning, to construct hypotheses about the world around us. These hypotheses, and many other aspects of our conscious experience, may then be shared through external communication.   

To begin your detailed exploration of these processes, this module introduces functional neuroanatomy, considers some key features of molecular cell biology, and describes synaptic transmission.  

This module is mandatory for students on the BSc Neuroscience programme and optional for students on the BSc Medical Sciences and other related programmes. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces four main aspects of contemporary Neuroscience: 

 

  1. Neuroanatomy 

The structure of nervous systems  

An introduction to neurodevelopment 

 

  1. Neuropharmacology 

Core concepts in pharmacology 

Key receptor systems in neural structures  

 

  1. Signal transduction and processing                                                             

Principles of membrane excitability 

The physiology of synapses 

 

  1. Learning and memory 

Learning and memory in simple systems 

Learning and memory in complex systems 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe the basic structure of the mammalian nervous system, including the major anatomical divisions and those of the human brain.
  • 2. Identify how the different structures of the central and peripheral nervous systems connect with one another.
  • 3. Illustrate the different cell types in the central and peripheral divisions of the nervous system; recognise their diverse developmental origins and functions.
  • 4. Describe how the different cell types in the nervous system communicate with one another.
  • 5. Describe the principles of membrane excitability, highlighting the role of ion channels in modulating permeability, and linking this to the generation and propagation of action potentials.
  • 6. Describe the main neurotransmitters in the nervous system and their receptors; focusing on metabotropic and ionotropic receptors, give examples of how they may influence cellular signalling, morphology, homeostasis, and cell behaviour.
  • 7. Describe how synaptic communication occurs and can be modulated at presynaptic terminals, across the synaptic cleft, and at the postsynaptic membrane.
  • 8. Outline non-associative and associative learning.
  • 9. Outline non-associative and associative learning.
  • 10. Explain the application of experimental methods for measuring neural membrane properties in the laboratory.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 11. Describe some key modern research techniques commonly used in neuroscience.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 12. Communicate scientific concepts effectively using oral, written and other media.
  • 13. Demonstrate appropriate assimilation of constructive comments to improve academic performance
  • 14. Interact effectively in a group.
  • 15. Develop the necessary skills for self-directed learning.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

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

Lectures  

There is a lecture every week, covering sequentially the topics described below and delivered by a suitably-qualified member of staff. In the first week, there is an additional lecture to describe the module in detail, including the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), assessment procedures, and other practicalities. The final week of the module has a consolidation workshop to help with exam preparation, in which students can chose which topic areas they would like to re-visit.  

The lectures explore the following topics: 

 

  1. Neuroanatomy 

 

The structure of nervous systems  

An introduction to neurodevelopment 

 

  1. Neuropharmacology 

 

Core concepts in pharmacology 

Key receptor systems in neural structures  

 

  1. Signal transduction and processing      

                                                      

Principles of membrane excitability 

The physiology of synapses 

 

  1. Learning and memory 

 

Learning and memory in simple systems 

Learning and memory in complex systems 

 

For each teaching block you will be provided with some focus points to help shape your self-directed learning. You can discuss these with your peers via an online discussion forum. There will be a question-and-answer session at the end of each teaching block where the answers to these focus points will be presented. 

 

Seminar group presentation 

 

You will meet other members of your seminar group for three hours, with the session facilitated by a member of the Neuroscience staff. During the session, you will deliver a five to seven-minute PowerPoint presentation where you will pitch the ideas for, and structure of, your summative essay. After the session, you will receive feedback from the facilitator and two of your peers. You should use the feedback during your self-directed learning. 

 

Your presentation will be focused on one of the module’s core themes, as identified in the Module Aims section. Your presentation must also include details of at least ONE pioneering scientist or researcher who has contributed significantly to the development of a specified research field or method taught in the chosen module core theme. This could be in the form of key experiments performed or technology developed. 

 

You will be provided with an exemplar scientist pioneer by the member of staff who delivers the accompanying lectures. 

Learning and teaching

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

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
181320

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities18Synchronous learning including lectures and seminars/workshops related to lecture content (4 x 2 hour); (10 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study13On-line pre-recorded lectures (13 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study10Lecture preparation
Guided Independent Study10Lecture review and reflection
Guided Independent Study20Essay writing
Guided Independent Study25Essay preparation
Guided Independent Study10Seminar group review and reflection
Guided Independent Study30Revision
Guided Independent Study14Wider reading

Assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar group presentation5-7 minutes1-15Oral
Online practice MCQsAt least 30 spread through the module 1-11Online model answers
Past exam paper 2 hours1-11Online 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
Examination: Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions. 602 hours1-13, 15Oral (on request)
Essay401200 words1-15Written

Re-assessment

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Examination: Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions (60%) Examination: Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions (2 hours) 1-13, 15Ref/Def period
Essay (40%)Essay (1200 words)1-15Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

If you cannot participate in the small group presentation, you must provide mitigation for your absence to obtain a deferral. In the case of deferral of the small group presentation formative assessment, students will be required to provide a 5-7 minute recorded PowerPoint presentation.  

Students with Individual Learning Plans referencing difficulties in group presentation will be offered the option to record their PowerPoint presentation. These individuals will be contacted at the start of the module and asked to choose between the live and recorded presentation.  

Students who are deferred in any element of the coursework will submit the original assessment.  

Students who are referred in the coursework will submit in the ref/def period new equivalent assessment e.g., an essay on a new topic from the one originally assessed.   

Please also refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral: http://as.exeter.ac.uk/academic-policy-standards/tqa-manual/aph/consequenceoffailure/

Resources

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

You do not need to read this material before the module, it is provided here simply to give you a sense of the type of information we will cover.  

 

There is no need to buy the books: all of them are available to you in either the University Library or the Life Sciences Resource Centre. 

 

Additional specific reading will be recommended as part of the module’s delivery. 

 

Basic reading: 

 

1. ‘From Neuron to Brain’ 5th Edition (2012), Nicholls et al, ISBN: 978-0878936090. Encouraged to consult Parts I to IV, VI and VII. 

 

2. Principles of Neural Science, 5th Edition (2012), Eric Kandal and James Schwartz. ISBN: 978-0-07-139011-8. Encouraged to consult Parts I to IV, and VIII. 

 

3. ‘Pharmacology’ 8th Edition (2015), Rang et al, ISBN: 978-0702053627  

 

4. ‘Barr's The Human Nervous System: An Anatomical Viewpoint’ 10th Edition (2013), Kiernan and Rajakumar, ISBN: 978-1451173277 

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Neuroscience, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neuroanatomy, human behaviour. 

Credit value15
Module ECTS

7.5

Module pre-requisites

N/A

Module co-requisites

N/A

NQF level (module)

4

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

21.07.14

Last revision date

20/04/22