Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions



Module titleNeuroanatomy
Module codeNEU2004
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Professor Nigel Cairns (Convenor)

Dr Asami Oguro-Ando (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will provide an overview of the structure and functions of the central nervous system.

The purpose of this module is to understand the human nervous system and its disorders by having a clear description of neuroanatomy in sufficient detail to understand its main functions and disorders.  

This is an optional module for BSc Neuroscience and BSc Intercalated Neuroscience students. NEU1006 Introduction to Neuroscience (formerly CSC1006) is a recommended prior module; however, you may have covered similar material elsewhere. If you have not studied the preliminary content, you should be able to successfully complete this module by undertaking some additional study but should discuss this further with your Academic Tutor and the Module Convener. Students in related disciplines e.g., Medical Sciences and Psychology may also take the module subject to capacity. 

This module is not suitable for non-specialist students.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the structure and spatial organization of the CNS and what happens to motor, sensory and cognitive functions when there is damage or disease. In addition, classical and state-of-the-art laboratory and other methods will be described. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe the development, major subdivisions, meninges, and blood supply of the CNS.
  • 2. Identify different cell types of the brain and describe methods used to identify each.
  • 3. Characterize features of the peripheral nervous system including the autonomic system.
  • 4. Describe the segmental anatomy and functional divisions of the spinal cord and specify a disease associated with pathology in this region.
  • 5. Outline the major divisions of the brainstem and cerebellum and identify the origins and targets of important neurotransmitters.
  • 6. Explain the importance of the basal ganglia and thalamus in regulating motor behaviours.
  • 7. Describe the major nuclei and their connections of the limbic systema and these influence emotion.
  • 8. Characterize the spatial organization of the cerebral cortex and its connections to subcortical and other structures. Describe at least one disease associated with neurodegeneration of the cerebral cortex.
  • 9. Identify methods which are appropriate to study different levels of organization and functions of the CNS: cellular, regional, global.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 10. Describe some laboratory and imaging methods that are used to study different levels of organization of the brain.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 11. Communicate scientific concepts effectively using oral, written, and other media.
  • 12. With some guidance, select and interpret information drawn from books, scientific journals, databases, and websites and begin to develop the skill of critical appraisal.
  • 13. Interact effectively in a group.
  • 14. Develop the necessary skills for self-directed learning.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of the typical structure is as follows:  


There is a lecture every week, covering sequentially topics such as those 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, in which students can chose which topic areas they would like to re-visit. 

Indicative topics that will be covered include: 

  1. Introduction
    1. Development (embryology) and evolution
    2. Cell types
    3. Fine structure of cellular components
    4. Neuroanatomical research methods


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Cerebral cortex
    2. Macroscopy
    3. Histology
    4. Functional localization (case studies, neurosurgery, neuroimaging) 
    5. Disorders (focal e.g., infarction, haemorrhage, tumours; global e.g., neurodegenerative disease)


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Blood supply and meninges
    2. Brain cisterns (experimental and clinical utility)
    3. Disorders (infarction, intracerebral haemorrhage)


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. General motor systems (pyramidal system)
    2. Principles governing organization
    3. Motor disorders (primary lateral sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Spinal cord
    2. Brain stem (important nuclei)
    3. Focal neurologic diseases (PD, PSP, MND)


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Deep grey matter: thalamus and basal ganglia (extrapyramidal system)
    2. Disorders of subcortical nuclei (Huntington diseases)


  1. Regional anatomy of CNS
    1. Cerebellum – regional organization
    2. Functional divisions
    3. Cerebellar diseases


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Limbic system: amygdala and hippocampus
    2. Disorders of the limbic system (PART, LATE)


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. General sensory systems (olfactory system)
    2. Disorders of sensory systems


  1. Regional anatomy of human CNS
    1. Visual system (primary and secondary visual processing areas)
    2. Disorders of vision


  1. Laboratory methods for studying the spatial organization of the CNS


  1. Advanced methods in neuroanatomy
    1. Functional and structural imaging (MRI, PET)
    2. Allen Brain Atlas (gene expression)
    3. Connectome project

      Workshop sessions


      To complement the lectures, during the module there will be three two-hour workshop sessions addressing neuroanatomic techniques. Examples include:


      1. Macroscopic examination of the human brain and identification of structures covered in the lectures.

      2. Microscopic methods for examining the cellular and ultrastructural components of the CNS.

      3. Integrated neuroanatomy – new computational tools for analysing the structure and function of the human brain.


      You will write-up work following on from one of these workshop sessions as part of your coursework assessment.


      Group Seminars


      You will have regular group seminars help to consolidate your learning, integrating what you have encountered in the lectures. Five times during the module you will meet other members of your group for two hours, with the session facilitated by a member of the Neuroscience staff. Each session will be dedicated to one of the module’s core themes. You will be provided with key focus points by the member of staff who delivers the accompanying lectures. You should explore these focus points during your self-directed learning and produce electronic learning resources that can be shared with other students on the module WIKI and discussion forum. Your contribution to the WIKI and discussion forum will form part of your assessment.

Learning and teaching

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

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities1010 x 1h Lectures (may be live or pre-recorded)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22 x 1h Techniques Lectures (may be live or pre-recorded)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities105 x 2h Group learning: Seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching activities63 x 2h Workshops sessions
Guided independent study10Lecture preparation
Guided independent study10Lecture review and reflection
Guided independent study20Write-up of workshop sessions
Guided independent study25Seminar preparation and WIKI contribution
Guided independent study10Seminar sessions review and reflection
Guided independent study23Revision
Guided independent study24Wider reading


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in techniques workshops3 x 2h1-14Oral
Online practice questions 5 questions, each worth between three and five marks, accompanied by model answers 1-11Written (model answers)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

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 hours1-11Oral (on request)
Write-up of techniques workshop 301000 words1-12Written
Seminar attendance and contribution to module WIKI10This reflects your contribution across all the seminars and is assessed using the programme-wide contribution criteria. 1-14Oral


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%) (2 hours)Examination: Multiple Choice and Short Answer questions 1-11Ref/Def period
Write up of techniques workshop (30%) (1,000 words)Write up of techniques workshop 1-12Ref/Def period
Seminar attendance and contribution to module WIKI (10%)Focus point summary essay (1,000 words) 1-14Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

If you miss 3 or more seminars, you must provide mitigation for your absence to obtain a deferral. In the case of deferral of the seminar attendance assessment, students will be required to a write a 1,000 word summary of one or two of the identified key focus points discussed in the seminars. 

Students who are deferred in the write of the techniques workshop coursework will submit the original assessment. 

Students who are referred in the techniques workshop coursework will submit a new equivalent assessment in the ref/def period.


Please also refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral:


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 (including online) 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), J. G. Nicholls et al, ISBN: 978-0878936090.

2. Principles of Neural Science, 6th Edition (2021), E. Kandel et al. ISBN-13: 978-1259642234.

3. Barr's The Human Nervous System: An Anatomical Viewpoint 10th Edition (2013), J. A. Kiernan and R. Rajakumar, ISBN: 978-1451173277.

4. Carpenter's Human Neuroanatomy 9th Edition (1996) André Parent. This is a large but comprehensive book – for reference only. ISBN13: 9780683067521.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

. Two examples of ‘big’ science:

The Allen Brain Institute

The Human Connectome Project


Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Anatomy, Brain, Neuroanatomy, CNS

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date