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PSC3008 : Physiology of the Nervous System

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jenny Read
  • Lecturer: Professor Adrian Rees, Professor Evelyne Sernagor, Professor Anya Hurlbert, Dr Claudia Racca, Professor Stuart Baker
  • Practical Supervisor: Dr Gavin Clowry
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 30
ECTS Credits: 15.0


To understand the structure and function of the mammalian nervous system; the role of the nervous system in everyday life; and the experimental methods used to study it.

This advanced module aims to develop the student's understanding of the mammalian nervous system, how it is organized and how it functions. The module builds on the introductory material covered at Stage 1 to provide the student with an overview of the principles of brain organization and developmental, before focusing on sensory systems (touch, vision and hearing), motor control and some cognitive brain functions such as learning and memory, sleep and emotional states. The importance of experimental evidence, how it is acquired and interpreted, is emphasised throughout the module. The lectures are supported by seminars, practical classes and group learning sessions.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module consists of the following topics on 1) the organisation and development of the nervous system; 2) scientific methods for neuroscience research; 3) somatosensation; 4) vision; 5) hearing; 6) motor system; 7) learning & memory; sleep.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials120:0020:00Non-Synchronous online. Instructional videos, quizzes/formative materials/problem solving questions
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion118:0018:00Independent group work
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00PIP - introduction to module, teaching methods and assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:006:00PIP - Practicals 1 and 2
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical14:004:00PIP - Practical 3
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars: PIP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1222:00222:00Consolidation lecture notes/completion pract reports/formative MCQ/prob solving, revision & reading
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials convey information, scientific concepts and experimental evidence in a concise form (K1-K6, S2 & S4). Lecture materials give a concise overview of a topic providing students with an appropriate framework for their own further independent study using the references provided in the Module Study Guide (K1-K6, S1, S2 and S4).

Practical 1, Brain Anatomy, enables the student to appreciate key features of the organisation and structure of the real human brain in contrast to two dimensional schematic diagrams shown in text books (K1).

Practical 2 (Vision) and Practical 3 (Hearing) enable students to appreciate key aspect of visual and auditory perception through direct experience of visual and auditory stimuli (K3-K4). Students also gain skills in using scientific software (S5).

Seminar 1. Analysis of a scientific paper. This seminar aids in the development of critical skills (S2 and S3) and problem solving. It provides an opportunity for informal discussion.

Seminar 2. Teaches a key concept in sensory processing using a problem solving exercise (K3 & K4)

Seminars 3-10. Support lectures in vision, hearing and motor systems by providing an opportunity for discussion, problem solving and Q&A (K3 & K4).

Seminar 11. Supports lectures in learning, memory and sleep and includes video presentations videos of patients with de?cits in different brain areas and systems (K5 & K6).

The formative MCQ exam provides a test of acquired knowledge by the end of the module and the ability to synthesise information (K1-K6). It has a strong formative element and reinforces learning by providing immediate feedback on the student’s answers.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1802A70Invigilated exam: Sect 1 (2 x 60 min essays - choose 2 from 4 - worth 2/3); Sect 2 (2 x 30 min essays - choose 2 from 4 - worth 1/3)
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M6Q&A Style report
Practical/lab report1M6Q&A Style report
Prof skill assessmnt1M12Comprises: Group model building, oral presentation, 2-page written description
Prob solv exercises1M6Online Quizzes and problems
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment1MOnline MCQ assessment completed in own time (expected completion time 60 mins)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The examination essays will test the students’ understanding of the material learned in the module, examine their ability to integrate and explore the relationships between the various themes within the module, and test their ability to develop scientific arguments (K1- K6, S).

The practical assessments judge the students’ ability to conduct experiments, analyse and interpret experimental data in a scientific manner, and draw appropriate conclusions (S5).

The study group task judges students’ ability to work as a team and helps them to develop and present their scientific knowledge and understanding using a variety of media.

The MCQ with feedback serves as a formative end of module test of knowledge and provides a springboard for revision.

Reading Lists