PSC3008 : Physiology of the Nervous System

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 sections 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
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture321:0032:00Lecture
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical43:0012:00Practical
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching61:006:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops13:003:00Presentations - assessed with feedback
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity13:003:00On-line assessment and time allowed to view feedback
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity118:0018:00Study group task
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1225:00225:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures convey information, scientific concepts and experimental evidence in a concise form (K1-K6, S2 & S4). Lectures 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 Practicals 3 and 4 (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 3-4 support lectures in vision and hearing by providing an opportunity for troubleshooting difficult concepts, and providing an opportunity for discussion (K3 & K4).

Seminar 5 supports lectures in learning, memory and sleep and includes video presentations videos of patients with deficits in different brain areas and systems (K5 & K6).

Essay writing seminar. This helps students develop their approach to answering essay questions at honours level. The interactive session includes how to analyse questions, and how to plan and structure a clear and concise answer (S6).

Study Group presentations help students develop their team working and presentational skills (S1)

The in-course 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 Examination1802A80Four questions to be answered from a choice of eight. Two require 1 hr and two require 30 mins
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20Comprising; 3 Practicals worth 2.5% each, 1 Study group exercise worth, 7.5% and 1 MCQ worth 5%
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, S4). 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 exercise 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. It provides an opportunity for nonverbal and kinaesthetic learners to exploit their skills (S1). The MCQ with feedback serves as a formative end of module test of knowledge and provides a springboard for revision.

Reading Lists