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Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour

Subject Summary: Part II Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour

The neurosciences are one of the most exciting and fast moving areas in biology and these features are well represented in this interdepartmental course. Neurosciences are noted for the breadth of their theoretical base in diverse areas of modern biology and in the range of their medical and social applications. In particular, neuroscience draws its creativity from the integration of different levels of analysis that transcend the boundaries of traditional disciplines and individual departments: from the molecular events taking place within cells, through the electrical and chemical interactions between cells in the nervous system, to the integrated behaviour of the whole organism including humans. This course provides an integrated treatment of the neurosciences, and is built around lectures, and a research project. 

Lectures are organised into 11 modules of 24 lectures organised by the Departments of Physiology, Developmental and Neuroscience, Psychology and Zoology, but calling on expertise from across the university and its affiliated institutions. Students will follow 4 modules and complete a two term experimental project in the laboratory of an individual supervisor based in one of the contributing departments or elsewhere in the Cambridge Neuroscience community.

Michaelmas Term Modules

Language, Mind and Brain

Developmental Neurobiology (N1)

Evolution and Behaviour: Genes and Individuals (Zoology module M5)

Cellular & Molecular Neurophysiology (N2)

Control of Action (N3)

Neuroethology: The neural basis of adaptive behaviour (Zoology module M4)

Sensory Transduction (N4)


Lent Term Modules

Learning, Memory and Cognition

Neural Degeneration and Regeneration (N5)

Central Mechanisms of Motivation, Reward and Emotion (N6)

Local circuits and neural networks (N7)


The examination will be based on four written papers, the research project report and a viva. 

The course is designed to be suitable for both Natural Sciences and Medical and Veterinary students and will provide a basis for future careers in research, and neuroscience-based disciplines such as the pharmaceutical industry and the emerging biotechnologies. 


Programme Specification: Part II Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour

This course is taught jointly by the Departments of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience; Psychology and Zoology.


  1. to provide an advanced multidisciplinary course in neuroscience;
  2. to enable students to understand the principles of neuroscience and to provide practical and conceptual training in selected topics ranging from the molecular to the integrative and behavioural aspects of neuroscience;
  3. to provide training in research skills through the provision of a sixteen week research project;

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. be able to demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of a wide range of topics in neuroscience;
  2. be able to evaluate the practical techniques required to solve neurobiological problems;
  3. be able to analyse, interpret and communicate data obtained during a research project;

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures and associated seminars, supervisions, and a substantial research project.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 1 and 2 and learning outcome 1);
  • a project report based on the research project (for aim 3 and learning outcome 3);

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: NST Part IB Neurobiology

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.