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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. This course provides an integrated treatment of the neurosciences, and is built around lectures, workshops and a research project. 

The lectures are organised in eight modules of 24 lectures. Four modules - Developmental Neurobiology, Cellular Neuroscience, Control of Action, and Sensory Transduction - are given in the first term. The remaining four - Neural Degeneration and Regeneration, Central Mechanisms of Sensation and Behaviour, Local Circuits and Neural Networks, Memory and Higher Functions - are delivered in the second term. These modules are also taken by students taking Part II Physiology Development and Neuroscience. The technical workshops in the first term will provide practical experience of a wide choice of techniques used in modern neuroscience. In the second term each student will do an experimental project in the laboratory of an individual supervisor. To achieve its inter-disciplinary aim the course is interdepartmental, being organised jointly by the Departments of Physiology Development and Neuroscience,  Psychology,  and Zoology, with each contributing equally to the integrated lecture modules, workshops and projects. Additional input from other Departments is included as appropriate. The examination will be based on four written papers, requiring answers from at least two first term lecture modules and two second term modules, a written analysis of a research paper, 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 an eight-week research project;
  4. to provide students with analytical and presentational skills;
  5. to provide an optional course in statistics to enable the application of mathematics and mathematical modelling to complex neurobiological systems.

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;
  4. be able to critically analyse research literature and present such analyses in both written and oral form.

Teaching and learning methods

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


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 1 and 2 and learning outcome 1);
  • a dissertation of no more than 5000 words, based on a research project undertaken by the student over an eight week period (for aims 1-4 and learning outcomes 2-3);
  • a viva based on the research project (for aim 4 and learning outcome 3);
  • a critical essay of no more than 2000 words analysing a published research paper (for aim 4 and learning outcome 4).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: NST Part IB Neurobiology

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.