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Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Subject Summary: Part II Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

The Part II Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience course offers a choice of sixteen modules which fall into three main areas: (i) Development and Reproductive Biology, (ii) Integrative Physiology, and (iii) Neuroscience. Many students will want to study one theme but it is also possible to follow a more general course, combining modules across themes. Those teaching in the course include most members of staff of the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience as well as invited specialists from the across the University, and from University College London, The Babraham Institute, Takeda Cambridge Limited, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, and Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience is concerned with material central to the life sciences. It asks and answers questions about the way that cells, tissues, and organs develop and function in people and animals. Many parts of the course concentrate particularly on the important areas where recent discoveries have changed our perception of disease and have posed new questions to be answered. 

The course has been designed to be suitable for both natural scientists and medical or veterinary students. 

N.B.  It is also possible to read Part II Physiology and Psychology, a joint course combining aspects of the individual Part II subjects. 

The joint course is given in part in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, and in part in the Department of Experimental Psychology, and leads to an examination which includes two papers from the Part II Physiology, Development and Neuroscience examination and two papers from the Part II Psychology examination. Students also conduct a project in either department. It is a combination suitable for those who wish to study sensory, neural and functional processes on the general border between Physiology and Psychology.  NST Part IB Physiology and Part IB Experimental Psychology or Parts IA and IB of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos are an essential preparation. 

Programme Specification: Part II Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

This course is taught primarily by the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.


  1. to attract outstanding students to work in Physiology, Development and Neuroscience whether from natural science, medical or veterinary backgrounds;
  2. to provide an intellectually stimulating lecture, practical and project programme in which students can develop their understanding of the subject to the best of their potential;
  3. to develop and maintain the highest academic standards of teaching, and to develop new areas of teaching and assessment in response to the rapid advances in the subject;

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students should have:

  1. obtained an introduction from the course as a whole to Physiology, Development and Neuroscience at Honours level, emphasising the broadly based nature of the subject;
  2. obtained some experience of independent investigation whether through completion of an experimental project or written dissertation;
  3. developed the ability to evaluate critically results from their own or others' experiments;
  4. developed transferable skills and responsibility for their own learning;
  5. developed their capacity to argue and think in the biomedical sciences.

Teaching and learning methods

Each module will contain a mixture of didactic lectures, seminars, journal clubs and interactive workshops as appropriate to the material being covered.


  • four written papers (for aims 1-2 and learning outcomes 1 and 3-5);
  • a research project of up to 8,500 words (for aims 1-2 and learning outcomes 1-5).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: either NST Part IA Physiology of Organisms and NST Part IB Physiology or NST Part IB Neurobiology; or Parts IA and IB of the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos.

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.