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Subject Summary: Part II Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

The Part II Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience course offers a choice of fourteen 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 (PDN), as well as invited specialists from the across the University, and from The Babraham Institute, The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute, The Gurdon Institute, The Institute of Metabolic Science, The Wellcome Trust-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute and the Department of Medicine at 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 health and disease processes 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.

Another option is to take Biological and Biomedical Sciences | Faculty of Biology ( Students choosing this option take four PDN modules, plus a fifth module as a minor subject (this can be from another department, or one of the PDN modules offered as a minor). Instead of undertaking a research project, students write a dissertation, taking the form of a literature review.

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 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 contains a mixture of didactic lectures, seminars, journal clubs, supervisions and interactive workshops as appropriate to the material being covered. Students are also expected to present a poster on their experimental project or written dissertation, where students receive informal feedback from academics and their peers.


  • 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: NST Part IA Physiology of Organisms and NST Part IB Physiology and/or Neurobiology and/or Cell & Developmental Biology

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.