University of Sussex: Dept of Biology.
Neuroscience B.Sc. Programme and Course Summaries for Intercalating Medical Students 2010‐11
Convenor: Daniel Osorio, firstname.lastname@example.org
Neuroscience deals with the biology of the brain. The subject unites enduring questions about the nature of the
Mind, as well as many important aspects of contemporary biomedical science. Sussex University is a leading centre
in such diverse areas as hearing, artificial intelligence, study of addictive behaviour and synaptic plasticity. The B.Sc.
in Neuroscience recognises the broad scope of the subject by allowing students to select options from a wide range
of courses offered by the Schools of Psychology and Life Sciences. Students typically do a Research project in a
Neuroscience Lab. within Biology, but projects are also taken elsewhere in the University of Sussex, in BSMS or in a
clinical setting. Intercalating medical students are well prepared for the Neuroscience B.Sc. and generally do very
well. They are taught and assessed in the same way as ordinary B.Sc. students, but additional academic support and
advice is available.
Psychology Teaching Pages: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/psychology/1‐3.html
Biology Teaching Pages: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/biology/1‐3.html
Biochemistry Teaching Pages: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/biochemistry/1‐3.html
Biology Project titles for 2008‐09: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/biology/1‐3‐16.html
Neuroscience Research in the Biology Dept: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/neuroscience/
Candidates take 120 credits worth of courses listed below. Most courses have 15 credits some have 30.
Typically, candidates take 45 credits worth of lecture courses per term and a 30 credit project1
. For the
Neuroscience B.Sc. over the two terms candidates may take up to 30 credits of Biochemistry courses and 30
credits of Psychology courses. Students may also take certain Biology Dept Courses that are not listed here.
Students who wish to vary their course should talk to the Convenor.
This document list courses available for the intercalated B.Sc. in Neuroscience course. There are some
restrictions on the availability of courses, and some may require evidence of adequate preparation beyond
the normal BSMS programme.
Brief descriptions of courses and (often) more detailed Course Handbooks are on the teaching pages of the
Departmental Websites. You can also contact the Course Organiser for further information.
If you are studying Medicine and are interested in taking an intercalated Neuroscience B.Sc. please email
the Biology Dept Office: BESOffice@sussex.ac.uk. The email letter should state any particular reasons for
your interest in the degree and the names of two academic referees.. Please give a summary of your marks
for completed units (we may request a transcript). Places are offered subject to space and academic
potential. A decision will be made as soon as possible. If you decide to accept an offer it will be necessary to
gain a approval your Medical School (who will let you know the procedure).
For Brighton & Sussex Medical School [BSMS] students. Students who decide to decline an offer are
requested to advise us at the earliest possible opportunity, as this may make a place available for others.
Please apply only for your first choice of degree at Sussex or Brighton. If you are not admitted to the
preferred B.Sc. programme and wish to take another we will contact you by the end of the Autumn term
Please contact the convenor for further information: email@example.com
It is permitted (but not encouraged!) to take 60 credits of course work in the Autumn term and 30 in the Spring.
Summary of Courses Available for the Neuroscience B.Sc.2
Neuroscience Courses in the Biology Dept.
Functional Neuroanatomy for Medical Students (15 credits)
Functional anatomy of brain regions and their cellular components from both vertebrate and invertebrate organisms, especially
mammalian brain. We describe anatomical substrates for processing of sensory information and the generation of motor
commands to reveal the relationship between structure and function. The course outlines the main techniques used to study the
functional anatomy of the brain at systems and cellular levels.
Assessment: Coursework 50% based on essays and seminar presentations; 2 hour end of year examination.
Intelligence in Animals & Machines (30 Credits)
Organiser: P. Graham
The course develops understanding of what it means for an animal or a machine to behave intelligently, and how brain and
behavioural systems are adapted to enable an animal to operate effectively within its environment. We consider diverse aspects of
intelligence including navigation and motor control, numerical, language, memory and social skills. We ask how these are related to
one another and how they are matched to the particular needs of animals and machines.
Assessment: 3 hour Exam 70%, Coursework 30%.
Neuronal Transduction & Transmission (15 credits)
Organiser: M. O’Shea
This course deals with neuronal signalling, in both vertebrates and invertebrates, highlighting how molecular structure relates to
function in signalling pathways. There is an emphasis on how molecular and cellular mechanisms underlie the function of the CNS
at a systems level and in the generation of behaviour. We begin with sensory transduction (getting information into the nervous
system) with an emphasis on mechanical (auditory) and visual modalities. There follows a series of lectures on how information is
processed at the synapse, covering electrical transmission and pre‐ and post‐ synaptic mechanisms at the chemical synapse. Non‐
synaptic information processing is also introduced.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam 75%, Coursework 25%.
Developmental Neurobiology (15 Credits)
Organiser: Mark Maconochie Term
The human adult nervous system consists of the central and peripheral nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and
peripheral nerves, as well as specialised sensory organs such as the eye and ear. The wide range of specialised cell types that are
found in the nervous system arise during early embryonic development, through processes largely under genetic control.
Furthermore, many of the genetic elements of developmental pathways have been retained across different species during
evolution. We cover selected highlights of the latest research findings from different experimental systems that inform
understanding of the genes and cellular processes in nervous system development and organisation. The course reviews
contemporary research from the following themes: (1) Early events in neural development – neurogenesis and neural tube
induction, determination and differentiation, axon guidance and pathfinding (2) Organisation of the central nervous system (3)
Development of sensory organs.
Assessment: Coursework 100% consisting of two Precis (10% each), two Review Papers (10% each), Poster Presentation (20%), Take
Away Paper (40%).
Reading: Development of the Nervous System, Dan H. Sanes, Thomas A. Reh, William A. Harris; Developmental Neurobiology, Rao,
Mahendra S.; Jacobson, Marcus (Eds.)
Neuronal Plasticity & Gene Regulation (15 credits)
Organiser: Sergei Korneev
Cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate neural plasticity and differentiation. Particular emphasis on how the cellular and
synaptic processes interact with molecular mechanisms associated with the regulation of gene expression. These mechanisms are
studied in the context synaptic plasticity, and memory formation and storage. Newly discovered molecular regulatory mechanisms
involving epigenetic regulation, natural antisense transcripts (NATs) such as microRNAs (miRNAs) are discussed in the context of
the regulation of neural function. Prerequisite: Transduction & Transmission.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam 75%, Coursework 25% consisting of Essay (100%)
This list is for guidance only: it is not exhaustive and some course combinations may not be feasible.
Receptors & Senses (30 credits)
Organiser: Daniel Osorio
This course deals with animal senses including vision, hearing and other sensory systems. How natural signals are processed in the
nervous system and how sensory information is used in behaviour.
Assessment: 3 hour Exam 70%, Coursework 30% consisting of Essay 50%, two Presentations.
Biochemistry of Gene Expression (Autumn & Spring Credits: 30 credits)
Organiser: Trevor Beebee
A detailed account of gene transcription, including RNA processing and the translation of mRNA. There is extensive coverage of
how gene expression is regulated in bacterial and animal cells.
Assessment: 3 hour Unseen Exam.
Molecular Biology of Cancer (Autumn & Spring Credits: 30 credits)
Organiser: Alison Sinclair
New cancer therapies depend on understanding the molecular basis of the disease. This course explains the molecular mechanisms
that control the proliferation and survival of normal cells, and how the genetic changes that lead to cancer disrupt these controls.
Throughout, the course emphases the review and critical evaluation of recent experimental evidence; advances in this area rely on
a combination of biochemical analysis, genetic approaches and bioinformatics. Lectures are complemented by discussion groups.
Assessment: 3h Unseen Exam.
Cell Signalling & its Applications in Disease and Therapeutics (15 credits)
Organiser: Mike Titheradge
We discuss the major signalling pathways in cells and how perturbations of these can result in disease processes such as
hypertension, cancer, type II diabetes and septic shock. The course will demonstrate how knowledge of these pathways has led to
the design and use of specific pharmacological agents for therapeutic intervention. The signalling cyclic nucleotides, nitric oxide and
guanylate cyclase, MAPK kinase pathways covered will include Ca2+
pathways, PI‐3‐kinase and PKB, Jak/Stat pathways and integrins.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam
Genomics (15 Credits)
Organiser: Sue Jones
We survey genomic and proteomic data including DNA and protein sequences, gene and protein structure, and interaction &
expression data. The aims and methods of protein sequence analysis are covered including analysis of homology, identification of
motifs and domains, and sequence alignment methods. The emphasis is on computer algorithms and databases. We survey the
distribution of data through public databases including data formats and end‐user applications. Students access, manipulate and
analyse data, and to demonstrate understanding of the structure and limits of these services.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam 60% in the summer term, Coursework 40% consisting of Practical Report
Reading: A Primer of Genome Science. Gibson & Muse. Sinauer Associates, 2002; Bioinformatics. Orengo, Jones & Thornton. Bios, 2003; Principles
of Genome Analysis and Genomics. Primrose & Twyman. Blackwell, 2003; Introduction to Bioinformatics: AM Lesk. Oxford 2005
Immunology in Health and Disease (15 Credits)
Organiser: Kathy Triantafilou
We study mechanisms of immune recognition by the innate and acquired immune system and how failures of these responses can
lead to disease; in particular innate recognition as well as T‐cell recognition via Major Histocompatibility Molecules (MHC). The
course demonstrates how failures of the immune system can lead to conditions such as allergies, hypersensitivity reactions and
autoimmunity, and how bacterial and viral pathogens can evade the immune system.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam.
Molecular Genetics (15 Credits)
Organiser: Felicity Watts
Application of molecular genetics to the study of processes in model systems and higher eukaryotes. Topics include cell cycle and
checkpoint control, recombination and mating type switching in lower eukaryotes, gene mapping and cloning disease genes in
higher eukaryotes and the production of transgenic animals. Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam in the summer term
Endocrinology & Disease (15 credits)
Organiser: Mike Titheradge
This course discusses the structure, synthesis, secretion and metabolic effects of the major classes of hormones (e.g. insulin,
glucagon, thyroid hormones, glucocorticoids, sex steroids, catecholamines, the renin‐angiotensin system, growth hormone and
prolactin). The emphasis is on how imbalances in the synthesis and secretion of these hormones leads to disease states, their
symptoms and treatment (e.g. diabetes mellitus, Addisons Disease, Cushing's Syndrome, Grave's disease, hypothyroidism,
acromegally and dwarfism, hypertension).
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam.
Protein Form & Function (15 credits)
Organiser: Darren Thompson
How protein structures are related to each other and of how these structures relate to function. This course covers aspects of
protein structure in detail and introduces computational and experimental techniques that are essential for studying proteins and
provides the basis for the in depth discussion of more topical issues such as protein engineering and design, protein folding,
chaperones and protein folding diseases.
Assessment: 2 hour Unseen Exam.
For details see Psychology teaching pages http://www.sussex.ac.uk/psychology/1‐3‐1.html : (Level 3 Courses). Some
Courses are listed below, but you will need to confirm their availability and whether you have the prerequisite
knowledge. Also there are some restrictions on which courses may be taken together. We recommend consulting with
Louisa Hatfield in the Psychology Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) before confirming choices
Altruism and helping behaviour
Animal vocal communication
Applications of learning theory
Biological bases of mental disorders
Communication in infancy
Comparative perspectives on cognitive development
Conscious and unconscious mental processes
Fear and anxiety in children
Neurobiological mechanisms of learning and memory
Psychobiology of addiction
Synaesthesia and the mixing of the senses
Art as psychology
Human speech: production, perception, development and
Psychobiology of cognitive ageing and dementia
Psychological perspectives on self and identity
Psychology of appetite
Sensory and motor functions of the nervous system
The project constitutes 25% of the credit for the year, and it is important to choose a suitable topic. The Biology Dept.
publishes a list of projects, which is available in the Spring term (for the previous list see:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk/biology/1‐3‐16.html). Students ballot for projects, and are not guaranteed the first choice. In
practice people normally secure their first or second choice and we ensure that there are sufficient Neuroscience
projects. It may be possible to take project in Psychology. For those who do not want to do laboratory experiments
there are various suitable types of project, and we are happy to talk about this.
It is possible to arrange projects with external organizations, especially Clinicians. We have some contacts, but it is
more usual for students to arrange such projects privately of via their Medical School. We provide academic support
and guidance for external projects, as well as a small fee to cover the Supervisor’s expenses.
Major areas of interest are in hearing, mechanisms of learning, control of gene expression in the nervous system,
behavioural neuroscience of mammals, birds and invertebrates, and in developmental neuroscience.
We are happy to arrange for work done outside the Dept. for example in a clinical setting or BSMS research labs to
form all or part of a project. Assessment will however be made by Biology Dept faculty in consultation with those who
directly supervised the work.