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Unit information: Cell Signalling in 2021/22

Unit name Cell Signalling
Unit code MEDIM0013
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Anastasiades
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

The students are given a background in receptors and signal transduction; with emphasis on neuronal signalling.

The aims of the unit are to:

1. Provide a broad overview of cell-cell communication in the brain - introducing key concepts such as different mechanisms for achieving cell-cell communication, the types of molecules involved, the nature and classification of receptors, synaptic transmission and neuromodulation, the generation and exploitation of transmembrane ion gradients, the importance of protein phosphorylation, methods to study neuronal signalling (including optogenetics and calcium imaging).

2. To explain:

(a) signalling via ligand-gated ion channels using nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, Glutamate receptors and GABA receptors as examples.

(b) how signalling cascades control gene expression, and the cellular consequences of their activation.

(c) signalling via nitric oxide.

(d) signalling via GPCRs and the pathways through which they control neural activity.

(e) intracellular Ca2+ signalling and mechanisms of Ca2+ homeostasis.

(f) signalling via enzyme-containing receptors.

(g) signalling via tyrosine kinase associated receptors.

(h) vesicular transport with emphasis on the proteins and mechanisms regulating neurotransmitter release.

(i) how cells adapt their sensitivity to extracellular signalling molecules, emphasising the desensitisation and cycling of GPCRs.

(j) signalling pathways controlling cell fate and the cellular stress response.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit the student will have good knowledge of molecular neuropharmacology and cell signalling. Students will also learn to interpret scientific data. They will apply this learnt material to understand neuronal signalling in health and disease.

Teaching Information

This unit is taught primarily through lectures, group tutorials and formative tasks. The content of the unit will be delivered in a blended way, including in-person taught sessions, structured online learning sessions and independent learning. Sessions will expose students to cutting-edge research methods in neuroscience. Students will also be given the opportunity to develop their problem-solving skills through data interpretation tasks.

Assessment Information

The unit will be assessed by a 1,000 word piece of coursework (50% of marks) and a data interpretation timed open-book assessment (50% of marks)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MEDIM0013).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.