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Unit information: Techniques in Neuroscience in 2015/16

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Unit name Techniques in Neuroscience
Unit code PHPH20007
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Jack Mellor
Open unit status Not open

PHPH10007: Central Nervous System



School/department School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


During this unit, students will be introduced to the development of the nervous system and mechanisms of communication within the brain. Fundamental techniques used in neuroscience and appreciation of the application of these methods in understanding brain function in health and disease will be considered. Virtual Technique Focus sessions will provide exposure to the current use and application of these techniques in neuroscience research. In addition, group activities will be undertaken to increase confidence in the use of information technology, to enhance relevant communication skills and to develop self-directed and group learning skills.


The aim of the unit is to give insights into techniques used to study the central nervous system.

Intended learning outcomes

To this end the unit has been designed to meet the following objectives:

  1. To teach students some of the common techniques and approaches to studying the central nervous system from subcellular structure to the whole brain.
  2. To provide information on how some of these techniques are used to study development and disease.
  3. To provide the students with experience of how some of these techniques are used in a modern research laboratory.


Develop the following skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Group working
  • Self-directed learning
  • Oral presentation
  • Written presentation
  • Information management
  • Time management

Specific learning objectives for individual lectures can be found in the Lecture synopses section of the handbook or will be handed out during the course of the unit.

Teaching details


These will provide you with the main concepts and information about the topic. You write brief notes on the main points and can ask about anything that you have not understood. This provides you with a framework on which to build notes that will help you revise.


There are 2 types of practical in this unit: Compulsory

  1. Problem based learning (PBL). Each week a problem will be set and discussed. The results from the previous week’s problem will be presented. You will be asked as a group to research the problem set and provide a written report.
  2. Technique focus. Each week an Ebiolabs virtual practical will be introduced and assessed.

Assessment Details

There will be an end of unit examination paper. Students will also be assessed through a written report and contribution to group problem solving. Technique Focus sessions will be assessed within Ebiolabs.

Reading and References


When investigating a subject for the first time, it is best to start with textbooks, which usually offer a good overview and explanation of a subject. To find out which books are available and where they are, use the Library Catalogue (follow the link from the Library web page). A growing number of books are also available to read online. You can see what is available through the Library Catalogue (


For more detailed or up to date subject information, you should consult academic and scientific journals. The Library subscribes to thousands of online and print journals. Use Library Services’ e-journals search facility to find and access online journals. Use the Library Catalogue to find print journals. Follow the links to e-journals and print journals from the Library homepage. Most scientific journals are published online, but some are only available in print, particularly older issues.