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Unit information: Computational Neuroscience (Teaching Unit) in 2021/22

Unit name Computational Neuroscience (Teaching Unit)
Unit code COMS30017
Credit points 0
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Aitchison
Open unit status Not open

Basic knowledge of Python or Julia programming languages would help as the courseworks (both formative and summative) will be best implemented in these languages. No previous neuroscience knowledge is required.


EITHER Undergraduate Assessment Unit COMS30016 Computational Neuroscience (Examination assessment, 10 credits)

OR COMS30063 Computational Neuroscience (Coursework assessment, 15 credits)

OR Assessment Unit for M level Masters students, COMSM0039 Computational Neuroscience (10 credits)

Please note:

COMS30017 is the Teaching Unit for the Computational Neuroscience option.

Computer Science and Mathematics and Computer Science students can choose to be assessed by either examination (10 credits, COMS30016) or coursework (15 credits, COMS30063) by selecting the appropriate co-requisite assessment unit.

Any other students that are permitted to take the Computational Neuroscience option are assessed by examination (10 credits) and should be enrolled on the co-requisite exam assessment unit (COMS30016).

School/department Department of Computer Science
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

This unit Aims to provide the student with an understanding of computational principles of biological computations performed in the brain by single neurons and network of neurons, for the following brain processes:

  • learning & memory
  • visual processing
  • general sensory coding
  • and temporal dynamics of neurons.

Intended Learning Outcomes

General ILOs:

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Employ computational principles of the brain in their future engineering work.
  2. Undertake research on the brain with understanding of brain’s purpose (i.e., information processing).
  3. For each levels of abstraction (single neuron, network of neurons, interacting brain areas): understand the assumptions made by the models, validity of the assumptions, and computational principles.

In addition to the General ILOs above, when assessed by Examination, students will be able to:

  1. Have a good general understanding about the brain’s computational functions.
  2. Be able to derive and solve some of the key mathematical equations underlying classic computational models of brain function.

In addition to the General ILOs above, when assessed by Coursework, students will be able to:

  1. Be able to simulate simple models of neurons, networks, and cortical areas in Python or Julia.
  2. Be able to analyse a real experimental dataset of brain activity.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including lectures, practical activities and self-directed exercises.

Teaching will take place over Weeks 1-7, with coursework support in weeks 9-11 and for students assessed by examination, consolidation and revision sessions in Weeks 12.

Assessment Information

Undergraduate Examination details:

January exam (100%, 10 credits)


Undergraduate Coursework details:

Coursework (100%, 15 credits) - to be completed during a specific period.


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. COMS30017).

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.