BSc Pharmacology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience

Unit code BIOL10832
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

Excitable cells - cells which respond to stimuli by producing an electric current - are key to the function of our muscles and nervous system. You will learn about the structure and function of these cells, what makes them important and the techniques used to study them.

Aims

To consider the major concepts underlying the basis of cell excitability, the structure and function of excitable cells and their contribution to muscle and nervous system function.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this unit, students will have developed an understanding of what excitable cells are and what makes them important. Key features of how excitable cells maintain and alter their ionic composition in relation to electrochemical gradients will become familiar. Students will understand the techniques used to study excitable cells; in addition, students will become familiar with a variety of cells within the nervous system and how they function, such as sensory and motor neurons and how these relate to muscles. Students will then be able to begin to apply this knowledge in learning about how networks of excitable cells can function together as systems, such as learning..

Syllabus

Overview. Gross organization of the nervous system. Cellular organization of the nervous system. The cytosol, extracellular fluids, membranes. The proteins - ion channels, pumps and transporters. Diffusion, permeability, electricity. Origin of resting membrane potentials. The action potential. Transmission and saltatory conduction. Electrical synapses. Chemical transmission. Electrophysiological techniques such as patch clamping. New research techniques such as fluorescent voltage sensors and optogenetics. An introduction to sensory biology, including how the eye functions. A model synapse - the neuromuscular junction.

Gross organization of musculature. Cellular structure of muscle. Excitation-contraction coupling in muscle cells.

What goes wrong in stroke and inflammation in the brain. Simple nervous systems: invertebrate learning. Vertebrate nervous systems: learning.

Employability skills

Problem solving
Part of unit includes ePBL exercises that count for 10% of the total mark - these are problem solving questions online.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

90% awarded for a one hour examination which will consist of 30 MCQs and five short note questions, in the semester 2 examination period, and 10% awarded for online summative MCQ-based assessments.

Feedback methods

Feedback on coursework will be provided via the Blackboard MCQ system. After the exam results have been released we will also make the unit exam paper available as a Blackboard quiz (with feedback). Formative feedback will be available via revision reversions of summative assessments and an online version of last year’s exam paper

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 77

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Prince Unit coordinator

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