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BSc Biology with Science & Society / Course details
Year of entry: 2023
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Course unit details:
Membrane Excitability: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||School of Biological Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
Excitable cells play a key role in the function of the nervous system, and other body systems. By generating action potentials in response to stimuli, these cells can then release substances that act as chemical messengers to affect other cells. You will learn about: the role of ion channels and ion transporter proteins, the relationship between cellular structure and the function of excitable cells, the features of the synapse that underpin fast chemical neurotransmission and its modification, and the methods used to analyse or predict cell excitability.
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Excitable Cells: the Foundations of Neuroscience||BIOL10832||Pre-Requisite||Compulsory|
The aim of this module is to give students the strongest grounding in our current understanding of excitable cell pharmacology and physiology through study of the key elements of membrane excitability. It will also provide a solid theoretical framework in membrane excitability irrespective of which degree programme the students are pursuing. It will treat each area in a logical, fresh and exciting manner highlighting relevance to function and disease. In addition, students will be encouraged to think critically and to appreciate the special challenges intrinsic to studying excitable membrane function.
In relation to membrane excitability, students should be able to describe in detail: (i) the key governing principles, (ii) the role of ion channels and ion transporter proteins, (iii) the relationship between cellular structure and the function of excitable cells, (iv) the features of the synapse that underpin fast chemical neurotransmission and its modification, and (v) the methods used to analyse or predict cell excitability.
- Membrane structural organization and types of integral membrane proteins
- Regulation of cell volume and contents including pHi and [Ca2+]i
- Ion channels, selective ion permeability and membrane potential generation
- The ionic basis of the action potential and diversity in excitable tissues
- Functional diversity of voltage-gated ion channels and their pharmacology
- Cell polarization in epithelia and neurones, and the role of compartmentalization
- Cytoskeleton and the differential trafficking of membrane-targeted proteins
- Electrical and chemical neurotransmission and transmitter-gated ion channels
- Transmitter synthesis, vesicle exocytosis and recycling
- Synaptic integration and plasticity
Blackboard discussion board topics (as suggested by contributors). Revision of basic concepts and principles from previous learning essential to this unit. Simulation of excitable membrane behaviour to expand understanding of the Nernst equation and the ionic basis for excitability. On-line short answer questions in the style of those found in the main January or summer resit exam (as assessed eLearning modules). A full exam format question paper with model answers (as a further revision aide for the main January or summer resit exam).
- Analytical skills
- Students encouraged to think critically about the topics covered.
- Problem solving
- Short answer questions in the exam and eLearning modules may require a degree of problem solving.
|Practical skills assessment||10%|
Detailed analysis of the e-Learning activities. Workshop sessions on the material presented to allow review and consolidation of concepts and address learning issues. Exam clinic to follow in Semester 4 as a forum to discuss marks and see model answers.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||1.5|
|Independent study hours|
|Jonathan Turner||Unit coordinator|