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NST Part IB Neurobiology

Neurobiology is the result of an interdepartmental collaboration between four biological departments:

  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology, Development & Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Zoology

The course aims to provide a unified approach to the teaching of neurobiology at second year level.


There are three lectures each week, on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday, at 12 noon, delivered in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre (a few lectures at the end of Michaelmas are held in Pharmacology; check the course timetable).

In addition there are practical classes each week, organized as one session of 3 hours (on either Thursday or Tuesday afternoon, 2–5 pm). You should have been allocated to one each of these sessions at the NST IB registration; if not, please contact Mr Howard Davies ( in the Histology Classroom of the Physiology Building, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.


The lecture course begins at the cellular and molecular level with the electrical and chemical properties of individual neurons. It next examines in turn the major sensory systems: hearing, vision, olfaction and taste, and somatosensation and pain. In the Lent Term the motor system is explored in detail, including a systems approach to sensorimotor integration, followed by lectures on the development of the nervous system: the origins of neuronal types and neuronal architecture, and the way that connections between neurons develop and are regulated.  Attention then turns to mechanisms of motivation and emotion, and consideration of synaptic modification and its role in maturation of the nervous system, response to injury and memory. The Easter term lectures are devoted to language, learning, memory and higher functions of the nervous system. 

Practical classes

A wide range of experimental techniques and approaches will be explored in the practical classes including: the properties of neurons and synapses; neural development in zebrafish and nematode model systems; sensory and motor function; brain anatomy and histology; brain imaging; and neuropsychological assessment.  One aim of the practical classes is to provide hands-on experience of many experimental techniques that are used in modern neurobiology: from microscopy, through single-neuron recordings, to stimulation and extra­cellular recordings from your own nerves and muscles, and finally to psychophysical measurements of human sensory and cognitive performance. 
Many of the practical classes will be held in either the Experimental Class­room or the Histology Classroom in the Physiology Building, but a number will be held in classrooms in other departments, where the appropriate apparatus is available.

Detailed information is available for staff and current students on Moodle including the course handbook, lecture and practical timetables, lecture handouts and the practical books.


The examination comprises two written papers and a practical examination, as follows:

  • (50%) a 3-hour paper, requiring 4 essay answers from 10 questions
  • (25%) a 1-hour paper, 20 short-answer questions
  • (25%) a 1½-hour practical examination 
Lecture and practical handouts will be available on Moodle.


Course Organisers: Dr David Parker, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience (

Registration for Moodle: at practical registration

Practical registration and Handouts: Mr Howard Davies (, Histology Classroom, Physiology Building, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience