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BSc (intercalated) Neuroscience

Neuroscience is an exciting and rapidly developing field, both in terms of understanding the functioning of the nervous system and the development of treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders. The Neuroscience intercalated Bachelor of Science programme provides critically informed insight into the anatomical, physiological, chemical and immunological processes, key in functioning of the normal nervous system and current thought on how these are altered in specific disease states and approach to treatment.

The programme consists of five taught modules and a research project. The first taught module provides a strong foundation of knowledge of general importance in basic and translational neuroscience research and valuable experience in evaluation and selection of appropriate scientific methodologies, data interpretation, synthesis and critical analysis of information and oral and written presentation. Cellular and molecular neurobiology is explored in topics ranging from molecular mechanisms to neural networks and specific disease processes involving genetic and multifaceted cellular interactions. This is complemented by more clinically-orientated modules examining disorders of peripheral and spinal systems and supraspinal systems. Disease processes are further explored from the perspective of the neuropathologist.

The Neuroscience Research Project provides students the opportunity to analyse in-depth a novel research question from the scientific literature, test hypotheses through experimental work and interpret and present their results in the context of other research findings. A large choice of Neuroscience projects are offered and normally involve joining the on-going research of one of the School’s internationally recognised neuroscience research teams. Many of our intercalating neuroscience students present their results at national and international scientific conferences. Students have recently co-authored articles published in journals including Brain, Journal of Physiology, Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurotrauma and Oncogene.

Structure and timing

Summary for 2015/16 with unit values and approximate dates

  • Core Laboratory Methods 15 credits Autumn term
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience 15 credits Autumn term
  • Disconnected Pathways - Disorders of Spinal Systems 15 credits Autumn term
  • Brain and Mind - Disorders of Supraspinal Systems 15 credits Autumn term
  • Experimental Neuropathology 15 credits Spring term
  • Neuroscience Research Project 45 credits Spring term

Brief description of modules

NS1. Core Laboratory Methods

Module convener: Dr. Xuenong Bo, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

The module aims to provide an overview of and foundation in research methodologies and essential generic skills. It aims to develop within students a theoretical understanding of research techniques and a considered approach to scientific experimentation extending from acquisition of information and formulation of hypotheses to experimental design and execution and finally data handling, analysis and presentation.

NS2. Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Module co-conveners: Dr. Mark Baker and Dr. Joanna Riddoch-Contreras, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

Areas to be covered in this module include neuronal and glial organisation, synapses and circuitry, signal transduction and neurotransmission, ion channel physiology, neuro-inflammation, cell death, molecular biology of brain tumours and stem cell neurobiology. The module aims to develop a depth of understanding of cellular and molecular neurobiology that will form a foundation for further learning about diseases which affect nervous system function. Through study of basic mechanisms, students should develop a conceptual framework upon which to assess complex topics including neuronal plasticity in different settings, network behaviour and genetic constraints on the neural system.

NS3. Disconnected Pathways - Disorders of Spinal Systems

Module co-conveners: Dr. David Bulmer and Dr. Greg Michael, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

The main aim of this module is to provide the students with a broad understanding of how the nervous system adapts to injury and disease, with an emphasis on pain mechanisms. Through detailed examination of activation and insult involving nociceptive circuitry in the periphery, adaptation in the nervous system at different levels can be analysed and compared in a clinically relevant context. Study of spinal cord injury further allows comparison of the effects of lesions in the peripheral and central nervous systems. In both injury models, rationales in development of therapeutics are explored.

NS4. Brain and Mind - Disorders of Supraspinal Systems

Module convener: Professor Adina Michael-Titus, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

This module focuses on major pathologies in neurology and psychiatry, involving supraspinal structures. It will provide an integrated view of the major neurotransmitter systems and analyse mechanisms underlying the effects of drugs used in central nervous system pathology.  Neuronal pathways utilising specific neurotransmitters will be reviewed emphasising their involvement in neuropathology. Current therapies will be critically evaluated from a pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic perspective and emerging concepts and rationale of new therapeutic approaches in neurology and psychiatry discussed.

NS5./EP3. Experimental Neuropathology (in conjunction with the iBSc in Experimental Pathology)

Module convener: Dr Jürgen Groet, Centre for Genomics and Child Health

This module covers laboratory techniques designed to study the pathogenesis of neurological disorders, to diagnose and model these diseases including use of molecular biology, imaging and animal model approaches. The biology of neural cells will be covered such as demyelination, axonal transport and stem cell replacement. Clinical aspects cover trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, motor neuron disease, Pick's disease and tauopathies. The module complements the syllabus in basic neurosciences and is strongly linked at a technical and applied level to the clinical neurosciences.

The module aims to reinforce the science behind clinical practice in neuroscience, elucidate current avenues of experimentation and technological innovation and critically appraise research at the forefront of experimental neuropathology.

NS6. Neuroscience Research Project

Module convener: Dr. Greg Michael, Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

This is a practical-based module wherein students conduct original research supervised by an academic member of staff for a period of approximately 10-12 weeks. Students will be able to explore the background of the research and develop a rationale and hypotheses to be tested in research. Students will present a written dissertation including critical analysis of literature, report of experimental design and results as well as their evaluation in a format analogous to that of a journal article.

Work may be published in a scientific journal (usually with other research from the supervisor’s laboratory) and/or be presented at a scientific meeting either orally or in the form of a poster.

You will be able to choose the subject of your project from a diverse range of topics and supervisors. However, if you have a specific interest outside of the project areas on offer, it is possible, subject to consultation with a potential supervisor, to devise a project related to this.

Further information

For more information, contact the Programme Director, Dr. Gregory J. Michael.

Email: g.j.michael@qmul.ac.uk

Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma, Blizard Institute, 4 Newark St., Whitechapel, London E1 2AT

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