SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHB223457
Module Leader James Reilly
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

SCQF 7 Physiology or equivalent, SCQF 9 Pharmacology or equivalent

Summary of Content

The module allows students with a background in pharmacology to gain an in-depth understanding of the physiological and pharmacological regulation of the central nervous system (CNS). Students will develop their understanding of the structure and function of the CNS and the control and regulation of motivated behaviours, before progressing to study key CNS diseases and disorders and the d rugs used for treatment of these conditions. The module will deliver in-depth research-based content and students will be required to write a research informed extended essay on a topical issue in neuroscience.


Basic Concepts Structure of the CNS: anatomy and structural organisation. Sensory and motor systems: topographic organisation, receptor types and nerve fibres, nerve transduction. Synaptic transmission, neurotransmitter systems. Drugs used to treat Mental Illness Anti-psychotic drugs: schizophrenia, biological bases, neurochemical theories, typical and atypical anti-psychotic drugs. Drugs used in affective disorders: types and causes of depression, mania, theories of depression, anti-depressant medication. Anxiety and Insomnia: anxiety disorders, the stress response, treatments of anxiety, sedatives. Motivated Behaviour Reinforcement and reward: drugs of abuse, alcohol, hallucinogens, stimulants, opiates, regulation of feeding behaviour, addiction. Drugs used in CNS Diseases CNS age-related changes including Alzheimer's disease and Dementia : Pathology, pathophysiology, treatment and future therapies Parkinson's disease , Huntington's disease, Motor neurone disease and brain injury : Pathology, pathophysiology, current treatments and novel therapies. Multiple sclerosis: Pathology, pathophysiology and treatment. Epilepsy and neurovascular coupling Neurovascular and neurometabolic coupling during normal function and epilepsy. Epileptic syndromes and t reatment of epilepsy.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module the student should be able to:1. Describe key neurotransmitter systems and their function in the brain (module content).2. Describe the biochemical basis of mood and behaviour (module content).3. Demonstrate an in depth knowledge and understanding of drugs used to treat CNS disorders, their efficacy and side-effects (module content).4. Interpret and critically analyse scientific data on current theories of drug action in the CNS (lecture material/research for extended essay).5. Communicate by the written word (via exam and extended essays).6. Formulate a divergent thought process (via evidence-based learning).

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The course is delivered through a series of lectures supported by recommended reading. Each lecture topic will be presented and discussed using an evidence-based approach, to encourage the student's ability to critically analyse the literature and new concepts in pharmacology. Participative modes of learning and problem-solving will be encouraged during teaching sessions, and feedback provided via a series of in-class tests in the form of short answer questions, and MCQs. Analytical and communication skills are further developed in the coursework component where students are required to research and produce a written discussion on a topic in neuropharmacology.

Indicative Reading

i) Essential texts Rang, H.P. Ritter, J.M., Flower, R.J., Henderson, G. (2015) Rang & Dale's Pharmacology. 8th edition, Churchill-Livingstone. Battista (2012) Pharmacology Crash Course 4th edition, Mosby, Elsevier ii) Additional reading Students may also be directed to relevant papers, on-line resources, reviews and textbooks by individual lecturers, and should make an effort to visit the library to find other texts to assist with their own studies.

Transferrable Skills

The student will be able to acquire a number of transferable skills such as: - written communication (via the media of extended essays). - independent research and study skills - communication and presentation of data - interpretation and critical analysis of scientific data (research for extended essay)

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 20.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 136.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam 01 3.00 70.00 35% Unseen written exam (3 essay from 6)
Course Work 01 n/a 30.00 35% Essay