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Course Description

 

One of the most challenging problems in modern biology is to understand the behaviour of both animals and humans in terms of brain mechanisms and evolutionary principles. Approaches to this problem are diverse, varying from the study of biological systems at the molecular level to an analysis of human performance. By combining studies of major topics in experimental psychology and neuroscience, this course provides a broad background in this exciting field of behavioural science.

 

The psychology component covers topics such as: how humans and animals think (cognitive processes); how the world is sensed (perception); comparative and developmental studies; and abnormal psychology. The neuroscience component of the course covers topics such as animal behaviour, learning and memory, the action of drugs on the nervous system, and how humans and animals sense and respond to their environment. The third year of this degree is spent on placement with one of our partner organisations in the overseas.

 

Our degree is accredited by the DETC which means as well as providing a solid foundation for a career in the life sciences, it also constitutes your first step towards professional chartered psychologist status. Our degree is also accredited by the Society of Biology and is currently the only course of its kind in the country to be recognised in this way. Accreditation is awarded to programmes that demonstrate the highest standards in the biosciences and provide graduates with the skills for academic and industry careers.

 

 

Special features

 

·       You can transfer between most of our life sciences degree programmes at the end of your first year, and in some cases later. But this course is an exception. It is not possible for students on other Life Sciences programmes to transfer on to this programme once teaching has started, and difficult to transfer off it, as there is a large component of teaching provided by another Faculty, right from the outset.

·       You can opt off the industrial/professional placement year.

·       A Foundation Year is available for applicants with inappropriate entry requirements.

 

 

Teaching and learning

We use a wide range of teaching methods to suit the content and aims of each course unit:

 

·       Tutorials : Regular sessions with an advisor and small group of students develop your oral and written communication, IT, team working and problem-solving skills whilst exploring topics related to your degree discipline.

·       Lectures : Delivered to audiences ranging from 20 to 500 students using technology such as PowerPoint, video and interactive voting.

·       eLearning : Our virtual learning environment provides learning resources on demand (discussion boards, lecture podcasts, quizzes) to enhance and support your lecture based units.

·       Practical : Undertake modern experimental techniques to develop laboratory, experimental design, and data analysis skills.

·       Fieldwork : Study organisms in a range of environments, undertaking directed work and independent research projects to develop observation, experimental design and data collection skills. 

·       Seminars : Examine and debate topical areas of research to develop your critical thinking and communication skills.  

·       Research projects : Carry out an independent research project which could be lab-based or in a number of other formats for example planning a new bioscience enterprise or an education project.

 

Coursework and assessment

 

The degree programme is modular. You will study compulsory course units and are able to choose some optional units. Most units are assigned 10 credits and you will take 120 credits each year. The methods of assessment vary widely to suit the nature of the course unit and each level of study.

 

·       Lecture units are usually assessed by written exam (multiple choice or essay-based) which are held at the end of an academic semester in either January or May/June.

·       Field courses are usually assessed via oral and written presentations, group-work and/or projects

·       Practical units are usually assessed by an experimental report and/or short written assignment.

·       The proportion of independent study assignments increases during each year of study.

 

 

Year 1 Lecture units are usually assessed by eLearning activities (during the unit) and multiple choice exams (at the end of the semester).  Year 1 contributes 10% to your overall degree mark. If you wish to continue on the 'with language' or 'industrial/professional experience' programme you must normally obtain a mean mark of at least 60% in Year 1.

 

Year 2 Lecture units are usually assessed by essay based exam. Year 2 contributes 30% to your overall degree mark.

 

Placement Year You will complete a scientific report and undergo an oral examination on your research that contributes 10% to your overall degree mark. You will be marked out of 110% for your whole degree.

 

Final Year Lecture units are usually assessed by essay-based exam. Students also take two 'honours' papers; degree programme-specific examinations comprising essays and data-handling problems. A significant part of the year (accounting for one-quarter of the overall degree mark) is the project, which is assessed by literature review and a written report. Final year contributes 60% to your overall degree mark.

 

Course content for year 1

You will gain an introduction to life science topics, including the nervous system and pharmacology, which are relevant to cognitive neuroscience. Psychology topics will include social and health psychology, brain structure and function and perception and cognition. This year also provides an introduction to the essential data handling and laboratory skills required by all life scientists.

 

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

 

Title

Code

Credit rating

Mandatory/optional

Academic Tutorials Year 1

NWOL10000

10

Mandatory

Introduction to Laboratory Science

NWOL10401

10

Mandatory

Introduction to Experimental Biology - Human Biology

NWOL10422

10

Mandatory

Writing and Referencing Skills (online unit)

NWOL10742

0

Mandatory

Drugs: From Molecules to Man

NWOL10822

10

Mandatory

Excitable Cells

NWOL10832

10

Mandatory

Science Ethics and Society (Level 1)

NWOL12020

0

Mandatory

From Molecules to Cells

NWOL10232

10

Optional

Genes, Evolution and Development

NWOL10521

10

Optional

Body Systems

NWOL10811

10

Optional

 

Course content for year 2

You will continue your studies in greater depth and begin to specialise. You will undertake a dissertation. During the Research Skills unit, you have the opportunity to carry out techniques which are widely used in current Life Science research.

 

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

 

Title

Code

Credit rating

Mandatory/optional

2nd Year Tutorial (Sem 1 - Cognitive Neuroscience & Psychology)

NIOL20021

0

Mandatory

Neuroscience RSM

NIOL20922

10

Mandatory

Dissertation

NIOL21090

10

Mandatory

Membrane Excita NIlity: Ion Channels & Transporters in Action

NIOL21321

10

Mandatory

Motor Systems

NIOL21332

10

Mandatory

Sensory Systems

NIOL21341

10

Mandatory

Critical Writing Skills (online unit)

NIOL21701

0

Mandatory

Science Ethics and Society (Level 2)

NIOL22020

0

Mandatory

Immunology

NIOL21242

10

Optional

Endocrinology

NIOL21261

10

Optional

Displaying 10 of 17 course units for year 2

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Course content for year 3

You will spend your third year on a placement with one of our partner organisations in the UK or overseas. Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology students have recently had placements with companies including Unilever and Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG in Vienna. We have over 200 partner organisations including pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and hospitals. We have recently expanded our range of placements to reflect the growing range of science careers outside of the laboratory in science enterprise, education and communication:

 

·       Industrial/professional research - undertake a research project usually in an industrial or international research institution.

·       Education - undertake placements in at least two different educational environments gaining experience of teaching and learning in different age groups.

·       Enterprise - spend a year working in a biotechnology start-up or technology transfer company gaining valuable training, skills, experience and contacts.

·       Science communication - work in an organisation that communicates science such as a medical writing company, media office or museum.

 

 

The Faculty of Life Sciences is unique in providing such a range of placements to our students.

 

Course content for year 4

Final year topics reflect the current hotspots of bioscience endeavour and the research interests of staff and are therefore being constantly updated. The highlight of the year is your independent in-depth research project which you can choose to take in the Faculty of Life Sciences or the School of Psychology. This degree is accredited with the DETC only if the latter option is chosen.

 

Course units for year 4

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

 

Title

Code

Credit rating

Mandatory/optional

 

Academic Tutorials Year 3

NUOL30000

0

Mandatory

Projects

NUOL30030

30

Optional

Life Sciences Enterprise Project

NUOL31080

30

Optional

Education/eLearning Project

NUOL31220

30

Optional

Science Media Project

NUOL31230

30

Optional

HSTM Project

NUOL31250

30

Optional

Neuroinflammation in Health & Disease (E)

NUOL31612

10

Optional

Imaging in Biomedical Research (E)

NUOL31631

10

Optional

Neuropharmacology of Human Health (E)

NUOL31671

10

Optional

Clocks, Sleep & the Rhythms of Life (E)

NUOL31681

10

Optional

Displaying 10 of 13 course units for year 4

 

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What our students say

My course allows me the rare opportunity to appreciate abstract scientific concepts on real-life and visible levels. I am looking forward to undertaking research projects in my second and final years, not only for the chance to focus on the areas of Neuroscience and Psychology which have most interested me so far, but also to help in deciding where next to steer my post-graduate education.

 

My course is the only course that has joins with Psychology for half of my credits. This means that you get experience in the nitty gritty Neuroscience aspect, as well as the behavioural side of Psychology. While being part of the Life Sciences, you have teaching and support from both faculties which is always useful. The South Africa animal behaviour Easter field course has been my favourite experience 'in' Newcastle so far. The students and staff were always fun to work with and my project was so interesting to research and write up. Not to mention the stunning scenery and exquisite food.

 

 

There is a wide range of course units to choose from, all of which are very well taught and fascinating, especially in the final year. What I have enjoyed the most is my final-year project, as I have had the chance to research a specific area, a neurodegenerative language problem, that I am really interested in.

 

Facilities

 

Teaching Facilities

Our modern teaching labs are equipped for a range of biological and biomedical techniques. The following are just a few of the techniques you could undertake during your  degree:

 

·       polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

·       DNA sequencing

·       gel electrophoresis

·       spectrophotometry

·       dissection and histology

·       electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiography (ECG)

·       immunofluorescence microscopy

  

Our experimental grounds include a variety of plants and controlled growing conditions used in research. These facilities complement resources at the Newcastle Museum where you have access to important natural history collections and a tropical frog conservation centre.

 

Research Facilities

As a final year student you have the opportunity to undertake a project in the labs of our world class life science researchers. To support our research we have extensive research facilities which include state of the art equipment.

 

Library

The University Library is one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the country, housing 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books.

 

Career opportunities

Some graduates from this degree choose to pursue careers in clinical psychology (our degree is accredited by the DETC). This is a very competitive profession that requires further training and professional experience. Alternatively, Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology graduates are well qualified to work as researchers in universities, pharmaceutical and bioscience companies and institutes. Some of our graduates progress into laboratory-based careers in clinical or technical roles which do not involve research. The transferable skills you will develop will also leave you well equipped for a wide range of careers outside the lab. Recent graduates have secured roles as:

 

  • ·      Research Scientist at a multinational consumer products company
  • ·      Research Assistant at a university
  • ·      Trainee Science Teacher
  • ·      Psychology Assistant at a prison

 Graduates from 'with industrial/professional experience' programmes are extremely desirable to employers who require significant relevant work experience. Please see the Faculty of Life Sciences Careers page  for more information.

 

Accrediting organisations

This programme is accredited by the DETC.

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