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Study information

Neuroendocrinology

Module titleNeuroendocrinology
Module codeNEU3023
Academic year2024/5
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Craig Beall (Convenor)

Dr Hannah Smithers (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

12

Number students taking module (anticipated)

50

Module description

In this module you will learn how the brain and endocrine system coordinate to regulate physiology and behaviour, and how these processes change in disease. You will learn how the brain regulates hormone secretion and how, in turn, the action of these hormones in the brain regulates biological processes essential for life such as eating, drinking, reproduction and growth. You will also learn how hormones influence related aspects of behaviour such as stress, aggression, and parental nurturing.

This module is optional for students on the BSc Neuroscience, BSc (intercalated) Neuroscience programme. Students on the BSc Medical Sciences (Neuroscience pathway) may also take this module subject to capacity. The following modules are recommended: NEU1006 Introduction to Neuroscience and NEU2019 Neuropharmacology . However, you may have covered similar material elsewhere. If you have not studied the preliminary content, you should be able to successfully complete this module by undertaking some additional study but should discuss this further with your Academic Tutor and the Module Conveners.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module offers a broad grounding in how hormones acting in the brain influence all aspects of life. You will learn about classical neuroendocrine feedback loops: how the brain stimulates the production and release of hormones from endocrine organs and how these hormones acting in the brain, influence physiology, and regulate their own production. Through a combination of lectures and journal club seminars focused on primary research literature you will gain an appreciation of the fascinating integrative nature of neuroendocrinology and how, when these systems become dysfunctional, this can contribute to disease. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Identify the key neuroendocrine feedback loops
  • 2. Explain the pharmacological mechanisms of hormone signalling in the CNS, illustrated using specific examples
  • 3. Compare the mechanisms by which hormones can influence activity of neural cells and circuits in the brain
  • 4. Examine how CNS mechanisms regulate hormone secretion
  • 5. Give examples of how hormones act on neural pathways to differentially regulate physiology and behaviour
  • 6. Describe how neuroendocrine mechanisms underlie differences in physiology and behaviour between the different sexes
  • 7. Demonstrate understanding of the complexities of hormone action in the CNS, including the interplay between different neuroendocrine axes regulating physiology and behaviour
  • 8. Illustrate how modern lifestyles influence physiology and behaviour via modulation of neuroendocrine systems
  • 9. Explain neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying common diseases and disorders

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Show a clear understanding of the principles behind good experimental design and data communication
  • 11. Evaluate the specific challenges in data collection within the discipline of neuroendocrinology research

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Synthesize, and critically evaluate, primary and secondary sources of information.
  • 13. Identify and exemplify critical thinking in the construction and analysis of written arguments
  • 14. Recognise and produce clear scientific writing.

Syllabus plan

The module’s precise content will vary from year to year, but the following information gives a detailed description of the typical overall structure.

The module begins with an introductory lecture in week 1 to outline the broad aims and structure of the module and introduce the assessments. In week 1 you will also have a two-hour interactive scientific writing workshop to help you develop the skills needed for your coursework assignment.

Over the next 10-weeks, at the beginning of each week a key topic in neuroendocrinology will be introduced to you in lectures. Background material will be presented, and molecular mechanisms and physiological effects discussed. Examples of topics that may be covered include:

• CNS regulation of hormone secretion
• Pharmacological mode of action(s) of hormones
• Food intake and appetite
• Blood glucose
• Thirst and salt-balance
• Blood pressure
• Growth
• Stress
• Body clock
• Puberty
• Sex
• Pregnancy
• Labour, lactation, and parental behaviour
• Neuroendocrine tumours

Every week you will also have a two-hour journal club in which the discussion of a related primary research paper is facilitated by a specialist academic who will give an introduction to the paper at the beginning of the session. During the module you will write a “News and Views” style commentary article about a primary research paper selected from a list of available options. This article will form part of the module assessment. To help you prepare you will have a two-hour interactive group tutorial with the academic who selected the paper that will be the focus of your “News and Views” style commentary and an online formative assessment.

At the end of the module, you will be assessed on the content of the lectures and journal club sessions in a final written exam made up of short answer and data interpretation questions. In the final week of the module there is a one-hour session giving exam information and preparation support.

 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
361140

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Introductory and wrap lectures (2 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Interactive journal club sessions (10 x 2 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Scientific writing workshop
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2News and Views assessment preparation tutorial
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures (10 x 1h)
Guided Independent Study30Literature searches, reading and preparation for journal club sessions.
Guided Independent Study14Preparation for assessed News and views style summary of a primary research paper
Guided Independent Study70Reading and preparation for lectures and exam

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
News & Views online peer marking exerciseUp to 20 short-answer and multiple- choice questions10-14Verbal
Online Multiple-choice questions (MCQs)3-5 questions/lecture1-9Online answers
Online practice short-answer questions (SAQ) and data interpretation questions5 questions online with model answers1-9, 10, 12, 14Model answers

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
40600

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer question and data interpretation exam602 hours1-10, 12,14 Verbal (on request) from module leads
News and views style summary of a primary research paper401000 words1-14Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Short answer question and data interpretation exam (60%)Short answer question and data interpretation exam (2 hours)1-9, 10, 12, 14Ref/Def period
“News and views” style summary of a primary research paper (40%)“News and views” style summary of a primary research paper (1000 words)1-14Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Please refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral: http://as.exeter.ac.uk/academic-policy-standards/tqa-manual/aph/consequenceoffailure/

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 13th edition – Melmed, Polonsky, Larsen and Kronenberg ISBN-13: 978-0323297387

  • Chapter 7 – Neuroendocrinology
  • Section V – Reproduction
  • Section VI – Endocrinology and the life span
  • Chapter 33 – Glucose homeostasis and hypoglycemia
  • Chapter 34 – Neuroendocrine control of energy stores

Writing for Science Students – Boyle & Ramsey ISBN-13: 978-1137571519

  • Chapter 10 – Being Critical
  • Chapter 11 – Producing a draft and building your argument
  • Chapter 12 – Sounding like a scientist
  • Chapter 13 - Say exactly what you mean

Key words search

Brain, Physiology, Neuroscience, Endocrinology, Hormone

Credit value15
Module ECTS

7.5

Module pre-requisites

None

Module co-requisites

None

NQF level (module)

6

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

07/01/18

Last revision date

26/09/2023