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MEDSCI307

NEUROPHARMACOLOGY

Course Breakdown

 

Mid-Semester Test: 15%
Laboratory Reports: 10%
Lab Test: 15%
Exam: 60%

Course Information

 

Official UoA Website: link.
 

Basic Information

This paper is one of the five papers to choose from in the Pharmacology degree and a very good paper to choose if you ever want to do Neuroscience-related research. However, although the content in this course was relatively easy, the bulk of this paper was based on writing style rather than being based on assessable knowledge. Your assessment was marked quite heavily on how well you could write and often marked quite harshly. If grades are your priority, take this paper with caution otherwise content-wise, this course was quite fun. 

 

Laboratory Component

​The labs were run by Dr. Rachel Cameron and was the more difficult component of this course. Over the course of the semester, you were first expected to summarise a journal article in your own words under time pressure (this was just a way to see where everybody was up to in terms of comprehending journal articles). You then had to learn research skills in the form of searching journal articles in databases, using relevant articles and writing a report. Using this skill, you had to apply them in the context of experiments involving immunocytochemistry techniques done in the lab; which either related to neurogenesis or neuronal cell death (both of which had a lab report each). Again, the lab reports were a major source of where you could potentially lose marks.

Lecture Content

​The lecture content was mostly straightforward and quite easy to grasp and were predominantly delivered by Professor Mike Dragunow. The first half of the semester covered basic knowledge such as neuroanatomy, the types of neurotransmitters in the brain, their receptors and drugs that target these receptors. The second half put this knowledge in the context of neurological diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Schizophrenia, Depression etc.). We also came across topics such as neurogenesis as well as apoptosis and necrosis - all delivered by other lecturers. In short, there was a lot of content to memorise and integrate.

 

Lab Test

The skills you learnt in the labs throughout the semester were then reassessed in the lab test. Here, an article that you were unlikely to ever have seen before was picked (with both the abstract and discussion removed) and you were asked to write the discussion part of the article without access to a computer. However, it was 'open-book' in the sense that you could bring in lecture materials and other course-related materials; everything except for journal articles themselves. The article had some relation to one or a combination of the lab topics we had encountered throughout the course. The difficult part of this test was being able to comprehend the entire article under time pressure as well as making sure the writing was critical and concise even though we had 3 hours (during lab time) to write the discussion. It was extremely hard to achieve good marks in this section.

 

Mid-Semester Test and Exam

The MST was fully MCQ format and was mostly quite easy and straightforward. It wasn't too tricky; but you did need to know your content well.

The exam was fully written answer with five questions each accounting for 20 marks. Some of the questions were short answer; some were essay; of which you were required to link the basic knowledge of neuropharmacology and its context to neurological diseases. However, the difficult part was the large amount of things to remember as you try integrate the entire course. (Especially when you had to give drug examples; since this was a pharmacology course).