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Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience A (NEUR90011)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeNEUR90011
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject is an intensive 5 consecutive day overview of a range of research methodologies used in contemporary basic neuroscience. The premise of this subject is to take the student through the most common cellular neuroscience experimental methods. Several themes are explored extending from the molecular level through to cellular function and ultimately neuronal network characterisation. Specific themes include:

  • A brief introduction to bioinformatics and an overview of the on-line tools available.
  • Methods used to probe gene and protein expression and function.
  • Static and dynamic imaging methods used in neuroscience.
  • The basics of single cell electrophysiology.
  • Computational approaches used in neuroscience.

A series of 19 one-hour lectures, 8 hours group tutorials and 5 and-a-half hours practical demonstrations (totalling 32.5 contact hours) will be used to illustrate the various methodologies and approaches. This includes a tour of the Brain Bank and imaging suite facilities. A group project asks students to develop a virtual set of experiments that use the various methodologies introduced. This will be done in the context of a specific protein and how the students may probe dysfunction of this protein in a disease state (eg sodium channels in epilepsy). Class presentations reporting each group’s virtual experiments will be discussed in front of a panel of research experts at the end of the week.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this subject students will be able to:

  • Develop an awareness of the range of research methods and various approaches used in basic neuroscience to be able to read the literature more easily and critically.
  • Develop an understanding at a basic to intermediate level of laboratory and computational techniques utilised in neuroscience.
  • Develop a basic understanding of neuronal function at individual cell and system levels.
  • Acquire basic skills in bioinformatics to facilitate efficient neuroscience research.
  • Appreciate the role of human brain tissue work in neuroscience.
  • Appreciate the need for computational modelling in contemporary neuroscience.
  • Demonstrate the application of the principles learned in the subject to their research project.

Generic skills

On completion of this subject, students will have developed the following generic skills:

  • An understanding of and critical reading skills in a wide range of research methodologies.
  • Oral communication skills ranging from public speaking to interpersonal communication.
    High-level written communication skills.
  • Team work skills and awareness of the need to collaborate with other disciplines.
  • High organization and time management skills in the short and longer term.
  • The capacity to apply concepts learned in their own area of research.

Eligibility and requirements


For students without prior molecular biology background: compulsory attendance at a 3-hour workshop prior to the start of the PhD coursework in Neuroscience.


Students enrolled through the Florey Department and in this subject must also enrol in the following subjects at the same time:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90007 Design and Analysis for Neurosciences A


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90008 Design and Analysis for Neurosciences B


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90009 Brain Imaging and Neural Networks A


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90010 Brain Imaging and Neural Networks B


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90013 Neuroscience of Behaviour & Cognition A


Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90014 Neuroscience of Behaviour & Cognition B

Non-allowed subjects

Students cannot enrol in and gain credit for this subject and:

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
NEUR90012 Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience B

Recommended background knowledge

Three years of undergraduate third-year sequence in a relevant biomedical science or engineering discipline. Basic knowledge of neurobiology is desirable but not essential.

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • Full 5 days attendance of the subject and full participation in class exercises, group project, presentation and discussion are required. A minimum 85% attendance is required (= x 1); a pro rata attendance multiplier will apply to total assessment. Attendance taken twice daily throughout the week.
  • One oral group presentation (total 20 min; 5 min per student) plus class discussion, equivalent to 1,000 words (at the end of the week-subject), worth 20% times attendance multiplier.
  • One 250-300 word conference-style abstract, due 3 weeks after the PhD coursework delivery) worth 15% time attendance multiplier.
  • One written literature review on the chosen research topic related to this area, of minimum 4,000 words excluding cited references (to be submitted by the first week of September), worth 65% times attendance multiplier.

Dates & times

  • March
    Principal coordinatorKathelijne Lefevere
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours32.5 hours, 19 hours of lectures, 8 hours of group tutorials and 5.5 hours of practical demonstrations over five days.
    Pre teaching start date 7 March 2019
    Pre teaching requirementsFor students without prior (or little) molecular biology background: compulsory attendance at a 3-hour workshop and set pre-reading prior to the start of the PhD coursework in Neuroscience
    Teaching period18 March 2019 to 22 March 2019
    Last self-enrol date 8 March 2019
    Census date19 April 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail 5 July 2019
    Assessment period ends 9 September 2019

    March contact information

    Wah Chin Boon
    T: +61 3 9035 6759
    E: wah.chin.boon@florey.edu.au

    Kathy Lefevere-Burd
    T: +61 3 9035 7082
    E: lefevere@unimelb.edu.au

Time commitment details

120 hours, including 32.5 contact hours

Additional delivery details

Students without prior molecular biology background or requiring a refresher will be given pre-reading and be required to attend a 3-hour workshop prior to the start of the PhD Coursework in Neuroscience.

Further information

Last updated: 6 August 2019