MEDSCI 316 : Sensory Neuroscience: From Molecules to Disease

Medical and Health Sciences

2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The physiology of neurosensory systems in health and disease with an emphasis on clinical relevance and current advances in research. The course will provide in-depth coverage of mechanisms involved in each system at a broad systemic level, down to the molecular level. Topics include vision, hearing, balance, olfaction, taste, touch and pain.

Course Overview

This course covers the physiology of neurosensory systems in health and disease with an emphasis on clinical relevance and current advances in research. It provides in-depth coverage of mechanisms involved in each system at a broad systemic level, down to the molecular level. Topics include vision, hearing, balance, olfaction, taste, touch, and pain. Students will gain theoretical knowledge, as well as practical, communication, and analytical skills through the laboratories.

It is expected that students enrolling in this course have an interest in physiology and neuroscience, as well as a sound understanding of topics covered in Medsci 206 (Principles of Neuroscience). 

Medsci 316 is a prerequisite for the postgraduate course Medsci 739 (Advanced Sensory Neuroscience).

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: MEDSCI 206

Course Contacts

Srdjan Vlajkovic (

Nishani Lim (

Raj Selvaratnam (

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Identify the major structures, and demonstrate in-depth understanding of the physiology of major sensory systems (vision, hearing, balance, smell, taste, touch and pain). (Capability 1 and 4)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms and impact of sensory diseases, and discuss recent advances in scientific techniques used to investigate them. (Capability 1, 4 and 6)
  3. Develop and communicate scientific ideas clearly, logically, and concisely within the field of sensory neuroscience. (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)
  4. Demonstrate practical skills and disciplinary knowledge necessary to participate as a responsible member of the scientific community, within the field of sensory neuroscience. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  5. Independently investigate scientific hypotheses related to sensory neuroscience, by critically analysing data and researching appropriate scientific literature. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Tests 30% Individual Test
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Laboratory Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam
Laboratory Assignments
Pass requirements
Students must obtain an overall pass mark in the laboratory assignments (i.e. 15/30), in addition to achieving an overall pass mark for the course (50%) in order to pass Medsci 316.

All laboratory attendance is compulsory, and laboratory assignments will not be accepted without the prior attendance and completion of the relevant laboratory. Students will receive a grade of 0% for their assignment if they are absent at the relevant laboratory session without a medical certificate: Students forced to miss a laboratory through sickness must provide a Doctor's certificate for our files and contact the course coordinator as soon as possible for further instruction on how to proceed.

Submission of assignments
Extensions will only be considered in exceptional circumstances where evidence is provided (such as a medical/counsellor certificate), and the request is made within a reasonable timeframe, prior to the assignment due date.

Late submission of assignments without prior-approved extensions will be subject to an initial penalty of 10% of the available marks, with additional penalties of 10% every 24 hours. Assignments will not be accepted 7 days after the due date.

Submission of written work is only complete when an electronic copy has been submitted through the appropriate platform (i.e. Turnitin). Please retain your submission confirmation as evidence of timely submission.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard [15] point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect [34] hours of lectures, [24] hours of labs and tutorials, [22] hours of reading and thinking about the content and [40] hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

This course is only offered on campus.

Campus Experience:

  • Attendance is required at scheduled laboratories/tutorials to complete these components of the course. Absence without prior approval (e.g. for a medical reason, supported with a medical certificate) will incur a zero grade for the related assessment. 
  • Technology permitting, lectures will be available as recordings up to 72 hours after the teaching session. These recordings are only intended as a supplementary resource (if needed), and not as a replacement for lecture attendance. Technical difficulties sometimes occur that may affect recording quality, or prevent/delay the release of recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials and labs will not be available as recordings.
  • Medsci 316 will not include live online teaching sessions.
  • Attendance on campus is required for the test and exam.
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

"Neuroscience" 6th edition by D. Purves et al (2018)

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Student feedback has indicated that laboratories are highly valued, and we will continue to prioritise and build on these experiences. Comments regarding both lectures and labs were largely positive and we aim to maintain these standards in the future.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Medsci 316 laboratories include practical group work in order to obtain raw data. However the analysis, data presentation, and written components of the related assessments must be completed independently by each student.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.