MEDSCI 317 : Integrative Neuroscience: From Fetus to Adult

Medical and Health Sciences

2023 Semester Two (1235) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The development and function of the central nervous system in health and disease. Topics include development of the CNS, functional imaging of the human brain, synaptic function in health and disease, development and pathophysiology of motor systems, perinatal and adult brain ischemia, stroke, and sleep related disorders. The topics are covered at an advanced level with emphasis on current advances in the fields.

Course Overview

Topics include development of the CNS, synaptic function in health and disease, development and pathophysiology of motor systems, perinatal and adult brain ischemia, stroke, and chronobiology/human circadian rhythm. The objective of this course is to provide an overview of the development and function of the central nervous system. The course explores the anatomy and physiology of the brain during development into adulthood, and highlights the pathologies of various central nervous system disorders.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: MEDSCI 206

Course Contacts

Course director (Justin Dean):
Course coordinator (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 and locate principal structures of the human brain and spinal cord and relate specific structures to various brain functions. (Capability 1, 4 and 6)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the principal mechanisms of neuronal integration (structure and function of neurons, synaptic plasticity, and organization of simple neuronal networks). (Capability 1 and 4)
  3. Develop and communicate scientific ideas clearly, and discuss the mechanisms and symptoms of several major brain disorders in the human embryo and newborn babies. (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 integrative functions of the brain, including the organization of the brain plasticity and memory, sleep, respiration, EEG and brain control of immunity. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  5. Independently investigate scientific hypotheses related to recent technological advances used to study brain structure and function, the techniques used to image individual neurons (confocal microscopy), non-invasive brain stimulation and electrophysiology, by critically analysing data and researching appropriate scientific literature. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of of molecular clocks in the control of physiology in health and disease (Capability 1, 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Mid-semester test 15% Individual Test
Final exam 30% Individual Examination
Lab-based assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Mini Review 10% Individual Coursework
End of Semester Test 15% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Mid-semester test
Final exam
Lab-based assignments
Mini Review
End of Semester Test

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course, and students are expected to spend spend 120 hours in total during the semester.

For this course, you can expect 26 hours of lectures, a 12 hours of labs/workshops, and 82 hours of independent work.

In order to pass the Medsci 317 course you will have to pass both the final Exam and internal practical component, independently. This means you have to obtain a pass mark (i.e. 50%) for the final exam and achieve 20 out 40 for the practical component of the course. Please note: to successfully complete the internal practical component of the course you must attend and positively engage in every practical session, unless this is not possible due to illness or other extenuating circumstances (see ‘special circumstances’ section below).

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience & Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and tutorials to complete the practical components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials and labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events.
Attendance on campus is required for the tests 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. Ed. 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.

Throughout the semester, student feedback is gathered by the class representatives and shared with teaching staff. 

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.

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.