NEUR40030 Modulation of Synaptic Signalling

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module is core for stage 4 of the BSc degree in Neuroscience. It covers advanced topics on electrophysiological properties of chemical synaptic transmission and addresses how altered ion channel function and modulation can influence physiological processing in the hippocampus and other brain regions. Major topics covered include basic properties of voltage dependent calcium channels. General hippocampal circuits and the involvement of glutamatergic (AMPA and NMDA), neuronal GABAergic (GABAa and GABAb) and the endocannabinoid system will be addressed. other neurotransmitter systems are presented as topical e.g Nicotinc AchR, mAchR. It is strongly recommended that students have taken NEUR30080 or modules with similar learning outcomes. During this module students will participate in presentation of papers, blog commentaries and also engage in summarising the significance of some of the research papers covered during the course. This is part of student engagement and formative assessment.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
1. Critically evaluate recent research findings in this field.
2. Provide an understanding of the role of the chemical synapse in the integration of the nervous control of synaptic circuits
3. Discuss the role of calcium ion channels and synaptic currents in modulating excitability in the hippocampus.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of basic cellular neurophysiology and how it impacts on the overall hippocampal synaptic circuits.
5. Summarize with detail the essential elements of research papers associated with the course.

Indicative Module Content:

There is no specific text book for this course. Content is dependent on research papers. Some papers that are core to the field will be presented and others that are recent and demonstrate recent research activity in synaptic transmission within the CNS and how it is modulated. Links to research papers will be provided.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The course comprise a series of lectures that cover "basic papers" that can be used as a foundation. Other research papers are then presented to the class by the class. Students generally work in pairs within groups to present specific research papers.
An additional summative assessment is provided as the students have the opportunity to write a critical summary relating to 2 papers within the module. This is to encourage individual study and writing techniques. Feed back is provided to students who submit this course work. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:


Learning Recommendations:

Students should have a good knowledge of basic electrical properties of neuronal membranes and understand the basic functioning of ion channels, An essential course is BMOL30080. Also this information can be found in the text book Kandel Schwartz and Jessel; Principles of Neural Science.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Synaptic signalling (BMOL40030)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Exam (In-person): In person 2 hour examination (essay style). Student must answer 2 questions on the paper/ n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Assignment(Including Essay): Short assignment on the significance of research papers covered during the lecture series or related to the lecture series . This is a 500 word assignment. n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

There are essay and short note exercises provided to the class. Individual feed back is given on these as are graded. When presentations are made in class on research papers, feed back is also provided to the group.

Name Role
Professor John O'Connor Lecturer / Co-Lecturer