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BIOD125 Human Biology 1


BMSC206 Introduction to Neuroscience

Unit rationale, description and aim

A thorough knowledge and understanding of how the human body functions, in particular the nervous system, is essential to those contemplating a career in biomedical sciences. The aim of this unit is to develop students’ understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system, including the role of the nervous system in emotion, behaviour and selected disorders. Students will learn the basic structure and function of the nervous system including an introduction to the organisation of the human brain and spinal cord at molecular, cellular, organ, and organ system levels. Essential concepts in neuroscience, such as neuronal signal transduction, interneural, sensory perception within and between neurons, sensory perception, motor control, memory, mental health, and addiction will also be covered.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the structure and function of the human nervous system (GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Discuss the physiological processes involved in sensory and motor functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Apply the mechanisms of higher brain function, including learning, memory, and language, to both physiological and pathological contexts  (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Explain the neurobiology that underlies addictive behaviour and other mental health conditions (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 

  • Overview of the structure and function of the nervous system 
  • Structure and function of key areas of the brain, brainstem, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system 
  • Structure and function of neuronal cells 
  • Signal transduction and communication between neurons 
  • The somatosensory system (including sensory receptors, sensory ascending tracts, and related cortical areas)
  • The special senses (e.g. vision, hearing, taste, and balance) 
  • Function of the cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal nuclei in motor control, posture and balance, including motor disorders
  • Higher brain functions: learning, memory and language, including their pathologies
  • Addiction, personality and mood disorders, and other related disorders of the human central nervous system.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active learning approach because this approach best supports students in their development of an integrated understanding of nervous system structure and function.  

Active participation and questioning of content are encouraged during the lectures, which assist students to understand how the nervous system works. The practical classes reinforce key concepts first introduced in lectures and offer additional opportunities to engage with the learning material. In addition to the formal classes, this unit supports student learning by providing online material through LEO, which includes formative quizzes, links to relevant external material and additional learning activities.  

Further to this, to ensure students are ready to transition from the Diploma and articulate into the second year of undergraduate study, transition pedagogies will be incorporated into the unit as the key point of differentiation from the standard unit. This focuses on an active and engaging approach to learning and teaching practices, and a scaffolded approach to the delivery of curriculum to enhance student learning in a supportive environment. This will ensure that students develop foundation level discipline-based knowledge, skills and attributes, and simultaneously the academic competencies required of students to succeed in this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to assist students to reach their learning objectives in a stepwise fashion, so they are encouraged to work consistently through semester. Students are provided with early feedback so that they can seek assistance if required. No single assessment is so large that a poor performance in it precludes the possibility of passing the unit. There are a variety of assessment types which enhance an attainment of the learning outcomes.  In order to successfully complete this unit, students must obtain an aggregate mark of equal to or greater than 50%. 

The first assessment (Quiz 1A) is an online quiz, which is of low weighting, open book, and assesses only the first few weeks of material. Feedback is provided quickly, allowing students to gauge their progress and to seek assistance if needed. The second quiz (Quiz 1B) builds on this and has higher weighting because it covers more content. Both quizzes provide in-semester feedback as to the progression of the students’ understanding and ability to apply key concepts of the unit.

The written assessment requires students to produce a piece of academic writing that showcases their developing critical thinking skills. Students need to integrate information from various topics covered in the semester. The written assessment task requires students to thoroughly engage with the learning material because students are given several weeks to investigate the topics being questioned.

The final assessment task is the end-of-semester examination, which assesses integration and application of key concepts covered in this unit. 

Students also receive feedback through formative assessments, including ‘topic feedback quizzes’ and practice short-answer questions.

Strategies aligned with transition pedagogies will be utilised to facilitate successful completion of the unit assessment tasks. For each assessment, there will be the incorporation of developmentally staged tasks with a focus on a progressive approach to learning. This will be achieved through activities, including regular feedback, particularly early in the unit of study to support their learning; strategies to develop and understand discipline-specific concepts and terminology; in-class practice tasks with integrated feedback; and greater peer-to-peer collaboration. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes


Quiz 1A: Online quiz – The online quiz enables students to gauge their progress early in semester.

Quiz 1B: Enables students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the systems covered at the time of assessment



LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Written assessment

This take-home assessment enables students to apply knowledge learnt in classes


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

End-semester written examination

Enables students to showcase their critical thinking skills and demonstrate their understanding of basic principles in neuroscience


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Recommended text:

Purves, D., Augustine, G.J., Fitzpatrick D., Hall, W.C., LaMantia, A.S., Mooney, R., Platt, M. & White L (2018). Neuroscience (6th Ed.) Oxford University Press.

Recommended resources:

Garrett, B. & Hough, G. (2021). Brain & Behavior: An Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience (6th ed.).  SAGE Publications, Inc.

Kandel, E. R., Koester, J.D., Mack, S. H. & Siegelbaum, S. A. (2021). Principles of neural science (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill, Health Professions Division.

Mtui, E., Gruener, G. & Dockery, P. (2021). Clinical neuroanatomy and neuroscience (8th ed.). Elsevier Saunders.

Schmidt, R.A. & Lee, T. (2020). Motor learning and performance: from principles to application (6th ed.). Human Kinetics, Inc.

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