MSc Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration course structure information

Rather than comprising a piecemeal assortment of small modules, the course mainly consists of large coherent modules containing themes of content that are developed over the course of each module.

Each year of the course is worth 60 credits which equates to 600 hours of study (including preparation of assessed coursework). Study is split over 40 weeks of the academic year, so you should expect to devote around 15 hours per week to study over these 40 weeks.

Introduction to Neurodegeneration (60 credits)

Clinical neurology is underpinned by knowledge of the neuroanatomy of the central and peripheral nervous system. Therefore, a thorough knowledge of basic neuroanatomy is essential. This module starts with a comprehensive series of short neuroanatomy videos demonstrating laboratory dissection of the human brain and spinal cord. The videos are complemented by an interactive learning resource featuring quizzes and a formative writing exercise.

The rest of this module is organised into blocks of content focused on individual diseases – namely motor neurone disease, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Three themes run through these disease blocks – patient symptoms and care; the associated disease pathology; the genetics of disease and how this facilitates modelling in cell lines and laboratory animals. By the end of this module students will have detailed knowledge of the clinical features of the major neurodegenerative diseases and the underlying pathological and genetic causes.

Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (60 credits)

The first year of study introduced the clinical features, underlying pathology and genetic causes of disease. While genetics facilitates disease modelling, it also provides crucial insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying disease. These mechanisms are the focus of the second year. After introduction of key topics and concepts, content in this module is again organised into blocks focused on individual diseases, but with four themes running through the disease blocks. The themes are – the role of protein accumulation and aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases; mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation and the role of non-neuronal cells in disease progression; the role of dysfunctional RNA biology and aberrant gene expression in disease. These are key areas of research aimed at development of disease-modifying therapies. Alongside further development of communication skills, emphasis will be placed on building critical thinking skills and understanding the funding mechanisms underpinning academic research.

Novel Therapies for Neurodegeneration (15 credits)

This module is to provide detailed critical insight into the development of novel therapeutics for neurodegeneration. Preclinical and clinical studies utilising drugs, stem cells, antibodies and nucleotide-based therapeutics (e.g. viruses and antisense oligonucleotides) will be discussed. The different routes of administration required by discrete classes of therapeutic for effective target engagement will be considered. Case studies highlighting the importance of academic and industrial partnerships with the healthcare sector at different stages of therapeutic development will be discussed.

Professional and Research Skills (15 credits)

This module will focus on the practicalities involved in performing audits and research with human data, both within and outside of the NHS, in terms of the ethics and research governance procedures that are required prior to collecting samples and data. The module will also cover the professional responsibilities of researchers, including mentoring and dealing with incidences of misconduct. Students will further develop their knowledge of how to communicate scientific messages to both scientific and non-scientific audiences including patients and the public.

Literature Review (30 credits)

This module is to allow students to carry out an in depth literature-based project on a specific clinical or scientific topic relevant to neurodegeneration, which is suitable for publication. It aims to develop abilities in information retrieval from appropriate sources, synthesis and critical analysis of published literature, and identification of gaps in current knowledge that should be addressed by future research. New titles are provided each year by academic supervisors to address an unmet need for an original review, an updated review or questioning a paradigm in the wider literature.


See full course information on our Prospectus

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 13 January 2020

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