Physiology and Pharmacology 2

Module code: BS2014

Module co-ordinator: Dr Gary Willars

Building on the cellular neuroscience introduced in the first year module Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, this module will developing your understanding of the structure, organisation and function of the nervous system and its components. You will study the molecular basis of neuronal function along with synaptic anatomy and physiology. We will use examples to illustrate how these basic components integrate to regulate a physiological function and how they can be manipulated pharmacologically. We will then look at the neuromuscular junction and also examine aspects of the musculoskeletal system and muscle contraction. We will examine mechanisms regulating the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory systems by considering the effects of acute and chronic exercise and how these might be used (or abused) to enhance performance.

Topics covered

  • Different cell types present in the peripheral and central nervous system
  • Properties of ion channels; how they contribute to the resting membrane potential and the propagation of the action potential
  • Difference between voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels
  • How nervous impulses are conducted along the axons of myelinated and unmyelinated axons
  • Basic molecular mechanisms underlying chemical transmission in the nervous system
  • How action potentials and voltage-sensitive calcium channels regulate neurotransmission
  • Neurone communication, e.g. synaptic transmission and electrical coupling
  • Integration of synaptic information
  • Types of cell surface receptor for neurotransmitters and hormones
  • How basic components of the nervous system integrate to regulate a physiological function and how they can be manipulated pharmacologically 
  • Structure and function of the neuromuscular junction
  • Elements of the musculoskeletal system and skeletal muscle contraction
  • Control mechanisms responsible for regulating the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory systems; acute and chronic effects of exercise


  • 28 one-hour lectures
  • 9 hours of practicals
  • 4 one-hour tutorials


  • Exam, 3 hours (70%)
  • Practical report (20%)
  • Test and tutorials (10%)
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