Neuronal Pathways Underlying Pain, Nociception and Itch 4A option BIOL4001

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores neural pathways underlying pain, nociception and itch. Cutting-edge research approaches in these areas will be taught, from RNA sequencing approaches, the use of transgenic animal models, through to clinical studies in patients. Developing new therapies for pain is challenging because of the complexity of the circuits underlying pain and nociception. This option will address the challenges of unravelling complex neuronal circuitry in the mammalian nervous system. 


This option is assigned to block S2-A. There is normally one 3-hour session on Mondays.

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year School of Life Sciences students in a Neuroscience programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the School of Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 3-hour examination (100%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this option are twofold:

■ To explore current knowledge and research of neuronal pathways underlying pain, nociception and itch. 

■ To develop awareness of how experimental animal models inform clinical work, and how this knowledge translates to understanding and developing treatments.  

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

■ Discuss the arrangement of primary afferents, interneurons and projection neurons in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord;

■ Evaluate pain mechanisms, with particular reference to neuropathic pain;

■ Assess some of the current experimental strategies being used to promote regeneration and/or compensatory plastic changes in experimental models of pain and itch;

■ Appraise conceptual problems in chemical neuroanatomy;

■ Discuss the neurochemistry of circuits employing acetylcholine and monoamines.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.