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How the Brain Works and What Can Go Wrong

Key Information

Module code
ISSU106
Taught during
Session 1
Module leader
Dr Julie Evans
Pre-requisites
GPA of around 3.3/4.0 (US) or equivalent
Assessment method
Group presentation (20%), Essay (80%)
Download syllabus (PDF)

Module overview

The brain is an amazing object which controls human lives – it is a complex inter- connection of neurons which store our memories and knowledge and has a complex brain chemistry. However, our brains can sometimes go wrong- either because there is something wrong with our genetics or brain chemistry or due to some injury to the brain and central nervous system at some at some point in our life. Brain dysfunction can have a major impact upon an individual’s ability to live and interact within their environment, depending on where the injury or dysfunction occurs. The brain is also affected by the environment and many genetic vulnerabilities in individuals do not necessarily result in dysfunction unless there is a maladaptive or threatening environment e.g. such as in schizophrenia.

This module will look at what we know about healthy brains - how the brain is structured, the different types of brain cells, localisation of function and neurochemistry of different brain areas, communication within the brain and how we investigate the brain in week 1. In weeks 2 and 3 the module will look at dysfunction in relation to vison, hearing, movement, memory, thinking, emotion and behaviour. UCL is ranked as second in the world for neuroscience and students will get to hear about the amazing world class research that takes place within the Faculty of Brain Sciences and its constituent parts: the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, the Division of Psychiatry, the Institutes of Ophthalmology and Neurology and the Ear Institute.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Have knowledge of the brain structure and function in humans
  • Have knowledge of methodologies uses to study the brain
  • Have developed understanding of the theories and evidence for causality of acquired and developmental brain disorders
  • Have an overview of main treatment interventions and evaluation of their efficacy
  • Have understanding of the complex interaction of genes and environment

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). Students must have completed one year of undergraduate study. No prior subject knowledge is required for this module, but students are expected to have a keen interest in the area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.

Assessment

  • Group presentation (20%)
  • 1,500 word essay (80%)

Module leader

Dr Evans has been a university educator for 25 years in the UK and has a background in psychology, specifically in individual differences and abnormal psychology. Dr Evans has been involved in educating university students from undergraduates to postgraduate research students and has also taught overseas on joint programmes. Dr Evans has a 1st class degree in Psychology from Swansea University a PhD from the University of Oxford and has been awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy in the UK. In her current role, Dr Evans has overarching responsibility for education and the student experience within the Faculty of Brain Sciences. Since joining UCL in 2012 Dr Evans has been the recipient of two Provost Teaching awards.

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