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Unit of study_

ANAT2010: Concepts of Neuroanatomy

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit introduces fundamental principles in the structure, organisation and function of the mammalian central and peripheral nervous systems. We begin with an exploration of the basic building blocks - the cellular composition - of the brain and spinal cord. We'll then consider the overall organisation of the nervous system, followed by an in-depth focus on sensory and motor system concepts. This unit will then consider the building of a brain during development, from laying down the overall organisational plan to establishing connections in the nervous system. Concepts of higher order functions such as memory and sensory perception are introduced, followed by examples of neurodegenerative diseases. The theory component will also focus on a range of techniques in neuroanatomy, from experimental neuronal tracing studies to in vivo functional imaging, used to derive our understanding of nervous system connectivity and function. Tutorial meetings will provide the opportunity to encounter topics in functional anatomy and histology of the brain using photographs, diagrams, models, animations and problem-solving scenarios using real world clinical examples. Laboratory practical sessions offer students the special privilege to examine human brain specimens in the Anatomy labs and museum. Structural dentifications in typical magnetic resonance images will assist in reinforcing basic nervous system anatomy in a format that students are likely to encounter in further study. The production of a scientific e-poster introduces students to critical evaluation of a topic in the neuroscientific literature and communication of a core idea in words and graphics. This subject is of interest to students studying anatomy and related disciplines, students planning further study in neuroscience at senior levels and students in allied health fields. As the study of neuroscience embraces the fields of engineering, artificial intelligence, mathematics and computer science, economics. and law, this subject also serves as an elective for a wide range of study pathways.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ANAT2010
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6
ANAT2910 or BIOS1171 or BMED2401 or BMED2402 or BMED2403 or BMED2405 or BMED2406 or BMED2801 or BMED2802 or BMED2803 or BMED2804 or BMED2805 or BMED2806 or BMED2807 or BMED2808
6 credit points from BIOL1XXX or MEDS1X01 or CHEM1XX1 or CHEM1903
Assumed knowledge

Human biology highly recommended. At least 48 science credits recommended

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Claire Goldsbury,
Lecturer(s) Kevin Keay,
David Mor,
Catherine Leamey,
Karen Cullen,
Atomu Sawatari,
Paul Austin,
Dario Protti,
Luke Henderson,
Claire Goldsbury,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Supervised exam
Theory exam
MCQ, extended MCQ and fill in the gaps.
40% Formal exam period 1.5 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Tutorial quiz 10 x 1/2% quizzes
MCQ & eMCQ. Identifications on images, function & problem-solving.
5% Multiple weeks
Due date: 03 Nov 2023 at 23:00
Untimed. Multiple attempts
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Supervised test
Identification on images, function questions. Short answer and MCQ.
20% Week 08
Due date: 22 Sep 2023 at 13:00
30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Practical test
In-Person (CC) Practical Exam
During your normal tutorial time. See Assessment Summary below for detail.
20% Week 11
Due date: 18 Oct 2023 at 11:00
30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4
Assignment Scientific e-poster or scientific review (adv)
Text & graphic composition on research topic in neuroanatomy.
15% Week 12
Due date: 27 Oct 2023 at 23:00
Outcomes assessed: LO8

Assessment summary

Online engagement quizzes, 5%: Open book. Ten short online quizzes related to tutorial sessions and lecture material. 0.5% each. Spaced during the semester with staggered deadlines. Multiple attempts, 90% to pass. These quizzes are open book, but you are encouraged to test your understanding and train for the mid-sem and final exams by preparing for them and using them to test yourself on your progress.

In-class mid-semester quiz held during semester. 20%. Closed book. The  quiz will assess your progress in understanding the lecture and tutorial material. Questions closely resemble questions in the final exams. Quiz designed to be completed in 30 minutes. The types of questions will be fill in the blank, multichoice, extended multi-choice. Guidelines are provided.

ANAT2010 INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT. 15%. Only for Anat2010 students (for Anat2910 see below). Scientific e-poster on a topic in clinical, anatomical or experimental research  ~600-750 word plus graphics. Requires distillation and communication of 1-2 core papers in the scientific literature. Requires a short <5 min video submission accompanying the infographic where you talk us through the ePoster. This is open in Week 2 and not due until Week 13, thus accommodating diverse needs for planning and completion.

ANAT2910 INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT. 15%. Only for Anat2910 students. Scientific literature review (1200-word) of core literature in a key area of neuroanatomical research.This is open in Week 2 and not due until Week 13, thus accommodating diverse needs for planning and completion. 

In-class practical test. 20%: Closed book. The practical test will consist of identification of CNS structures and short factual questions on core functions and connections. The material to be tested is covered in the practical notes and lecture material where appropriate. Will be assessed on campus. Held during your normal scheduled tutorial time.

Theory exam 40%: Closed book. This exam is sampled from the lectures and tutorials/practicals. You will find the lecture notes and presentations provide the core material and help you gauge the level of detail you are required to embrace. Structure and function are central concepts in this examination. The types of questions – fill in the blank, multichoice, extended multi-choice, short answer. Guidelines are provided.

Detailed information for all assessments can be found on Canvas. Please follow Canvas announcements from the coordinators for all updates.



Assessment criteria

MCQ & extended MCQ

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Individual Assignments 5% per day, including weekends. Guidelines for simple extensions will be provided on Canvas. For online engagement quizzes (0.5% each), each quiz will generally be open Thursday morning until Tuesday evening the following week. No quiz can be completed after that as answers will be released to the class.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Concepts in Neuroanatomy Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8
Composition of the nervous system: The microanatomy of neurons - structure and physiology Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Week 02 Composition of the nervous system: Glia Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Composition of the nervous system: Cytoarchitecture and function Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Independent assessment briefing Workshop (1 hr) LO8
Neurophysiology Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 03 Organisation of the nervous system: The overall plan I: Central Nervous System (CNS) Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Looking at cells of the brain - neurohistology Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Organisation of the nervous system: The overall plan II: CNS Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 Development of the nervous system Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Organisation of the CNS including ventricles and meninges Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Organisation of the nervous system - The peripheral NS (PNS) Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 05 Motor pathways - General organisation Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
The spinal cord: general anatomy plus ascending and descending tracts Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Motor pathways - skilled movement Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 06 Motor pathways - emotional motor system Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Brainstem 1 - general anatomy plus ascending and descending tracts continued Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO4
Motor pathways - autonomic nervous system Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 07 Sensory pathways - general organisation Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Brainstem 2 - cranial nerves Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4
Sensory pathways - somatosensation Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO7
Week 08 Sensory pathways - pain Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4
In-class quiz Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Cerebral cortex Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 09 Sensory pathways - vision Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7
Development of the nervous system 2 - axonal guidance and synaptogenesis Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Diencephalon, limbic system Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO7
Week 10 Techniques in neuroscience 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO7
Techniques in neuroscience 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Diencephalon and the limbic system Tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 11 Cerebral cortex 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Cerebral cortex 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO6
Independent assessment - revising the draft Workshop (2 hr) LO8
Week 12 Basal ganglia and cerebellum Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Brain ageing and neurodegeneration - dementia Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO6
Week 13 Revision and practice spot test Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Brain ageing and neurodegeneration - movement disorders Lecture (1 hr) LO4 LO6 LO7
Q & A summary of concepts Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7
Cerebral cortex - memory Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7

Attendance and class requirements


Students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study. The Dean or the Head of School most concerned may determine that a student has failed a unit of study because of inadequate attendance.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings


Bear, M.F., Connors, B.W. & Paradiso, M.A. (2020) Neuroscience. Exploring the Brain. Wolters Kluwer Philadelphia 4th edition. Previous editions are okay.

Also recommended


Vanderah, T. (2019). Nolte’s : The human brain in photographs and diagrams. Philadelphia, Elsevier/Saunders 

Previous editions of these textbooks are acceptible. See your Canvas pages for other suitable e-books or texts.

Library resources – Neuroscience subject guides. Curated resource for e-books and online resources in the Neurosciences and other disciplines.

See your Canvas site for textbook readings for each lecture.

Articles and readings for your interest are linked to each lecture.


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Identify the cellular components of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system in photomicrographs and diagrams
  • LO2. Identify major features of the brain and spinal cord in prosected specimens, models, diagrams, and photographs
  • LO3. Describe the structural and functional relationships between major nervous system structures and apply this knowledge to basic clinical examples and to examples of neuroanatomical research
  • LO4. Identify and describe the fundamental organisation of sensory and motor systems in humans using in-depth examples of specific motor and sensory systems
  • LO5. Describe the major phases and mechanisms of nervous system development and relate to the basic structure of the adult human nervous system.
  • LO6. Apply concepts of the structure/function relationship of major brain regions and cytoarchitecture to mechanisms of brain development and neurodegeneration
  • LO7. Recognise and apply the core techniques - histology, in vivo imaging, experimental tracing studies, and pathology that form the basis of our understanding brain function at an anatomical level.
  • LO8. Apply fundamental principles of brain anatomy to a critical evaluation of the scientific literature, public media, and emerging technologies in a scientific e-poster or literature review.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This subject is evaluated by students through the Unit of Study Survey (USS) every year. All feedback is considered. We’ll make time for the UoS survey to be completed in class in the final tutorial session. Some changes that have been made since the last offering of this unit include more online formative quizzes and in-class formative quizzes, more specific guidelines for the E-Poster assignment and earlier release of topics and guidelines. An additional workshop to discuss independent projects has been added for voluntary attendance.

You must complete the Obligations Module before attending any online or face-to-face tutorials

We will keep you updated on lab attendence for students studying in-person and for remote streaming of tutorial sessions.


Work, health and safety

All students attending F2F session are required to comply with stirct WHS guidelines.

Students studying remotely are also expected to understand WHS  requiremts.

ALL students enrolled will be required to understand these requirements in THEORY and complete an Obligations Module to proceed with the subject.

Important for this subject: understand and appreciate the special obligations  required for working with and viewing human cadaveric material.

For attendance at anatomy tutorials, students must

  1. Wear solid covered shoes
  2. Closed lab coat – standard student lab coats or disposable gowns are acceptable
  3. Two gloves at all times
  4. Student IDs must be worn on your labcoat at all times in the lab
  5. Hair must be tied back so that it does not obscure vision or dangle into specimens
  6. Students must comply with all of the regulations required for working with human cadaveric material.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.