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Unit of study_

NEUR3005: Functional Neuroanatomy

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

The aim of this unit is to provide students with advanced knowledge of functional neuroanatomy and systems neuroscience, and an appreciation that neuroscience is a constantly evolving field. There will be a detailed exploration of the anatomical structures and pathways that underlie sensation and perception in each of the sensory modalities. The neural circuits and mechanisms that control somatic and autonomic motor systems, motivated behaviours, emotions, and other higher order functions will be explored in great detail based on current neuroscience literature. Practical classes will allow students to identify and learn the functions of critical anatomical structures in human brain and spinal cord specimens. Reading and interpreting images from functional and structural brain imaging techniques will be incorporated into the neuroanatomy practical classes, and develop an appreciation of how these technologies can be used in neuroscience research. The Neuroscience in the Media seminars will develop neuroscience literature searching skills as well as developing critical thinking and analysis of the accuracy of the media portrayal of neuroscience research. Building on these skills and working in small groups, students will re-frame and communicate neuroscience evidence through the production of a short video. Students will also learn the skills required to write an unbiased and accurate popular media article based on a recent neuroscience research paper. This unit will develop key attributes that are essential for science graduates as they move forward in their careers.

Unit details and rules

Unit code NEUR3005
Academic unit
Credit points 6
NEUR3001 or NEUR3901 or NEUR3002 or NEUR3902 or NEUR3905
Assumed knowledge

Fundamental knowledge of human anatomy and neuroanatomy (ANAT2X10 or MEDS2005 or BMED2402)

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Paul Austin,
Lecturer(s) Karen Cullen,
Michelle Gerke-Duncan,
Kevin Keay,
Paul Austin,
John Mitrofanis,
Vladimir Balcar,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam Online Neuroanatomy spot test
Practical examination
20% Formal exam period 1 hour
Outcomes assessed: LO8 LO13 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9
Final exam Online Final exam
Theory examination
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation group assignment Neuroscience in the media participation
6% Multiple weeks 3 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO13
Small continuous assessment View neuroanatomy videos and complete quizzes
0% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO8 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9
Small continuous assessment View brain imaging videos
0% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO7
Small test Online Mid-semester spot test
Practical examination
10% Week 07 30 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment group assignment Neuroscience in the media group video task
Video task
9% Week 10 Maximum video length 4mins24secs.
Outcomes assessed: LO14
Assignment New Scientist-style article
New Scientist-style article
15% Week 12 750 words
Outcomes assessed: LO15
Small continuous assessment Self assess understanding of learning outcomes
Short answer questions
0% Weekly n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO12 LO11 LO10 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Mid-semester spot test: The mid semester spot test will based on identification of structures on wet-specimens and function questions. The questions will be based upon tutorial and lecture content presented in weeks 1-5 inclusive.
  • Neuroscience in the media participation: Students will be awarded participation grades for the group tasks in each of the first two Neuroscience in the media seminars.
  • Neuroscience in the media group video task: Group videos will be produced outside of class in weeks 7-10. In the week 11 Neuroscience in the media seminar, the videos will be watched by the whole class and be peer and tutor assessed.
  • New Scientist-style article: This article will be written in the New Scientist-style for a non-expert audience, and will build on skills attained in the Neuroscience in the media task.
  • Neuroanatomy spot test: This will be based on identification of structures on wet-specimens, photographs and brain images. Students will also be asked questions on the function of structures covered in tutorials and lectures.
  • Final exam: The final exam will cover lecture content from throughout the semester.
  • Self assess understanding of learning outcomes: Individual lecturers provide lecture specific learning outcomes as slides in their Powerpoint presentations. Students will test their understanding by attempting to write a short answer to each of these specific learning outcomes.
  • View neuroanatomy videos and complete quizzes: These videos will be available on Canvas from the week in which the corresponding tutorial is held. There will be a short introduction to the weeks topic followed by a formative online quiz, which can be completed as many times as the student wishes.
  • View brain imaging videos: Brain imaging videos will be available on Canvas from the week in which the
    corresponding tutorial is held. There will be associated tasks in the tutorials related to these videos to faciliate a better understanding of functional imaging.
Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.



Explanation / Interpretation

High distinction (85 - 100)

Work of exceptional standard

Mastery of topics showing extensive integration and ability to transfer knowledge to novel contexts; treatment of tasks shows an advanced synthesis of ideas; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is very well presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an outstanding level.

Distinction (75 - 84)

Work of superior standard

Excellent achievement, consistent evidence of deep understanding and application of knowledge in medical science; treatment of tasks shows advanced understanding of topics; demonstration of initiative, complex understanding and analysis; work is well-presented; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a superior level.

Credit (65 - 74)

Competent work demonstrating potential for higher study

Confident in explaining medical science processes, with evidence of solid understanding and achievement; occasional lapses indicative of unresolved issues; treatment of tasks shows a good understanding of topic; work is well-presented with a minimum of errors; all criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to a high level.

Pass (50 - 64)

Work of acceptable standard

Satisfactory level of engagement with and understanding of topic; some inconsistencies in understanding and knowledge of medical science; work is adequately presented, with some errors or omissions, most criteria addressed and learning outcomes achieved to an adequate level.

Fail (0 - 49)

Work not of acceptable standard

Unsatisfactory achievement and engagement with the medical science discipline; inadequate understanding or fundamental misunderstanding of topics; most criteria and learning outcomes not clearly or adequately addressed or achieved; lack of effort/involvement in the unit.

For more information see

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.

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
Multiple weeks Neuroscience in the media seminars in week 3, 6 and 11. In small groups you will critique and re-frame neuroscience reported in the popular science magazine, New Scientist. Seminar (3 hr) LO13 LO14 LO15
Weekly Two one hour lectures per week. Covering the functional neuroanatomy of both sensory and motor systems, as well as complex behaviours. Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Weekly 1.5 hour practical. You will identify and trace brain structures critical for all major sensory systems, as well as those involved in movement and complex behaviours. You will also learn to interpret various kinds of neural imaging scans. Practical (1.5 hr) LO7 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11 LO12

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: Attendance in the 3 Neuroscience in the media seminars, 1 guest lecture, and weekly 1.5 hours neuroanatomy tutorials is compulsory, and a requirement to successfully complete the UoS.

COVID-19 – Travel-ban/self-isolation affected students: Attendance will be recorded from students' arrival date on campus or from March 31st, whichever is the earliest. From February 24 (week 1), students enrolled in this unit should engage with and study all online content, as directed in the Canvas site, including the submission of any required formative tasks and completion of any asynchronous activities.

The University of Sydney Coursework Policy 2014 states: 
55 (2) A student enrolled in a unit of study must comply with the requirements set out in the faculty resolutions, award course resolutions or unit of study outline about undertaking the unit of study, including on matters such as: (a) attendance at and participation in lectures, seminars and tutorials; and (b) participation in practical work.
The Faculty of Science resolutions states:
9(1). Students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Associate Dean.

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

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Nolte's The Human Brain. An Introduction To Its Functional AnatomyTodd Vanderah Douglas Gould7th Edition, C.V. Mosby Elsevier 2015.
  • The Human Brain In Photographs And Diagrams. John Nolte. 4th ed. Mosby Elsevier 2013.

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. describe the anatomical structures that form the blood brain barrier, as well as the ventricles and cisterns
  • LO2. understand and be able to describe the anatomical structures and pathways that underlie transmission of all special senses (the chemical senses, audition, vision, and the vestibular system), as well as somatosensory information to spinal cord and brain
  • LO3. understand and be able to describe the anatomical structures and pathways that underlie autonomic and somatic motor systems
  • LO4. understand and be able to describe the anatomical structures and pathways that underlie autonomic and somatic motor systems
  • LO5. outline the neural structures and systems that control sleep and vegetative states
  • LO6. explain the processes that lead to brain development, brain aging and dementia
  • LO7. interpret structural and functional information from various kinds of neural-imaging techniques and understand the possible applications of such technology
  • LO8. identify and trace the major blood vessels, meninges, cisterns and ventricles of the human brain and spinal cord
  • LO9. identify and trace the structures that form the sensory pathways of all the special senses (the chemical senses, audition, vision, and the vestibular system)
  • LO10. identify and trace the cranial nerves, cranial nerve nuclei, thalamic nuclei and cortical regions which transmit and process the sensory modalities
  • LO11. identify all primary sensory and motor areas, as well as major association areas
  • LO12. identify and trace somatic and autonomic motor pathways which control conscious and unconscious motor output
  • LO13. critique the science reported in the New Scientist articles through analysing the content of original research papers
  • LO14. critique and re-frame primary neuroscience papers by producing, as a group, a short video-blog or news segment which is accessible to a non-expert audience
  • LO15. integrate what you have learnt from Neuroscience in the Media to create a 750 word New Scientist style (journalistic) article that it is accessible to non-expert readers.

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.

Timetabling of lectures and assessment dates have been optimised.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances 
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory 
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories 
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door 
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory 
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:

Safety and Ethical requirements for tutorials

  • Once inside the tutorial rooms you must:
  • Wear closed-toed shoes (no sandals or thongs).
  • Wear a lab coat that is completely fastened.
  • Wear TWO disposable gloves - Please be aware gloves will NOT be provided by the Discipline and should be purchased from the campus shop or off-campus prior to class.
  • Tie long hair back.
  • If you do not have the correct protective equipment you will NOT be allowed to enter the class.
  • Respect the specimens at all times.
  • Cover or put away the specimens after use.
  • Keep the specimens wet with the spray provided.


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.