Physiology Modules

The aim of the Moderatorship in Physiology is to give all students a thorough grounding in the mechanisms of function of the body, from the cellular to the whole-body level. The emphasis is on understanding the physiological mechanisms of the human body. In addition to studying all physiological systems in-depth, students undertake a number of advanced modules in aspects of physiology that reflect the research interests of the academic staff of the Department and also complete an individual original research project in one of the laboratories. The project covers a range from laboratory-based cellular projects through to more clinically based projects with human participants. During the Sophister years, students will also develop a number of key transferable skills including problem solving, critical thinking, IT and numeracy skills. We place a great emphasis on developing students’ communication skills, with each student giving multiple oral presentations and writing many reports throughout his/her two years in the Department.

The Course structure of the Moderatorship in Physiology is as follows:

  • Junior Sophister: 55 Physiology credits + 5 credits in another JS Science module (often Comparative Physiology from the Zoology Department) or Broad Curriculum, making a total of 60 credits.
  • Senior Sophister: 60 Physiology credits.


Junior Sophister

Students must take 55 credits in Physiology to proceed to Moderatorship in Physiology. Students must consult with the Course Adviser before signing up for the additional 5 credit module options.

Assessment and Examination Procedures

  • Physiology Students: Some modules are assessed in-course, in whole or in part. Annual Examination - Three three-hour papers.
  • Non-Physiology Students: Non-physiology students taking physiology courses will be examined by in-course assessments only.

  • PG3000 Research Skills (S1 & S2) - 5 credits
    This module aims to develop the research skills necessary for successful completion of the moderatorship in Physiology. It incorporates a Personal Development Programme, run in association with the Careers Advisory Service, instruction in data handling and laboratory skills, and lectures in core concepts of physics and chemistry that relate to physiology.
  • PG3135 Nerve, muscle and sensation (S1) - 5 credits
    This laboratory based module examines aspects of nerve-muscle function and sensory physiology. First, basic principles of nerve conduction are examined through computer simulations of the amphibian nerve. Laboratory work then covers human nerve-muscle function, and the recording of muscle activity through electromyography (EMG). Finally, small group experiments are conducted on a sensory system (including touch, pain, audition, smell and taste).
  • PG3110 Cell and Tissue structure (S1) - 5 credits
    The lectures cover basic tissue structure and function. The practical classes teach recognition of tissues and a broader understanding of the relationship of structure to function.
  • PG3980 Journal club (S2) - 5 credits This module consists of seminars that give an opportunity to study individual scientific articles and to acquire the necessary skills for evaluating them.
  • PG3700 Gut, Metabolism and Hormones (S1 & S2) - 5 credits
    This module covers the endocrine regulation of physiological function, renal and GIT function, growth, metabolism and reproductive function. Some lectures are shared with the first Medical year.
  • PG3950 Seminars in Pharmacological & Physiological Research (S1 & S2) - 10 credits
    This module covers advanced topics in cell function, pharmacological regulation of cell physiology. Seminars are also included to enhance students’ general understanding of Biomedical Science and the ethical issues involved in Physiology.
  • PG3300 Physiology of Brain, Nerve and Muscle (S1 & S2) - 5 credits
    This module covers the function of the central and peripheral nervous systems, with in-depth lectures on sensory physiology, muscle function and the neurophysiology of the brain.
  • PG3200 Fluids, Heat and Metabolism (S2) - 5 credits
    This module deals with the regulation of temperature, metabolism and fluids, and particularly how this occurs during thermal stress and exercise. It includes lectures, tutorials and laboratory experiments, as well the delivery of visual and written presentations of a topic of interest to the student.
  • PG3500 Cardiovascular Physiology (S2) - 5 credits
    This module covers the function and regulation of the cardiovascular system and includes lectures, practical classes, workshops and group projects.
  • PG3800 Respiratory Physiology (S2) - 5 credits
    This module covers the function and regulation of the respiratory system and includes lectures, practical classes, workshops and group projects.


Senior Sophister

Students take 60 credits in Physiology. This includes a major individual research project. [PG4500].

Assessment and Examination Procedures

Some modules are assessed in-course, in whole or in part. Annual examination - Four three-hour papers and a viva voce examination.

  • PG4150 Synaptic properties (S1)- 5 creditsThis advanced module covers mechanism of synaptic communication. Topics include: voltage-gated ion channels chemically-gated ion channels, neuronal circuitry in the brain, synaptic plasticity.
  • PG4200 Journal Club (S1) - 5 creditsThis module consists of student-led discussions of original, recently-published, journal articles in various aspects of physiological research, in particular cellular and molecular approaches.
  • PG400 Advanced Research Skills (S1) - 5 creditsThis module covers data handling and laboratory skills as well as production of an extensive review of the literature relevant to the student’s research project.
  • PG4500 Research Project (S2) - 15 creditsEach student engages in a laboratory-based, full-time, original research project during Hilary term. Students are required to deliver presentations of their research plans and research results and to write a project report.
  • PG4600 Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement (S1) - 5 creditsThis lecture and laboratory module covers the basic laws of mechanics as they apply to the movement of living organisms, especially man, and the role of muscle and environmental forces in aiding equilibrium and controlling movement. The underlying neural control of movement is examined through experiments recording muscle activity during everyday actions, neural stimulation and considering patient case-studies.
  • PG4700 Cellular Neurophysiology (S1) - 5 creditsThis module covers advanced topics in neuronal and glial cell function. Topics include: membrane structure, receptors and signalling cascades, G-proteins, calcium as a messenger, transmitter release, ageing.
  • PG4900 Techniques in Cellular Physiology (S1) - 5 creditsThis module aims to provide theoretical knowledge and practical experience of modern techniques used in cell physiology research.
  • PG4800 Integrative Physiology(S1) - 15 creditsThis workshop-based module is intended to develop students’ understanding of physiology as a whole-body science and to reinforce core concepts in systems physiology.


Physiology Moderatorship Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Studied all systems of the human body, including the nervous, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, immune, endocrine, reproductive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, in both lecture and practical settings.
  • Developed research skills including practical laboratory skills, critical analysis of published journal articles and statistical analysis of data.
  • Applied their knowledge of physiology to discuss case studies and general problems in physiology in an integrated manner
  • Completed a full-time, individual original research project in an aspect of physiology, have written-up this project according to the standards of the Journal of Physiology and presented the results to their peers and academic staff in oral form.