What papers will I take?
Essential first-year papers provide introductions to cellular biology (CELS 191); human biology, particularly of the nervous system (HUBS 191); and biological psychology (PSYC 111).
Additional papers are required – most students choose chemistry (CHEM 191) but other options are available.
Please see our website for more details.
Note that most of these papers are included in the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) course, with the exception of PSYC 111. Students who start their degree in HSFY and then change to Neuroscience can take PSYC 111 in their second year.
Here you can begin to “custom design” your Neuroscience degree. Neuroscience students take core papers in psychology, anatomy and physiology; as well as choosing optional papers from zoology, pharmacology, biochemistry and genetics.
Following their interests, third-year students choose from a variety of papers covering advanced topics in neuroscience, with an emphasis on the latest findings in research.
How will I study?
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Neuroscience at Otago, teaching styles vary between papers. Many first- and second-year papers are taught through a combination of lectures and laboratory sessions, while third-year papers will include group projects and discussions. Assessments are varied and include written examinations and laboratory reports.
Neuroscience research at Otago
Neuroscientists at the University of Otago are involved in a range of exciting research. Neuroscience students learn about cutting-edge research being conducted at Otago, as well as research from around the world, and can work in the lab with Otago's neuroscientists as postgraduates.
Some examples of research being conducted at Otago:
- Professor Cliff Abraham is interested in the neural mechanisms of memory. His lab is also investigating biomarkers and therapeutic agents for Alzheimer's disease.
- Dr Olivia Harrison's research is focused on mental health and its relationship to interoception (how we perceive our body), with a particular focus on breathing.
- Associate Professor Yusuf Cakmak's research focuses on non-invasive peripheral neuromodulation, wearable sensors and mobile health applications.
- Associate Professor Beulah Leitch is interested in the changes that occur at synapses (the contacts between brain cells that allow them to communicate with each other) during ageing and various brain disorders including epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease.
- Professor Colin Brown investigates how the brain controls reproduction and cardiovascular function.
- Dr Rosie Brown investigates the neural circuitry underlying parenting behaviour, and how hormones alter mood and behaviour in mothers.
- Associate Professor Stephanie Hughes studies how lysosomes (the waste disposal system in cells) contribute to neurodegenerative diseases, including childhood Batten disease, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
- Dr Paul Szyszka investigates olfactory search behavior in insects – what are their perceptual limits in olfaction, and what patterns of neural activities are behaviourally relevant?
Students who do particularly well can apply for entry to the Bachelor of Science with Honours (BSc(Hons)) programme after completing their Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Neuroscience. This elite course offers ideal preparation for those interested in a career in neuroscience research.
Students can also enrol in a one-year postgraduate diploma or a two-year Master of Science (MSc).
Taking chemistry and biology until Year 13 is recommended. Students without good marks in chemistry are strongly advised to enrol in the Chemistry Bridging paper (BP607) during Summer School, prior to their first year of study.