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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Genetic and Environmental Influences on Behaviour and Mental Health (BIME10022)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will lead you through the different aspects of how genetic and environmental factors can influence behaviour and cognition, and the potential consequences for mental health and susceptibility to psychiatric disease. Importantly, it aims to give students an understanding of how these complex factors can interact with each other to impact the individual.

The information covered may vary but will cover subjects including the biology of stress: the HPA axis, glucocorticoid actions in the CNS, the sympathetic nervous system, serotonergic and noradrenergic neurotransmitter systems. The use of animal models for psychiatric disease will be discussed. The genetics of psychiatric disease and intrauterine programming mechanisms (epigenetics) that affect behavioural development in the offspring will then be introduced. We will examine how the interplay between these systems, genetics and the environment influences susceptibility psychiatric conditions including anxiety and depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease. We will also look at how cognition is affected by stress and ageing, and how genetics influences this.

There are two teaching sessions each week. Normally there will be a one-hour lecture or seminar. Some lectures will then be followed by student presentations or devoted to formative feedback. Others will be followed by quizzes or other student-led exercises or scheduled time to work on the group project in-course assessment exercise.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 23, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 5, Formative Assessment Hours 4, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In-course assessment (50%): Students will give oral presentations in small groups - e.g., critiques of scientific papers and strategies for addressing research questions. They will be required to submit individual overviews of these presentations for assessment.
Degree examination (50%).

Feedback Feedback will be available throughout the course in many forms:
- feedback from instructors and peers on your presentations (formative)
- written feedback on your mock exam essay (formative)
- written feedback on your paper critique essay (formative)
- written feedback from the December exam will be made available by the course administrator
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain and discuss: - the nature, function, and control of the stress response. - how exposure to extrinsic environmental factors (e.g., stress in utero, or during early or adult life), and intrinsic environmental factors (e.g., ageing), can influence subsequent behaviour and susceptibility to psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, and impaired cognition. - how an individual's genetic profile can influence the stress response, behaviour, and susceptibility to psychiatric disease - the complex manner in which genetic and environmental factors can interact with each other to influence an individual's risk of developing psychiatric disorders, including epigenetic mechanisms - the strengths and limitations of animal models for investigation of behaviour and human psychiatric disorders
  2. Demonstrate an ability to communicate knowledge and understanding as defined above through both written work and verbal discussion.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to integrate and critically evaluate information gained from different sources (lectures, paper presentations, class discussions and further research and reading) to construct arguments for individual conclusions and original ideas.
  4. Demonstrate effective team-working to produce presentations and arguments for debate.
Reading List
See Course Handbook
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. The ability to communicate knowledge and understanding through written work and verbal discussion.

2. The ability to integrate and critically evaluate information gained from different sources including personal research and reading to construct arguments for individual conclusions and to synthesise original ideas.

3. The ability to participate in effective team-working to deliver completed projects.
Course organiserDr Joyce Yau
Tel: (0131) 242 6760
Course secretaryMr Stewart Smith
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