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Unit information: Neuroscience of Pain in 2021/22

Unit name Neuroscience of Pain
Unit code PHPH30017
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Tony Pickering
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Physiology, Pharmacology & Neuroscience
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Students will study advanced topics in the neuroscience of pain through a series of seminars. The unit aims to develop an understanding of key concepts in the neuroscience of pain including:

  • The roles of different classes of primary afferent neuron in acute and chronic pain
  • The role of spinal processing in pain perception
  • The roles of central and descending pathways in modulating pain perception
  • The clinical aspects of neuropathic pain and potential therapeutic approaches

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • An in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of selected aspects of the neuroscience of pain, with an ability to keep up-to-date with recent developments in the field.
  • The ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature and to critically evaluate the material and appraise competing theories.
  • An appreciation of the clinical challenges associated with neuropathic pain

Teaching details


Assessment Details

Timed assessment 90%

The unit will be assessed through a timed assessment in May/June, which contributes 90% of the unit mark and consists of two sections. In Section A (50%), students will be expected to answer one essay question from a choice of 3, which will assess their knowledge and critical understanding of the field, and their ability to gather information from the primary scientific literature. In Section B (50%), students will be expected to answer one multi-part compulsory question assessing data handling/data interpretation and experimental design skills.

Coursework 10%

The coursework will be either an essay, data interpretation or experimental design question of a similar format to that used in the timed assessment.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHPH30017).