Back to: Neuroscience major Neuroscience major

Studies in this discipline are available in both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Biomedicine.

Neuroscience is one of the largest areas of study within the entire sphere of modern biology. It is also an area where Australian research has significant international impact.

The Neuroscience major will help you understand the fundamental organisation and functional principles of the nervous system from the biology of nerve cells and neural circuits through to the neural systems and complex behaviours.

A multidisciplinary area of study, the Neuroscience major combines a wide of range of methods and conceptual approaches united by the subject matter: understanding the nervous system.


Graduates can combine their studies in neuroscience with more vocationally oriented courses to build a career in areas including:

  • Audiology
  • Behavioural research
  • Brain imaging
  • Drug development
  • Drug evaluation
  • Education
  • Neuropsychology
  • Research.

Subjects you could take in this major

  • An individual program of supervised research in which the student, in consultation with the supervisor, designs, conducts and reports on the outcomes of a specific project. Detailed requirements are negotiated with the supervisor.

  • Aberrations in the structure and expression of hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters and their receptors can give rise to diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. To understand the molecular basis of these diseases, it is essential to know how hormones, growth factors and neurotransmitters are synthesised, and how their signals are recognised, amplified and transmitted by intracellular signalling pathways in the target cells.

    Topics covered include structures of hormone and neurotransmitter receptors, mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction, second messengers and protein phosphorylation-dephosphorylation; regulation of gene expression; mechanism of neuronal apoptosis and necrosis, molecular basis of neurodegenerative disease, molecular basis of cancer formation and progression and the use and design of protein kinase inhibitors as therapeutics for treatment of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

  • The human brain is, arguably, the most complex structure on earth. This subject examines how a simple sheet of cells in the early embryo is fashioned into a functioning brain -. You will learn how cells within the primordial nervous system are assigned different fates, how neural stem cells are stimulated to divide to produce the billions of cells that comprise the nervous system and how these cells differentiate into mature neurons. The subject will examine how neural circuits are established as newly-born neurons send out axons,making functional synaptic connections with specific target cells.

  • The working of the brain and nervous system is an important frontier of modern medicine and nerves are the target for many important drugs. This subject will address how drugs modulate the processes of neuronal communication and survival in the context of the management of mood and emotional disorders, addictive behaviours, neuro-degenerative diseases, pain and epilepsy. This subject will also discuss strategies for the development of future therapeutics. Students will gain an appreciation of how a detailed understanding of pathophysiological processes is important for the rational development of new therapeutics.

  • The subject aims to provide students with an overview of how neurons function, individually and in ensembles, to produce complex behaviours. We consider how the special properties of nerve cells enable information to be encoded and transmitted.

    We will explore how nerve cells communicate with other nerves and cells. Finally we will explore how these properties lead to activity patterns that change the function of other tissues in response to physiological challenges, thus contributing to homeostasis.

  • This subject explores the fundamental organisational features and functional principles of the nervous system: from the biology of nerve cells and neural circuits to complex behaviours. We consider simple reflex and pattern generating circuits through to sensory and motor systems, and examine the brain regions and processes involved in higher functions such as social cognition and reasoning. The multidisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience is emphasised; students should gain an appreciation of how life science disciplines (such as Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Psychobiology) have increased our understanding of nervous system function, and how Neuroscience overlaps with other areas of related study (such as Cognitive Science, Information Science, Linguistics, and Experimental and Clinical Psychology).

  • The subject focuses on examples of major sensory systems, the control of movement, and on complex brain functions such as memory, language and consciousness. These complex functional capacities are considered from the perspective of normal brain operation and from an examination of the abnormalities underlying neurological disorders.

  • The subject builds on students’ understanding of the basic principles behind the functioning of the nervous system, developed in the prerequisite neuroscience subject/s. It develops students’ understanding of the structure, function and development underlying the processing of visual information from the eyes to the further reaches of the brain. The subject provides a thorough understanding of the various levels of the visual pathway and the neural mechanisms that enable visual functions such as perceiving form, colour, depth and movement and how visually-guided action is executed. It will also explore the basis of higher brain functions, such as visual attention and reading and also how eye movements are controlled and vision is related to other senses such as balance, hearing and touch. The subject will provide a number of examples of how disorders of the neural processing lead to specific clinical syndromes.

Entry requirements & Prerequisites

This major is available through more than one course, both of which have their own separate entry requirements.

You can read more on the the Bachelor of Biomedicine & Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Science Extended pages.