This module will be a comprehensive introduction to normal and pathological sleep, covering the topic from biological, neurological, psychological and psychiatric perspectives.

The students will be introduced to the common methods for the classification of sleep, as well as the neurophysiological basis of the brain phenomena used for this classification.

The evolutionary purpose of sleep, and sleep patterns in non-human animals, will be discussed, as will the different cognitive processes which have been linked with specific sleep stages, such as memory consolidation and motor learning.

The operation of and interactions between different brain regions during different sleep stages, as well as the research techniques that can shed light on these processes, will be covered.

The various types of sleep disorder will be introduced, along with their consequences on psychological and psychiatric function, their prevalence in the population, and methods of treatment.

The link between poor sleep patterns and physical (diabetes, obesity) and mental (depression, anxiety) health problems will be addressed. The association of sleep with the clinical manifestation of other neurological and psychiatric issues such as epilepsy will be covered, as will potential diagnostic confounds of sleep disorders.

The use of sleep as a window into brain function, including what sleep can say about the neurological basis of consciousness, will be discussed.

Module content will be covered though lectures and discussion sessions.


  • Lectures: 10 × 2 hours
  • 1 × 2 hour (exam review)
  • Seminars: 3 × 2 hour
  • Office hours: 10 × 1 hour


  • Essay: A 2000 word critical essay on a topic related to one of the lectures (40%)
  • Summer Examination (60%): Part A: short answer questions, Part B: essay question. Parts A and B are weighted 40-60

Please note that the format of papers in the supplementary examinations may differ from the equivalent main examination paper or class test. Re-sit and deferral students should check the details of the assessment format of supplementary examinations with the Module Leader.

Key skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Organisation and planning
  • Information gathering
  • Research design
  • Essay writing/written communication