Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 hour lecture
Seminars / Tutorials 3 x 2 hours seminar
Workload Breakdown (Every 10 credits carries a notional student workload of 100 hours.) No. of hours of lectures 22; No. of hours of preparation for lectures (3 hours per lecture) 66; No. of hours of seminars 6; No. of hours of preparation for seminars (4 hours per seminar hour) 24; No. of hours spent writing coursework 36; No. of hours spent revising for the exam 30; No of hours supplementary reading 16; TOTAL 200


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x poster presentation  15%
Semester Assessment 1 x research report (1500 words)  30%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   written examination  55%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the methods used in physiological psychology.

2. Identify the structure and function of neurons and synapses and the structures of the brain and their functions.

3. Examine and evaluate what brain damage can tell us about normal behaviour.

4. Understand the relationship between chronic stress and ill health4

5. Demonstrate understanding of how emotions are regulated and the role of dopamine in reward.

6. Critically assess the contribution of learning theory to understanding behaviour.


Psychology seeks to understand and explain human behaviour from various perspectives; the structure and function of the brain and associated nervous and endocrine systems is central to any examination of human psychology. Knowledge of brain structure and function is necessary to appreciate complex phenomena such as mental illness, drug addiction and movement. Reductionist biological approaches are complemented by different learning theories which examine how behaviours are acquired and maintained.

Brief description

The aim of this module is to explore the relationship between brain function and behaviour and the factors controlling the acquisition and expression of behaviour. The module covers the organization and structure of the brain. The role of the brain in controlling aspects of behaviour such as movement, language, emotions and the association between learning and reward mechanisms are explored. Both normal functioning and abnormal functioning are considered and the biological and learning components of a range of physical and mental health disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and drug addiction are examined.


  • Brain structure (gross and minute)
  • Electrical and chemical processes control neuronal communication in the brain
  • Role of frontal lobe structures and the limbic system in emotional expression
  • Brain damage and behaviour
  • Depression and underlying abnormalities in brain systems
  • Drug treatment for depression
  • Chronic stress and brain function
  • Animal models of drug addiction
  • Dopamine and schizophrenia
  • Brain structures involved in classical and instrumental conditioning
  • Role of motor systems in movement
  • Role of brain structures in language production and comprehension

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not directly applicable although students will be expected to understand the key concepts of statistical analysis through the examination of research designs.
Communication Students will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct in their and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic and to focus on the objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching. Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format and the presentation of work should reflect effective expression of ideas and good use of language skills in order to ensure clarity, coherence and effective communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the facilitator and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well. Students will be required to reflect on their learning process through the inclusion of formal non-assessed reflection to be included with all coursework.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science, PsychoInfo and PsychLit).
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Learning about the process of planning a poster and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards their portfolio of transferable skills
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the development of a poster will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare the corresponding poster presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view and estimate an answer to the problem; consider case studies; reason logically; apply theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The development of a poster in relation to a topical issue will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results appropriately will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student's ability to work alone can be undertaken
Subject Specific Skills Students will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of subject specific skills that will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and research publications presented on the module. These subject specific skills include: *Assessment of scientific methods in psychology. *Differentiation between quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry and identification of appropriate research methods. *Demonstration of a familiarity with the techniques required for literature searches. *Appreciation of the complex interactions and diverse influences on human behaviour.
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module

Reading List

General Text
(2008.) Behavioral genetics /Robert Plomin ... [et al.]. 5th ed. Worth Publishers Primo search (2007.) The human brain and its disorders /edited by Doug Richards, Tom Clark, and Carl Clarke. Oxford University Press Primo search Kolb, Bryan (c2009.) Fundamentals of human neuropsychology /Bryan Kolb and Ian Q. Whishaw. 6th ed. Worth Publishers Primo search
Essential Reading
Carlson, N.R. (2007) Physiology of Behaviour 9th Boston, MA: Pearson International Education Primo search Martin, G. Neil. (2006.) Human neuropsychology /G. Neil Martin. 2nd ed. Pearson/Prentice Hall Primo search Rutter, Michael (2007) Genes and behavior :nature -- nurture interplay explained /Michael Rutter. Blackwell Pub. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5