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Unit information: Biological Psychology in 2014/15

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Unit name Biological Psychology
Unit code PSYC20004
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Attwood
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to the interaction between brain and behaviour. It is structured around a number of key themes, including human neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuroanatomy and neurocognition.


  • Develop student's interest, scientific knowledge and understanding of the study of the interaction between the central nervous system and behaviour.
  • Introduce students to the methodological approaches to the study of the central nervous system and the application of these to particular areas such as perception, language, nutrition, executive functions and other forms of cognition both in healthy and pathological nervous systems.
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the role of empirical evidence in the formation of theory and how theory guides the collection and interpretation of empirical data.
  • Help students to understand the conceptual and historical issues in the subject matter and their relation to other areas of psychological science.
  • Help students to acquire a wide range of transferable skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, the student will:

  • Have a comprehensive understanding and scientific knowledge of the topic and methodological approaches to the study of the central nervous system and its links to behaviour.
  • Have a comprehensive understanding of the application of these approaches to the study of specific areas of psychological science.
  • Be able to integrate this understanding of these methodologies with other areas of psychological science.
  • Be able to understand the conceptual and historical issues in the subject matter of this unit and how they relate to other areas of psychological science.
  • Be able to plan and contribute to seminar-based presentations of topics covered in this unit and have further improved their scientific writing skills.

Teaching Information

This unit comprises 16 50 minute lectures, one revision tutorial (2 tutorials in total; 50 students max in each) and 8 50 minute seminars (32 seminars in total, max 25 students in each; i.e. each student attends and participates in 8 seminars and is involved in presenting at one of these).

Assessment Information

Summative assessment with one 2000-word written essay (20%); one oral presentation in seminar (20%) and one 2-hour written exam (60%). The two major topics of this unit (Biological Psychology and Neuropsychology) will be assessed independently: a student covering Biological Psychology with their essay will need to cover Neuropsychology with their oral presentation or vice versa. In the written exam, students will have to answer questions from each of the two topics.

Reading and References

  • Carlson, N. R. (2007). Physiology of behaviour (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. QP360 CAR
  • Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry, R. B., & Mangun, G. R. (2009). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind (3rd ed.). London: Norton QP360 GAZ
  • Kalat, B. (2007) Biological psychology (9th ed.). London: Wadsworth QP360 KAL
  • Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2009) Fundamentals of human neuropsychology (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. QP360 KOL
  • Journal articles available in the University library