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Module PPP-2013:
Biological Psychology

Module Facts

Run by School of Psychology

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Caroline Bowman

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to equip students with an understanding of the principles of biological psychology. In particular, this module will focus on how the brain influences behaviour. Lectures will investigate how the nervous system works, the effects of hormones, and will consider the mechanisms that drive the normally functioning brain. Additionally, lectures will explore how knowledge of the normally functioning brain can be applied in order to understand the effect of drugs, brain injury, and neurological and clinical disorders.

Course content

Content within the module includes:

Introduction to the module

Nervous System Overview

Psychopharmacology (Drugs)

Development, Degeneration & Recovery

Learning & Memory

Sensory Systems

Emotional Behaviours

Motivated Behaviours I: Sleep

Motivated Behaviours II: Reproduction

Psychological Disorders

Revision Sessions

Assessment Criteria


Essay-based questions: Student provided a comprehensive answer to the question(s). Material was well-organised and well-structured. There was clear evidence of a good understanding of the material, and that a deeper understanding of material presented in lectures had been achieved due to relevant further reading and self-study. There was some evidence of appropriate critical evaluation and discussion. Answers matching this criteria would generally encompass the B range of grades.


Essay-based questions: Student provided comprehensive and accurate coverage of question matter, with sound clarity of argument and expression. Answers evidenced a depth of insight into the question matter, and it was clear that this was achieved through relevant further and additional reading. Appropriate critical evaluation of evidence and discussion of material supported all answers. Answers matching this criteria would generally encompass the A range of grades.


Essay-based questions: Student provided an adequate answer to the question(s), but answers were largely based on lecture material and essential reading, with no real development of arguments, critical evaluation or evidence of study beyond the basics (basics = lecture material and essential reading). Structure and organisation of material was adequate. Answers matching this criteria would generally encompass the C range of grades. D grades may be awarded if elements of inaccuracy and/or misunderstanding were evident within the answer, or if answer missed one or two key points or failed to expand on key points. Fail grades would be awarded if answers were laden within inaccuracy/misunderstanding/omissions.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify how neural and hormonal function drives psychological processes.

  2. Evaluate specific brain systems and describe their relationship with psychological processes.

  3. Understand the general structure and organisation of the brain, including cortical localisation of function.

  4. Evaluate how damage to specific cortical regions, or dysregulation in neurotransmitter levels, can lead to neurological and clinical disorders.

  5. Understand the structure and function of the nervous system.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Mid Term Exam

This exam will take place during Week 7 of semester 2 (date to be confirmed), and it will assess your knowledge, understanding and evaluation of material covered in lectures 2-5. In the exam, you will answer two 'seen' essay questions. I will release an essay title at the end of each lecture, and so you will have a chance to prepare your essay responses in advance of the exam. Each essay is worth 50% of the paper.

EXAM Final Exam

This exam will take place during the final exam period of semester 2 in May 2021 (date to be confirmed), and it will assess your knowledge, understanding and evaluation of material covered in lectures 8-11. In the exam, you will answer two 'seen' essay questions. I will release an essay title at the end of each lecture, and so you will have a chance to prepare your essay responses in advance of the exam. Each essay is worth 50% of the paper.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


FEEDBACK SESSIONS: To support weekly lectures, students may voluntarily attend two-hour weekly drop-in sessions. Students may attend sessions if they require support with regard to any aspect of the course, but may especially want to focus on asking questions about preparing for the midterm and final exams (especially preparing essays), seeking feedback with regard to their understanding of key content, developing critical evaluation skills, and prospective and retrospective exam performance. Sessions will be student-led so that students have the opportunity to receive feedback specific to their own progress and achievement. Students should note that during feedback sessions the lecturer will neither cover new content nor summarise entire lectures that students may have missed.


Weekly two-hour content lectures will run in weeks 1-5 and 8-11 of semester 2. In addition, a revision session will run in week 6 (Reading Week), to prepare students for the midterm exam in week 7, and in week 12 to prepare students for the final exam which will sit during the final assessment period. All sessions will be recorded.

Private study

Students should expect to complete 52 hours of self-study in order to achieve the learning outcomes for this module. Self-study will take the form of essential (+ further and additional) reading, and preparation for exams. In addition to attending classes and voluntary feedback sessions (as required), students should be spending 4-6 hours each week during term-time engaging in reading and revision for this module.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Apply multiple perspectives to psychological issues and integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in psychology.
  • Communicate psychological concepts effectively in written form.
  • Be computer literate for the purpose of processing and disseminating psychological data and information.
  • Retrieve and organise information effectively.
  • Use effectively personal planning and project management skills.
  • Work effectively under pressure (time pressure, limited resources, etc) as independent and pragmatic learners.
  • Problem-solve by clarifying questions, considering alternative solutions, making critical judgements, and evaluating outcomes.
  • Reason scientifically and demonstrate the relationship between theory and evidence.
  • Understand and investigate the role of brain function in all human behaviour and experience.
  • Comprehend and use psychological data effectively, demonstrating a systematic knowledge of the application and limitations of various research paradigms and techniques.
  • Employ evidence-based reasoning and examine practical, theoretical and ethical issues associated with the use of different methodologies, paradigms and methods of analysis in psychology.
  • Be aware of ethical principles and approval procedures.


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: