module specification

PC5052 - Psychobiology (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Psychobiology
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Other 50%   Online exam (MCQ) (2 Hours)
Unseen Examination 50%   2 hours seen exam
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

The module will consider the influences of biology, genetics, and evolution on behaviour. The module focuses on the role of the brain and nervous system in producing behaviours, and the role of hereditary factors on behaviour, including certain behavioural disorders. Finally, the modules introduces evolutionary psychology and asks why certain behaviours and dispositions may have been favoured (‘selected for’) throughout the course of history, resulting in the behavioural patterns we see today.

Prior learning requirements

PC4005 Study Skills and Introductory Biopsychology

Module aims

  1. To describe key biological, genetic and evolutionary theories of behaviour;
  2. To facilitate students’ critical appraisal of these theories in terms of (a) their internal logic and (b) data from controlled and observational research;
  3. To encourage independent learning through the access of background information using appropriate primary and secondary sources.

The module contributes to the practical application of theoretical positions to real world problems, thereby providing additional transferable skills, e.g. evidence based practice, research and synthesis.


Topics will be drawn from: Neurochemistry and neurophysiology of nerve transmission; behavioral genetics; psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychopharmacology. Biological aspects of learning, memory, motivation and emotion, sleep and arousal. Neuropsychology, cortical localisation of function, biological basis of psychological abnormalities. Sensory systems and conditions, e.g. pain, synathesia, phantom limbs Evolutionary explanations of brain and cognition and of behaviours/dispositions such as mating strategies, sexual jealousy, and psychopathologies.

Learning and teaching

Lectures will provide students with the basic framework and knowledge for the topic, but deeper knowledge and understanding will be promoted through directed study of recommended reading material, workshops, and online formative testing.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Identify biological, genetic and evolutionary explanations of behaviour;
  2. Evaluate the explanations in (1) using research evidence;
  3. Produce discursive evidence of their understanding related to (1) and (2) under timed exam conditions;
  4. Identify the correct answer to focused questions relating to (1) and (2) under timed conditions.

Assessment strategy

Summative and formative assessment will be via an unseen closed examination of 2 hrs (50%); and an online MCQ in class test (25%).
Additional formative assessment can be gained from a non-contributory web-based test, where answers will be provided to students after completion of the test.

Component Percentage of Marks Learning outcomes
Online exam (MCQ)
(2 Hours)
50% 1, 4
2 hours seen exam 50% 1, 2, 3



Breedlove, S.M., N.V. Watson, and R. M.R., Biological Psychology: An Introduction to Behavioral, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroscience 6th ed. 2010, Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.
Carlson, N. R. (2006). Physiology of Behavior (9th ed.): Allyn & Bacon
Chandler, C., (2015) Psychobiology. Chichester, Wiley Blackwell. [CORE]
Chandler, C., The Science of ADHD: A Guide for parents and Professionals. 2010, Oxford: WileyBlackwell
Pinel, J. P. J. (2005). Biopsychology (6th ed.): Allyn & Bacon.