module specification

PY7146 - The Neuroscience of Addiction (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title The Neuroscience of Addiction
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Social Sciences
Total study hours 200
152 hours Guided independent study
48 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 25%   20 minute presentation
Unseen Examination 75%   2 hour unseen examination
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Not applicable -

Module summary

This module focuses on the neuroscientific explanations for addiction and the action of drugs in the nervous system.

Module aims

  • To examine the action(s) of substances in the brain
  • To examine and evaluate the use of animal experiments in addiction studies
  • To examine neural mechanisms that are involved in the addiction process
  • To investigate the contribution of genetics to addiction


Basic pharmacology; Specific pharmacology (e.g. alcohol, cocaine, opiates etc); Genetic principles of addiction; animal models of addiction; neuroscience theories of addiction.

Learning and teaching

Twelve 3 hour class based sessions with lectures workshops and seminar sessions Students will also be required to carry out independent learning, generally in the form of background reading.

Learning outcomes

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

1.  Critically evaluate the pharmacological mechanisms of drug action pertaining to addiction and substance misuse
2.  Understand and critically evaluate the scientific use of animal experimentation in addiction research.
3.  Critically evaluate the biological mechanisms of addiction and their related phenomena to addiction theories.
4.  Provide an advanced, systematic and critical understanding of the biological factors involved in the conceptual accounts of reward and reinforcement.

Assessment strategy

This module is assessed in two ways:
1. Oral presentation of 20 minutes on specific biological features of drugs or other addictive behaviours
2. Unseen examination covering the core topics of the module. Students will be required to select two question from six, written in essay format.


Altman, J., Everitt, B. J., Glautier, S., Markou, A., Nutt, D., Oretti, R., et al. (1996). The biological, social and clinical bases of drug addiction: commentary and debate. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 125(4), 285-345.
Feldman, R. F., Meyer, J., & Quenzer, L. F. (1997). Principles of Neuropsychopharmacology Sinauer Associates Inc.
Iversen, L. L. (2006). Speed, Ecstasy, Ritalin: The Science of Amphetamines Oxford University Press.
Koob, G., & Le Moal, M. (2005). Neurobiology of Addiction Academic Press Inc.,U.S.
Kranzler, H. R., & Ciraulo, D. A. (Eds.). (2005). Clinical Manual of Addiction Psychopharmacology American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.
Lowinson, J. H., Langrod, J. G., Millman, R. B., & Ruiz, P. (Eds.). (2004). Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Nutt, D. J., Robbins, T., Stimson, G., V. , & Ince, M. (Eds.). (2006). Drugs and the Future: Brain Science, Addiction and Society Academic Press Inc.
Rastegar, D. A., & Fingerhood, M. I. (2005). Addiction Medicine: An Evidence-Based Handbook: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Salamone, J. D., Correa, M., Mingote, S. M., & Weber, S. M. (2005). Beyond the reward hypothesis: alternative functions of nucleus accumbens dopamine. Curr Opin Pharmacol, 5(1), 34-41.
Sanchis-Segura, C., & Spanagel, R. (2006). Behavioural assessment of drug reinforcement and addictive features in rodents: an overview. Addict Biol, 11(1), 2-38.
Stahl, S. M. (2008). Essential Psychopharmacology (3rd ed.): Cambridge University Press