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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Biological Bases of Behaviour in the Brain
Module Code PSYC502
School 37
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Stella Vlachou
Semester 2: Stella Vlachou
Autumn: Stella Vlachou
Module TeachersStella Vlachou
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination
Completion of online activities and repeat of final exam.

To provide a critical description and explanation of the biological basis of human behaviour and the theories of biological influences on behaviour.

Learning Outcomes

1. Critically consider the major theories and perspectives of biological psychology.
2. Describe how the central, autonomic nervous and endocrine systems are involved in psychological processes and explain how these systems interact.
3. Critically assess the strengths and limitations of using biological systems to explain human behaviour.
4. Critically consider contribution of genetics to human behaviour.
5. Demonstrate an advanced ability to describe and explain the impact of evolutionary theories on biopsychology
6. Critically explain and evaluate ethical issues in using humans and animals in biopsychological research.
7. Identify and explain biopsychological approaches to diagnosis and treatment and critically appraise current biopsychological research methods for diagnosis and treatment.
8. Define and critically evaluate the biopsychological bases for a range of substance abuse, affective, anxiety, psychotic and other psychiatric disorders.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture20No Description
Seminars55 seminars to supplement lectures on key introductory biological psychology topics.
Independent Study98Independent Learning and Study; Engagement with and Completion of Online Activities; Preparation for Final Exam
Assignment Completion2Exam
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Introduction to brain and behaviour

Genetics, environment, physiological and evolutionary psychology

Anatomy, structure and organisation of the nervous system

Neural Conduction and Synaptic transmission

Research Methods and Ethics of biopsychology: an introduction

Biopsychology of Motivation (e.g., Sleep, dreaming and circadian rhythms; Drug addiction and reward)

Biopsychology of Psychological/Psychiatric Disorders (e.g., Schizophrenia, Depression, Mania, Anxiety, etc.)

Biopsychology of Emotion, Stress and Health

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment30% Examination Weight70%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Completion of online activityCompletion of Online Activities30%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • John P. J. Pinel and S. Barnes: 2017, Biopsychology, 10th, Pearson Education, Boston, MA, US, 9781292158471
  • David Linden: 2019, The Biology of Psychological Disorders, 2nd, Red Globe Press; Macmillan International, London, UK, 9781137610416
  • Bryan Kolb,Ian Whishaw,G Campbell Teskey: 2019, An Introduction to Brain and Behavior, 6th, Worth Publishers; Macmillan International, New York, NY, USA, 9781319243562
  • Bob L. Garrett and G. Hough: 2017, Brain & Behavior: An Introduction to Biological Psychology, 5th, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, US, 1544317506
  • Suzanne Higgs, A. Cooper, J. Lee, M. Harris: 2015, Biological Psychology, 4th, SAGE Publications, London, UK, 9780857022615
  • James W. Kalat: 2012, Biological Psychology, 11th, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Belmont, CA, US, 1111839522
  • Neil R. Carlson: 2010, Physiology of behavior,, 10th, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA, US, 0205666272
  • S. Marc Breedlove, Neil V. Watson, Mark R. Rosenzweig: 2010, Biological psychology: an introduction to Behavioural, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, 6th, Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, MA, US, 9780878933242
  • John G. Nicholls, A. R. Martin, P. A. Fuchs, D. A. Brown, M. E. Diamond, D. Weisblat: 2011, From Neuron to Brain, 5th, Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MA, US, 0878934391
  • Dale Purves, George J. Augustine, David Fitzpatrick, William C. Hall, Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, Leonard E. White (eds.): 2011, Neuroscience,, 5th, Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MA, US, 9780878936953
  • Andrew Wickens: 2009, Introduction to Biopsychology, 3rd, Pearson Education, Boston, MA, US, 9780132052962
  • Paul Aleixo (illustrations by Murray Baillon): 2008, Biological psychology: an illustrated survival guide, 1st, John Wiley and Sons, Oxford, UK, 9780470870990
  • Lisa Wise: 2010, Introduction to Psychobiology, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, US, 0761960791
  • L. Squire, D. Berg, F. Bloom, S. du Lac, A. Ghosh: 2008, Fundamental Neuroscience, 3rd, Academic Press, San Diego, CA, US, 978-012374019
  • B. W. Connors, M. A. Paradiso, M. F. Bear: 2006, Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain, 3rd, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD, US, 978-078176003
  • Edward O. Wilson: 2005, From so simple a beginning: Darwin's four great books (Voyage of the Beagle; The Origin of Species; The decent of Man; The experience of emotion in Man and Animals), W.W. Norton & Co., New York, US, 0393061345
  • Richard Dawkins: 2006, The Selfish Gene, Open University Press, Berkshire, UK, 0192860925
  • F. Scott Kraly: 2009, The unwell brain: understanding the psychobiology of mental health, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY, US, 9780393705966
  • Frederick Toates: 2000, Biological Psychology: an integrative approach, Pearson Education, Boston, MA, US, 9780273745754
  • Eric R. Kandel, James H. Schwartz, Thomas M. Jessell: 2000, Principles of Neural Science, 4th, McGraw-Hill, New York, US, 978-007112000
  • Eric R. Kandel: 2007, In Search of Memory: the emergence of a new science of mind, WW Norton and Co., London, UK, 978-039332937
  • Larry R. Squire, Eric R. Kandel: 2008, Memory: from mind to molecules, 2nd, Roberts & Company Publishers, Greenwood Village, CO, US, 978-098151941
  • Bob L. Garrett & G. Hough: 2018, Study Guide to Accompany Garrett & Hough's Brain and & Behaviour: An Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience, 5th, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks CA, 9781506392479
Other Resources

This module should now be split into 30% CA and 70% Exam, with both components matching all learning outcomes.
Programme or List of Programmes
MPCMSc in Psychology (Conversion)

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