Module code: PSY1016

Module Overview

This module will give an introduction into biological psychology.  Architecture and basic functions of the nervous system will be covered.  This will be important to understand the biological bases of psychological processes and disorders.

Module provider


Module Leader

VIOLANTE Ines (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 4

Independent Learning Hours: 124

Lecture Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Content includes:

  • Introduction to Biological Psychology: What is Biological Psychology? What do we need it for?

  • Ethics in Biopsychology

  • Brain Cells

  • Neural Resting Membrane Potential and Action Potential

  • Synaptic Transmission of Information in the Nervous System

  • Development of the Nervous System

  • Wiring of the Brain

  • Neuroanatomy

  • Important Neurotransmitter Systems & Psychopharmacology

  • Neural Bases of the Visual System

  • Neural Bases of Non-visual Sensory Systems

  • Neural Bases of Motor Control


  • Tutorials on Research Methods:

    (Before Tutorial 1) Flipped classroom: Students will be provided with material (videos, readings, etc.) on the fundamentals of the methodological approaches in biological psychology. This theoretical background information is essential for the first tutorial, as well as for the coursework.

    (Tutorial 1) This tutorial will focus on discussing how methodological approaches in biological psychology can be applied to investigate scientific questions in Psychology. This will be done by focusing on a particular research question and discussing how empirical articles made use of different methods to answer that question (lecture style and discussion).

    Students will work in their allocated groups and decide what empirical work they would like to critically discuss (from a list of provided material).

    Students will have hands-on experience with methodological approaches in biological psychology

    (Tutorial 2) Group work. Group discussion assisted by members of staff.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework GROUP POSTER 25

Alternative Assessment

Individual Poster.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate each of the learning outcomes

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • One 90 minute unseen 60-item MCQ examination (75%) in the formal semester exam period

  • One group poster (25%) critically evaluating the usefulness of a particular neuroscientific method for a given research question

Formative assessment and feedback

  • Verbal feedback in the lectures through interactive quizzes and discussions

  • Online feedback via quizzes available in Surrey Learn

  • Verbal feedback during tutorials on article group discussions by the lecturer and peers

  • Written Feedback on research methods poster

Module aims

  • In recent years there is growing interest in the biological bases of psychological phenomena. For a better understanding of psychological processes in healthy humans as well as in patients suffering from psychological or neurological disorders it is necessary to understand how the nervous system is built and how it works. Basic architecture and fundamental functions of the nervous system will be taught and there is a strong aim to link these functions with psychologically relevant topics

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a basic knowledge about structure and function of the nervous system as listed below K
002 Appreciate the many ways in which biopsychological research contributes to our understanding of  human behaviour, cognition, and motivations / emotions KC
003 Demonstrate an understanding of basic neuro-scientific methods used in modern biological psychology KC
004 Demonstrate an ability to critically assess application of these methods in published work. KCT
005 Demonstrate a basic capacity to structure a research-based critical evaluation of empirical work in biological psychology. CPT
006 Demonstrate enhanced key transferable skills such as team work and communication. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • provide students with fundamental knowledge about biological psychology and the many ways in which biopsychological research contributes to our understanding of human behaviour, cognition, and motivations / emotions

  • provide basic knowledge about structure and function of the nervous system.

  • develop the critical understanding of advantages and disadvantages of major research methods used in biological psychology.

  • engage students to criticise the conclusions of the knowledge base.

  • equip students with skills to critically evaluate theories and evidence in biological psychology.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • 11 x 2 hours lectures partly with multimedia presentations and/or interactive discussion

  • 2 x 2 hours tutorials with small group discussions

  • independent study

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: PSY1016

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Psychology BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.