Module code: PSY1016

Module Overview

This module aims to introduce biological psychology and provide the foundation for understanding the biological bases of psychological processes and disorders.

In this module we will focus on the organization and function of the human nervous system, from the cells that form the brain and their fundamental functions, the processes by which those communicate, and the systems that allow us to sense and move. We will cover relevant topics in the history of neuroscience and ethics, neuroanatomy, psychopharmacology, neurodevelopment, sensory systems and motor control and the biological causes of brain disorders.   

Workshops on research methods will provide you with an understanding and hands-on experience with the tools available to measure and modulate brain function.

Students will develop their teamwork and scientific presentation skills by producing a scientific group poster. Tutorial sessions will aid your understanding of the theory and allow you to consolidate knowledge by engaging with quizzes and activities.

Module provider


Module Leader

CHIOU Rocco (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: 11

Independent Learning Hours: 95

Lecture Hours: 10

Laboratory Hours: 4

Guided Learning: 28

Captured Content: 2

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • History of neuroscience and ethics of neuroscience research

  • Neuroanatomy

  • Brain cells

  • Neural resting membrane potential and action potential

  • Synaptic transmission of information in the nervous system

  • Neurotransmitter systems and psychopharmacology

  • Neural bases of sensory systems

  • Neural bases of motor control

  • Development of the nervous system and neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Evolution and gene-environment interaction

  • Introduction to biopsychology of psychiatric disorders

  • Research methods in biopsychology


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework GROUP POSTER 40

Alternative Assessment

Individual Poster.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • One Group Poster on Research Methods – connected to learning outcomes 3 to 6. Working as a team students will: 1) select an empirical research study employing a modern research method in biopsychology; 2) design a scientific poster that briefly describes the study and critically evaluates the usefulness of a particular method(s) for a given research question.

By incorporating a team-work element it prepares students for assessments in future modules and strengthens communication, leadership, resilience, and resourcefulness skills, which are important employability skills. Posters allow students to develop their digital technology literacy by combining visual and textual elements and provide a means to communicate with scientific and lay audiences in a quick and engaging manner.

  • One 60-minute unseen 30-item multiple choice question (MCQ) and short answer question examination in the formal semester exam period – connected to learning outcomes 1 and 2. The exam is designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of topics covered in the lectures.


Formative assessment

  • Weekly MCQ and short answer tests are provided during tutorials and on SurreyLearn to consolidate and enhance student learning

  • Practice exam, provided before the exam to allow students to familiarise with the exam structure and exam platform.



  • Prior to the assessments, time will be spent discussing the assignment and feedback process. The marking scheme will be specified, expectations discussed and templates or examples provided. This facilitates self-efficacy.

  • Verbal feedback will be given in the tutorials through interactive quizzes and discussions

  • Online feedback via quizzes available in Surrey Learn

  • Verbal feedback during tutorials and workshops by the lecturer and peers

  • Written feedback on research methods poster and one-to-one feedback, as requested

Module aims

  • 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;
  • Provide an introduction to research methods in biological psychology and develop research ability through hands-on and interactive sessions;
  • Develop the critical understanding of advantages and disadvantages of major research methods used in biological psychology;
  • Provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with peers and develop transferable skills in communication, leadership and teamwork;
  • Develop scientific communication skills by critically evaluating the application of research methods in contemporary empirical research;

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a basic knowledge about structure and function of the nervous system 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:

  • Enable students to gain and develop knowledge in the neural bases of psychological processes and disorders.

  • Allow students to work collectively to gain an understanding of the research methods used in modern biological psychology and engage with the techniques used in research.

  • Enable students to develop digital capabilities and employability skills by developing a scientific poster working as a team.

Lectures: this is the main source of content delivery. Students have access to slides and additional learning materials in advance of the weekly lectures.

Tutorials: students will engage with quizzes and activities designed to enhance and consolidate understanding of the weekly topics covered in the lectures. Students are expected to prepare for tutorials in advance, by engaging with the lecture content, guided learning, and recommended reading. Feedback is provided to allow students to check their understanding.

Research Methods Workshops: students will deepen their critical understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of different methods and how they are employed in research. Workshops include live demos or hands-on interaction with the methods used in modern research. Students are expected to prepare for the first workshop ahead of the session to facilitate the ‘flipped learning’ experience.

Workshops provide students with an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, and develop key professionalism and communication skills preparing them for future careers.

Students are encouraged to be active participants in tutorial and workshop sessions, and support one- another in the process, and in doing so develop as informed, confident, collaborative and independent learners.

Formative and weekly practice tests are available and designed to provide feedback and promote resourcefulness and resilience needed life beyond the university

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

Other information

The School of Psychology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: This module provides students with core knowledge in biological psychology and fundamentals of neuroscience. An understanding of scientific knowledge, critical thinking and engagement with empirical research can be applied across many fields and careers. During practical sessions students will be introduced to various equipment utilised in research and clinical settings.

The group assessment develops students’ teamwork, visual and written communication skills.

Digital Capabilities: As with all modules, students are expected to engage with online material and resources via SurreyLearn, and other digital platforms. Students are encouraged to communicate with one another and work together in groups, utilising digital collaborative tools. Students will be encouraged to search for scientific articles in online databases and use powerpoint for the creation of a scientific poster.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Students will engage critically with exemplars of empirical research and reflect on inclusivity of the methods employed and considerations of diversity and equality in the populations studied.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: The learning, teaching and assessment strategy for this module has been designed to encourage active participation, peer support and reflective engagement. During workshops students will work in small groups and will have to develop their time-management and organisation skills to meet with peers outside the sessions to conduct the work needed for their coursework assessment. Students will need to share ideas, appreciate potential barriers and challenges faced by others, and provide support and show empathy towards each other in working towards achieving successful outcomes. Formative assessments and feedback practices provide an opportunity for students to fail and learn from the experience, building confidence and self-efficacy

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 2024/5 academic year.