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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Health in Social Science : Clinical Psychology

Postgraduate Course: Biological Psychology (CLPS11083)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe aim of the course is to introduce students to the role of biological processes, including neurological and endocrinological systems, in behaviour and mental health. Typical areas covered will be the stress response, biorhythms and sleep, pharmacological effects and addiction, and biological theory of mental health problems. The course will also consider how we can apply this knowledge to understanding and improving mental health. The teaching will take place over semester 2, and will comprise of a set of short recorded lectures, online activities and discussions (approximately 1.5 hours of teaching each week). Every two weeks a different topic will be introduced, with consideration of its relevance and application to mental health. This course is a core component of the Psychology of Mental Health (Conversion) programme.
Course description This course will introduce students to the field of biological psychology (also called biopsychology) where they will learn about the role of biological systems in influencing human behaviour and mental health. This will include how the nervous system, endocrine system and genes are implicated in behaviour and mental health. Students will be expected to engage with theoretical and ethical issues within the field, such as the role of human and animal research, evolutionary psychology theory, and the nature versus nurture debate. They will also be introduced to a range of research methods in this field, and how research questions can follow from observations of humans and animals, and lead to theoretical and practical implications. There will be reference to informative case studies throughout the course.

The content will include:
- An introduction to biological psychology as a field, biological systems (neural, and endocrine) and research methods
- The stress response and its relationship to health, behaviour and mental health
- Circadian rhythms, sleep, dreaming and disorder
- Biological contributions to mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse)
- Sex hormones, cognition and behaviour
- Drug effects, addiction and psychopharmacology

Students are expected to engage with about 1.5 hours of structured teaching activities every week. This will include pre-recorded short lectures, online activities and group work. Structured teaching will be complemented by additional reading available on Learn. The course is designed for students to gain breadth of knowledge of the field and the debates within it, as is appropriate for a Psychology conversion degree course. However, further reading will allow deeper engagement and critical thinking with a particular topic/s, which can be demonstrated in the course assignment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Course Start Date 16/01/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 7.5, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 85 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay, 2000 words (100%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A critical understanding of biological psychology as a discipline, including its scope and methods of inquiry
  2. A critical understanding of how different biological systems are implicated in our behaviour, mental health/illness and treatment
  3. A critical awareness of and engagement with the current theoretical and ethical debates in the field of biological psychology
  4. Ability to apply knowledge and critical understanding to reflect on one specialist area of biological psychology
Reading List
Pinel, P.J., & Barnes, S.J. (2022). Biopsychology (11th edition). Pearson*.
Carlson, N.R., & Birkett, M.A. (2017). Physiology of Behavior (12th edition). Pearson.

*Pinel and Barnes 9th or 10th edition of Biopsychology is a suitable alternative.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will improve their critical thinking and writing skills, research methods skills and knowledge, develop research knowledge and synthesise information from a range of sources and disciplinary perspectives.
KeywordsBiological psychology,biopsychology,behaviour,mental illness
Course organiserDr Emily Newman
Tel: (0131 6)51 3945
Course secretaryMs Sarah Paquette
Tel: (0131 6)51 3969
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