Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Undergraduate Course: Behavioural Genetics (PSYL10161)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest in Psychology. This course introduces the research methods (primarily twin designs) used to estimate genetic and environmental influences on behaviour. In doing so the basic principles of genetic transmission and multifactorial inheritance are outlined. An overview of genetic and environmental findings in the areas of personality, cognitive abilities and mental illness will be presented. The implications of these findings for psychologists will be discussed, and the exciting directions (molecular, epigenetic, gene by environment interaction) that the rapidly advancing field of genetics is moving in will be highlighted.
Course description The content of this course comprises 1) A historical view of behavior genetics, 2) an introduction to quantitative genetics including the principles of genetic transmission and multifactorial inheritance, 3) twin and family methodology for estimation of heritability and components of environmental variance (focusing on correlations and quick formulae to estimate these values plus specification of basic models in R), 4) an overview of heritability findings (including multivariate studies) for a range of psychological traits (personality, cognitive abilities, mental illness) and understanding what these mean, 5) measuring genetic variation and associating specific genes with behavior 6) moderation of genetic effects by age and the environment, 7) applications of genetics research for psychologists, 8) the future of behavioural genetics - exciting developments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Psychology 2A (PSYL08011) AND Psychology 2B (PSYL08012)
It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Data Analysis for Psychology in R 3 (PSYL10168)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should be studying Psychology as their degree major, and have completed at least 3 Psychology courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. This course requires a minimum level of statistical understanding, the student should be familiar with the concepts of correlation, variance and covariance.

Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that upper level Psychology courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Midterm: Coursework, 1500 word essay

Final: Exam, 40 MCQs + 4 short answer questions
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the biology of how genes influence behaviour
  2. Understand the research methods and basic statistics used to study genetic and environmental effects on behaviour
  3. Appreciate the applications of behavioural genetics in psychology
  4. Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of behavioural genetic designs
  5. Summarise the empirical literature on the genetics of key psychological traits
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course (both the lectures and discussion in the seminars) will strengthen students statistical understanding of big data analysis, improve their critical analysis skills, and will increase their awareness of discrimination and equality issues in science. The assessments will require students to practise their academic writing (especially clear and succinct writing), think critically, and memorise key information.
KeywordsBehaviour genetics,genetic and environmental influences
Course organiserDr Michelle Luciano
Tel: (0131 6)50 3603
Course secretaryMiss Anna Jarvis
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information