PB200      Half Unit
Biological Psychology

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Miriam Tresh CON.3.14


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

This course offers an introductory and integrated perspective on the biological bases of behaviour. After a discussion of the philosophical and historical background of biological psychology, the course will consider neurophysiology and how the structure of the brain connects to research methods. The course will then frame biological psychology by reference to theories of concepts such as behavioural genetics, evolutionary psychology and the impact of hormones on behaviour. Following this, the course moves on to consider the biological underpinnings of cognition and behaviour. It appraises the applied application of biological psychology and is concerned with identifying how the biology of psychology can inform our understanding and interpretation of real-world issues.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and classes totalling a minimum of 20 hours across Michaelmas Term. There is a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

In response to the current situation, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of live online classes and pre-recorded short online videos. You will receive the same amount of teaching whether you are on campus or online.

Formative coursework

Students will complete a number of pieces of formative work to cement learning and prepare for summative assessments. 

  • Weekly multiple choice question sets
  • Podcast episode plan (800 words)

Indicative reading

  • Breedlove, S.M., & Watson, N.V. (2010). Biological psychology: An introduction to behavioural, cognitive, and clinical neuroscience. Sinauer Associates.
  • Cacioppo, J.T, Visser, P.S., & Pickett, C.L. (2006). Social neuroscience: People thinking about thinking people. Cambridge: MIT Press
  • Gazzaniga, M.S., Ivry, R.B., & Mangun, G.R. (2014). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind. W.W. Norton.
  • Glimcher, P. W., Camerer, C., Poldrack, R. A., & Fehr, E. (2013). Neuroeconomics: Decision making and the brain. Academic Press.
  • Kolb, B., Wishaw, I.Q., & Teskey, C.C., (2016). An introduction to brain and behaviour (6th ed.). Worth Publishers.
  • Nettle D. (2009). Evolution and genetics for psychology. Oxford University Press.
  • Pinel, J.P.J. & Barnes, S.J. (2013). Biopsychology (Global Edition). Pearson
  • Plomin, R., DeFries, J.C., Knopic, V.S., & Neiderhiser, J.M. (2013). Behavioral Genetics. New York: Worth Publishers.


Essay (60%, 3000 words) and podcast (30%) in the MT.
Essay (10%) in the ST.

Essay (60%) in MT – you will produce a 3000 word extended essay

Podcast (30%) in MT –working in pairs you will develop a 6 to 8 minute podcast.

Essay (10%) in ST - Students following the BSc in Psychological and Behavioural Science will be expected to submit one 3000 word ‘Integration Essay’ in their second year. The integration essay will count towards 10% of the final mark in PB200, PB201, PB202, PB204 and PB205.  The integration essay will discuss a topic investigated in one course and use its approach to integrate and debate approaches from two other courses taken in Year 2. For example, if you choose to base your integration essay in Biological Psychology (this course) you will use a topic from this course as the basis for debating the treatment of that topic by theories from two of Cognitive Psychology (PB201), Developmental Psychology (PB202), Social Psychology: Individuals, Groups and Culture (PB204) and Individual Differences and Why They Matter (PB205).

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Psychological and Behavioural Science

Total students 2020/21: 29

Average class size 2020/21: 10

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills