Biological Psychology

Subject PSYC20006 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 contact hours
Total Time Commitment:

Estimated total time commitment 170 hours


There are no prerequisites for this subject


There are no corequisites for this subject

Recommended Background Knowledge:

Prior coursework in the two Level 1 psychology subjects, Mind Brain and Behaviour 1 and Mind Brain and Behaviour 2 is recommended.

Non Allowed Subjects:

512222 Behavioural Neuroscience 2

512225 Biological Psychology

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards of Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit Website:


Dr Piers Howe


Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Currently enrolled students:

  • General information:
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Future students:

  • Further information:
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Subject Overview:

This subject studies the relationship between brain mechanisms and behaviour. Its major aim is to develop an appreciation of the neurobiological basis of psychological function and dysfunction via three approaches. The first emphasises a top-down method that links psychological functions to their biological substrates. Neuroscientific research techniques and what they can reveal about psychological function are emphasised. These techniques are presented within an historical context, beginning with electroencephalography (EEG) and finishing with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The second approach emphasises a bottom-up approach including the topics of brain development, neurons and neural circuits, neurotransmission and neurotransmitter substances, and the structurofunctional properties of selected brain regions. Neurobiological principles are illustrated using conditions with abnormal neuronal function. The third approach combines the top-down and bottom-up approaches to demonstrate how combining knowledge of cognitive theory and structurofunctional properties of the brain enables diagnosis and interpretation of pathological conditions. Case studies are used to illustrate this approach.

A quantitative methods component will be integrated into the lecture, tutorial and assessment structure of this subject. The aim is to provide an understanding of, and practical experience with, the appropriate experimental design and statistical analysis techniques used to evaluate hypotheses in Biological Psychology.

Learning Outcomes:


On completion of the Lecture Stream students should demonstrate knowledge of:

  • The way in which the brain regulates complex forms of human behaviour.
  • Some of the methodologies for investigating brain and behaviour relationships.
  • Some methods of analysing data that are appropriate for research in biological psychology


On completion of the Lecture and Tutorial streams students should have developed skills in:

  • Critically reviewing literature in an area of biological psychology in a way that could lead to clearly motivated research questions
  • Analysing data in ways that are appropriate for research in biological psychology
  • Interpreting data accurately on the basis of appropriate analytical methods
  • Evaluating and drawing conclusions from research findings
  • Communicating biological psychology research findings effectively in a written format
  • Critically analysing and critiquing multiple sources of information and generating a cohesive understanding of that information

Application of knowledge and skills

On completion of this subject students should be able to apply their knowledge and skills:

  • Solve problems in biological psychology based on knowledge of psychological research findings
  • Apply biological psychology concepts and theories to problems of behavioural change in a range of contexts

Laboratory report(s) of not more than 2000 words (40%) to be submitted during semester.

An examination of no more than two hours (60%) to be completed at the end of semester during the specified University examination period.

Each piece of assessment must be completed (hurdle requirement). Attendance at 80% or more of the laboratory classes, completion of the hurdles quizzes and construction of a PeerWise question are hurdle requirements. In case of failure to meet these hurdle requirements, additional work will be required before a passing grade can be awarded.

Prescribed Texts:

Carlson, NR. Physiology of Behaviour. 11th Edition.Pearson International.

Recommended Texts:

Kandel, E et al. Essentials of Neural Science and Behaviour. McGraw Hill.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students will be given appropriate opportunity and educational support to:

  • develop skills related to the ability to research an area
  • analyze the information critically
  • arrange it in a report that is clearly expressed and lucid
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Psychology
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Psychology
Science-credited subjects - new generation B-SCI and B-ENG.
Selective subjects for B-BMED
Related Breadth Track(s): Connecting the Mind and Brain

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