SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHC825760
Module Leader Mairi Fleming
School School of Health and Life Sciences
Subject Psychology
  • B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge


Summary of Content

Building on the material introduced in L2 Evolution and Biopsychology this module explores the strengths and limitations of biological arguments across a range of complex social behaviours. Firstly the importance and relevance of studying biological approaches to behaviour are explored. Subsequently, a range of topics such as pain, sleep, menstrual cycle, emotion, eating, and digit ratio are introduced in order to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the body's major communication systems (nervous and endocrine). Specifically, students are taught how to engage with arguments involving interaction between biological and psychosocial influences.


Content will be drawn from: nervous system structure and function, neuronal transmission; structure, function and control of the endocrine system; behavioural endocrinology; biological and psychosocial aspects of pain; morphological asymmetry and digit ratio; biology of sleep; stress physiology; menstrual cycle (methodology, neuroendocrine control, arguments concerning premenstrual syndrome); evolutionary explanations for a range of eating behaviours; biological aspects of emotion including recent developments in the cognitive neuroscience of the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex, and disorders of emotion.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module, students should be able to :1. Explain the body's major communication systems (nervous and endocrine) as mechanisms in the control of physiological responses and behaviour.2. Interpret and critically evaluate biological arguments relating to the study of human behaviour.3. Critically evaluate the role of psychosocial factors in mediating biologically-based behaviour.4. Design methodology; collect, analyse and interpret data for a biologically-based research project.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Core material is delivered through a trimester-long lecture series. Running in parallel are a practical lab-based programme, which affords students real-world experience of engaging in biologically-based explorations of complex social behaviours and a seminar series which serves to consolidate and extend material introduced in the lecture series.

Indicative Reading

Pinel, J. (2003). Biopsychology (5th Edition). Pearson, Boston. Carlson, N. (2004). Physiology and Behaviour (8th Edition). Pearson, Boston. Kalat, J. (2004). Biological Psychology, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA. Walker, A. (1997). The Menstrual Cycle. Routledge, New York. Manning, J. (2008). The Finger Book. Faber and Faber, London.

Transferrable Skills

- Students will develop generic skills enabling critical evaluation of empirical evidence and methodologies in the context of this module. - Group work and problem solving developed during laboratory and seminar classes. - Literature reviews - retrieving information from the web and more traditional academic sources. - Communication and critical thinking skills - Practical skills developed during laboratory

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 12.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 140.00
Practicals (FT) 12.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam (Exams Office) 3.00 50.00 35% 3 Hour Examination with 3 unseen and 1 seen examination questions
Coursework 1 n/a 50.00 35% 3000 word lab report