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  3. Biological Psychology

Biological Psychology (PSYC20006)

Undergraduate level 2Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 2
Subject codePSYC20006
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

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 two 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 transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), continuing with electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and finishing with modern molecular genetic techniques. The second approach emphasises a bottom-up approach including the topics of brain genetics and 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.

Intended 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

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

Last updated: 10 August 2019