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PS111-24 Brain & Behaviour

Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Friederike Schlaghecken
Credit value
Module duration
24 weeks
32% coursework, 68% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module will introduce the biological and methodological basis of current approaches to sensing, responding, emotion, language, learning, memory, and psychological disorders

Module web page

Module aims

Taken together, PS111 (Brain and Behaviour) and PS112 (Psychology in Context) will provide a general introduction to Psychology designed to support work in the second and third years of the Psychology Honours Degree. The module has 4 sections. It presents a basic introduction to the structure and function of nervous system, an understanding of how organisms detect and respond to stimulation, develops an understanding of how learning, memory, language, emotion and goal-directed action are rooted in the brain and introduces contemporary psychological and biological approaches to mental illness.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Section 1: Biological basis of behaviour

  1. Why psychobiology? / Nervous System I: Overall Structure
  2. Nervous System II: The Forebrain / Neuron: Structure & Intracellular Signal Transmission
  3. Chemical Synapse: Signal Transmission Between Neurons / Neurotransmitter Pathways and Neuro-Plasticity
  4. Brain Development / Learning & Memory
  5. Injury & Rehabilitation / Feedback & outlook

Section 2. Perception, action & learning

  1. Sensing and Responding 1: Stimulus-elicited behaviour
  2. Sensing and Responding 2: Complexity of reflex action
  3. Behaviour change & learning 1: Habituation and sensitization
  4. Behaviour change & learning 2: Pavlovian learning and conditioning
  5. Behaviour change & learning 3: Process and mechanism in Pavlovian learning

Section 3. Neuropsychology of learning, memory, language & emotion

  1. Memory, Memory Loss and Unlearning
  2. Learning from Consequences and Acquiring Skills
  3. The Frontal Lobes: Voluntary Behaviour and Emotion
  4. Fear, Emotion & the Brain
  5. Hemispheric Specialization & Language

Section 4. Psychopathology

  1. Historical overview and theoretical perspectives on psychological dysfunction
  2. Mood disorders
  3. Anxiety disorders
  4. Schizophrenia
  5. Borderline and antisocial personality disorder


  1. Revision Section 1
  2. Revision Section 2
  3. Revision Section 3
  4. Revision Section 4
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • to understand the parts played by cognitive and biological psychology in psychology as a whole
  • to have a critical understanding of research and theory dealing with basic processes of perception, action, attention, emotion, language, learning, memory, and psychological disorders
  • to have a critical appreciation of psychology as a science
  • to have a basic understanding of the structure and function of the main components of the nervous system;
Indicative reading list

Bear, M. F., Connors, B. W., and Paradiso, M. A. (2016). Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

Tresilian, J. (2012). Sensorimotor control and learning: an introduction to the behavioral neuroscience of action. Palgrave Macmillan

Kring, A. M., Johnson, S. L., Davison, J. C., & Neale, J. M. (2017). Abnormal psychology: the science and treatment of psychological disorders. John Wiley

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Describe in general terms the anatomical and functional organisation of the nervous system.
Describe in general terms how neurochemical processes provide the basis of nervous system function.
Understand in general terms the brain as a continually adapting system at the macro- (developmental) and the micro-level (learning, memory, rehabilitation).
Understand in general terms how learning, memory, language, emotion, and goal-directed action are rooted in the structure and function of the brain.
Understand how memory can be lost and learning can be undone.
Understand how organisms detect and respond to stimulation, how their responses are changed by experience, and the neural processes and circuits that underly these capacities.
Understand in general terms the links between reflexiv, conditioned, habitual, and voluntary (goal-directed) behaviour.
Describe the classical theories of emotion and of the emotional brain.
Understand Pavlovian threat conditioning and what it tells us about the neural basis of emotion.
Describe the cortical areas associated with language and how these relate to language disorders such as aphasia.
Understand contemporary psychological and biological approaches to mental illness and place these in a historical context.
Understand the types of symptoms seen in anxiety, depressive and psychotic conditions, the biological dysfunction underlying these conditions, and the main treatment approaches.

Transferable skills

Apply a biologically informed perspective to theory and research in psychology.
Apply a biologically informed perspective to study skills.
Apply a biologically informed perspective to mental health and well-being.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 68 sessions of 1 hour (28%)
Private study 172 hours (72%)
Total 240 hours
Private study description

172 hours guided private study and preparation for assessment


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D3
Weighting Study time
Online Test 1 8%

Open for 48 hours

Online Test 2 8%

Open for 48 hours

Online Test 3 8%

Open for 48 hours

Online Test 4 8%

Open for 48 hours

Online Examination 68%

Multiple choice exam

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Formative : Academic guidance form for assessed work; Feedback & Revision lectures\r\nSummative: Moodle / Quizbuilder (for online tests), Tabula\r\n

Past exam papers for PS111

Post-requisite modules

If you pass this module, you can take:

  • PS351-15 Psychology and the Law


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UPSA-C800 Undergraduate Psychology
  • Year 1 of UPSA-C804 Undergraduate Psychology with Education Studies
  • Year 1 of UPSA-C802 Undergraduate Psychology with Linguistics