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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance


PSYC200 Life Span Development OR PSYC212 Abnormal Psychology OR PSYC220 Personality and Individual Differences OR PSYC213 Individual Differences OR PSYC227 Social Psychology OR PSYC214 Learning and Behaviour

Teaching organisation

3 hours contact per week over 12 weeks or equivalent

Unit rationale, description and aim

Central to an undergraduate degree in psychology is the ability to understand biological basis of behaviour. As such this unit will develop an understanding of the core aspects of behavioural neuroscience with a particular emphasis on the implications of this knowledge for understanding the nervous system, sensation processes, brain disorders and psychoactive drugs. The aim of this unit is to introduce these foundational principles of behavioural neuroscience and how they can be applied to understanding human behaviour.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Differentiate structures of the nervous system and their associated functionsGC1
LO2Contrast how behavioural neuroscience methods can be used to answer research questions concerning the biological bases of abnormal behaviour and emotional functioningGC1, GC7, GC10
LO3Describe the visual and auditory system and how the stimuli received by the senses result in perceptionGC1
LO4Describe and explain the mechanisms and symptoms of various brain disorders (including traumatic, chemical, and degenerative) on cognitive, language, motor-perceptual, and emotional functioningGC1, GC4, GC11, GC12
LO5Explain patterns of sleep, dreams, and sleep disordersGC1, GC4, GC11, GC12
LO6Explain the effects and mechanisms of action of a range of psychoactive drugs on the central nervous systemGC1, GC4, GC11, GC12


Topics will include:  

  • What is behavioural neuroscience? 
  • Brain development and the neurobiology of experience 
  • Neuroanatomy 
  • Neural conduction and synaptic transmission 
  • Learning, memory, and amnesia 
  • Research and imaging methods in behavioural neuroscience 
  • Mechanisms of Perception: The visual and auditory systems 
  • Brain disorders and impact on functioning 
  • Sleep, dreaming and circadian rhythms 
  • Drug addiction, Psychopharmacology and brain reward circuits 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Learning and teaching strategies include active learning, case-based learning, individual and group activities, and cooperative learning. Students have the equivalent of 3 contact hours per week over a 12 week period which involves lectures and tutorials. This mode of delivery is designed to enhance discussion and engagement in the content covered in the unit. The lectures are to aid students with the acquisition and understanding of knowledge while the tutorials are designed to enhance application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of that knowledge.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, students must:

  • complete and submit all of the assessment tasks listed in the table below
  • obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50%
  • demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome

The assessment strategy for this unit allows students to demonstrate their acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of that knowledge. In order to best enable students to demonstrate Learning Outcomes and develop Graduate Attributes, standards-based assessment is utilised, consistent with University assessment requirements. The recall of key knowledge concepts is assessed via multiple-choice questions in the during semester quizzes and in the final exam. Short answer questions in the quizzes and exam provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their grasp of key concepts and the ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. The Group Presentation will allow students to demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively and communicate through oral language descriptions and explanations of the content addressed in the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 - During Semester Quizzes

Allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to apply knowledge to practical examples.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6

Assessment Task 2 - Group Presentation and Written Report

Allows students to demonstrate oral communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively.


LO1, LO2, LO4, LO6

Assessment Task 3 - Final Exam

Allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge to practical examples.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

Representative texts and references

Freberg, L. (2018). Discovering behavioral neuroscience: An introduction to biological psychology (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Kalat, J. W. (2019). Biological psychology (11th ed.). Belmont, CA. : Wadsworth Publishing. psychology-13e-kalat/9781337408202/

Pinel, J.P.J. (2021). Biopsychology. (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

Pinel, J.P.J. and Edwards, M. (2008). A colorful introduction to the anatomy of the human brain: A brain and psychology coloring book. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

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