Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


PSYC200 Life Span Development OR PSYC212 Abnormal Psychology OR PSYC213 Individual Differences 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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Differentiate structures of the nervous system and their associated functions (GA5, GA7);

LO2 - Contrast how behavioural neuroscience methods can be used to answer research questions concerning the biological bases of abnormal behaviour and emotional functioning (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9);

LO3 - Describe the visual and auditory system and how the stimuli received by the senses result in perception (GA5, GA7);

LO4 - Describe and explain the mechanisms and symptoms of various brain disorders (including traumatic, chemical, and degenerative) on cognitive, language, motor-perceptual, and emotional functioning (GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9);

LO5 - Explain patterns of sleep, dreams, and sleep disorders (GA5, GA7);

LO6 - Work collaboratively to explain the effects and mechanisms of action of a range of psychoactive drugs on the central nervous system (GA5, GA7).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


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. The unit is delivered in face-to-face mode with 3 contact hours per week: each week there will be a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial. 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, you will need to complete and submit all Assessment Tasks listed in the table below. In addition to this, you must obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% to pass the unit. The assessment strategy for this unit allows you to demonstrate your acquisition of knowledge, as well as the application of that knowledge. In order to best enable you 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 mid semester and final exam. Short answer questions in these exams provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and your ability to synthesise information learnt throughout the course in meaningful ways. The Group Presentation will allow you to demonstrate your ability to work collaboratively and communicate through oral language.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Mid Semester Exam

Allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to apply knowledge to practical examples.


LO1, LO2, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8,  GA9

Group Presentation and written report

Allows you to demonstrate oral communication skills and ability to work collaboratively.


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Final Exam

Allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and ability to apply knowledge to practical examples.


LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8,  GA9

Representative texts and references

Carlson, N. R. (2008). Foundations of physiological psychology (9th ed.). UK: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. 

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.

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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