PY0792 - Biological, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about three key domains within the discipline of psychology, biological systems and processes, cognitive processes and developmental processes, and how they provide an understanding to human behaviour.

Biological Psychology: This component will cover the fundamentals of biological psychology and demonstrate the importance of biological systems in human behaviour. This will include knowledge of the biological systems of the body (the brain and nervous and endocrine systems) and communication between these systems via neurons, and hormones; the techniques used to assess brain structure and function; individual differences in their functioning and nutritional and pharmacological interventions that can affect the functioning of these systems. Several health behaviours (feeding, stress, sleep) will also be examined in depth from a biological perspective.

Developmental: This component will cover the historical foundations of child development and fundamental aspects of social and cognitive development in young children and adolescents. Topics may include research methods and ethics, cognitive development, theoretical perspectives including Piaget and Vygotsky, emotional development, attachment theory and developmental disorders, Some of these issues will be considered in depth.

Cognitive; This component will familiarise students with the core areas of cognitive psychology and will demonstrate the importance and relevance of cognitive processes when trying to understand human behaviour within both theoretical and applied contexts. Topics will be drawn from; perception; attention; memory; problem solving; decision making and language. As in the Developmental component there will be an initial emphasis, where relevant, of the historical development of the constructs discussed.
Additionally, in all three components, learners will have the opportunity to develop psychological research skills.

How will I learn on this module?

You will experience learning within diverse contexts; conventional lecture format, (a mix of pre-recorded and live sessions), discussion-based sessions, visitor presentations, workshops and tutorials, directed and independent learning and online discussions using the e-learning portal (Blackboard). The syllabus topics will be introduced using interactive lectures/workshops, where your participation will be central to the learning experience, on occasions the session content will be driven by you within a group context. Specific topics will be critically explored in depth.

Directed and independent learning will be encouraged through the provision of electronic reading lists, journal articles and other resources relating to session/workshop topics. These lists and resources will then serve as a basis for further independent study. Discussion board forums will be available to encourage you to exchange ideas with your peers. Together, the lecture/workshops, directed and independent learning and online discussion will enable you to gain greater depth of knowledge and understanding in these three psychological fields. Tutorials will provide an opportunity for you to discuss issues related to the development of your learning with a member of staff.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported in the module not only by the learning experience in the sessions themselves but though the presence of resources out with of these scheduled sessions. You will have access to the teaching staff, through tutorials, where you can discuss issues pertinent to your learning experiences. Staff contact details and locations will be listed on the module site on the E-learning Portal, Blackboard. In addition, not only will session (PowerPoint) and PANOPTO resources be present on Blackboard but Blackboard will also have, via the reading lists, explicit routes to guided and independent reading resources and where pertinent, further web based resources. Module information will be e-mailed through the Blackboard site and Discussion Boards will be established to encourage your explicit conversations with other students on the module. The MSc Programme Organisation site on Blackboard will also provide details on university wide services to support your academic study, Student Wellbeing, University Assessment Regulations (ARTA), Library, Careers, etc.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MKU1: By the end of the module you will be expected to discuss, and critically evaluate current knowledge derived from theoretical and empirical evidence drawn from Biological, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MIPSA1: By the end of the module you will be expected to demonstrate independent and original thinking in terms of research planning.
• MIPSA2: You will complete an assessment which is applicable to real-world research examples of Biological, Cognitive Psychology practice.
• MIPSA3: You will complete an oral presentation assessment enabling you to evaluate and critique a Developmental Psychology research study.

Personal Values Attributes:
• MPVA1: You will be able to understand the importance and key considerations when conducting ethical research within Biological, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment:
Module tutor feedback will be given during the workshop group work and activities. Informal formative assessment experience will be gained in the cognitive component with workshop sessions on the use of cognitive assessment batteries. In addition, module tutors will provide examples of past questions which you can choose to complete and gain formative feedback from staff.
Summative assessment:
In the Biological and Cognitive Psychology components you will be assessed by an integrated assignment which asks for a research proposal in the field of nutritional neuroscience with the critical use of a cognitive task battery.
In the Developmental Psychology component you will be assessed by an PPT oral delivery assignment.

In the Biological and Cognitive integrated assignment you will write a 5000 word, 2 part written assignment with a module assessment weighting of 66%. It will be based on a critical consideration of a research proposal we would undertake as biological and cognitive psychologists working in the area of nutritional cognitive neuroscience. You will use relevant theories and approaches from Biological and Cognitive Psychology to underpin this research planning and critical reflection.
(MK&U1, MIPSA1, MIPSA2, and MPVA1)

In the Developmental assignment you will deliver an PPT based presentation with a module assessment weighting of 34%. You will critically evaluate a key Developmental Psychology research article. You will use relevant theories and approaches from Developmental Psychology to underpin this critique.

Written individual feedback will be provided on both of your assignments and you may request a tutorial with the tutor to further discuss the feedback.





Module abstract

The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of the human mind and behaviour from Biological, Cognitive and Developmental Psychology perspectives. All approaches are research-rich; utilizing historic, seminal work and up to date studies utilizing contemporary techniques and methods.

Within the Biological Psychology component you develop an understanding of the biological underpinnings of behaviour in terms of the function and organisation of the nervous system and then apply this knowledge to understand how biological systems interact to drive several health-related behaviours.

In the Cognitive Psychology component you will have the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of cognitive processes which will enable you to critically reflect on the task demands of widely employed cognitive batteries, some of which you will experience in workshop hands-on sessions.
In the Developmental Psychology component, lectures and visiting speakers will enable you to reflect on key processes and theories in the Developmental Psychology field and underpin your critical evaluation of a developmental research article.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 21 months Full Time
3 other options available

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start January 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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