PY0547 - Psychobiology, Cognition and Individual Differences

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the psychobiological basis of human behaviour, memory and cognition, and individual differences, covering conceptual and historical development of the area as well as contemporary literature and debates. You will apply basic concepts of biological psychology to complex human behaviours like drug addiction, stress and aggression. You will also learn about a range of theoretical and applied topics within cognition such as learning, memory, and attention, as well as memory disorders and applied cognitive research. In addition, the module will cover the nature and dynamics of intelligence, the reasons why people differ in intelligence and personality, and where individual differences in intelligence and personality originate.

These three perspectives will be contextualised through the use of case studies and/or expert opinion embedded into the lecture series which will form the basis for points of discussion in the lectures. Towards the revision stage of the module you will be provided with guidance on literature searching, critical thinking skills and essay writing skills.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures and independent learning. The lectures will cover theories and concepts that will enable you to develop a greater understanding of psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences and how these relate to real world scenarios. The lectures will form the basis of the material on which you will be assessed.

You will have the opportunity to engage in in-class discussions, quizzes and by the use of technology enhanced learning like TurningPoint; which is an interactive audience response system to questions set by your tutor, and panopto; which is a means of your tutor recording their voice over particularly challenging slides/materials.

Independent study will give you further opportunity to enhance skills in critical analysis and explore key theoretical underpinnings and practical contexts relating to psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences. Revision sessions will help you prepare for forthcoming examinations and provide guidance on revision strategies. Feedback sessions will help you learn about your strengths and areas in which you could improve. You will be given the opportunity to attend a post-assessment tutorial with the tutor to identify your strengths in the assessment and areas where improvements may be made.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Tutors will support you by making a variety of resources linked to the lectures series and assessments available on the e-learning portal (e.g. PowerPoint slides, lectures handouts, reading lists, and mock exam/restricted timed assessment papers).

A discussion board on the e-learning portal will be available for students to pose and respond to questions among peers, this will enhance collegiality and also means that support is available to all students. Module tutors may enter into discussions on the e-portal where appropriate.
Technology enhanced learning will be implemented through the use of Panopto recording and Turningpoint software.

The tutors will be available for tutorials to discuss the topics covered in the psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences components of the module.

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:
MK1: You will be expected to demonstrate conceptual knowledge of key topics in psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences, and convey this knowledge succinctly.
MK2: You will be able to critically evaluate different perspectives in psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences, based on the best available evidence and research

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
MIP1: You will demonstrate awareness of the context in which psychology sits through psychological debate, such evaluative skills are essential for employability

Personal Values Attributes:
MPV1: You will also develop the characteristics of a Northumbria psychology graduate through the ability to communicate your ideas appropriately in different contexts.

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment
You will have the opportunity to complete mock exam/restricted timed assessment papers and attempt brief written debates (MK1; MPV1)

Summative Assessment
The first assessment (40%) will be an essay focused on ‘psychobiology’, ‘cognitive psychology’ and/or ‘individual differences’. (MK2; MIP1; MPV1)

The Restricted Timed Assessment (60%) will be divided into two parts. In the first part you will be expected to answer 60-item Multiple Choice Questions from psychobiology, cognition and individual differences components. For the second part you will be expected to complete a short essay question from a choice of three essay questions which will integrate topics of 'psychobiology', cognitive psychology, and/or 'individual differences'. (MK1; MPV1)

Module tutors will provide feedback and guidance on appropriate answers to mock exams/restricted timed assessments

For the essay, feedback will be provided on the electronic submission in the form of a level-specific rubric. Additional written comments will be provided that identify a minimum of one strength, one weakness and one area for improvement. A general feedback session will also be held during the module.
For the Restricted Timed Assessment, written feedback will be provided along with general feedback comments provided via the eLearning Portal





Module abstract

The module will develop your understanding of the psychobiological basis of human behaviour, memory and cognition, and individual differences. You will discuss some of the most interesting and complex human behaviours (e.g. What are the biological, psychological and socio-cultural factors that influence our vulnerability to addictive behaviours and the extent to which we feel pain?), a range of theoretical and applied topics within cognition (e.g. perception, action, memory and information processing ), and the nature and origins of intelligence and personality.

You will learn through a combination of lectures, in-class activities and tutorials, along with independent study. You will complete two assessments:

The first assessment (40%) is an essay. The purpose of the essay is to assess your ability to discuss, critically evaluate and communicate different perspectives in psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences (MK2; MIP1; MPV1)

The second will be a Restricted Timed Assessment during which you will answer 60 Multiple Choice Questions (part 1) and one short essay question from a choice of possible questions relating to psychobiology, cognitive psychology and individual differences (part 2).

Your learning will be supported by a variety of e-learning resources and lecture capture, as well as in-class quizzes and discussions.

Course info

UCAS Code C800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with optional study abroad year

Department Psychology

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 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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