Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions


Brain and Behaviour

Module titleBrain and Behaviour
Module codeNEU2002
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Dr Miguel Dasilva Ogando (Convenor)

Dr Tom Ridler (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The brain plays a central role in regulating physiological processes and behaviour. Indeed, many types of behaviour are shaped by a drive to meet fundamental physiological needs. But how does the brain balance and prioritise the demands of these complex, and sometimes competing, needs? In this module you will begin to explore the complexity of regulating behaviour and the neural mechanisms that underpin these processes. By understanding data from a variety of model organisms, you will learn about pathways in the brain underlying motivation and reward, and how these interact with other systems regulating phenomena such as mood, learning and memory.  Finally, you will consider how changes in these systems may contribute to and be impacted by disease.  

This is an optional module for BSc Neuroscience students. NEU1006 Introduction to Neuroscience (formerly CSC1006) is a recommended pre-requisite modulehowever, you may have covered similar material elsewhere. If you have not studied the preliminary content, you should be able to successfully complete this module by undertaking some additional study but should discuss this further with your Academic Tutor and the Module Convener.  

This module is not suitable for non-specialist students. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to bridge the gap between synaptic physiology and cognitive neuroscience to explain how the activity of groups of neurons can directly impact the behaviour of an organism. It will focus on understanding the neural basis of several inherent processes that are common across different organisms such as learning and memory, recognition, fear, motivation, and reward. Data interpretation sessions throughout the module will lay the foundations for understanding and evaluating experimental studies that involve behavioural neuroscience. This will be assessed in the data interpretation and short answer question exam at the end of the module. The coursework assignment aims to give you a practical introduction to the academic peer-review process, which is a fundamental skill for research scientistsPractice workshop sessions throughout the module will aid with this task, which will involve critically evaluating primary research literature, discussing its strengths and weaknesses, and suggesting future research directions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain the different types of learning and memory
  • 2. Outline processes involved in synaptic plasticity and evaluate their relevance to learning
  • 3. Describe different navigational strategies and their neural correlates
  • 4. Explain the role of the limbic system in driving behavioural responses
  • 5. Understand pathways involved in reward and addiction
  • 6. Identify neuro-behavioural disorders and compare their pathologies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Explain the principles of good experimental design and data communication
  • 8. Discuss the wider ethical issues relating to the subject and their application
  • 9. Evaluate the specific challenges in data collection within the discipline of behavioural research

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Synthesize, and critically evaluate, primary sources of information.
  • 11. Exemplify critical thinking in the construction and analysis of written arguments
  • 12. Produce clear scientific writing

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, an example of an overall structure is as follows:   


The module begins with an introductory lecture in week 1 to outline the broad aims and structure of the module and introduce the assessments. In week 1, there will also be a session focused on skills for reading scientific literature and writing commentaries on research articles. 


There will then be a total of 10 lectures, split into three blocks outlined below. Example content: 


  1. Learning and memory 

  • Types of Memory 

  • Synaptic plasticity  

  • Spatial navigation 

  • Recognition  


  1. Neural basis of behaviours  

  • Prefrontal cortex and executive function 

  • The limbic system and fear 

  • Sleep and behavioural rhythms 


  1. Behavioural disorders 

  • Reward pathways and addiction  

  • Affective disorders 

  • Memory disorders  


Each teaching block will include at least one two-hour data interpretation workshop, during which you will work through example exam questions and model answers. There will also be a workshop on animal ethics and experimental models. These will help you develop skills needed for theâ?¯summative examination.â?¯ 


Interspersed through the module will be four two-hour ‘peer review’ workshop sessions, that will introduce critical analysis of primary literature and help you to develop the skills for the peer review summary coursework assessment. 


You will be assessed on the content of the lectures and workshop sessions in a final written exam made up of short answer and data interpretation questions. In the final week of the module there is a one-hour exam information and preparation lecture. 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1212 x 1 hour Lectures (live or pre-recorded)
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities84 x 2 hour data interpretation workshops
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities84 x 2 hour peer review workshops
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities21 x 2-hour ethics workshop
Guided Independent Study60Literature searches, reading and preparation for workshops and lectures
Guided Independent Study30Preparation for assessment
Guided Independent Study30Reading and preparation for exam


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in peer review workshop sessions 4 x 2h 1-12Oral
Participation in data interpretation workshops 4 x 2h 1-12Written worked example answers?(online)?

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Peer-review style critical evaluation of primary research paper 401,000 words 1-12 Written
Short answer/ data interpretation exam 602 hours1-12Written or verbal (on request)


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Peer-review style critical evaluation of research paper (40%) Peer-review style summary of research paper (1,000 words) 1-12Ref/Def period
Short answer/ data interpretation exam (60%) Short answer/ data interpretation exam (2 hours) 1-12Ref/Def period

Re-assessment notes

Students who are deferred in the ‘peer-review’ style critical evaluation coursework will submit the original assessment. 


Students who are referred in the ‘peer-review’ style critical evaluation coursework will submit a new equivalent assessment in the ref/def period. 



Please also refer to the TQA section on Referral/Deferral: 


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The Hippocampus Book’ (2006) Andersen et al New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN-13: 9780195100273. Chapters 10-12 


‘Pharmacology’ 8 th Edition (2015), Rang et al, ISBN: 978-0702053627, Section 4: The Nervous System, Chapters 36-38, 40, 46-48 


Drugs, Addiction, and the Brain.?Le Moal,?M.,?Koob,?G.?F.,?Arends,?M.?A.?(2014).?Netherlands:?Elsevier Science. 


“Writing for Science Students”?– Boyle & Ramsey?ISBN-13:?978-1137571519? 

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Brain, Behaviour, Neuroscience, Learning, Memory 

Credit value15
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Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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