Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Psychology


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • 60 credits from Level 2 Psychology module


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • Students will develop an understanding of the psychological and neural basis of reward and addiction
  • Students will be introduced to different approaches in the study of reward and addiction, spanning behavioural and neuroscientific methods, work in humans and animals as well as basic and applied (clinical) research


  • This module examines major findings and theories in the field of reward
  • It begins with an introduction into key concepts and basic theories of reward (e.g. the concepts of ‘wanting’ versus liking and the incentive theory of reward) before critically addressing a number of topics, which can vary from year to year but are likely to include:
  • The neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of reward
  • Reward learning mechanisms
  • Food reward and its relation to eating behaviour
  • Drug reward, theories of addiction and treatment approaches to substance-use disorders
  • The module will also cover related conceptual and historical issues in psychology

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed knowledge of motivational, affective and learning-based components of reward and the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying food reward, drug reward and addiction, including current theory and evidence
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to review critically and consolidate understanding of a coherent body of psychological knowledge and apply it appropriately
Key Skills:
  • Good written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently in scholarship and research within broad guidelines

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students' acquisition of detailed knowledge will be facilitated by lectures, and, for example, small group work and exercises, student presentations, audio-visual materials, discussions and detailed reading lists
  • These modes of teaching provide students with detailed knowledge of the key theories and the skills needed to evaluate different theoretical positions in light of current evidence
  • The summative examination will assess students' detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject
  • The use of group discussions / small group work will ensure that students are exposed to a range of different theoretical positions, and encouraged to understand their inter-relations
  • Lectures, discussions and small group work will also give students the opportunity to interpret and evaluate the significance of empirical work
  • The examination will also assess students' written communication skills

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 1 Per week 2 Hours 20
Preparation and Reading 80
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University