Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module PSYC3737: Neural Circuits Underlying Behaviour and Disease

Department: Psychology

PSYC3737: Neural Circuits Underlying Behaviour and Disease

Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • • 60 credits from Level 2 Psychology


  • • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None


  • In this module you will learn about core Circuit Neuroscience concepts, with a focus on brain circuits controlling affective behaviour. You will also learn about neural circuit changes that are associated with various psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions


  • This module examines the neural basis of behaviour and psychiatric conditions.
  • It begins with an introduction to core neurobiological concepts and to key neuroscience techniques to study neural circuits
  • The module will deal with subjects such as the neural mechanisms of behaviour, including learning, reward and defensive behaviour
  • The module also evaluates how changes to these neural mechanisms lead to psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions (for instance, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia)
  • It will also include a critical discussion of modern approaches and techniques in animal models, and of their validity for studying emotional behaviour and psychiatric conditions.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Detailed understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of behaviour and psychiatric conditions at multiple levels (single neurons, synapses, populations of neurons, brain areas)
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
  • Good IT skills in word processing
  • Ability to work independently in scholarship and research within broad guidelines
  • Ability to research relevant literature
  • Good written and oral communication skills including summarising findings, positions in debates and making arguments

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, interactive problem-based-learning tasks, audio-visual materials, discussions and 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 examination will assess students' detailed subject knowledge via essays written in the examination
  • An assessment of the range, recency and appropriateness of sources will be included in the overall assessment of the essay
  • The use of group discussions and interactive problem-based-learning tasks will ensure that students are exposed to a range of different theoretical positions, and encouraged to understand their inter-relations
  • Lectures, discussions, and interactive problem-based-learning tasks will also give students the opportunity to interpret and evaluate the significance of empirical work
  • The summative essay assesses students' acquired knowledge of theoretical principles and empirical studies and their ability to organise and synthesise them coherently and critically in written form in response to a set question
  • The essay will also assess students' written communication skills enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
2 hour lectures 10 1 per week 2 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 80
Total 100

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative 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