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PSY8081 : Neurobiology of Mental Health

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Barbara-Anne Robertson
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module are to further students’ understanding of neurobiological processes important to mental health, the theories that underpin them, and to foster an appreciation for the animal models used to empirically explore clinically relevant factors.

Fostering a strong understanding of neurobiological processes, such as the mechanisms of psychiatric drugs, will provide students with the foundation required to read, understand, interpret and apply research from various sources to clinical settings. Neurobiological processes such as memory, especially our long-term memory, holds the secrets to our own personal history. Memory itself however, is fragile, fallible, and is susceptible to the deleterious effects of mental illness, stress, trauma, ageing, and disease.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics in these broad areas are likely to be covered in an integrated fashion by teaching or independent study:
•       Neurobiological processes and their clinical relevance
•       Neuro-psychiatric and neuro-pharmacological applications
•       Neurocognitive impairment in eating disorders
•       Historical autobiographical memory: what does one remember from childhood?
•       False memory formation and recall
•       Episodic memory under stress: understanding PTSD and depression
•       Memory consolidation and sleep
•       Models of short term and working memory, long term memory processes (declarative vs non-declarative
memory, triple dissociations: Episodic, procedural, emotional memory processes)
•       Associative learning (including drugs and reward)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Non synchronous online
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00Present in person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion128:0028:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading149:0049:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00PIP: Activity based on lecture material - development of project for assessment/relevant discussion
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The chosen teaching methods encourage students to take an active role in their learning experience. Lectures are used to impart information and discuss relevant concepts. Lectures will be complemented by workshops.

The workshops will allow active discussion about relevant research such that students can apply what they’ve learned from guided independent study and for course work. Some of these sessions will provide students with support to develop the skills required to write the literature review that will form the assessment.

Group work will contribute to their final assessed project: this will allow them to develop their collaborative working skills and encourage them to negotiate and build relationships with others. The group work component will require students to peer-review the work of others, which requires applying their own knowledge and imparting it professionally in the form of constructive feedback.

Students will be expected to complete guided independent study in order to help them prepare for lectures, and in the workshops they will be encouraged to further their own specific interests in neurobiological research.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M100Literature Review, 2000 words max
Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
Description When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmntMSubmit literature review, comment on a peers' review and return feedback
Prof skill assessmntMReflection and response to feedback: P/F for thoughtful integration of feedback, providing justification for acceptance/rejection of feedback. Reflection on writing process.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Summative Assessment
Literature Review: Students will produce a literature review that will be peer-reviewed by classmates. Word count = 2000 words. The assessment choice will allow students to produce a literature review based on a topic relevant to the course material. This assessment choice assesses the students’ ability to evaluate and critically analyse psychological research and to communicate it clearly. This assessment requires critical thinking, creativity, and originality as they are required to develop their own question and then assess it through evaluative means. The final submission of the literature review will make up 100% of the final grade. Any required assignment resit can improve upon the material presented on first attempt.

Zero Weighted Pass/Fail Assessments
In order to complete this piece of work, students must do the following on a Pass/Fail basis:
1)       Formative practice: Submit a draft for comment
2)       Comment on a peer’s draft
3)       Respond to peers’ comments and reflect on the writing process.

Students must show engagement with the process to a satisfactory standard in order to pass. Students who fail this step will be provided the opportunity to complete each of the above steps through review of an alternative neurobiology of mental health assignment. In this scenario students will also have the opportunity to provide comment on an alternative draft literature review.

All components of the summative and pass/fail assessments must be passed in order to pass the module.

Reading Lists