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PSY1006 : Instinct, Learning and Motivation

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Caroline Allen
  • Demonstrator: Mrs Billie Moffat-Knox
  • Other Staff: Dr John Lazarus
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To provide an understanding of the fundamental concepts of instinct, learning and motivation.

Original Summary:
Behaviour is a product of influences from the individual’s genotype and from its environment; nature and nurture. These two influences interact in complex ways to influence behaviour throughout the individual’s lifetime. The causal path from gene to behaviour is complex but we are beginning to unravel some of this complexity. Simple learning occurs by classical and instrumental conditioning, but birds and mammals are also capable of learning that may require more complex cognitive capabilities. General laws of learning are constrained by evolutionary influences on the learning process. Motivation is concerned with the immediate causes of behaviour, both internal to the organism and from the environment.

Outline Of Syllabus

The concept of instinct.
How genes influence behaviour.
The nature/nurture issue: problems and answers.
How does behaviour develop? Some general principles.
Non-associative learning.
Classical Conditioning - description and explanation; Pavlovian and cognitive views.
Instrumental Conditioning - description and explanation; behaviourist and cognitive views.
Film: 'The Autobiography of a Non-Person': An interview with B F Skinner on his life and work; behaviourism and its applications.
Predispositions and constraints on learning.
Applications of learning principles in psychological treatments.

Principles of motivation and approaches to motivation: causal factors; drive; control theory; homeostasis.
Some motivational systems: drinking; aggression (including homicide); romantic love.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:001 lecture includes a film
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study173:0073:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures are used as the principle and most effective mode of imparting the core knowledge of the module.

Some lecture time will be interactive, providing an opportunity for discussion of lecture content, testing of knowledge and problem-solving.

The private study is essential for in-depth review of knowledge imparted through lectures, and requires students to use library and other information sources effectively; to work independently; to take responsibility for their own learning and intellectual development; and to practice time-management skills and effective scheduling of work-loads.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination902A80Unseen, multiple choice
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Computer assessment2M20Computer simulation assignment of learning phenomenon
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Other Information-
Alternative resit available for computer assessment, on same topic, not requiring access to common desktop.

Special requirements -
Computer marked MCQ sheets

Rationale and Relationship of assessment methods to learning outcomes -
The examination is used to assess knowledge, independent learning and understanding of material relevant to the module.

The assignment provides students with knowledge and understanding of the nature of learning processes, and of the formulation and testing of hypotheses. It also provides the opportunity to practice the following skills: problem solving; computer literacy; understanding and applying theoretical concepts; working independently; and time-management and the ability to schedule work-loads effectively. The assignment assesses the above aspects of knowledge and understanding, as well as the skills of problem solving and of understanding and applying theoretical concepts.

FMS Schools offering Semester One modules available as ‘Study Abroad’ will, where required, provide an alternative assessment time for examinations that take place after the Christmas vacation. Coursework with submissions dates after the Christmas vacation will either be submitted at an earlier date or at the same time remotely.

The form of assessment will not vary from the original.

Reading Lists