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Module

PSY3049 : Evolution of Brain and Behaviour

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tom Smulders
  • Owning School: Psychology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

To develop students’ knowledge and understanding of: the principles of brain evolution, including brain development; the interaction between selective pressures on behaviour and the mechanistic changes that take place in response to these selective pressures.

Outline Of Syllabus

Basic knowledge of comparative neuroanatomy and brain development

Principles of brain evolution

Case studies of ultimate and proximate explanations for the evolution of brain and behaviour

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Present in person: Interactive lectures
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials81:008:00Non-synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion199:0099:00Reading and writing for assessment
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading161:0016:00Academic skills activities
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities222:0044:00Preparation for teaching sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery111:0011:00PIP: Oral feedback on formative assessments/ discussion of general issues re final assessment
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The initial lectures will be used to convey the basic knowledge about how brains are structured, how those structures develop, and how they can change over evolutionary time. Some time will also be spent on linking that information to the evolution of behaviour.

Students will then be asked to apply this knowledge to a behaviour or neurobiological mechanism of their choice, and write a coherent integrative report on how this behaviour or mechanism has evolved. In order to facilitate them doing this, they will be presented with example case studies. This will allow them to see different approaches to this integration and to improve their understanding of the concepts of how brains and behaviour evolve. It will also allow them to practice the critical evaluation of the evidence in this field.

If the public health situation requires a pivot to remote learning, then teaching will be delivered remotely.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M100Integrative literature review: ultimate and proximate explanations of the evolution of a brain-behaviour system (max 2500 words)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MOutline essay with list of papers (500 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative assessment requires the student to submit an outline essay with a list of papers to show that there is sufficient literature of the different types on the chosen subject to all a good literature review to be written. This allows the student to evaluate their approach to the literature review and allows the module leader to re-direct the student’s efforts to a better topic should not enough appropriate literature exist or should the topic not fit the subject of the module.

The literature review requires to student to show their understanding of the different components of the evolution of brain and behaviour, and requires them to synthesize the information into a coherent narrative.


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

Timetable