PY3LDM-Brain Mechanisms of Learning and Decision Making

Module Provider: Psychology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites: PY2RM Research Methods and Data Analysis
Non-modular pre-requisites: Priority access given to student on BSc Psychology Mental and Physical Health
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Anastasia Christakou


Summary module description:
PY3LDM Learning and Decision-making

The module aims to: enable students to study the brain mechanisms involved in learning and decision making in depth; to provide an opportunity to critically evaluate selected topics related to these areas; to enhance students' awareness of current research being undertaken in the department; and to help students develop the ability to study independently.

Assessable learning outcomes:
At the end of the module students will be able to:
1.Apply their understanding of key neural mechanisms involved in learning and decision-making
2. Critically evaluate experimental efforts to bridge psychological and neural perspectives on decision-making

Additional outcomes:
Students will be able to participate in critical discussions of theory and experimental practice, including the design of experiments and the evaluation of methods and techniques.

Outline content:
This module comprises seven 2-hour seminars.

The module will focus on different forms of learning and reward-driven decision-making. We will examine empirical and theoretical approaches to how we learn about our environment and how we adapt our behaviour. Pathological conditions will be discussed, such as drug addiction and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which are characterised by atypical responsivity to reward and maladaptive processing of action outcomes. The module will include both human and animal research, with a strong focus on neuroscience and brain physiology.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars involve lectures and interactive discussions.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 14
Guided independent study 86
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 75
Written assignment including essay 25

Other information on summative assessment:
This module is assessed through coursework (25%) and a final exam (75%).
The 1.5-hour Summer Exam will require students to answer 1 essay question on topics covered in the module.
Coursework will comprise a 2000-word report

Formative assessment methods:
Students have the opportunity to provide the module convenor with up to two essay plans for comment and feedback in preparation for the exam.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    1.5 hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment is by re-examination in August/September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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