Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Organisational UnitSchool of Psychology and Psychiatry
OfferedNot offered in 2013
Coordinator(s)Dr Joanne Fielding


This unit will use a case-based approach to cover the fundamental principles of physics, biochemistry and genetics. The material covered will describe the relationship between heritable metabolic/biochemical disturbances and behaviour. It will also introduce the basic concepts of human genetics including modes of inheritance and genetic mutations in the context of describing case studies of heritable/genetically-determined disorders (eg. Down's Syndrome, Friedreich's ataxia, etc.). Students will also be introduced to several generic skills that will be useful throughout their degree (eg. writing Neuropsychological case report) and perhaps also their future careers


  1. Have developed a good understanding of the broad research-based discipline 'behavioural neuroscience' and its many sub-disciplines or components.
  2. Have a good understanding of how our genes interact with the environment to affect the structure and function of the brain and/or our biochemical systems, and in turn, human behaviour.
  3. Be familiar with modes of inheritance, gene mutations and abnormalities.
  4. Be familiar with the details of several heritable disorders that affect certain aspects of behaviour through neuropharmacological, histological, biochemical and other neurological alterations.
  5. Have had the opportunity to develop their group-work and oral presentation skills.
  6. Have acquired new skills (eg. locating and extracting relevant and valid information from databases via the web; writing up a basic clinical case history) that will be useful throughout their undergraduate and postgraduate careers.
  7. Understand and be able to build on important concepts underlying neuroimaging procedures (including the principles of electromagnetism, simple nuclear physics, etc).
  8. To be exposed to the ethical issues surrounding the use of gene testing, as well as gene therapy as a treatment for disease.


Discussion topic quizzes 12.5%
Behavioural Neuroscience Assignment: 15%
Clinical Neuropsychology assignment: 10%
Biophysics for Neuroscientists short-answer exercise: 7.5%
MCQ Exam: 55%

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

4 contact hours
8 additional hours per week

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: