PSYC12012 - Physiological Psychology

General Information

Unit Synopsis

In this unit you will learn how the brain provides the foundation for all psychological processes and behaviour. Specifically, you will study the structure and function of the central nervous system, and how structures in the brain contribute to adaptive information processing. You will gain an understanding of the biological basis of a range of human psychological processes and functions, including perception, language, learning and memory. You will also learn how to critically evaluate the empirical literature and key research methods employed in the field in relation to contemporary theories of cognitive function.


Level Undergraduate
Unit Level 2
Credit Points 6
Student Contribution Band SCA Band 4
Fraction of Full-Time Student Load 0.125
Pre-requisites or Co-requisites

24 credit points including PSYC11010 or PSYC11008 or PSYC11009.

Important note: Students enrolled in a subsequent unit who failed their pre-requisite unit, should drop the subsequent unit before the census date or within 10 working days of Fail grade notification. Students who do not drop the unit in this timeframe cannot later drop the unit without academic and financial liability. See details in the Assessment Policy and Procedure (Higher Education Coursework).

Class Timetable View Unit Timetable
Residential School No Residential School

Unit Availabilities from Term 2 - 2023

Term 1 - 2024 Profile

Attendance Requirements

All on-campus students are expected to attend scheduled classes – in some units, these classes are identified as a mandatory (pass/fail) component and attendance is compulsory. International students, on a student visa, must maintain a full time study load and meet both attendance and academic progress requirements in each study period (satisfactory attendance for International students is defined as maintaining at least an 80% attendance record).

Assessment Overview

Recommended Student Time Commitment

Each 6-credit Undergraduate unit at CQUniversity requires an overall time commitment of an average of 12.5 hours of study per week, making a total of 150 hours for the unit.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task Weighting
1. Online Quiz(zes) 30%
2. Written Assessment 40%
3. Take Home Exam 30%

This is a graded unit: your overall grade will be calculated from the marks or grades for each assessment task, based on the relative weightings shown in the table above. You must obtain an overall mark for the unit of at least 50%, or an overall grade of ‘pass’ in order to pass the unit. If any ‘pass/fail’ tasks are shown in the table above they must also be completed successfully (‘pass’ grade). You must also meet any minimum mark requirements specified for a particular assessment task, as detailed in the ‘assessment task’ section (note that in some instances, the minimum mark for a task may be greater than 50%).

Consult the University’s Grades and Results Policy for more details of interim results and final grades

Past Exams

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Previous Feedback

Term 1 - 2022 : The overall satisfaction for students in the last offering of this course was 57.89% (`Agree` and `Strongly Agree` responses), based on a 26.03% response rate.

Feedback, Recommendations and Responses

Every unit is reviewed for enhancement each year. At the most recent review, the following staff and student feedback items were identified and recommendations were made.

Source: Psychology discipline committee
The timing for the take-home exam and quizzes was more generous than is conventional for units in the psychology program.
The timing for the take-home exam and quizzes will be made consistent with conventions established for the psychology program.
Action Taken
This has been partially implemented. The timing of the take-home exam and online quizzes will be reviewed in consultation with the course teaching committee to ensure it is consistent with other psychology units.
Source: Student feedback
Several students found the essay topic challenging and desired more freedom in researching the topic.
The assessment guidelines will be reviewed to provide students with key starting references and guidelines for sourcing additional papers in a way that allows student to deeply explore the topic but without deviating from the topic focus.
Action Taken
The assessment guidelines and marking rubric were re-written with the goal of making the scope more well-defined, and ensuring the expectations were clearer. Students were provided with three starting references and pointed to relevant sections of their textbook to help focus their essay response and their literature searches. Students were given more freedom with the essay by allowing them to choose the real-world behaviour that they were then instructed to use their obtained research to explain in their essay.
Source: Student feedback
More guidance around the essay task was requested.
Workshop content will be reviewed so that at least one includes specific focus on understanding the essay task requirements and expectations.
Action Taken
A significant proportion of one workshop is now dedicated to discussing the essay assessment task. The written instructions for the task have also been expanded, including providing an exemplar structure for addressing the question.
Source: Student feedback
Students found the tutorials not structured as much as they would like, and the purpose of the discussion-based format was not clear.
Tutorials will continue to be discussion-based, with questions provided as prompts. It will be clarified that the purpose of these is to enhance students' ability to critically engage with the unit material. Written notes providing a summary of good answers to the posed questions will be provided as appropriate.
Action Taken
Source: Student feedback
The unit and textbook was described as content heavy, with students struggling to keep up with the weekly material. Students suggested that more real-world examples and simpler explanations of concepts could help with learning.
The content of physiological psychology is content heavy and technical. Students will be provided with greater clarity during tutorial activities that the aim of learning in this unit is not rote memorisation but rather (a) developing a mental 'roadmap' that provides quick direction towards applicable reference material, and (b) applying this knowledge to new situations. The take-home test is aligned to this aim, and this will be communicated more clearly to students during tutorials.
Action Taken
Source: Student feedback
Students struggled with the essay assessment, feeling that it was unclear, not well-aligned with unit content, and caused confusion and stress, particularly due to its weighting.
The topic of the essay will be reviewed to ensure it is better aligned with the content covered in the lead-up to the essay being due. To improve clarity in scope and reduce stress associated with additional literature searching and reviewing, the assessment task will be restricted to incorporating material only from the textbook and a limited number of ancillary readings.
Action Taken
Unit learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Describe the structure and function of the central nervous system.
  2. Explain the neural bases of psychological processes and human behaviour, such as perception, language, learning and memory.
  3. Describe the features of key methods in physiological psychology, and how they are applied in empirical research.
  4. Critically evaluate empirical studies in psychophysiology.

This unit addresses Foundational Competencies as specified by the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC). The unit specifically aligns to the following APAC graduate competencies:

1.1 Comprehend and apply a broad and coherent body of knowledge of psychology, with depth of understanding of underlying principles, theories and concepts in the discipline, using a scientific approach, including the following topics: ii. individual differences in capacity, behaviour and personality; v. learning and memory; vi. cognition, language and perception; vii. motivation and emotion; viii. neuroscience and the biological bases of behaviour.

1.3 Analyse and critique theory and research in the discipline of psychology and communicate these in written and oral formats.

1.6 Demonstrate self-directed pursuit of scholarly inquiry in psychology.

Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Learning Outcomes
Assessment Tasks Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - Online Quiz(zes)
2 - Written Assessment
3 - Take Home Exam
Alignment of Graduate Attributes to Learning Outcomes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Graduate Attributes Learning Outcomes
1 2 3 4
1 - Communication
2 - Problem Solving
3 - Critical Thinking
4 - Information Literacy
8 - Ethical practice
Alignment of Assessment Tasks to Graduate Attributes
Introductory Level
Intermediate Level
Graduate Level
Assessment Tasks Graduate Attributes
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10