PSYCH 109 : Mind, Brain and Behaviour


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Topics covered may include: the nature of sensory and perceptual processes, the cause of perceptual illusions, the structure and function of the human brain, approaches to animal and human learning, models of human language and memory, and the design of psychological experiments. A laboratory component, in which students are required to participate as subjects, forms part of the course.

Course Overview

This course is designed to introduce students to the experimental study of, and research in, psychology. It offers students experience in psychological experimentation, in particular to the biological, behavioural and cognitive aspects of the discipline. Together with a complementary course PSYCH 108, this course provides an essential grounding in the discipline, and the basis for further study in the School of Psychology.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Be familiar with basic principles of research design and data analysis, and have an appreciation of the practical, ethical and conceptual issues that researchers may face when designing and undertaking psychological research. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Evaluate critically, using the principles of research design, research conducted by others. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Describe the psychological and neural processes that give rise to important aspects of perception, memory, language, emotion, consciousness and thinking. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  4. Describe the major principles underlying learning in both animals and humans, and some of their implications for understanding the relation between behaviour and environment in everyday life. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Describe the major theories of cognitive development throughout the lifespan, together with evidence that tends to support or undermine these theoretical approaches. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Be familiar with the major divisions and structures of the human brain, and be able to describe the main functions of important brain structures. Be able to describe the structure and function of nerve cells. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 6)
  7. Adopt a critical stance when evaluating evidence and theory in psychological science. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Describe how an evolutionary approach can inform our understanding of animal and human minds. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Canvas Quizzes 7% Individual Coursework
Laboratory Participation 3% Individual Coursework
Laboratory Reports 20% Individual Coursework
Test 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Canvas Quizzes
Laboratory Participation
Laboratory Reports
Final Exam

Plussage operates in this course.

For those students eligible for plussage, their final grade for PSYCH 109/109G will be based either on the final exam alone marked out of 100, or on the final exam marked out of 60 plus the coursework marked out of 40, whichever alternative gives the student the better mark.

For those students not eligible for plussage, their final grade will be based on the final exam marked out of 60 plus the coursework marked out of 40. Thus, if you are not eligible for plussage, you are still able to sit the final examination, but your coursework will automatically count toward 40% of your final overall grade.


The Tuākana in Science Programme began over 27 years ago! It is an Equal Opportunities initiative that acknowledges the importance of the success and retention of Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments.
The Tuākana Programme values Manaakitanga (kind and caring interactions), tautoko (support), Mana (reciprocal respect), Ako (learning and teaching), whanaungatanga (relationship, kinship, sense of family connection) and hononga (connection).
Students involved in the Tuākana Programme benefit from:
• Increased support and encouragement.
• Increased communication and access to resources.
• Increased networks – getting to know more students, at your own level and above.
• Increased enjoyment and opportunity to succeed.
Students can read more about the Tuakana programme here:

Key Topics

Research Methods
Learning and Behaviour
Cognitive Development
Brain and Behaviour
Tikanga and Tapu Practices in a Neuroimaging Space
Evolutionary Psychology
Perception and Face Perception

Learning Resources

Learning resources are provided via Canvas. The prescribed text for this course is: Kosslyn, R.M., Rosenberg, R.S. & Lambert, A.J. (2014). Psychology in Context (1st New Zealand Edition). Auckland, NZ: Pearson Education.

Special Requirements

Must participate in all laboratory classes.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, a 2-hour laboratory.  An extra 5 hours per week should be spent reading and thinking about the content of the course and working on assignments and preparing for the test/examination.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Based on the percentage in the SET ‘Generally Agree’ category which encompassed ‘Agree’ and ‘Strongly Agree’ ratings, Semester 2 students awarded the course with:
an A+ for:
the well-organised course content
an A for:
the aims of the course being clear
clear information being provided on how learning would be assessed
the assessments supporting the aims of the course
the course being intellectually stimulating
satisfaction with the quality of the course
an A- for:
the resources for helping students to learn.
the course helping to develop thinking skills
a B for:
satisfaction with the quality of the small-group teaching
a B- for:
receiving helpful feedback on learning progress
Here’s what the S2 students said that they liked about the course:
The Tuakana laboratory
The laboratory classes
The lecture quizzes
The engaging, helpful, enthusiastic and interesting lecturers
The ‘Are You Prepared for Psych 109/109G’ and the ‘Test Diagnostic’ quizzes
The well-organised Canvas page
The clear instructions for assessments
Here’s what the S2 students said that they would like to see improved in the course:
A longer mid-term test
Our response: The test has been changed to an hour-long test in 2020
Earlier lecture times
Our response: We don’t have control of setting our lecture times
Use Piazza earlier
Our response: We trialled Piazza later in the semester and were impressed with its functionality and students used it much more than they used the Canvas discussion boards. We will use Piazza in 2020.
Assign marks to the group presentation
Our response: We plan on allocating participation marks to the group presentation in 2020.
Improve the Canvas organisation
Our response: We will work on improving Canvas organisation in 2020
Put lecture titles and date on the lecture recordings
Our response: We will provide lecturers with instructions on how to do this in 2020
More quizzes
Our response: We will offer more quizzes in 2020!
More opportunities to get to know students 
Our response: Plans are in place to do this for 2020.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 07/07/2020 12:21 p.m.