PSYCH 324 : The Behaving Brain


2023 Academic Year Term (1231) (30 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A range of topics in applied psychology will be addressed with an emphasis on how those topics fit within the traditional organizing principle of cognitive science. This will include consideration of the evolved cognitive architecture of minds, and the structure and function of brains.

Course Overview

This course focuses on the structure and function of minds, brains and behaviour. Students will be introduced to various theoretical perspectives: from experimental and cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, experimental analysis of behaviour, cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology. It has been said that there is nothing so practical as a good theory, so we will also highlight how theory leads to application in various real-world contexts, from personal health to education, and how everyday questions can be approached scientifically.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: PSYCH 211

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and describe the basic structure and function of the central nervous system, including elements of its evolution and development, how they are modified by experience and social learning, and how they respond to disease, injury, and ageing. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Describe Describe the characteristics of fundamental mental functions, including sensory systems, memory and attention, language use, critical thinking, decision-making, and executive control; and their real-world application in, but not limited to, performance, education, health, creativity, and problem-solving. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  3. Demonstrate a solid basic knowledge of cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology and neuroimaging and the uses to which these may be put and application to clinical populations. (Capability 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Understand the connections between theory and application, method and analysis; and appreciate how knowledge of statistical concepts and methods in psychological research are relevant to academia and industry. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Intervention Design 25% Individual Coursework
Essay 25% Individual Coursework
Report 25% Individual Coursework
Quiz 25% Individual Test
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Intervention Design


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and well-being of our 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. Read more here:

Key Topics

Decision making and sensory perception; human culture and cooperation; cognition, behaviour, thinking and language; memory; neuroimaging and neuropsychology; performance. 

Workload Expectations

This course is a 30-point course, divided into 12 modules. Each module aligns itself to a week and students are expected to spend 25 hours per week on module material and learning activities. 

Delivery Mode


This course is 100% online. Attendance on campus is not required. You will be provided with active learning opportunities and activities that will scaffold into your assessments. You can study on a day and time that works with your schedule, however, it is highly recommended that modules are completed by the end of the corresponding study week.

Learning 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.

All course materials, readings and resources are made available via a digital learning tool called Canvas. Zoom, Panopto Video and Microsoft (MS) Teams are utilised for live sessions, recordings and communication.

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.

In consideration of student feedback, specific improvements to the course might take the form of:
  • Increased budgets for GTAs to permit them to provide students with more (and more opportunities for) detailed specific and summative feedback on assessments. Alternatively, a larger budget could fund an additional GTA. We need to check, but if others note that they worked more hours than were budgeted, then that needs adjusting also.
  • Adjustments or clarifications of workload requirements. Before the course began, we reduced the number of readings deemed “essential” but retained many that we “recommended”. Students often interpreted the latter to mean the former. Further clarification is required. Students do not appear comfortable with reading loads, preferring screencasts.
  • Reconsideration of content to include multiple screencasts, tailored to content, in every module. Content addressed specifically to students is to be preferred to generic YouTube or other content.
  • Adjustments to those assessments with options and the MCQ assessment so as to equate their degrees of difficulty.
  • Consider the introduction of more statistics, and consider a stand-alone Statistics Module, so as to anticipate students’ skills and needs for postgraduate work.
  • Seek to balance workloads over weeks, including those with and without statutory holidays.

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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.

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

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/11/2022 09:36 a.m.