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Biopsychology I

Course CodeBPS108
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Biopsychology is the study of the relationship between the anatomy and physiology of our nervous system and our behaviour. 

Biopsychology brings together biology and psychology. Understanding where the physical structures in the brain are located and how they are involved in the way we experience the world around us is the goal of this course. Graduates will learn about how messages are transmitted inside the brain and body, the role of chemicals and hormones, and the detection and interpretation of sensory information. This type of knowledge helps students to piece together their understanding of other areas of psychology.

Discover how we perceive the world

  • Learn about how our "state of mind" is influenced by our nervous system.
  • See how physiological changes can lead to psychological changes.
  • Understand how illness, injury and abnormal physical development can affect a person's thinking and behaviour.
  • Understand our endocrine system and how if affects how we think.
  • Find out more about the biological systems underlying stress and emotions.
  • Understand what happens in our bodies during altered states of consciousness.

ACS student comment:  "I am beginning to understand how the brain works, and it is opening up a whole new dimension! Its fantastic." (Yvonne Munshi, South Africa, Biopsychology I course).


Why Study Biopsychology?

This course is useful for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of people through an understanding of biopsychology -
  • Welfare workers
  • Counsellors
  • Support Workers
  • Educators
  • Mental Health Staff
  • Life Coaches
  • Health Workers
  • People working in child services
  • Youth workers
  • Parents
  • Care Workers
  • Foster Parents

By studying this course you will develop your ability to comprehend the way in which a person’s state of mind influences their physical body, and the way in which their physical body affects their state of mind.

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Types of external and internal stimuli, mind-body debate, introduction to the nervous system.
  2. The senses
    • Sensory input, sensory perception, description of the major senses.
  3. The Nervous System
    • Description of the neurons, the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, including the autonomic nervous system.
  4. The Endocrine System
    • Effect of hormones on behaviour and physiology, association of endocrine system and nervous system, connection between external and internal stimuli.
  5. Stress
    • Types of stressors, physical effects of stress, personality & stress.
  6. Emotions
    • Homeostasis, eating disorders, physiological responses to emotions, theories of emotion.
  7. Consciousness
    • Degrees of consciousness, awareness & attention, altered states of consciousness.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What You Will Do

  • Explain what is meant by the mind-body debate and consider various theories.
  • Explain how different people can perceive the same stimulus in different ways, due to biological differences between them.
  • Explain how the condition and functioning of the nervous system can affect the psychology of an individual.
  • Explain the function of sensory and motor neurons.
  • Explain the functioning of the cerebellum, the hypothalamus and the thalamus.
  • Identify which brain structures are present in the limbic system, and their main functions.
  • Explain how dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine act as neurotransmitters.
  • Explain how the condition and functioning of the endocrine system can affect the psychology of an individual.
  • Describe the relationship between psychological stress and the physical response of the body.
  • Discuss the relationship between emotions and the physical nature of the body.
  • Discuss the relationship between consciousness and the physical nature of the body.
  • Describe the effect of three psychoactive drugs on the Central Nervous System.
  • Explain how the autonomic nervous system works in terms of its sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.

ACS students' comments: 

  • I am beginning to understand how the brain works, and it is opening up a whole new dimension! Its fantastic. Yvonne Munshi, South Africa, Bio Psychology course.
  • "A lot of the subject matter relates directly to my area of work, so it is helping me to understand it a lot more! I enjoy working in my own time and being able to take my time." Biopsychology student

How Can our Biology Affect how we Think?

Psychology can be affected by a wide range of biological factors; for example:

Stimuli to sensory organs 

Electrical stimulation or lesions to parts of the cortex can affect their motor and sensory abilities. This has been confirmed when humans have had accidental damage to the brain. This work has shown that we can map the motor and sensory functions of the brain, as shown in the diagram. If a particular area of the brain shown is electrically stimulated, it will mimic the function, whilst damage will impair function. Our more complex sensory abilities have specialised areas of the brain. This is because visual and auditory processes are far more sophisticated than the sense of touch or taste. Stimulation of these areas will result in visual sensations e.g. flashes of light or auditory sensation such as a buzzing noise.  
The somatosensory cortex contains our general body senses – dealing with touch, heat, cold, pressure and some aspects of pain. Stimulation here gives the sensation of touch or pressure on the skin.  

Dysfunction of Sensory Organs

Damage to the brain and sensory organs can cause them to dysfunction. Damage to the eyes, optic nerves, primary visual cortex can cause loss of vision in particular portions of the visual field of complete blindness. The effect of lesions of the visual association cortex or its connections with the rest of the brain can tell us much about perceptual analysis.  

Secretions of Glands

Glands are mostly controlled by the brain. Glands receive direct neural control or are controlled by events initiated by the hormones released in the hypothalamus.  

Exocrine Glands

Exocrine glands literally means “outside-secreting”. This includes things such as tears, secretion of digestive juices into the intestines, secretion of fluids into male genitourinary system, sweat glands secrete sweat, salivary glands produce thin watery saliva to add swallowing food. The sympathetic system causes secretion of thick, viscous saliva which explains why the inside of our mouth feels sticky when frightened or excited.

Endocrine Glands

Endocrine means literally “inside secreting”. These have the effects shown in the table below. The endocrine system will be discussed in more detail in lesson 4, but basically the table below shows the major endocrine glands.

Study Biopsychology and learn more about the interaction between our minds and bodies.

A great  course for anyone interesting in learning more about biology and psychology.
Enrol now to find out more.

Meet some of our academics

Gavin ColePsychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin is both a highly experienced Psychologist and tutor. Gavin has over 25 years experience in the Psychology industry, and has been working with ACS since 2001. He has worked in both Australia and England, and has been involved in writing numerous books and courses in Psychology and Counselling
Lyn QuirkM.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.
Tracey JonesWidely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

Check out our eBooks

Human NutritionBoth a text for students, or an informative read for anyone who wants to eat better. While covering the basics, the book approaches nutrition a little differently here to some other books, with sections covering ”Modifying diet according to Genetic Disposition or Lifestyle”, “How to find Reliable Information on Nutrition” and “Understanding how Diet relates to Different Parts of the Body” (including Urinary, Digestive, Respiratory and Circulatory System, the Brain, etc). This ebook was written to complement the ACS Nutrition I course, and provides a solid foundation for anyone wanting to grasp a fundamental understanding of Human Nutrition. 41 pages
Psychology DictionaryWritten by professional psychologists, this “dictionary of psychology” contains descriptions for common terms used in Psychology. There are many terms used in the area of Psychology alone, that are explained throughout this text. Other terms have been taken from everyday language and used in a different context to describe psychological phenomena. 66 pages
Counselling HandbookFull of interesting case studies, this ebook is a wonderful introduction to the complex world of the human psyche. Chapters include: Using Counselling, Seeing Behind the Mask, Emotions and Attitudes, Communicating Better, Theory vs Practice, Diffusing Difficult Situations and Golden Rules for Counselors. 43 pages
Human BiologyFor any new student of human biology, being confronted with thousands of unfamiliar words can be overwhelming. It can also be difficult to identify which words you need to learn first. This book presents words that have been carefully selected as the most important for new biology students to learn and understand. It also provides more information about each word than is often found in traditional dictionaries, giving students a more in-depth understanding of the word's meaning. The book is intended as an aid to all new students of human biology.