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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3502 The Biopsychology of Human Appetite

15 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Graham Finlayson

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of all pass for progression modules in Level 2 of: BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology or BA Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought (and its International and Industrial variants)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course of lectures will comprise a survey of recent evidence and current thinking on the control of food intake and the regulation of body weight. A major objective is to emphasise throughout the interactions between events in the physiological domain (under the skin) and events in the psychological or behavioural domain (beyond the skin). Accordingly, particular consideration will be given to the special way in which feeding behaviour represents a link between these two domains, and to the way in which feeding strategies have developed to enable organisms to cope with and to co-ordinate, the demands of the internal and external environments. With recent developments of techniques in molecular biology and the relative ease of identifying genes linked to behavioural and physiological end points, a strong body of opinion has formed about the role of genes in controlling appetite and body weight. How valid is this view? Given that the human genome has now been described, what is the relative balance between our genes and the environment in regulating our behaviour and its impact on our physiology? This approach to appetite control is influenced by the energy balance model and the recognition that body weight is a result of energy intake and energy expenditure. This interaction is a key aspect of the psychobiological system. The major aim of the course will be to develop a cohesive framework for conceptualization of behavioural patterns and for the understanding of clinical problems concerning feeding and body weight in clinical and free-living contexts.


This module aims to provide in depth coverage of empirical, conceptual and theoretical issues relating to 'the Biopsychology of Human Appetite'. The module will be taught by experts in the subject.
Students will continue to develop their knowledge in this area of the discipline with particular emphasis on relevant research.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module in conjunction with their own learning activities, students should be able to:
- critically evaluate how psychological and biological events can interact with respect to appetite control;
- demonstrate critical understanding of technical literature on appetite control and weight regulation;
- demonstrate thorough understanding of the complexity of multiple influences on appetite and eating behaviour;
- relate research findings and concepts to practical situations and apply this knowledge to their own behaviour.

Skills outcomes
- Students will have the opportunity to develop skills in the selection, evaluation and application of published research in the area of human appetite.
- Students will gain practice in the application of theory to their own behaviour.


The following topics will be covered:
- Introduction to the biopsychological approach to human appetite
- Gene-environment interaction in obesity
- Appetite control system
- Homeostatic systems
- Food hedonics and reward
- Physical Activity and Energy balance
- Dieting and Restraint
- Physiological and nutritional determinants
- Food Addiction
- Summary and revision lecture

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours2.50
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours19.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Students will have 128 private study hours. It is envisaged that this time will be spent as follows:
Reading for each lecture: 10 x 3 hours = 30 hours
Preparation for seminars 3 x 5 hours = 15 hours
Revision and practice essay questions 50 hours
Preparation for in-course MCQ 33 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored during the three seminars throughout the semester.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words80.00
In-course MCQArticles for MCQ released in wk 720.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 15:21:45


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