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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PSYC3550 Politics on the Brain

15 creditsClass Size: 80

Module manager: Stephanie Wake

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology, or BSc Psychology with Education programme entry requirements.

Successful completion of Level 2 on BSc Psychology or MPsyc, BSc Advanced Psychology, or BSc Psychology with Education.


PSYC2518Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC2519Behavioural Neuroscience

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Understanding the neuroscience behind how we process social information is critical in understanding what psychological mechanisms underpin political attitudes, behaviours, and importantly, intolerance. This module introduces the structures and functions in the brain related to socio-political information processing, tapping into interesting questions such as: who on the political spectrum is intolerant? Do humans have neural circuitry dedicated solely to processing social information? In addition, this module offers the opportunity to consider how and if neuroscientific evidence can or should inform policy.


This module will introduce students to the neuroscientific theory of socio-political attitudes and behaviour, as well as its application to society and policy. The module will also introduce the idea of a social-specific neural circuitry, along with advanced neuroimaging analysis methods used to study this topic.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Discuss and review the key brain structures and functions relevant to socio-political information processing;
2. Critically appraise neuroscientific evidence relevant to understanding the psychological mechanisms of intolerance;
3. Critically appraise neuroimaging methods, with reference to what these methods can tell us about the organisation of the “social brain”;
4. Illustrate and communicate scientific knowledge with relevance to wider society.


1. Introduction to the “social brain”: fundamental structures, functions, and networks
2. Left- and right-wing brains: neural basis of prejudice / stereotypes
3. Neural basis of intolerance: not just a right-wing-thing?
4. Social specific circuitry in the human brain
5. Introduction to advance neuroimaging analysis: how we can use multivariate analysis to answer questions in neuroscience?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning71.5010.50
Independent online learning hours22.00
Private study hours110.00
Total Contact hours18.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Independent online learning via resources on Minerva (2 x hours per weeks 11 weeks): 22 hours
Formative call for evidence plan: 30 hours
Call for evidence (summative assessment): 60 hours
Independent reading: 20 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to submit a 500-word formative plan to help them prepare for the “Call for Evidence” assignment, they will submit this formative assignment in week 6 of the module. This ensures students feel supported and receive feedback to help prepare them for their final assessment. Group-based teaching sessions will also be an opportunity for students to work on tasks relevant to their assignment and for staff members to provide formative feedback. Students will also work on tasks during the group teaching sessions, so staff will be able to provide students with feedback during these sessions which will help students to clarify their understanding of the module content.

Students also have weekly online content to engage with, which will also inform students about their assessment. For example, real cases of “Calls for Evidence” will be available for students to use as exemplars. This will be valuable for the development of students’ knowledge, their engagement with the content, and the completion of their “Call for Evidence” coursework.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Assignment500 word formative plan.0.00
Assignment2000 word call for evidence.100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Call for Evidence: Students will complete a “call for evidence” (2000 words) in response to a theoretical policy. Students should consider the neuroscientific evidence to oppose or support this notion. This is an individual piece of work. Formative assignment: 500-word plan for the Call for Evidence. This is an individual piece of work

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 15/05/2023 16:34:24


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