Biopsychology I

Biological psychology (or biopsychology) is the study of the nervous system and behaviour. Study this course to learn about brain anatomy, bodily chemicals and hormones, and how different physiological systems influence our behaviour.

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

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Biopsychology is a fascinating subject which will provide students with an insight into the workings of the human brain. This subject combines biological explanations of behaviour with psychological ones to try and answer fundamental questions like how do we move, think, develop language and experience senses, and what happens when we sleep or experience other altered states of consciousness.   


This in-depth course will further your understanding of human psychology and health with scientific insights into the body-mind relationship. Therefore, it is of particular interest to those who have studied or want to study psychology, as well as to health practitioners. 

  • Some people study this for professional development -health professionals, fitness and sports professionals, counsellors, psychologists, etc
  • Others study out of personal interest
  • 100 hours, self paced, start anytime



 "I am beginning to understand how the brain works, and it is opening up a whole new dimension! It's fantastic." Yvonne Munshi, South Africa, Biopsychology student.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found ACS to be wonderful in all aspects"
D. Kenyon, ACS Biopsychology student

What is Biopsychology?

Biopsychology is also known as “Physiological Psychology”, “Psychobiology” or “Biological Psychology”.

Physiology is the study of the way living organisms function. It can encompass the way things move, chemical and bodily processes, growth, atrophy, and anything else that supports or causes physical or chemical changes to occur within the body. Therefore, it differs from anatomy, which is the study of the physical structure of the body.

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 affects 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.


  • 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.

Mind and Body 

There are obvious, observable or measurable associations between the physiology and the psychology of a person. For example, the mind and emotions can be affected by chemical processes caused by different foods, such as the soothing effects of bananas and carbohydrates. Intake of other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, can affect the psychological state of a person. On the other hand, emotions can cause physiological responses. For instance, when people become stressed, their blood vessels may contract and the heart rate may increase. It has also been shown that focusing on positive thoughts such as love, appreciation or gratitude can cause immediate improvement in immune system function and regulate heart rhythm.


Mind over body is not always possible. The body also influences the mind and much of what we consider basic human behaviour.  Learn to describe ways in which human psychology and human physiology influence each other and our behaviour.

What Really Determines Sex?

Sex is determined by sex chromosomes. XX produces a female, XY a male. Males are produced by the action of a gene on the Y chromosome that contains the code for the production of a protein called H-Y antigen – this causes the development of the gonads to testes. If there is no testicular hormone, the Mullerian system (embryonic precursors to female reproductive organs) will develop female sex organs and the Wolffian system (embryonic precursors to male reproductive organs) will fail to develop. That is, in the embryo, there are “potential” reproductive organs waiting to develop, but without the correct hormone, they will not develop into the correct organs. There is a condition called Turner’s Syndrome. People with Turner’s Syndrome have only one sex chromosome – the X chromosome – so instead of XX or XY, they are XO. The ovum that gives rise to an individual with Turner’s Syndrome has been fertilised by a sperm that has lost its Y chromosome. As the Y chromosome is not present, the H-Y antigen is not produced, so the testes do not develop. As only one X chromosome is present, the ovaries do not develop. However, even though they have no gonads at all, people with Turner’s Syndrome develop into females with normal female internal sex organs.

Sexual maturity occurs when the hypothalamus begins to secrete gonadotrophin releasing hormone, which stimulates the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone by the anterior pituitary gland. These hormones stimulate the gonads to secrete their hormones and cause the body to develop secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, pubic hair.

What This Course Can Do For You

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.

This course may be studied by itself or as part of a certificate or higher level course. The course will be most interest to those working in or planning to work in:

  • Psychology
  • Psychotherapy
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Biological sciences
  • Health sciences
  • Health professionals


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Lyn Quirk

M.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 fo
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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