Certificate in Biopsychology

600 hour certificate in biopsychology, to understand biology and psychology; how the physiology and anatomy of the human body affects the state of mind.

Course CodeVPS004
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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  • Study the relationship between the physical body and psychology
  • What we feel can very much be affected by anatomy and physiology
  • Learn how medical disorders, fitness, drugs and environment can affect how a person feels and behaves

This certificate is designed for people who either want to gain knowledge of biopsychology for further studies or those who already have knowledge of psychology, but are limited in their knowledge of biopsychology. Ideal for professional development.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Certificate in Biopsychology.
 Biochemistry I (Animal and Human) BSC103
 Biopsychology I BPS108
 Human Anatomy & Physiology (Human Biology 1A) BSC101
 Biopsychology II BPS204
 Neuropsychology BPS306
 Psychopharmacology (Drugs & Psychology) BPS302

Note that each module in the Certificate in Biopsychology is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

What is in the Modules?

Human Biology IA

There are 6 lessons in this module as follows
1. Cells & Tissues
2. The Skeleton
3. The Muscular System
4. The Nervous System
5. Digestion & Excretion
6. Physiological Systems

Biopsychology I

There are seven lessons in this module as follows:
1. Introduction
2. The Senses
3. The Nervous System
4. The Endocrine System
5. Stress
6. Emotions
7. Consciousness

Biopsychology II

There are seven lessons in this module as follows:
1. Evolution, genetics and experience
2. Research methods in biopsychology
3. Brain damage
4. Recovery from brain damage
5. Drug dependence and the brain
6. Memory
7. Language

Biochemistry I

There are ten lessons as follows:

1. Introduction To Biochemistry
2. Lipids and Proteins
3. Enzymes and Hormones
4. Nucleic Acids
5. Thermo-regulation
6. Carbohydrate Metabolism
7. Absorption
8. Acidity and Alkalinity
9. Chemical Analysis
10. Biochemical Applications


There are ten lessons in this module as follows:
1. Foundations of Neuropsychology
2. Neurophysiology
3. Neuroanatomy
4. Laterality and Callosal Syndromes
5. Cognition, Personality and Emotion
6. Perception Disorders
7. Motor Disorders
8. Language
9. Dementia
10. Neurodevelopment


There are eleven lessons in this module as follows:
1. Introduction: A history of the use and misuse of drugs in society
2. Effects of drugs on the individual and society
3. Legally restricted drugs: Stimulants and narcotics
4. Legally restricted drugs: Hallucinogens and marijuana
5. Legally restricted drugs: Steroids
6. Legal drugs: Alcohol
7. Legal drugs: Tobacco, caffeine and solvents
8. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
9. Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs
10. Prescription drugs for schizophrenia and affective disorders
11. Treatment and preventative education

Drugs can affect Biopsychology

The history of drugs is shrouded in the beginnings of the human race. Alcohol was made, drunk, and used to excess as far back as memory and records go. Tobacco (Nicotiana), hemp (Cannabis sativa), opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), and other plants containing drugs have been chewed and smoked almost as long as alcohol, and coffee has been served in the Middle East throughout that area's history.

“Drugs” is a word used by the medical profession to refer to medicines that can cure or arrest disease or alleviate symptoms, ease pain or provide other benefits. Powerful drugs may have side effects, but commonly used drugs with less potential to harm can be sold over the counter. More powerful drugs often require a medical practitioner’s prescription. Another definition of drugs is those substances upon which a person may become dependent. These range from mild stimulants eg. Caffeine, to powerful drugs that alter mood and behaviour. The term “drug” is therefore any substance which is psychoactive – that is, mind altering. Learn more about interactions between our biology, psychology, the brain and chemistry with this unique in depth course.


Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. It is well documented that the majority of smokers identify tobacco as harmful, but despite the risks associated with smoking they continue to smoke. As many as nine out of ten smokers say they would like to stop but can't. Despite the uptake of cigarette smoking declining in a number of Western countries over recent decades, in the United States one in every six deaths is tobacco related. It is therefore more lethal than all other substances combined.

The effects of nicotine on the individual are more subtle than other substances, but those who are poly-substance users including nicotine tend to rank nicotine as the most difficult drug to quit. Some smokers become addicted because of a positive incentive-motivational state, particularly when they first take up smoking. The mechanical act of smoking and the taste make it hard to give up along with withdrawal symptoms of irritability and depressed mood. Some smokers report that nicotine stimulates them whereas for others it is relaxing to smoke.

Addiction to nicotine can also be explained biologically through the involvement of neurotransmitters. After inhaling tobacco smoke nicotine quickly passes through the blood to the brain. Here nicotine activates nicotinic receptors on dopamine neurons. Nicotine accelerates the release of dopamine, associated with pleasure, addiction and emotions. Once a cigarette has been smoked nicotine quickly leaves the brain. Therefore the sensation of pleasure from smoking is quickly established so that just the sight of a cigarette or being in a smoking environment can trigger the desire to smoke.

The addictive potential of nicotine is so strong that about 40% of smokers resume smoking after having suffered a heart attack. Also some 50% continue smoking after surgery for lung cancer.

Opiates and Heroin

Opiates were popular throughout the nineteenth century, particularly among women. Tonics containing opium were available from pharmacists and doctors prescribed them for upper and middle class women with “women’s problems”. In the 1850s and 60s, Chinese labourers working on Americarailroads, brought with them the practice of smoking opium. This was banned in 1975, but opium dens were commonplace throughout Americaby the turn of century.

In 1803, Friedrich Sertuerner synthesised morphine and the invention of the hypodermic needle in the mid-nineteenth century led to the use of injectable morphine as a pain reliever in the American Civil War. This led to the first wave of morphine addiction.

In 1896, Heinrich Dreser of the Bayer Company synthesised heroin. Bayer began to market the drug. In the early 1900s, heroin was seen as a solution to the increased problem of morphine addiction and the St. James Society sent free samples of heroin to morphine addicts. Heroin addiction began to grow. Research in 1971 estimated that 10 – 15% of US servicemen in Vietnamwere addicted. This statistic and the growing use of heroin led to the making of heroin use a crime.

In the 1980s and 90s, street heroin was smoked and snorted and its usage increased.


LSD was discovered accidentally by a Swiss chemist, Dr Albert Hofmann, in 1943. Hofmann provided samples to psychiatrists for further testing and in the 1950s, the US military and CIA researched the use of LSD as a “truth drug”, used to brainwash prisoners or induce them to talk. However, the military interest in the drug began to reduce and the psychiatric community began to research the therapeutic capabilities of the drug for epileptic, psychotic and depressed patients.

In the 1950s and 60s, non-therapeutic use of LSD increased. Research study participants, physicians and psychiatrists distributed the drug among their friends. After 1962, LSD was produced and distributed to health professionals on a larger scale. It was not difficult to produce. A black market for LSD emerged. In 1966 the possession and manufacture of LSD was made illegal in America, but illegal manufacturing continued. The use of LSD declined in the 1970s and 80s, but it made a resurgence in the 1990s with the rave subculture.


How This Course Can Help You

This certificate course provides a solid foundation in the study of the anatomy of the brain and body, and biological and chemical bodily processes. The biopsychology and neuropsychological components provide the link between our physical bodies and mental processes. Students also learn about how different diseases and injuries to the nervous system can impact upon behaviour, as well as medicines and illicit drugs.  Graduates will have a thorough understanding of the brain and behaviour which could be applicable to a number of work roles as well as a stepping stone to further study.

The course will appeal mostly to people working in or hoping to work in:

  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Psychology
  • Human physiology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Medicine   
  • Psychotherapy
  • Counselling
  • Sports training
  • Life Coaching
  • Health Services
  • Research
  • Teaching




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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
Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager. Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Di
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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