MA Public Opinion and Political Behaviour
BSc Psychology with Economics options

Final Year, Component 03

Psychology option from list

This module is concerned with the study of emotional behaviour and experience from a scientific point of view. The emphasis throughout the module is on how emotions arise and are manifest as patterns of bodily response and mental activity. Theories of emotion from psychodynamic, introspective, and constructionist positions will not form a major component of the module, although some of the important insights which these approaches have offered will be considered. You will examine theories of both normal and abnormal emotion. The former will receive the lion's share of our attention, but the case studies on particular emotions (eg sadness) include discussion of their pathological extensions (depression).

Animal Behaviour

Be introduced to the key concepts of animal behaviour from an ethological and comparative cognition viewpoint. By taking a critical look at published work and research and identifying the frameworks that underlie animal behaviour, you will become familiar with aspects such as the evolution of behaviour and the cognitive capabilities of different species.

Evolutionary Psychology: How natural and sexual selection helped shape the human mind

You’ll be introduced to the key concepts of evolutionary theory as pertaining to human psychology, and will engage with current literature in this rapidly advancing area of science. You will develop your understanding of the relevance of evolution to the scientific study of human behaviour and cognition. You’ll also identify the basic concepts and frameworks that underlie evolutionary approaches to psychology, as well as the major findings and fields within evolutionary psychology.

Topics in Human Memory

How do we remember? Why do we forget? In this module, we will answer these questions through both lectures and experimental self-discovery. We will learn that we are surprisingly poor at recalling even very small numbers of words, objects, and events that we can nevertheless easily recognise. Through practical workshop classes that supplement lectures, you will see these limitations for yourselves, allowing you to better evaluate whether these limitations are best understood as evidence for limited-capacity short-term or working memory store(s), and /or as a result of the interaction between encoding and retrieval processes.

The Neuroscience of Human Nature

Discover the neuroscience behind key elements of human nature. These include, understanding the faces and bodies of others, how we copy body language to show empathy and the processes that drive motivation and emotion. You will also investigate autism and schizophrenia which occur when these processes aren’t working effectively.

Body, Senses and Existence

Develop knowledge gained in the second year module, Brain and Behaviour, and deepen your understanding of how the brain affects behaviour, and the link it has with the workings of the body. You will learn from a range of experts, covering aspects from basic bodily functions to high-order existential concerns, such as psychopharmacology, diet and wellbeing, epigenetics, physical and social pain, and existential neuroscience, to ultimately gain a deep understanding of the way the brain and body interact to control behaviour.


You will examine the causes of psychopathology from the perspective of different disciplines (genetics, neuroscience, behavioural, and social sciences), with the aim of understanding the potential interplay between biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors. You will learn how to critically distinguish individual differences in behaviour and the different ways of classifying psychopathologies.

Making connections: How children develop

You will gain a greater understanding of the relation between brain development and the development of skills in infants and children, and of how neuroscience can inform educational practices. Topics may include: prenatal brain development, the development of the sense of self and self control, infant and children attachment and social skills, neuro-developmental disorders and applied neuroscience.

The science of uncertainty

The use of Bayesian statistics is increasingly common in psychology. This module aims to introduce you to these tools, and how to use R (a popular, open source statistical software package) to analyse and visualise data. It will also give you an overview of how the human brain deals with uncertainty and probabilities, and how the media often misrepresents statistical issues. Throughout the module, you will gain familiarity with working with large datasets, identifying patterns and presenting data. These skills are useful not only for further postgraduate study, but also are increasingly valuable in graduate jobs outside academia.

Decision making science in theory and practice

Can psychology help make better decisions? Yes! From curbing climate change to selecting the best candidate for the job, decision-making science has many important insights to offer, which is why it is becoming increasingly popular in education, politics, business, economics and health. Governments, businesses and charities all understand the value of identifying decision pitfalls (eg social and cognitive biases) and using strategies to overcome these. In this module, you will learn about decision-making theories and gain the skills to understand, predict and improve people's decisions for real-world issues (eg "how can we help doctors better diagnose patients?", "how do we motivate people to exercise more often?", "how can we encourage people to be more prosocial?").

The Psychology of (Self)-Improvement
Psychology in the Real World

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.