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Psychology, MA, The Biology of Emotions, 7.5 credits

General data

Code: PS059A
Subject/Main field: Psykologi
Cycle: Second cycle
Credits: 7.5
Progressive specialization: A1N - Second cycle, has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
Answerable department: Psychology
Answerable faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
Established: 9/9/2015
Date of change: 9/27/2016
Version valid from: 1/15/2017


The course aims to provide participants with knowledge of the biological foundations of emotions, regarding interacting structures in the central nervous system and peripheral activity, and also, deeper knowledge about specific emotional processes with a focus on function, dysfunction, and neuroplasticity.

Course objectives

After completing the course, students will:

Knowledge and understanding
• have basic knowledge about the structure and function of the nervous system and the way it communicates.
• have deeper knowledge of biological processes in the brain and the body which correspond to emotional and motivational processes.
• be able to understand emotions in a biological and functional perspective.

Skills and abilities
• be able to relate psychological disorder to dysfunction in the nervous system.
• be able to relate psychophysiological measures of emotional experiences to active biological processes.

Judgement and approach
• Be able to relate to dysfunction in a biological perspective, considering both learning and neuroplasticity.
• Be able to evaluate and relate to possibilities and limitations within bio-psychological research.


The course will give you an overview of the structure, function, and communication of the nervous system, with more detailed descriptions of biological processes involved in basic motivational and emotional conditions. Biopsychological knowledge will be related to both central and peripheral measuring. The course will partly focus on function and dysfunction in a biological perspective, with neuroplasticity. Focus will also be on evaluating results from neuroscientific research; to identify methodological strengths and weaknesses in relation to specific research questions.

Entry requirements

Bachelor (180 hp) in psychology, with a degree thesis/independent work of 15 credits, or equivalent. In cases where the applicant lacks bachelor's degree in psychology, an individual assessment will be conducted. English B/English 6 from Swedish gymnasium or the equivalent.

When the formal admission requirements are not fulfilled, an individual assessment is performed to decide if the applicant has sufficient prior merits within academic psychological studies, to be able to study at the advanced level.

Selection rules and procedures

The selectionprocess is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance and the local order of admission.

Teaching form

The course is a distance learning course with a limited number of compulsory meetings on campus in Östersund, Sweden. Participation via distance communication means is compulsory throughout the course. Students are required to be active in the course’s room in the online learning platform. The platform is the primary communication tool used for students and teachers, and students will find all information needed to complete the course in the course room.

Examination form

The course objectives will be examined through active participation in seminars and discussions, on site and online, as well as through written reports.

Grading system

The grades A, B, C, D, E, Fx and F are given on the course. On this scale the grades A through E represent pass levels, whereas Fx and F represent fail levels.

Course reading

Required literature

Author: Barrett. F.L., Lewis, M., & Haviland-Jones, M.J.
Title: Handbook of Emotions.
Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
Publisher: Guilford Publications.
Comment: Selected parts

Author: Davidson, J.R., Scherer, K.R., & Goldsmith, H.H.
Title: Handbook of Affective Sciences.
Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
Publisher: Oxford: University press.
Comment: Selected parts

Author: Panksepp, J.
Title: Affective Neuroscience. The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions.
Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
Publisher: Oxford: University Press.
Comment: Primary litterature

Author: Sander, D., & Scherer, R.K.
Title: The Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences.
Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
Publisher: Oxford: University press.
Comment: Dictionary

Forskningsartiklar enligt lärarens anvisning. Research articles, as instructed by the teacher.