Syllabus 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 and Social Work
  • Answerable faculty: Faculty of Human Sciences
  • Established: 9/9/2015
  • Date of change: 7/9/2019
  • Version valid from: 9/1/2019


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

A bachelor's degree of at least 180 credits (ECTS) with a major in psychology. Alternatively, a bachelor's degree of at least 180 credits (ECTS) with a different major and 60 credits in psychology. Alternatively, 180 credits (ECTS) in psychology without the requirement of having a completed degree. English B/English 6 from Swedish gymnasium or the equivalent.

Selection rules and procedures

The selection process 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: Sander, D., & Scherer, R.K.
  • Title: The Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences.
  • Publisher: Oxford: University press.
  • Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
  • Comment: Dictionary
  • Author: Panksepp, J.
  • Title: Affective Neuroscience. The Foundations of Human and Animal Emotions.
  • Publisher: Oxford: University Press.
  • Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
  • Comment: Primary litterature
  • Author: Davidson, J.R., Scherer, K.R., & Goldsmith, H.H.
  • Title: Handbook of Affective Sciences.
  • Publisher: Oxford: University press.
  • Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
  • Comment: Selected parts
  • Author: Barrett. F.L., Lewis, M., & Haviland-Jones, M.J.
  • Title: Handbook of Emotions.
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications.
  • Edition: Senaste upplagan (latest edition)
  • Comment: Selected parts
Forskningsartiklar enligt lärarens anvisning. Research articles, as instructed by the teacher.