Reviews for course code PSYCO (Psychology)

PSYCO 275: Brain & Behaviour (2015)

Difficulty: 4/5

Textbook: Pinel, J.P.J (2011). Biopsychology (9th Edition), Toronto: Allyn and Bacon. (Required)

Instructor: Drs C. Dickson & K. Mathewson

Assessment: 31% Midterm 1 ; 31% Midterm 2; 38% Final

Review: A very interesting and rewarding second year psychology course that focuses more on the physiology and anatomy side of the human brain. Although the amount of content is fairly heavy, a lot of the material covered in this course overlaps very well with other second year classes such as NEURO 210 and PHYSL 212. The textbook is mandatory and the exams are cumulative, so consider dedicating at least 2-3 hours per week in reviewing the course material. A tip would be to try out some of the online resources provided by the textbook publisher such as the online flashcards and quizzes as they were fairly useful in quickly reviewing some concepts. In terms of assessment, the grading is based upon your relative standing in the class, or in other words, you are graded on the bell-curve. Overall, it is an excellent introduction to biopsychology and neuroscience that is guaranteed to inspire your interest in the fascinating field of neuroscience.

PSYCO 282: Behavior Modification (2018)

Difficulty: 1/5

Course Work: Two Midterms (45%), Project (15%), Final Exam (40%)

Instructor: Karsten Lopelmann

PSYCO 282 explores various techniques used to produce desirable behavior and limit undesirable behavior. If you enjoyed learning about Pavlov’s dogs, positive and negative reinforcement, or want to get marks for tracking your excessive meme consumption, this is the class for you. The project involves tracking and graphing engagement in a behavior you either wish to increase or decrease. Depending on the complexity of the behavior you choose to track, the project can take anywhere from one to seven hours total.

This is an easy class as most students do well without having to review on a weekly basis. If you’re looking for an easy science option to take, this is one of the easier classes to get an A in.

PSYCO 367 – Perception (2016)

Difficulty: 2.5/5

Course work: Two Midterms (30%); Final (30%); Online Quiz (10%)

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Wylie

Review: For a neuroscience student, this course is fairly easy because it teaches and builds off concepts already learned in PHYSL 212/214. Overall, it aims to summarize the major senses (with a clear emphasis on vision, hearing) so if you like learning about how you see and smell and feel everything that you do, this a good course choice. Dr. Wylie focuses on broad, big picture concepts, he teaches clearly, and is engaging as an instructor.

PSYCO 371 – Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (2016)

Difficulty: 2.5/5

Coursework: Midterm: 25%; 5 online quizzes (drop lowest mark) (20%);  semester assignment (25%) ; final (30%)

Instructor: Dr. Claire Scavuzzo

Review: Midterm and final have multiple choice and written components. The online quizzes aren’t hard, and are open book so you can easily do well on them. Semester assignment is either: (1) choosing an event or experience and examining the neurobiological change underlying it, this involves coming up with a mock experiment, and then presenting to the class on your experiment, and how it relates to current literature; or (2) to make an exhibit explaining a concept in learning and memory (ie. some people made game shows, or taught about the different kinds of amnesia). The semester assignment could be done as groups or individually, and presentation information was tested on in the final (so pay attention!). Overall the course was interesting, a lot of familiar topics and overlap with other classes we take in neuro, but I enjoyed it. Dr. Scavuzzo is an amazing prof (she offered opportunities for bonus marks!). She does go quickly through material at times, so pay attention in class, but she is also very approachable and helpful, I found her exams very fair. There is a textbook that accompanies the class, it was helpful for reference, but not entirely necessary. Overall, interesting class, if you take it in your 4th year you’ll be familiar with a lot of the topics already.

PSYCO 377: Human Neuropsychology (2018)

Difficulty: 2/5

Coursework: 2 Midterms (25% each), Group Project (20%), Final (30%)

Instructor: Dr. Claire Scavuzzo, Dr. Sarah Treit

Review: As far as psychology classes go, this one is definitely more neuroscience-centric. The content is not overly difficult for seasoned neuroscience students, especially coming straight out of NEURO 210. The first third of the course is very introductory and meant to establish the fundamentals required to understand neuropsychology (imaging, developmental disorders, anatomy), while the remainder of the course discusses neuropsychological disorders lobe by lobe and system by system. The instructors only test from their notes, although the textbook is useful for review. The most difficult part about this course is that sometimes disorders are discussed in the context of anatomy, and sometimes anatomy is discussed in the context of disorders, which can lead to notes being disorganized and hard to follow. I would recommend planning ahead for that and making a table of disorders as you progress through the course. Otherwise, most of the disorders and imaging techniques discussed are familiar to any neuroscience student entering their third year. The project is a group-written analysis of a case study of someone with a unique developmental disorder. It is meant to help you view the patient from the perspective of a neuropsychologist and a neurologist, and give you a better idea of what this field of study entails. Not a difficult project at all, just make sure not to leave it to the last minute! Midterms and final were multiple choice, midterms were non-cumulative while final was cumulative.

PSYCO 459 – Cognitive Aging (2016)

Difficulty: 3.5/5

Professor: Dr. Rust

Assessment: 30% Midterm (x2), 30% Term Paper, 5% Oral Presentation, 5% Peer Review

Review: This is a sessional course, but has been confirmed for next year already! It’s structured quite differently than regular psychology courses, so you will want to decide in advance if it’s the right course for you. This class focusses on the cognitive changes that occur with aging, including effects on memory, speed of processing, attention, and sensory processing. Rather than being taught in a typical, fact-based format, this course is designed to teach you how to use evidence to back up a position. Each class we covered 3-4 studies in detail that related to the specific cognitive change that we were discussing. Exams were exclusively long answer, and required you to discuss the studies in an in depth manner. Don’t take this course if you don’t like memorizing! Having said that, the material was very straightforward and easy to understand, and the workload definitely fair for a 4th year course. You are allowed to choose your own paper topic or use a pre-made one, and it can be on any cognitive aging topic. One bonus is that this acts as your final, so it may take one exam off your plate!

PSYCO 471 – Neurophysiology (2016)

Difficulty: 3.5/5

Course Work: Class participation (10%), Quizzes & Class Assignments (30%), Presentation (30%), Final (30%)

InstructorClayton Dickson

Review: A more accurate name for this course is: Electrophysiology and Analysis of Electrophysiological Data. If you either (a) volunteer in a lab or (b) are doing your thesis in a lab or (c) planning on going to grad school in a lab that uses electrophysiological techniques or (d) just oddly interested in electrophysiology, then I highly recommend this course to you. If you do not fit any of the above criteria, then please do not take this course, because the information taught will be extremely irrelevant to you. The first six weeks of this course is a gong show, with a 30-60 page reading, assignment on the reading and quiz on the reading prior to class every week (Clay will then teach you what is in the reading). After that, the course work settles down (no more readings, quizzes, etc.). Note that Clay gives bonus marks on all the assignments, so it’s easy to have over a 100% in the class even with getting questions wrong. Clay also definitely excepts you to participate in class, and if you don’t like to speak in class, keep this in mind. Overall, this course has some heavy material and I definitely learnt a lot. This course is just a very niche selection and I highly recommend thinking if it is right for you before diving in.

PSYCO 473 – Advanced Topics in Neuroscience (2016)


Course work: 5% participation, 10% article critiques, 25% paper presentation, 25% midterm, 35% final

Instructor: Dr. Matthew Churchward

Review: This class filled my requirements as a science option in my fourth year. The four main topics discussed in this course are Depression, Schizophrenia, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) & Anxiety. The course focuses on the etiology of the disease, with a particular slant on animal models and tests. Each student has to read a paper on one of the aforementioned topics and do a presentation on it. The other students in the class must read their peers’ papers and do a (very) short critique on each one which guarantees you 10% of the mark. Not only is the course content very interesting, but Dr. Churchward is also super fun and engaging!

PSYCO 478: Brain Chemistry and Behaviour (2016)

Difficulty: 2/5

Textbook: What textbook?!?!

Instructor: Matthew Churchward

Assessment: 2 midterms (20% each) a paper (25%) and a final (35%)

Review: PSYCO 478 is an excellent course to take for the Cellular and Molecule component of your 4th year courses. Matthew Churchward is an excellent professor. He is engaging, funny, and his slides are riddled with pop-culture references. He’ll make you want to take all your classes with him. The material is simple enough – there’s just a lot of it. If you study, you’ll do great! The exams are easy enough, and there is a paper to take the weight off the final. If you love brains, drugs and outdated pop-culture references, you’ll love this class!!

PSYCO 478: Behavior and Brain Chemistry (2017)

Difficulty: 2/5

Course work: Term Paper/paper proposal (30% total), Two midterms (20% each), Final (30%)

Instructor: Dr. Matthew Churchward

Review: This is a great class (pro tip – take this in conjunction with PSYCI 511 and NEURO 472 for course work that overlaps completely for the first month of the semester). Dr. Churchward is a great instructor and his notes and teaching style are very clear. He tests exclusively off his slides, both his midterms are fair, and the term paper let’s you explore a topic of your own interest. However, this term paper is due the same week as the NEURO 499 thesis, so start early. Course material is not hard, and you get to learn about how your body reacts to different substances (both illicit and licit) and the mechanisms behind how this happens, which is really interesting.

PSYCO 496 – Individual Research (2015)

Difficulty: 1/5

Assessment: Varies by professor

Review: Psych 496 can be considered an introduction to your fourth year thesis. This course involves no lectures, and instead involves you performing undergraduate research under a prof on your own time. You can take this course in both Fall and Winter term and therefore, you can use your whole third year to complete your training (which takes forever, depending on the lab) before your thesis and get credits! So how are you marked? Each prof is required to make their own syllabus on how they want to grade you. Depending on who you work for, the grade can come from a collection of presentations, lab work and papers that the prof requires you to do. The only constraint with this course is the prof’s research needs to be approved by the psychology department. However, there are other courses similar offered by the departments of physiology and biology if the department of psychology turns you down. So I’d recommend taking this course if you’re thinking of going into stream B of the program and need a supervisor or just want the research experience. Most profs will just give you an A.