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Drug Addiction - PSY00015H

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Gavin Phillips
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

In this course we'll be getting to grips with the full force of drug addiction and so will be taking an in-depth look at the causes of addiction from both psychological and biological perspectives, including the emotional consequences as experienced by real people. Theories of drug addiction and related therapies will be assessed in light of earlier work carried out during the module.

Each session will consist of a lecture by Gavin Phillips followed by discussion groups, from small to the group as a whole..

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe the basic evidence which suggests that dopamine is a key neurotransmitter of the brain mediating the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse.
  • Outline the evidence indicating that the 'natural' function of the mesoaccumbens dopamine projection to mediate the behavioural control exerted by secondary reinforcers.
  • Provide a commentary on the neurological bases of drug craving.
  • Explain how stressful experiences appear to sensitise permanently the mesoaccumbens dopamine projection, and outline the potential significance of sensitisation for drug addiction.
  • Outline and evaluate current theories of drug addiction.

Module content

  • Introduction to Drug Addiction
  • Neural Bases of Reward
  • Dopamine & Conditioning
  • Drug Craving
  • Sensitisation
  • Drug ‘Wanting’ vs. Drug ‘Liking’
  • Addiction: From Actions to Habits
  • Treatment Options
  • Theories of Drug Addiction
  • Revision


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Drug Addiction
5 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam -less than 24hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Drug Addiction
5 hours 100

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.

Indicative reading

Although there is no textbook for the course, relevant sections of the following book on learning and memory, reward and addiction are superb, and would provide suitable background information:

Carlson, NR. (2016). Physiology of Behaviour. 12th Edition. Allyn & Bacon, MA, USA.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.