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Unit information: Advanced Animal Learning and Cognition in 2021/22

Unit name Advanced Animal Learning and Cognition
Unit code PSYCM0073
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Katy Burgess
Open unit status Not open

Students must not have taken PSYC30021 (Animal Learning and Cognition)



School/department School of Psychological Science
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides a comprehensive introduction to animal learning and cognition. It provides a framework for further independent study of the key issues and current research. The key aims of this unit are to (a) understand the methodologies and underlying cognitive systems involved with human and non-human animal learning and cognition, and (b) compare and contrast human and non-human cognition. Are there cognitive abilities that are uniquely human? How do researchers attempt to answer this type of question experimentally? This unit will provide a grounding in current theories of learning, such as associative learning. It will also introduce methodologies used to test whether animals possess so-called ‘higher-level’ cognitive abilities. We consider the methodological difficulties involved in making inferences about an animal’s cognition, and how these difficulties can increase when we compare cognitive abilities across species. A primary learning outcome of this unit is for students to develop a deeper understanding of the complexity of studying and developing theories of animal learning and cognition.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify and evaluate different methodological approaches to understanding animal learning and cognition
  1. Discuss and evaluate current research in animal learning and cognition
  1. Identify and analyse different theories of learning and cognition
  1. Critically analyse contemporary issues in comparative psychology.

Teaching Information

Self-paced online asynchronous learning materials will be supported with weekly live synchronous sessions. These live sessions will take a variety of different forms depending on the focus of the week, but will typically involve activities and Q&A based on the weeks' content and student discussion groups.

Assessment Information

1 x 1200-word coursework (50%)

1 x timed assessment (50%)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PSYCM0073).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.