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Unit information: Advanced Consciousness and Psychology in 2015/16

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Unit name Advanced Consciousness and Psychology
Unit code PSYCM0047
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Kit Pleydell-Pearce
Open unit status Not open

Level 6 Psychology

Students must not have taken PSYC31049



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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides an introduction to the problem of consciousness as viewed from psychological, physiological, computational and philosophical perspectives. Extensive prior knowledge of physiology and philosophy is neither necessary nor assumed. A central question is whether contemporary theory can lead to an understanding of consciousness within a scientific framework (e.g. Searle, 1998). Opposing views hold that conscious experience transcends contemporary scientific method, and may remain forever ineffable, at least without a fundamental revision in our understanding of the physical world (e.g. Nagel, 1993; Chalmers, 1996). The first eight lectures introduce topics that are relevant to the problem of consciousness. This information provides the basis and support for the last four lectures which examine a representative cross-section of theories of consciousness.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to have:

  • A deeper understanding of the structure and function of the human brain with particular emphasis on subcortical structures and their roles in attention, arousal, consciousness and integrative function;
  • A capacity to think independently and generate novel theoretical positions
  • An appreciation of the relations between science and philosophy (with particular emphasis upon functionalist theories of brain function);
  • An understanding of mechanisms underlying clinical disorders of consciousness.
  • Demonstrated independent study informed by primary sources and knowledge at the forefront of the discipline
  • Demonstrated Master’s level ability in terms of critical insight, depth of knowledge, independent thought and the ability to propose new hypotheses.

Teaching Information

This unit comprises 18 x 50 minute lectures and 5 x 50 min tutorials

Assessment Information

Summative assessment: one 2000 word essay (30%) and one 2 hour exam (70%)

Reading and References

Koch, C. (2004). The quest for consciousness: a neurobiological approach. Englewood, CO: Roberts & Co. QP411 KOC

Velmans, M. (2000). Understanding consciousness. Philadelphia: Routledge. BF311 VEL

Rose, D. (2006). Consciousness: Philosophical, psychological and neural theories. OUP

This unit is primarily based upon peer reviewed scientific papers rather than any specific textbook.