Undergraduate Course: Parapsychology (PSYL10026)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The course assumes that most students have had little or no previous exposure to research in parapsychology. Parapsychology is defined as the scientific investigation of apparent new means of communication or influence between the organism and its environment, known as ┐psi┐. The course does not presume that psi exists, but treats this as a scientifically-testable hypothesis and reviews the findings of laboratory psi research. Moving out of the lab, we also examine people┐s real-life ┐paranormal┐ experiences and beliefs, and the models that have been put forward to understand these. Finally, we consider the wider scientific implications of parapsychology.
Week 1: What is Parapsychology?
Terminology. Different approaches to research in parapsychology, and their advantages and disadvantages. History of parapsychology and psychical research.
Week 2: Experimental Procedures
ESP research methods. Choices in ESP testing. PK research methods. Methodological considerations ┐ eliminating error, leakage, artefact, fraud.
Week 3: ESP and PK Research Findings
Replication and meta-analysis in parapsychology. ESP research findings: The ganzfeld debate. PK-RNG research findings. EDA-DMILS research findings.
Week 4: Understanding Paranormal Experiences
The phenomenology of paranormal experiences. Measuring and categorising belief in the paranormal. Four theories of belief in the paranormal.
Week 5: Theories and Implications of Parapsychology
The major theories of psi (psychological and physical theories). The implications of parapsychology: methodological; experimenter effects; metaphysical.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Degree major in Psychology and passes in Psychology courses at least to the equivalent of Junior Honours level in Edinburgh. Prior agreement with the 4th Year Honours Course Organiser
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1)
||Block 3 (Sem 2)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Essay (maximum length 3000 words). A choice of topics to be set by the course organiser.
|No Exam Information
| Students will become familiar with:
- the main methods used for controlled laboratory testing of claims of anomalous information transfer or influence;
- the findings of meta-analytic reviews of ganzfeld-ESP, PK-RNG, and DMILS research;
- the phenomenology of spontaneous paranormal experiences and the models that have been proposed to explain why people have these experiences;
- the methodological challenges involved in testing claims of anomalous communication or influence;
- factors leading to scientific controversies, and ways to help resolve controversies.
|An overview of the field of parapsychology can be found in the textbook: Irwin, H.J. & Watt, C. (2007). An Introduction to Parapsychology. Fifth Edition. London: McFarland.|
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Caroline Watt
Tel: (0131 6)50 3382
|Course secretary||Ms Fiona Graham
Tel: (0131 6)50 3440
© Copyright 2015 The University of Edinburgh - 18 January 2016 4:45 am